Senior and managing editors in local publishing houses have always lamented how hard it is to recruit decent mathematics editors, because CV’s and interviews often fail to filter the good from the mediocre candidates. On the other hand, few senior editorial staff dare to look in the mirror to see whether they themselves have what it takes to mentor or guide their editors. There is a Chinese or Japanese saying that says: "An editor shames her managing editor." The less-than-desired-quality of a published math book often reveals much about the competency of those behind its production.
Across the industry, editors' weak mastery of math concepts and poor linguistic skills would only aggravate an already-declining editorial quality of math titles. Most proofread instead of edit, or simply take care of the grammar instead of rewrite. In recent years, it isn’t surprising to witness many writers and authors switching to self- or vanity publishing, because few writers and teachers believe that there will be added value to their manuscripts, other than cosmetic improvements, going by the influx of assessment or supplementary titles inundating the local market every year.
* This apparent inequality is in line with the recent government's policy that Singaporeans come first, especially when it comes to providing jobs for locals and foreign residents.
© Yan Kow Cheong, August 11, 2010.