What the hell, Comma Police?

Over on the Kindle Boards, indie author Robert Bidinotto talks about how his book Hunter was pulled by Amazon for editing errors, most of which were his use of the serial comma or Oxford comma. To save you reading the thread, Amazon did eventually offer his book for sale again, but it did take some mailing back-and-forth, and frighteningly, it seems their ebook QA team had never heard of the Chicago Manual of Style.

For the uninitiated, the Oxford comma is the comma at the end of sequences.

Without the Oxford comma:
To my parents, Keifer Sutherland and The Captain and Tennille
I had a can of oil, bacon and eggs and tuna for breakfast.

With the Oxford comma:
To my parents, Keifer Sutherland, and The Captain and Tennille
I had a can of oil, bacon and eggs, and tuna for breakfast.

I’ll be honest. The biggest reason this makes me mad is the most grossly unedited ebook I’ve gotten on my Kindle, The Affinity Bridge, by George Mann, published by Tor Books. To me, it looked like Tor’s software screwed up and no human being bothered to take a look at it afterwards. But seriously, why can’t Tor be held to the same standards as indies?

Now, back on topic. I know some people hate that little comma as much as they hate taxes and confusing road tar with hot fudge. Personally I don’t think it’s really a big deal. I like to use it, because of the times that it does add clarity, and because when I’m speaking, I tend to pause at that point in a sequence.

In a world where there are dozens of style guides, dialects, and regional conventions, what’s one little comma between friends? I mean seriously, there’s even an Oxford comma Facebook fan page. Sure, it’s a nice place for a comma, but there’s not reason to get worked up about it.

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