The Good Earth
Pearl S. Buck
Most readers find typographical errors to be one of life's little annoyances, like being stuck at a traffic light when in a hurry. For others, the publishing of a spelling or grammatical error is one of the most grievous mistakes imaginable. I personally enjoy a particularly silly error, and if it's done right, see it as a value-added perk to a book. Perhaps it's because I am such a mind-bogglingly bad speller (any of my co-workers will attest to this). Whatever the reason, I enjoy when an ordinary sentence is rendered hilarious and turned on its ear by an incorrect homonym or rogue comma.
Book collectors may also see typographical errors in a positive light, but for an entirely different reason. To the collector, the actual text of the book may be very interesting, but the origins of various editions can be even more important, and typos can help discern a first printing from a second. Take Pearl S. Buck’s 1931 novel The Good Earth; in this novel you can tell the first, second and third printings apart from later printings by an error on page 100 (line 17) where the word “flees” was accidentally used in place of “fleas.”
Most typos are of little consequence - adding or removing pluralization, causing non-agreement in tenses, or the like. Other errors are more significant. Perhaps the most renowned printing error in history came in the year 1631 when Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London, were tasked with printing a new issue of the King James Bible. Their mistake was the simple omission of the word "not" in a single sentence, and it was to be a grave mistake indeed. The missing word was smack-dab in the middle of the seventh commandment, causing their edition to read: “Thou shalt commit adultery”. That edition of the bible was thereafter known as The Wicked Bible, or sometimes Adulterous Bible or Sinners' Bible.
Another doozy of a gaffe which had long-term consequences (at least for the publisher): in April 2010, it came to light that Penguin Australia, who put out a cookbook called The Pasta Bible had made the decision to pulp 7,000 copies after it went to print with an error in a recipe for tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto - it called for "salt and freshly ground black people". They meant black pepper. Oh dear.
This edition is marked by several errors such as the misspelling of Xavier (“Xaxier”) on page 352, swapping “ship” for “shop” on page 1086, and repeating the word “found” on page 397.
"They blamde it on the exchange rate," Jack said.
Pre-production sales copies were produced with “sposition” instead of “position” in the last line of page 103. Subsequent editions have this error corrected.
This first edition, first issue of the King James Version is known as the great "HE" Bible from the mistake found in the last phrase of Ruth 3:15 which was printed as "and he went into the city” when the person in question was female.
First printing contains: "A spring flowed separately from the pond, so Chip and his father damned the water flowing from the spring.”
First printing contains two errors of note: “It is true that farms like this are but a spec on the monolith of modern animal agriculture ...” and
“The bullet was too smashed up to easily identify its calibre, thought it occurred to me a forensics expert could probably determine whether it had really come from my rifle.”
"Through the cracks in the shutters strange figures peer out at me...old women with shawls, dwarfs, rat-faced pimps, bent Jews, midinettes, bearded idots."
"In the weak light of dawn, I tugged on the gown and sleeves I'd discarded like a wonton last night to fall into John's arms."
"When it suited his convenience, Jefferson set aside his small-government credo with compunction." (should read without compunction).
In the fourth paperback printing (and perhaps earlier printings as well) this error is found: “I ate breakfast cheerily, watching the dust moats stirring in the sunlight that streamed in the back window.”
On page 10 of this book there is a typo in which the letter “t” is left off a word, creating a sentence in which the much more passive verb “shoo” is used instead of “shoot” . The more passive copies are worth nearly double, according to the Collected Books guide.
In the first printing: “A moment of panic before he saw him walking along the bench downshore with the pistol hanging in his hand, his head down.”
World War Z
by Max Brooks, 2006
First paperback edition reads: “had come to the field hospital to give last rights to the infected.”
First printing states: “The bar was packed with monomaniacal wine aficionados, pouring over the 1,400-strong wine list like Talmudic scholars...”
On the first edition front dust-wrapper flap, the book's main character’s name is misspelled “Hari Sheldon” rather than the correct “Hari Seldon”. This was not corrected until the second edition.
"...our vessel was made a legitimate prize, whilst we of her crew were treated with all the fairness and consideration due us as navel prisoners."
In the eighth printing of the first paperback edition you can find: “Stole in at her widow, or took her riding.”
First paperback printing states: "I'll loose my balance."
"...harmoniously abandoning themselves to the rhythm of the music -- like two small chips being tossed about on a rough but friendly sea." And then there was also
"They were, as she now maintained, incapable of judging justly or fairly where anything sad in connection with a romantic and pretty girl was concerned.
"...then I'm dumber that an eight-year-old."
A slip reading "D or d, cont./density" was given to an editor with the intent to add "density" to the existing list of words that the letter "D" can abbreviate. However this was misread and a new word, “dord,” was created along with an explanation that it was a synonym for density. The offending word was not discovered and removed until around 1940.
The illustrator included three arms on the woman on the front cover - one she leans upon, one in her lap/at her side, and one holding hands with the man.