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Printer’s Error – absurd moments in book history


Rare book expert Rebecca Romney, who is one of half of the team behind Honey and Wax Booksellers in Brooklyn, has co-authored a book that will bring a smile to anyone who enjoys the stories behind books, authors, publishers and all the other folks connected with the book trade.

In Printer’s Error, Romney, and co-author JP Romney, focus on the unusual, absurd and comic moments since the first Gutenberg Bible rolled off the press and mass communication began.

Rebecca Romney

The book outlines Charles Dickens’ fury at American publishers who refused to pay royalties after printing and selling his books. The Americans hadn’t really embraced copyright laws at this time. There’s a chapter dedicated to TJ Cobden-Sanderson, who threw a font, yes, a typeface, into the Thames. There are misadventures from William Blake, Benjamin Franklin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Perhaps the most interesting chapter concerns printer William Tyndale and the early days of printed bibles, which were anything but Christian in nature. The Wicked Bible’s “Thou shalt commit adultery” remains the finest printer’s error of all time. Shakespeare receives a chapter, of course, and the authors describe a 16th century “trade route arms race” involving map makers.

Rebecca began her bookselling career with Bauman Books and I encountered her for the time when she was managing Bauman’s store in Las Vegas.  She left Bauman in 2016 and worked on Printer’s Error before deciding to join forces with another ex-Bauman employee, Heather O’Donnell, to set up Honey and Wax. Rebecca, a lady of many talents, also has a podcast called Biblioclast and appears on the Pawn Stars TV show when someone lands a rare book and expert opinion is required.

Find copies of Printer’s Error.

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