Wednesday, 9 September 2009

On weird publishing mistakes

Speaking of books and publishing, I’m always pleased when I come across some weird and unaccountable publishing mishap in one of my books, some defect that sets it apart from the common herd. A notable example is the well-known Hauerwas and Willimon book, Resident Aliens (Abingdon 1989). My copy has the following pagination: 1-32, then 65-96, then 33-64, then 97-175. I have no idea how many copies were printed like this: perhaps I’ve got a Very Rare and Lucky Copy? Or perhaps a whole print-run came out like this?

In any case, pagination like this really adds to the element of surprise: you never quite know what’s coming next. And it’s perhaps a mark of the book’s tightly focused argument that it still reads pretty coherently when you cross that boundary from p. 32 to p. 65. If you lost concentration for a moment while reading, you might not even notice. The text reads: “What we call ‘freedom’ becomes the tyranny of our own desires. We are kept detached, strangers to one another as we go about fulfilling our needs and asserting our rights. The [page break] me. I must be true to myself. The more we can be free of parents, children, spouses, duties, the more free we will be to ‘be ourselves’…”

16 Comments:

roger flyer said...

"The (page break) me."

That shall be the name of my autobiography.

peaceablezealot said...

My copy of Christians Among the Virtues by Hauerwas and Pinches is missing about 40 pages. It goes from page 33 to 74 (I think, I don't have it on me).

Maybe this is what happens when Stan the man coauthors a book.

Sir Watkin said...

"And it’s perhaps a mark of the book’s tightly focused argument that it still reads pretty coherently when you cross that boundary from p. 32 to p. 65. "

Or perhaps a mark of the author's saying the same thing over and over again?

K.M. Delport said...

My copy of Jungel's "God as the Mystery of World" from Eerdmans on at least three occasions skips the pagination thereafter filling in the gaps with the missing pages. It also seems to have some weird indentation on the second contents page.

But the best comes before you have even opened the book. On the book cover where the subtitle reads "One the Foundation of the Theology of the Crucified One in the Dispute between Theism and Atheism", whereas the front page has the correct subtitle. If you look close enough at the Amazon.com photo, you'll see what I'm talking about. An editorial faux pas indeed!

roger flyer said...

@ Sir Watkin...Do you mean Mi Mi Mi sir?

Steve Wright said...

@ K.M. Delport. I noticed that subtitle error in my edition too!

nwcc said...

Ha. Publishing mistakes often help one to reflect in useful ways.

My copy of 'Luther the Expositor: Introduction to the Reformer's Exegetical Writings' in Luther's Works, translated by Jaroslav Pelikan, gets to page 50-51, which are just blank sheets, without words or numbers. There are a few other blank pages too.

It is a good reminder, that even with Luther the Expositor, right at hand, you can still sometimes draw a blank!

Perhaps they are there, to momentarily silence his critics!

maggidawn said...

I got about 30 or so compies of my last book from the publisher. Some I sold, some I gave away, but the very first copy I gave to my son, who didn't really want to read it (it's not kid's stuff!) but he wanted a signed one for his bookshelf. Months later we looked inside the book together for the page that has him on it, only to discover that about 20 pages were completely missing. To this day I have no idea whether the other 29 were complete, or whether they had 20 pages missing too.

ExpertWriter said...

Hi,
One should try to avoid mistakes, whether it is about publishing mistakes or grammatical errors. Thanks for sharing your experience that may alert many writers

Dave Belcher said...

I have a first edition of James Arminius's Works, vol. 1 (1825), and immediately following p. 320, the page numbers jump back to p. 257. The actual text remains continuous -- it doesn't jump back to the text from p. 257, just keeps going -- and the book ends at p. 706. I also have a pdf copy of this book, and my pdf copy does not do this. And if you perchance have one of the Carl Bangs edited reprints of the London edition (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986), you'll notice no such strange thing, and the book actually goes to p. 760! I gotta tell ya, it becomes quite difficult when citing this thing to get the correct pagination...it requires math, and I am really very bad at math.

You can see the actual anomaly here:

Just go p. 320 and scroll to the next page...you'll see p. 257. Crazy.

Dan Reid said...

Let us distinguish between printers' errors and publishers', or editors', errors. Printers regularly make blunders; editors always get it write!

Dave Belcher said...

Dan, James Nichols, the editor in question, was in fact also the printer (and thus also the publisher).

John Hartley said...

Dear Ben,

On weird publishing mistakes you ought to read Isaac Asimov's short story "Galley Slave" in his "I Robot" collection (or it might be in his "The rest of the robots" collection). Actually, all theologians ought to read this collection: it is (in my opinion) one of the most thought-provoking examinations so far of the question of what is the essence of humanity.

On the question of how to paginate books, you ought to read "The curious incident of the dog in the night time" by Mark Haddon. However, I should point out that I found it one of the most upsetting books I had ever read. Maybe that's because I have a son like the boy described?

Both of the above will also serve as useful distractive reading for a busy theologian.

Yours in Christ - JOHN HARTLEY.

Fat said...

It is when you are inthe middle of a sermon and the pages do that that it becomes a sudden problem.

roger flyer said...

...for the congregation

Fat said...

I'm not sure if they listen that closely Roger.

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