Sunday, June 3, 2007


So, every author, editor, and proofreader knows that with every book there will inevitably be typos. No matter how many times you go over your work, there's always something that slips past into print. You hope that when you do find it, it'll be a relatively innocuous blunder, not something that makes you cringe.

Case in point:

Last night I was reading through the description of several new audiobooks in the Blackstone Audio catelogue, when I was bemused by the following synopsis of a new book on Mitt Romney (A MORMAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE?: 10 THINGS EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MITT ROMNEY, by Hugh Hewitt, read by Lloyd James). It reads, in part, "Mitt Romney is a successful businessman and a fiscal and social conservative who won the governorship in one of the staunchest Republican states in America".

Massachusetts a staunchly Republican state? Since when?

This is of course the worst kind of error: one that appears in a perfectly grammatical sentence that makes sense, but happens to be completely wrong -- in this case, the exact opposite of the truth.

In the case of MR. BAGGINS, I've found one example that fits this category: on page 260 I proudly draw attention to the fact that on Plate VI we printed the Tolkien drawing "Firelight in Beorn's House" in color for the first time ever.

Except we didn't. Due to an unfortunate mix-up on my part, the image that actually appears on Plate VI is in black & white, just like all the earlier reproductions (e.g., in THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT, ARTIST & ILLUSTRATOR, &c.). So my text refers to what I thought the illustration would be, not to what actually appears in the book.

A second error belongs to the embarrassingly obvious category: the dreaded "see page 000". There were several hundred such cross-references in the book, and one remained that way all the way into the published text, on page 356 of Volume One. Luckily, the reference isn't necessary to make sense of the passage; it's simply a self-evident glitch I wish we'd caught. [Note: For those who are interested, the missing page number(s) are 731 & 761, which discuss the circumstances in 1944 and 1947 that led up to the accidental second edition of 1951.]

Third, there's one purely typographical error, on page 400; a hyphenated word that somehow got its second element capitalized ("ani-Mals" rather than "ani-mals"). I don't know quite how this happened, but while it looks a bit odd at least it doesn't affect the meaning of the passage from coming through.

Finally, there's one error that only fellow editors are likely to catch: a word that should be in italics that wasn't. I refer of course to the second caption on Plate III, where the word "Below" should be italicized, like all the other signposts in this section.

* * * * * * * *

So far, that's the crop; if anyone finds more, please let me know. I did catch one in Part Two while completing the Index, hopefully in time for them to have made the change: in one place I'd used the name "Naugladur" where I meant to say "Nauglath" -- a simple slip on my part. We'll see.



Trotter said...

Looks like the book was well proof read, a found a mistake on page xxxi, under LOTR section 'the second printing of volumes II[1954]' was actually published in 1955.

Anonymous said...

I'd picked up (1) and (2), but not (3) or (4). Maybe the colour version can be inserted in a later edition?