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Do Misprints or Typos Make a Book Valuable?

August 13, 2012.

One of the most common misconceptions about books is that misprints make them rare or valuable. Unfortunately, while certain types of errors can contribute to a book’s collectability, these alone will not increase the value of an otherwise inexpensive book. Consider the following case:

The Sun Also Rises is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century. Widely considered to be Ernest Hemingway’s best book, it is also the founding text of the “Lost Generation” of writers who came of age during the First World War. This significance, combined with the small number of first editions available today (5,090 copies were printed and few have survived in collectible condition) is what makes it valuable.

First edition of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926).

So where do misprints come in? In this case, an error on page 181 (“stoppped” instead of “stopped”) appears in only the earliest issue of the book and was quickly corrected by the printer. When accompanied by other signs, such as the correct date, publisher, and binding, it means that a copy was one of the very first to be printed, making it more desirable to collectors.

On the other hand, any inexpensive reprint of the same book might contain a misprint. But if the edition is not particularly interesting or uncommon, and the order in which the book was published is not important, then the misprint is just a nuisance. It isn’t the typo alone that makes a book valuable, it’s what the typo indicates: how early a specific copy was published and how rare it is.

For a small number of very important books such as The Sun Also Rises, misprints can have an impact on value, but in most cases they don’t make a difference. To find out more about first editions, see our posts:

What is a First Edition?

What Makes First Editions Valuable?

You can browse our complete stock of first editions and signed books online, and if you have a rare book that you’d like to sell, please contact us.

Laura joined Peter Harrington in 2009 after completing a master's degree in book history at the University of London. Her special interests are science and medicine, modern literature, and the book culture of the medieval and early modern eras.

Comments

  1. GenevieMcKinnon

    Jan 13, 2015

    I every time spent my half an hour to read this blog’s content every day along with a mug of coffee.

  2. Liam

    Jan 18, 2015

    Hello there,

    Interesting site!

    I have a first edition HP and the order of the pheonix. It has the mistake on page 7 (teenage bo, instead of boy). Im not sure if this make the book any more valuable. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    • Grace Barham

      Aug 18, 2015

      Hi Liam,
      Unfortunately the last four Harry Potter books, even in first edition, are not particularly rare, unless they are signed by Rowling. The popularity of the series meant the later print runs were huge, so even fine copies retail at about £50-75.
      Many thanks,
      Grace at Peter Harrington

  3. Frances

    Aug 03, 2015

    I have a first edition harry Potter and the half blood prince, we’ve just on chapter 3 and come across two spelling mistakes already, first is instead of shallow we have shollow, 2nd is instead of fog we have fug… Does this mean the book is rare and worth putting some place safe after we’ve finished reading it

  4. Jolie

    Aug 21, 2015

    i have a Louis lamour book “long ride home” leather back perfect the cover is up side down
    Any thoughts

  5. Grace Barham

    Aug 18, 2015

    Hi Susan,
    We are only able to make valuations through the Selling Rare Books to Us form on our website. There, is a detailed breakdown of the information we require.
    All enquiries should be answered within approximately 7 working days.
    http://www.peterharrington.co.uk/about/sell-books/
    Many thanks,
    Grace at Peter Harrington

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