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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. chris

    Oct 27, 2015

    I have a Terry And The Pirates big little book from 1934. When you open it the Mandrake Magician story is inside so the book has the wrong cover. I cant find another like it is it worth more?

  6. Faith

    Jan 20, 2016

    I have a Winnie the Pooh book,
    Read with pooh all year through “happy valentines day” with duplicate pages. Are there several like this? I can’t find anything. Can barely find the collection.

    • Grace Barham

      Feb 08, 2016

      Hi Faith,
      Sorry to say that generally speaking misprints, or in this case multiple pages, do not denote, in themselves, collectability or rarity.
      Best,
      Grace

  7. Ian

    Feb 06, 2016

    I’m reading John Cononley books at the moment (the Charlie Parker series).
    Got to page 8 and the pages jumped to page 25 and continue to page 40 where they go back to page 25 and repeat again. Pages 9-24 are nowhere to be seen/read.
    Is this rare?

    • Grace Barham

      Feb 08, 2016

      Hi Ian,
      Sorry to say that generally speaking misprints do not denote, in themselves, collectability or rarity.
      Best,
      Grace at Peter Harrington

  8. Andrew

    Jun 28, 2016

    i have a Jackie Collins book (Dangerous kiss, 1999 paperback) that after page 458 goes to page 347 and changes book to Driving force, it stays with this book for about a chapter then reverts to dangerous Kiss. any value in this?
    cheers Andy…………..

  9. Wally

    Jul 04, 2016

    I have a Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It has been bound upside down and backwards. I have been unable to locate another like this. It is the US version.

  10. Sung Yang

    Jul 14, 2016

    Hello, I have two books with errors in it. First being Thomas malory’s 1904 LE MORTE DARTHUR: PART THE SECOND – The many of the pages has not been cut where you could read the next page (example: pg. 191 going on to page 192 except page 192 and 193 are inaccessible due to not cutting the page). The next one would be by jon krakauer about the Gold rush (I dont have the book with me so I forgot the title but its in danish). The very last page is in english while the entire book itself is in danish. Thank you.

  11. Teresa Morris

    Jul 16, 2016

    I have Ends of the Earth by Roy Chapman Andrews copyright 1929, published 1937. I thought the spine had deteriorated to the point that the text was barely visible, but now as I examine it, I think the cloth is covering most of the text. Have you seen anything like this ? Cloth looks and feels different than board’s cloth but the text I can see has the same cloth as boards. Thank you.

  12. becky

    Jul 21, 2016

    Hi,
    I’ve just been given a copy of Sebastian Faulks’ ‘Birdsong’. It appears to be a first edition but… it’s been wrongly bound and so reads from back to front. From what you say, I’m not building my hopes up… will this add to or reduce its value?

  13. Arthur Burton

    Jul 25, 2016

    I have an ‘used/as new’ copy of “Manuscripts Don’t Burn: Mikhail Bulgakov A Life in Letters and Diaries” by J.A.E. Curtis (Overlook Press, 1992?)

    I place a question mark because there is not frontispiece. In fact, there are few “pages” for a book that is an inch thick.

    It consists of TEN sections of pages 275 to 306! Yes, repeated 10 times. It does have a single section of 8 pages of B & W photographs.

    Just curious. Might it be worth anything?

    Thank you.

  14. charlotte

    Aug 02, 2016

    Hi there,
    I have a first edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which is hardback and the book itself has been binded upside down and back to front. So when I sat happily reading it on the train one day, it must of looked like I had gone mad and was reading my book upside down and backwards! Is something like this rare and worth anything?
    Thank you for your time.
    Charlotte.

  15. Sebastian Paredes

    Aug 05, 2016

    I have a first edition Heroes of olympus- the son of neptune and on the back of the cover it says oympus instead of olympus. i assume it might be somewhat valuable since its on the cover

  16. Keleigh

    Aug 08, 2016

    I have the New York Times “Pictorial Portfolio of the World” from 1922. There is one section of the book where 15 pages have been duplicated. Does that affect the rarity of the book?

    Thanks.

  17. Kellie

    Aug 24, 2016

    I have a 50th anniversary printing of Gone with the Wind that I just discovered is missing pages 701-732. The pages have not been removed; they simply were never included in the binding. Is this a potentially valuable find, or just annoying? 🙂 Many thanks for any guess you can provide.

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