WalletPop reports that typos can do more than damage the credibility of a publication. Penguin books in Australia recently had to reprint 7,000 copies of a now-collectible book. Correcting that typo will empty the publisher’s pockets of nearly $19,000. But if you find a book with a similar mistake, it could fill yours.

When typos and mistakes appear, they’re usually corrected quickly, sometimes even during printing. This makes them extraordinarily appealing to collectors, who want to own the very first copies of a work, says Vasilis Terpsopoulos, manager of the rare book department at New York City’s Strand Books.

Check your personal library shelves and garage sales for these rare editions, because when publishers fail to recall every incorrect copy, collectors can make a windfall.

The first 1885 edition of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is rare enough, but it also contains a minor typo that was corrected in subsequent editions: a mix-up of the word “saw” with “was.”

Buying a copy of the book in terrific condition will set you back about $18,600, although when a book is this seminal, it’s hard to quantify just how much a misprint elevates its value.

“When you get into a lot of early Mark Twain books, they’re not settled bibliographically,” says Terpsopoulos. “There are often a lot of mixed printings, and while one copy will have one mistake and not another, a second will have different mistakes.

To have all the mistakes lined up, that’s when you get something that would be the finest example you could get, even though they’re all first editions.”

Photo by EWKemble.

Originally posted by Rich Whittle on May 11, 2010 in Books / History.

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