Print history, like any history, is full of strange people and goings-on. The road paved by our civilization's best books is a long and noble one, but it is also lined with unexpected potholes and sharp turns into what-the-hell-is-going-on-here territory. Illustrators talking to ghosts, maps bringing countries to their knees, Shakespeare writing awful plays, and Charles Dickens branding America a nation of filthy literary thieves all serve as back alleys into which the authors could descend. Correction: into which the authors did descend.
Consider that today a Gutenberg Bible is the Holy Grail of book collecting. But that wasn't always so. James Lennox, a New York millionaire, sent an agent to bid on his behalf at a London auction in 1847. At that point, no one had ever paid more than £215 for a Gutenberg Bible. His agent became embroiled in a bidding war and when the dust settled, Lennox was on the hook for an eye-popping £500. Lennox was so angry about the exorbitant sticker price that he flatly refused to pay it. Eventually he came around, which was clearly the right choice, since a Gutenberg Bible would sell for tens of millions of dollars today.
Among the many other tales told in Printer's Error are the history of the “bad” versions of Shakespeare's plays, including a Hamlet who sounds more like a drunken pirate than a prince, and the fate of William Tyndale-who made the Holy Bible accessible to countless worshippers-who was also burned at the stake for heresy.
Search the Australian Bookseller's Association website to find a bookseller near you. The links will take you to the web site's home page. From there you can navigate to the title you are interested in.Find a bookshop near you: http://www.aba.org.au/find-a-bookshop.