The misprint of "anus" in the place of "arms" in romantic novels will surely go down in the annals of history. Ok we'll stop now. What better occasion than this to collect some of the worst misprints in the history of literature?
1. The Wicked Bible
"THOU SHALT COMMIT ADULTERY." Enough said. This is and will continue to be the best misprint ever. This error, if we believe it was so, was found in a 1631 Bible by royal printers Barker and Lucas which would go on to be known as the Wicked Bible and to become a sought after collector's item – the few copies that are left anyway. As Rick Gekoski put it, "given the number of the faithful who believe in a literal interpretation of the holy word, this new injunction was likely to cause the odd misunderstanding."
2. Ground black people
Well this must have been embarrassing. It's hard to beat the horrible mistake of this, another kind of holy book: Penguin's The Pasta Bible. Seven thousand copies of the book had to be destroyed after a recipe for tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto took a cannibalistic turn and called for "salt and freshly ground black people" as an ingredient. The publisher lost $20,000 in the clean-up process, but that didn't last very long as, like it tends to happen with anything touched by a terrible misprint, the error immediately boosted the sales of the book.
3. Jonathan Franzen's massive parade of typos
Now this isn't "a" misprint but we thought we couldn't leave out the recent massive accident that affected our – otherwise beloved – Jonathan Franzen's masterpiece Freedom, lauded as book of the century and completed after nine years of meticulous effort. It turns out that the published UK edition was based on an early draft manuscript, meaning it contained hundreds of mistakes in spelling, grammar and characterisation. And voilà: 8,000 sold books had to be recalled and exchanged for correct copies.
4. Like chips in the sea
For some reason, food seems to be involved in printing mishaps quite often. The first edition of Theodore Dreiser's 1925 novel An American Tragedy contained a rather amusing mistake: "harmoniously abandoning themselves to the rhythm of the music – like two small chips being tossed about on a rough but friendly sea." Confusing but somehow cute image.
5. Guardian Chistmas card
We get the irony, okay? So here you go. Probably the only copy of a Guardian 1980 Christmas card with the word Christmas misspelled, which was pulped before it was sent.
We're not sure we want to encourage this, but... Now over to you and your creativity. What other misprints have you spotted or what dangerous misprinting of rude words in your favourite quotes can you think of?
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I really did laugh out loud! Number two cracked me up.
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