Once again I’m baffled by how little consideration and attention major publishers give even to major Literature writers.

This time I ordered an used, old copy of “V.” by Thomas Pynchon. Shipped from Amazon US, making the shipment cost me twice the price of the used book itself. This simply because I dislike all the most recent covers of this book, and instead I like much more the mass market Bantam edition:

So it was solely a decision about the cover, and the fact that I like a lot the tiny print that was used in the old editions and the yellowy pages that make one feel as if being pushed back in the past when the book came out. Little vanities.

I received the book today after it took almost a month to get over here, and when I gave a look to the wikipedia page I learned that:

In 2012 it emerged that there were multiple versions of V. in circulation. This was due to the fact that Pynchon’s final modifications were made after the first edition was printed and thus were only implemented in the British, or Jonathan Cape, edition and the Bantam paperback. The fact was forgotten soon after in the U.S., so most US editions, including the newly released eBook, follow the first printing and are therefore unauthorized versions of the text, while the British editions, which follow the first edition printed by Jonathan Cape, contain Pynchon’s final revisions.

This is the article that explains it more in detail. I checked my own copy and was glad to find out it’s the revised, “final” version. Such luck. Then I went checking the most common version sold on Amazon and, yep, it’s the unrevised, “unauthorized” version (also notice the crappy cover). I checked the lines inside. PERENNIAL CLASSICS MY ASS.

On twitter they even told me that the newest US editions added errors ON TOP of those already present. Sure, it is not the end of the world because Pynchon is one of those writers who obsess every single word, and from what I’ve read the total of the differences is likely negligible and unnoticeable for the final reader. But still, it’s responsibility of the publisher to obsess at least as much as the writer about every detail. It’s basically their whole job knowing what they are dealing with, knowing all the different editions and take care so that whatever small error is properly dealt with.

From the wikipedia I also read that:

“In 2012 Pynchon’s books were released in e-book format, ending a long holdout by the author. Publisher Penguin Press reported that the books’ length and complex page layouts made it a challenge to convert them to a digital format.

What? Pynchon’s books are too long for e-books? Does the digital binding risk to fail? It required so much work and dedication that they based the text of the e-book too on the wrong version with the errors. Once again.

Apparently modern technology isn’t good enough to reproduce this:


  1. Read footnote 9 in the Orbit article on Rachel’s height: “5’1” becomes “five foot one” (232, [2005]) while 4’10” becomes “four foot nine” (29, [2005]) in the most recent edition, which seems to have been proofread without reference to earlier copies.” [Rachel shrunk in 2005 and remains an inch shorter in the e-edition.] Of course, the British CL49 (Picador edition, and the Vintage, I’ve been told but haven’t checked) has British spellings, some words changed, and sentences missing. One needs tto get the U.S. edition or British editions from before 1979 to get the closest to correct text: there are some errata, the most in the first US edition; The Bantam corrects some of the Lippincott errata, and the Cape also corrects some. The three editions can be used to create an errata free edition. Perennial follows thee Lippincott CL49, as does the Penguin e-edition.

  2. Ha! I just did exactly the same! I just looked through all versions of this book and finally decided to buy exactly this one cause the cover is the most epic (of the English versions, the newer, b/w Frensh and an older Swedish versions with a popular painting are quite nice, too, maybe even better actually.. But you know, not English.)

    I’m glad to see I made exactly the right decision. Can’t wait for my book to arrive! I have to wait a long time though, it might arrive in early January only :(

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