I am working on a research project about The Lord of the Rings and my English teacher mentioned some sort of publishing error when the books were being sent to the US for publishing. She has further hinted that it wasn't the copyright/lawsuit issues that it also encountered. Does anyone know anything about this?

  • As in recently or back in the days when the book was originally released? – Amarth Mar 3 at 18:50
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    Would any typo or similar error qualify as the answer? How will you know if the answer is right or not? – Organic Marble Mar 3 at 18:56
  • The publishing history of LotR that I've read says that, for the first edition, Houghton Mifflin (US) simply bound sheets sent over from Allen and Unwin (UK). So unless they collated them out-of-order, which I hadn't heard, there should be no differences at all. Is this about the changes between the origin 1950s editions (which had multiple printings) and the revised 1960s editions? – DavidW Mar 3 at 19:05
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    Also note that the copyright "issue" occurred in 1966; Ace claimed the books were in the public domain because the original release had used UK pages which reproduced the UK copyright notice, and they lacked a US notice. – DavidW Mar 3 at 19:11
  • This is very similar to the question I asked about Seveneves in Meta where it was decided to be off-topic. – Spencer Mar 4 at 0:08

It's hard to know exactly what your teacher is referring to. However, recent editions of LoTR include at the beginning a "Note on the Text" written by Douglas A. Anderson, which talks about the history of the revisions made in different editions, and in particular mentions the changes that happened when it was republished in the US.

In 1965, stemming from what then appeared to be copyright problems in the United States, an American paperback firm published an unauthorized and non-royalty-paying edition of The Lord of the Rings. [...]

Tolkien set to work on his first revision of the text so that a newly revised and authorized edition could successfully compete on the American market. This first revision of the text was published in America in paperback by Ballantine Books, under licence from Houghton Mifflin, in October 1965. In addition to revisions within the text itself, Tolkien replaced his original foreword with a new one. [...]

[...] Soon after this he sent a small number of further revisions to Ballantine for the appendicies, including the now well-known addition of 'Estella Bolger' as wife of Meriadoc in the family trees in Appendix C. Most of these revisions [...] somehow never made it into the main sequence of revision in the three-volume British hardcover edition.

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