The myth of the "rules and protocols for second editions"

The BBT violates the established rules and protocols requiring that a second edition prominently display the editor's name.

According to the authoritative Chicago Manual of Style, once a book has been at least twenty percent revised it becomes a second edition. Then, Chicago says, the rules require that the editor’s name appear on the cover and in the front matter of the book and that the date of editing also be mentioned.

Well, amidst the false assertions here, there’s at least a grain of truth. The part about what makes for a second edition is right.

Chicago (1.26) does say, “A new edition may be defined as one in which a substantial change has been made in one or more of the essential elements of the work. . . As a general rule, at least 20 percent of a new edition should consist of new or revised material.”

Fine. Percentages aside, the title page for the second edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is clearly says “Second Edition.” And other BBT books that have been revised--even less than twenty percent--are marked the same way. Nothing to argue about here.

But we’ve looked long and hard through the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, and we have yet to find the supposed rules requiring that the editor’s name appear on the cover, or anywhere else.

Chicago is conveniently divided into numbered sections. So far, we haven't seen anyone cite the numbered section where these supposed rules and protocols appear. Having searched for it diligently and not found it, we tend to think it doesn't exist.

Nor could we find any rules requiring that dates be mentioned (other, of course, than in the copyright notice). These “rules” simply aren’t there.

Devotee critics invoking Chicago sometimes pull up quotes from chapter 14 about how to show the names of editors and translators. The critics, however, seem to miss what chapter 14 is about. The chapter gives standards not for covers and title pages but for footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies.

When you're citing an already published work, how do you document what work you're referring to? How, for example, should your notes list the names of authors, editors, and translators? Such are the topics of chapter 14.

What should appear on the cover and the title page are an entirely different subject, which Chicago treats in chapter 1. And, as mentioned, the supposed rules the critics speak of simply aren't there.

(In The Oxford Style Manual, an authority often followed in the UK, again those supposed rules simply aren’t mentioned.)

Meanwhile, to look further into these mysterious “standards,” someone from the BBT made a quick visit to the famed Strand Bookstore near Union Square in New York City and had a look at some of the second-edition books in their “Classics” section. And he found that what well-established publishers do varies considerably (and even for an individual publisher the treatment may differ from work to work).

Some books, indeed, have the editor's name on the cover, others only on the full-title page, and still others only on the copyright page. Some publishers don't mention the editor's name at all. The books he looked at from The Heritage Club, a publisher of upscale editions sold by subscription, mention the editor's name only in the booklet they send with the book, but not in the book itself.

It seems, therefore, that the BBT’s publishing standards lie well within the mainstream of accepted practice. And the BBT is entirely in compliance with whatever Chicago considers required.

That aside, over the last few years the BBT has included in various books a brief note telling the book's editorial history and the names of the editors. Since 1983, the second edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is has included a “Note About the Second Edition,” briefly recounting the book’s editorial history. For upcoming printings, that note will mention the names of the editors and the relevant dates as well.

Additionally, Chicago mentions (in 1.25) that a copyright page may include a "publishing history," like this:

    First edition published 1906. Sixteenth edition 2010.

Though the Second Edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is coneys this information through its copyright notice,there's no harm in making the history more explicit, and we will include such a line of "printing history" in future printings.


Related Videos