Costs $100, and has been chosen by Barnes & Noble as its book of the year. Well timed for Christmas, obviously.

As Shelf Awareness tells us: “B&N CEO James Daunt commented: ‘The Lyrics is an extraordinary book. It is stunningly beautiful and a masterpiece of book design. Paul McCartney has fashioned, through the explorations of his songs with the poet Paul Muldoon, a fascinating insight into his life and creative genius. No wonder the booksellers of Barnes & Noble have hailed this magnificent and deeply original book.'”

It is indeed a nicely designed book, but unfortunately Volume 1 opens with a design boo-boo. Page vii is blank. You are not allowed to leave a right hand page (recto) with nothing on it once you have started putting ink on the pages. You can begin the book with as many blanks as you can get away with, but as soon as you’ve printed anything on a recto — usually the half-title will be the first such item — you cannot leave any other recto blank until you get to the end of the book, after the index etc., where once again you can leave as many pages blank as you’d like.

Who is it that makes this rule? Not sure. It’s convention, but convention so rigid that everyone in the business seems to have silently internalized it, and looking at the spread above immediately recognizes that something’s wrong. Maybe it began in the same sort of way as the half-title convention did, so that you’d not have a blank on the outside of a section after it had been folded. Such a blank could lead to the possibility of the section being included at the wrong place in the gathered book block, whereas if it showed a bit of text and a page number it couldn’t (as easily) be gathered in the wrong sequence.

The Lyrics error is so “obvious” that it would seem that it had to be a mix-up. The epigraph on page vi must have been intended for p. vii. With a book of this magnitude it’s surprising that this was missed in proof or even at f&gs stage. Maybe they did notice it in f&gs and couldn’t reprint the sig (as most publishers would want to do) because of supply chain problems — scarce press time, or more likely paper backlogs.

I might have preferred to see this pair of lines dropped a bit lower on the page, a comment which would also apply to the dedication on the preceding page, which is aligned flush right. It’s no big deal, but they both look a bit lonely way up there. Having said that, I have to reflect that the alignment of this pair of lines, both flush left, rather militates against my contention that this was just a mix-up. If these lines had been intended for the following page, they would have been aligned at the right hand end of the second line. Maybe there was once something else on this page and it got dropped at the last moment?

When Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize there was a pretty chaotic and inadequate effort by his publisher to make his newly hallowed lyrics available to an eager public. Paul McCartney has been brilliantly served by his publisher, Liverright (a division of W. W. Norton), and by his editor, Paul Muldoon who contributes a critical essay. The 154 songs, not just Beatles’ songs of course, are printed in alphabetical order each with a substantial and informative commentary by McCartney including lots of four-color photos. Perhaps almost over-cutely the book is set in a specially designed typeface “Rigby” — but even this turns out to be a success.

Get it for Christmas. Shop early. The book’s printed in China, so they won’t be restocking this year.