June 1, 2012 at 4:48 PM ET
In a uniquely 21st-century publishing error, a classic title has been slightly defaced by an algorithm gone wrong. A North Carolina blogger discovered that a bookseller offering an e-book version of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" accidentally replaced all the instances of the word "kindle" in the book with "Nook" — the result being sentences like "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern."
It doesn't appear, however, to be part of some monstrous Barnes & Noble conspiracy to manipulate language and remove "Kindle" from the lexicon. The book was offered by an independent e-book producer, ironically called Superior Formatting Publishing, which adapts classic texts to e-book formats.
What almost certainly happened was that while customizing the e-book for the Nook and replacing phrases like "formatted for Kindle" with "formatted for Nook," they accidentally let their find-and-replace program run free amid the classic novel of Napoleonic-era Russia.
The book is still available, and bloggers at The Future of the Internet took a look inside. The results are quite funny, though if you'd paid 99 cents for the book, they might seem a little less so.
"War and Peace" is, of course, in the public domain now, and can be downloaded for free from various sources, including Project Gutenberg. As e-books can be made and sold by practically anyone now, one hopes they'll take a bit more care in the future not to accidentally desecrate the classics.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.