First edition book collectors free.How to Identify First Editions
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I cannot withstand them. A First Edition refers to the original publication of a book and is usually used synonymously with the First Printing. When building a collection of significance, why should you acquire First Editions? While a reprint can always be followed by another reprint, a First Edition cannot be republished as First and will consequentially always be valued higher as a reprint of the same.
Most major areas of collecting have their standard reference bibliographies to support the most successful collections and libraries by helping to identify the desired and sought after first releases and the attributes of text or binding of landmark publications.
Contact us for advice on the best bibliographies to identify First Editions for your collection. Even if you’re brand new to the world of antiquarian books, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that first editions are the trade’s gold standard.
Indeed, first editions often fetch much higher prices than later editions, even if the books seem exactly the same to the untrained collector. But as you build your rare book collection, you can’t afford not to collect first editions.
Publishing a book requires taking a calculated risk. What if the book gets panned by the critics? Or what if it simply languishes undiscovered, receiving neither critical acclaim nor derision? To mitigate this risk, publishers often choose to publish a book in only small numbers at first, and then issue reprints if the title proves commercially viable.
Thus first editions are often available in much more limited numbers than subsequent editions. This is especially true for authors’ first works, because they have no reputation of literary success. And in the world of collecting, scarcity generally increases value. The more difficult it is to find a book, the higher the price will be presuming that the book is a desirable title. Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale is an excellent example; only 4, copies of the book were published in the first UK run April The book marked the start of Fleming’s incredibly popular James Bond series, and it has been adapted for the silver screen three times.
Less than 3, copies of this first edition are thought to survive. Generally authors are quite involved in the publication process. Therefore the first edition of a book often represents the version that’s closest to an author’s original intentions. We find a classic illustration of this idea with Ray Bradbury and Farenheit In the Afterword to a much later edition of his famous novel, Bradbury writes, “Only six weeks ago I discovered tha, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel.
The opposite may also be true. Consider Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. The first edition, published in has one ending, which is quite melancholy. When Dickens’ colleague and confidant Edward Bulwer-Lytton read the manuscript, however, he urged Dickens to change the ending. Dickens complied, and the edition got a new ending. In this instance, serious collectors would strive to attain both the and the editions of Great Expectations.
Dickens was certainly not the only author to change his work between publishing runs–Henry James, for instance, was notorious for changing his works between print runs. Even if you’re a novice collector of rare books , you’ve undoubtedly heard about the importance of identifying first editions. Generally first editions were printed in smaller numbers, making them more scarce.
Furthermore, there’s a certain allure to having the “very first” of something. Because first edition identification is critical to building a rare book collection, it’s important to invest in at least a few useful resources.
Compiled by Bill McBride, Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions is indispensable when you’re browsing at book fairs, garage sales, or antique stores. It lists the methods that English-language publishers have used to identify first editions, both hardbound and paperbound, past and present.
As there are myriad ways to indicate a book’s edition, and each publisher’s method has its own nuances, you’ll often see even the most seasoned book dealers consulting the Pocket Guide on occasion. It’s a comprehensive guide to the first edition identification statements of selected North American, British Commonwealth, and Irish publishers.
First Editions includes only information obtained directly from the publishers themselves, “from the horse’s mouth” as it were. Note that these first edition guides primarily focus on books published in the twentieth century and later. They also don’t offer guidance on differentiating, for instance, between the first state and later states of a book–both of which may still be considered first editions.
And some desirable editions of books will be published by small presses–which aren’t included in standard resources.
That’s why it’s critical to obtain a bibliography for your area of focus. For instance, collectors of Charles van Sandwyk rely on the Interim Bibliography published by Heavenly Monkey in Nowhere else will you find information about identifying van Sandwyk’s first editions, and this bibliography is a collector’s item unto itself. Bibliographies can also address broader subjects. Jacob Blanck’s Bibliography of American Literature represents a definitive resource, and you’ll frequently find references to “BAL” in book dealers’ descriptions.
It’s a truly exhaustive work, published in multiple volumes by Oak Knoll Press. Some collectors obtain only the volumes that contain information on the authors that interest them, while others get the entire set. You’ll also find much more specialized bibliographies, such as Bibliotheca Mechanica by Verne L Roberts and Ivy Trent, considered the authoritative bibliography on early engineering and mechanics.
A Matter of Taste , a comprehensive bibliography of the international collection of books on food and drink housed at the Lilly Library at Indiana University. It includes books on gastronomy, wine making, and a number of other topics relevant to collectors of antiquarian cookery books.
Just about every area of specialization has its own bibliography. The ubiquity of the internet has substantially changed the world of rare book collecting.
There’s a wealth of information available to collectors on the internet, including our own library of downloadable guides. In our resource library, you’ll find guides on rare book care and restoration, along with collector’s checklists for Newbery- and Caldecott-winning books, guides for collecting first editions from modern publishers, and much more!
Changes like a different ending are relatively easy to identify. But often it is more difficult to identify first editions. Books published before often don’t bear any written indication about whether a book is a first edition or later one. So collectors rely on points of issue, that is, differences between the first edition and subsequent ones.
Common points of issue include the following:. It’s also important to understand the difference between first issue and first state. A point of issue refers to a change made after copies of the book already entered circulation. Differences in state occur when changes are made to a book before any copies are circulated. For example, if a publisher identifies a typographical error during the initial printing process, it may be corrected mid-print. This was much more common in the days when books were still printed manually using moveable type.
After about , many major publishing houses started adopting conventions for identifying first editions.
If you collect rare books, identifying first editions is an important skill. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Alfred and Blanche Knopf founded Alfred A. Knopf in and incorporated three years later. Alfred served as president, while Blanche was vice president. The couple traveled extensively, soon earning a reputation for publishing not only excellent American writers, but also authors from Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
To date, their roster of authors includes nearly 50 Pulitzer Prize winners and more than 15 Nobel laureates. In , Knopf began publishing periodicals. The first, The American Mercury , published some of the most influential writers of the s and s. Knopf published the magazine until Meanwhile Borzoi Quarterly came into existence as a means for promoting new books.
The borzoi has always been the icon of the publishing house. Publishers generally issue statements about how they indicate first editions. Knopf is no exception; the house has issued a total of nine statements since The first printing is not indicated in this way. Books reprinted before publication date include a note such as “First and second printings before publication” on the copyright page. The changes were outlined in their statement.
They began including the words “First Edition” or “First American Edition” on the copyright page where applicable. The latter was used only when the book had already been published abroad regardless of the language used for publication. Subsequent statements have reiterated that Knopf has not changed its identification methods for first editions. The statement added that Knopf was now a division of Random House, Inc, rather than its own corporation.
The English house, which was discontinued in , followed a different convention. They would place the month and year of first publication on the verso of the title page. Further impressions include the impression number and further editions by the edition number. Since its inception in , Doubleday has been a powerful presence in the American publishing landscape.
Collectors often encounter books from the publishing house, so it’s useful to know a bit about Doubleday’s history and how to identify its first editions. Brooklyn native Frank Nelson Doubleday developed a love for publishing at an early age. By the time he was ten years old, he had already saved up money to purchase his own printing press. To recoup the cost, Doubleday sold advertisement space in the news circulars he printed.
Doubleday’s father was a hatter, and when his business failed, Doubleday was forced to leave school and find a job.