RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS Digest V3 #975: Firsts.

From: marianne.macdonald@lineone.net
Date: 25 Nov 2001

>From: "Chris Bahn" < chrisbahn@earthlink.net>
>Subject: RARA-AVIS: first editions
>On a recent search of one of my local used bookstores, I ran across what I
>think is a first-edition copy of Tom Clancy's "The Hunt For Red October."
>This is the first time I've ever made such a discovery, so I'm not sure how
>to be sure of it. How does a person verify something like this?

I'll send this to the list in case it's of general interest.

Identifying first editions can, at worst, be really difficult.

Assuming that the title page looks all right and doesn't list a book club as publisher or something like that:

Step 1 Read the copyright page and check the copyright year and any other information given (for example, "First US Edition" means that it was previously published elsewhere.) It is often possible to work out from this page that it is NOT a first edition.

Step 2 With RECENT publications, it will be easy to tell whether you have a true first edition. You will see a string of numbers at the bottom of the page reading from 10 to 1. If any of them is missing, this is a reprint or re-issue.

Step 2 alt. With older books, it can become quite confusing; but there is often enough detail there to give you a good idea of the situation. If you still aren't sure, the quick answer is to go to "Google" and do a search on the title at either "ABE" or, more slowly, "addALL/used". If the book is collectible, people will be offering copies of the 'first edition', and you may be able to tell from the descriptions whether they resemble your copy. (You could even email a dealer and ask whether they can help you identify yours.) If it isn't considered collectible, then frankly it doesn't matter much whether it's a first, because what you have found is a "reading copy". Enjoy reading it.
  If after this you think that you have found an incredibly valuable first edition of something, you could of course just buy the book for the low price marked in it - although even if you're right, I'd have to warn you that for books like Red October to be worth anything, they must be in near-unread condition with a pristine dust jacket. Wrap it in paper or cellophane and do not drop it, put coffee cups on it, throw it for the dog to retrieve, or read it.

Or enjoy reading it.


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