Edition State Terminology

by Craig Stark

#3, 6 October 2003

Basic Edition Identification

All books, no matter how pedestrian or ill-conceived, begin with some kind of vision, even if it's seriously flawed vision. "Vision" and "idea" are synonymous, can be used interchangeably, but vision is best understood as more than a dry, cerebral event. It's also inspiration - rather, inspiration drives the idea. No matter what the source of inspiration, divine or otherwise, there is an aura of brightness - a glow - that surrounds it, and it's this glow that breathes life into a book; it's this glow that, once expressed, collectors are drawn to.

If collectors could buy, for example, Hemingway's glow, keep it in a small, carved pumpkin on their shelves, they would, and it would be a thing to wonder at, pulsing flashes of orange illuminating a dark corner of a bookcase - a priceless, forever-burning jack-o'-lantern. But since this isn't possible, they will buy the next best thing, or the closest thing to the next best thing because the next best thing might be prohibitively expensive - for example, an original manuscript. The following list of 24 edition terms are (very) approximately ordered according to how close they are likely to be to original vision. Mastering these terms is not only essential to understanding any discussion of first edition identification but also will eliminate much of the confusion which so often surrounds it. Relative values of books often increase as edition states move closer to the moment of creation, but by no means is this always the case. Note also that most books do not exist in all of the following forms.

Manuscript copy

Handwritten or typewritten copy. May or may not be in (or accomplished by) author's hand.

Rough proof or galleys

Copy printed from final draft of manuscript for purposes of editing and/or proofreading. Galleys usually refer to unbound printed sheets. Rough proofs are often bound and sometimes printed in sufficient quantity to be distributed as review copies. SYNONYMS: first proof, galley proof, proof copy, reader's proof, uncorrected proof.

Review copy or ARC (Advance Reading Copy)

Copy given to reviewers, book dealers, or publisher representatives (selling subscriptions), usually predating publication, for promotional purposes. May or may not be identical in text or binding to trade publication or proof copies. Often bound in wraps. May also include band outside dust jacket, laid-in review slip, stamp on title page or other designating device. SYNONYM: advance copy.

Salesman's copy

May be identical to proof copy but more likely an abridged version of complete book. Published for presentation by subscription salesmen or other promotional purposes. Often predates trade publication. SYNONYMS: publisher's sample, salesman's sample copy, sample copy.

Copyright edition

Copy, often abridged and/or only partially edited, printed prior to formal publication to establish and/or safeguard copyright - that is, to discourage publication of unauthorized or pirated editions. (Obsolete, largely 19th-century practice.)

First state (of first printing)

Primary focus of collectors. Copy printed during first press run before any alterations are made to book. Alterations (aka issue points or points of issue) which indicate second or later state may include any modifications made during the production process - e.g., editorial corrections, additions or subtractions of pages, changes in binding cloth, alterations of dust jacket, etc. NOTE: all changes affecting state are more often than not assumed to occur prior to distribution. SYNONYM: first issue.

First issue (of first printing)

Often used interchangeably with "first state" but may also, confusingly, address the following situation: copies printed before any alterations are made to book may be altered after partial distribution of first print run has occurred. In other words, errors, etc., may be discovered after some but not all copies have been distributed to public and remaining uncirculated copies may be then corrected - e.g., by excising pages and tipping in replacements. Corrected copies are then defined as second issue.

First printing

Copy printed during first press run. May or may not be first state or first issue. SYNONYMS: first impression, first issue.

First edition

Copy printed with original (mostly unaltered) plates. May or may not be first printing, state or issue. IMPORTANT NOTE: Collectors often use this term to mean first printing (state, issue). Beware.

First published edition

Copy which implies existence of preceding edition not offered for public sale - that is, edition intended only for private or official use.

First separate edition

Copy which implies existence of preceding edition that included additional content. Example - story that first appeared in anthology and later published separate from it.

First authorized edition

Copy which implies existence of preceding unauthorized or pirated edition.

First or later printing before publication

Copy printed before distribution but after first print run to satisfy advance orders or unanticipated demand for book. IMPORTANT NOTE: first printing before publication not equivalent to first printing but more accurately described as later printing of first edition, even though printing precedes date of distribution of first printing.

Limited edition

Copy printed in deliberately limited numbers so as to enhance value, often numbered or signed by author, illustrator, or both. May or may not be first appearance of book in print.

First US or UK edition

Copy which implies existence of preceding edition published in another country. Sometimes (unadvisedly) used for first translation into English. SYNONMYMS: First American edition, first English edition, first British edition, etc.

Unauthorized or pirated edition

Copy published without authorization and/or payment to author. May or may not be first appearance in print. (A common practice previous to establishment of international copyright, though computer technology has aided in its revival, especially in Southeast Asia.)

Edition de luxe

Copy produced primarily for purposes of display - i.e., outward (and often elaborate) appearance. Sometimes confused with limited edition.

Library edition

Copies published in durable bindings, sometimes without dust jackets, for institutional use. May or may not be first editions.

Second or later printing of first edition

Copy printed after first print run has been completed.

Second or later edition

Copy which usually differs significantly in content or form from first edition.

First thus

Copy which contains new material (added either by original or different author) appearing for first time, thereby requiring separate entry in author's bibliography. Widely misused to include first paperback edition, first illustrated edition, etc.

Book club edition (BCE)

Copy published and/or distributed by book club, usually but not always following trade publication - i.e., in some cases may be first appearance of book in print,

First paperback edition

Copy published for first time in wrappers, usually but not always following hardcover publication. SYNONYMS: paperback original or PBO.

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