Update Announcements

by Craig Stark

#48, 1 August 2005

It seems that First edition identification is never easy, no matter what you've got in your hands, but go back a hundred years or more, and things can get impossibly complex. 19th century publishers were notorious for practices which sometimes defy one's attempts to determine edition state (and some early 20th century publishers weren't much better). Binding material was sometimes changed in the middle of print runs. Red and blue examples of the same book, for example, might well both be first printings; moreover, it's not always possible to determine which color or material was used first. Worse, if sheets were left over from a first print run, they were often mixed in with sheets from later runs, putting the resulting book in a state of edition limbo. And printing errors? It was far more common for a creaky, rusting 19th century press to, for example, drop a letter during the printing process, the result being multiple issue states within the printing.

And all of these variants, of course, affect value.

Fortunately, there's help. Jacob Blanck's landmark, massive Bibliography of American Literature (or BAL) attempts to make at least some sense out of issue points gone mad - and in many cases it does. Most of us don't have an extra thousand bucks kicking around to buy our own sets (currently expanded to 9 volumes), but many large libraries have them on their shelves. As you might suspect, however, using this complex reference isn't altogether straightforward, and BookThink's Contributing Editor (and library science guru) is here today to bring us clarity.

Issue #18 of the Gold Edition will be e-mailed to subscribers Monday evening, August 1. The topic is investment books, and Part I of this new series will focus on classic stock market titles and legendary investment gurus. Flashpoints, as usual, abound. If you don't receive your copy, it means one of two things: our e-mail was bounced or your subscription has expired. If it's the former, write us at editor@bookthink.com and we'll resend it ASAP; if the latter, you can still renew here.


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