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first Impression • first Issue • first printing

In the world of book collecting, a first edition is generally considered to be the first appearance of a work, in its first printing.  At first this can become somewhat confusing because when a book becomes very popular and is often re-printed many times over a number of years with different publishers resulting in several "first editions."  In these cases the first edition of the first publication of the book is described as the true first edition and will always be marked or described as such.  Below is a set of some other glossary terms that booksellers use to describe different editions.

Advanced Reading Copy - A copy for reviewers and/or booksellers, usually bound in paper wraps and usually with either the finished cover art or possibly trial cover art. Generally, this copy is as it will appear in the stores and differs from the Uncorrected Proof.

First Separate Edition- The first appearance as a complete book or pamphlet of a work that has previously appeared as part of another book.

First Thus - Means not a first edition, but something is new. It may be revised, have a new introduction by the author or someone else, be the first publication in paperback form, or first by another publisher.

First Trade Edition - The edition produced for general commercial sale, as distinguished from a limited edition.

First and Second Printing before Publication - This indicates the publisher was successful in promoting the book and had more orders before the actual publication date than the first printing quantity would cover, therefore a second printing was ordered. Not a first edition.

Limited Edition - Any book whose publication is deliberately restricted to a comparatively small number of copies, usually numbered and often signed by the author and/or illustrator.

Modern Firsts - First edition of a book published after 1900

Remember when collecting first editions that condition and scarcity are the main contributing factors to the price of a book.  If you are unfamiliar with the grading scale for book conditions you can find it on our used books page. 

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