Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Frequent Contributor
Daniel_B
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

First Editions, Part I

Today, when most people speak of collecting books, they mean collecting first editions (and signed copies of first editions). You don’t have to be interested in first editions to be a book collector, but I think that all collectors should understand what first editions are and why they’re important.

In the most general sense, the term “first edition” refers to the form in which a book appeared when it was initially made available for sale to the public. For example, Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was originally released as a hardcover, bound in beige cloth. The copyright page contains the name of the publisher (Scribners) and the date of publication (1940), as well as the upper case letter “A”. Scribners used the letter “A” on copyright pages to identify its first editions throughout the 1940s. Most publishers employ similar sorts of codes, and obviously knowing these codes is a good way determine whether a book is a first edition (we’ll come back to this later). The first version of the dust jacket for the book included a large photograph of Hemingway on the back cover, but did not credit the photographer. (The first version of the jacket is relatively scarce – later versions have the photographer’s name beneath the photo). Any copy of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” that possesses all of these features is said to belong to the “first edition”. Because the book was written by Ernest Hemingway, there were many later editions of the book: the hardcover re-print produced by the publisher Blakiston in Philadelphia in 1944 (different cloth, jacket and copyright text than the original Scribners), the British edition published by Jonathan Cape in 1941 (also different cloth, jacket, and copyright text), the recent Simon & Schuster paperback edition (completely revised text, different format), etc.

The various features that are unique to the first edition, like the missing photographer’s credit on the back cover of “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, are called “points”. Points distinguish true first editions from similar looking editions. Identifying first editions requires a bit of detective work and points are the clues. For some titles, a single point is enough to determine whether the book in question belongs to the first edition. Others require the presence of several points (for instance, a copy of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in beige cloth but lacking the “A” on the copyright page is not a first edition). We’ll talk more about identifying first editions later, for now I want to make sure that everyone understands what first editions are. If you have any questions about this, feel free to ask. If it’s not entirely clear, don’t worry – we’ll be discussing first editions pretty frequently here.

I’m curious to know whether any of you collect first editions and which first editions you’re most proud of …..
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: First Editions, Part I

Thanks for that explanation, Daniel.

I can see how for somebody interested in collecting first editions, the research into original printings and points becomes important.

I realize, though, that this just doesn't particularly interest me personally. I'm not trying to be difficult here, but I just don't u understand. I accept that first editions can sell for more money than other editions, but is there anything intrinsically in a first edition that makes it more valuable as a book? Or is its value simply (simply!) that because it is scarce people are willing to pay more for it?

I suppose it's no different with any other collecting passion -- stamps or matchboxes or spoons or whatever. But somehow in my mind, books are different because they have an intrinsic value in their contents which most other collectibles lack.

But really, other than the fact that somebody else is willing to pay you more money for a first edition than a Folio edition which may be more beautifully bound, printed, and illustrated, is there anything that makes first editions more valuable intrinsically than other editions?
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Frequent Contributor
Daniel_B
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: First Editions, Part I


Everyman wrote:
I accept that first editions can sell for more money than other editions, but is there anything intrinsically in a first edition that makes it more valuable as a book? Or is its value simply (simply!) that because it is scarce people are willing to pay more for it?

I suppose it's no different with any other collecting passion -- stamps or matchboxes or spoons or whatever. But somehow in my mind, books are different because they have an intrinsic value in their contents which most other collectibles lack.

But really, other than the fact that somebody else is willing to pay you more money for a first edition than a Folio edition which may be more beautifully bound, printed, and illustrated, is there anything that makes first editions more valuable intrinsically than other editions?




That’s a great question Everyman, thanks. One of the most interesting things about book collecting, to me anyway, is that the value of collectible books are not entirely determined by their scarcity. The content of the book plays a much larger role in book collecting than does, say, the appearance of the stamp in stamp collecting. No one would bother to collect a first edition of a terrible book just because it was limited to an initial print run of 50 copies (in fact, I can think of several examples of scarce books that are scarce for a reason and aren’t worth a dime). But this poses a problem – the problem that you raise in your question: if we value books based on their content, why does it matter whether we collect first editions instead of cheap paperbacks?

Many answers to this question have been proffered over the years. I mentioned on of the most common ones already: first editions come closest to the meeting the authors’ original intentions. The text hasn’t been revised, and the author probably had some say in the dust jacket design. I can’t say that I find this answer entirely satisfactory. But for me, there isn’t only one reason to collect first editions. I find that there’s something intrinsically appealing about owning the original version of a cultural artifact that changed the world -- or even better, of one that will change the world. Think of how many people have read “Moby Dick” or “Leaves of Grass”, and the impact that these have had on literature and the universe at large. When you hold early editions of these books in your hands, they have a sort of aura – you can imagine a time when no one had read “Moby Dick”, or heard of Melville, and someone took a chance on the copy that you’re holding more than a century later.

There are a few other reasons for collecting first editions that I find compelling. Remember that in the usual case, the first edition is the only hard cover edition of a book – all reprints are paperbacks. In that situation, I like first editions because they’re better constructed, last longer, and are more aesthetically appealing than paperbacks. You mention the situation where a book is reprinted in a fine, hardcover edition … in that case, you’re correct: there is no reason to buy the first edition over the reprint other than those related to originality, scarcity and price. But fine reprints are few and far between. Later we’ll talk about publishers like the Folio Society who reprint classics in fine editions. Excluding them, it’s fair to generalize and say that even hard cover reprints (issued in the 20th century) are of lesser quality than the first editions. Book club editions, for instance, are of notoriously poor quality.

But I’d like to hear what everyone else thinks about this: do the rest of you find any intrinsic value in first editions?
New User
Sumac
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎07-11-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First Editions, Part I

My answer to whether there is any intrinsic value in first editions is, in a word, absolutely.

There is simply no explanation why some of us are intrigued and even obsessed with first editions.

I am particularly obsessed with first editions of my favorite authors. The dollar value means nothing to me, as I would never part with them for money.

So, Everyman, jump on our band wagon...you'll get hooked and love it!
Contributor
Borg
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎02-10-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First Editions, Part I

You should never collect anything for money. A book may be worth $500 say, if and only if you find someone willing to pay that much for it. You collect because it is something you enjoy doing. You enjoy the hunt, you are thrilled at the rare find, and you are proud of your collection and enjoy showing it to others. If you don't care about what type of copy of read, why not just get it from the library. Someone who uses the library might think you strange for wanting to own any copy.

Thanks
Borg
New User
Sumac
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎07-11-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First Editions, Part I

I think that's what my message said isn't it, regarding the money?

Anyway, I make the point again that someone who isn't a book collector, such as those who use the library only, won't understand the obsession.

I use the library frequently and also collect books by my favorite authors. Best of both worlds.
Frequent Contributor
Daniel_B
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: First Editions, Part I



Sumac wrote:
My answer to whether there is any intrinsic value in first editions is, in a word, absolutely.

There is simply no explanation why some of us are intrigued and even obsessed with first editions.

I am particularly obsessed with first editions of my favorite authors. The dollar value means nothing to me, as I would never part with them for money.

So, Everyman, jump on our band wagon...you'll get hooked and love it!




I completely agree ... it's difficult to explain but when you go to a fair and see them, there's something pretty compelling about first editions as physical objects. I can think of many reasons to collect them, and I gave a few above, but none of them are totally adequate. It's a strange combination of their appeal as objects and my appreciation for what's between the covers. I don't believe that there are any book collectors who are strictly in it for the money. There are better ways to make money. (It's certainly a great way to spend money). But sometimes it is nice to know that you bought a $300 book for $3, even if you don't plan to resell it.
New User
Sumac
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎07-11-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First Editions, Part I

You hit the nail on the head, to use that cliche.

Thanks for the first edition information. Many of these tips I didn't know and it will help me to get even more into first edition collecting (thanks...I guess....ha!).
Frequent Contributor
saltydog
Posts: 46
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First Editions, Part I

Hi - I'm not a collector but have been interested in it. That interest was triggered by my reading the mystery novels of Juhn Dunning. As stand alone mysteries they are as good as any. However, the central character is Cliff Janeway, a PI who offers his services to book collectors. Therefore there is lots of information about book collecting in the stories. As example in one of the stories it is not a first edition that is of value but an edition printed by a small press near North Bend in the Cascades.

The novels are, "The Sign of the Book,""The Bookman's Promise,""Booked Twice," and "The Bookman's Wake."

I am a Virginia Woolf fan and find trying to track down works printed and distributed by Hogarth press, which was essentially Woolf and her husband, intriguing.

I think it would be interesting to attempt to acquire all printings of a specific work.

Dan - The Saltiest of Salty Dogs
Salty Dog
Contributor
SherriLee
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎07-19-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First Editions, Part I

Have to admit to being sucked in by John Dunning as well....although he wanders away from collecting by the end of the most recent book. His Janeway character provided me just enough info to want to know more and it has been wonderful. I completely agree that you shouldnt collect things you dont care about so while I do collect first editions, they are all authors I adore and I collect in other areas as well. In the film Conspiracy Theory, Mel Gibson was compelled to buy Catcher in the Rye. I cant pass up an old Jane Eyre or anything on Theodore Roosevelt. I have too many of both. There are several wonderful sellers in the BN used and out of print area that are a great help and while I love mystery/thriller/legal stuff, I love talking any book with anyone, anytime.
Contributor
lily_sparkletoon
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎04-10-2007
0 Kudos

Re: First Editions, Part I

agreed..... it is like the book I read recently but I can not online write a review because the book is not due to be out until december.
Author of
Acoustical Poetry
Tales of Tara : Gabrielian Chronicles (soon to be released)
Reader
stormer
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎02-19-2008
0 Kudos

Re: First Editions, Part I

I collect first editions, mainly fiction (both literary and genre), and mainly modern. I am a relative novice and am continually amazed by the number of publisher inconsistencies surrounding first edition designations, especially by pusblishers who mostly stick to their own rules, but not always...  I am often dismayed by the lack of "points" information offered by internet sellers, especially since this is so critical for identifying "true" first states. I would like to find a forum for sharing specific information on identifying true firsts.
 
 Any Don DeLillo collectors out there?
Top Kudoed Authors
User Kudos Count
1
Users Online
Currently online: 57 members 382 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: