"I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me." - Ralph Ellison
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Click here to see first edition criteria for National Book Award winners
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Welcome to First Edition Points
We are an online reference guide providing collectors the details
necessary to help identify modern first edition books.
Today's Most Referenced First Edition Criteria and Points
How to Establish the Value of a Book
The key to establishing a book's value is to first ensure that it is a first edition. A first editions is the earliest printed copy of a published book. Collectors look for first edition books because these tend to have the highest demand and the greatest potential to increase in value over time. There are standard identification criteria that first editions conform because most, but not all, first edition books follow an established identification method established by each book publisher. These first edition criteria are details about what a book looked like when it was initially printed as a first edition. These details include details such as certain codes on the copyright page, the type of the binding, and particular text on the dust jacket.
In addition to the first edition criteria, there are sometimes points of issue that describe some part of a book which changes during the first printing without the standard first edition identification of the publisher changing, thus creating some copies of the first edition that have the point, and some that do not have the point. The most common type of first edition points of issue are typographical mistakes that were changed during the first printing. In these cases, the copies with the mistake are more desirable because they represent the earliest state of a first edition.
The fedpo.com website helps a collector understand the identification criteria and any first edition points of issue by describing details such as a book's binding, a specific typographical error, or a dust jacket review that can only be found on the earliest printings. First edition criteria and points of issue are usually subtle, but they are important features that distinguish a rare first edition from a common reprint.
The most common first edition criteria can be found on a book's copyright page. The copyright page may say that a book is a first edition, or a first printing, or first impression; and it may state additional printing information, or it may provide a printing code indicating what printing a book is from. Each publisher has used various methods over the years to indicate a book's edition and printing. Another common first edition indicator is a book's cover price, which is typically printed on the dust jacket. The presence of a price on a dust jacket is also the most fundamental way to ensure that the dust jacket is not from a book club edition or other type of reprint. Book club editions look similar to genuine first editions, but they are not first editions, and they have very little collectible value.
To find first edition criteria for a specific book, simply type in the name of the book, or the name of the author in the fields above; or browse all of our available entries by clicking on the bars at the bottom of this page. We have pages for hundreds of collectible books where we describe first edition criteria, provide photographs of known first editions, and provide pre-filled eBay, AbeBooks, and Biblio search links for each book so you can quickly establish its most recent market value.
June 30, 2009
The mambo kings play songs of love: a novel was written by Oscar Hijuelos. The first edition was published in 1989 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It was 407 pages long, and the retail price was $18.95. The mambo kings play songs of love: a novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Here are the first edition criteria: "FIRST EDITION, 1989" stated on copyright page. Bound in orange cloth with two gold crowns on the front, and gold lettering on the spine. Back of dust jacket has five reviews for the author's first novel. The book was first published on August 21, 1989, and according to the Advance Reading Copy there were 40,000 first printings. Click here for more photos...
June 29, 2009
The Shipping News was written by Annie Proulx. The first edition was published in 1993 by Charles Scribner's Sons. It was 337 pages long, and the retail price was $20.00. The Shipping News won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award.
Here are the first edition criteria: Copyright page has number line "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1". Boards are gray (sometimes described as light blue) with black lettering on a light green cloth spine (sometimes described as aqua or turquoise). ISBN is printed on the back board. Back of dust jacket has 7 reviews for the author's first book, Postcards. Reviews are by Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Booklist, Providence Journal-Bulletin, Vermont Sunday Magazine, and The Washington Times.
A promotional advance excerpt of the first edition was published 8 months prior to the first edition. It was a thin 45 page softcover book containing only the first four chapters of the novel. The back states "Promotional copy. Not for sale". Many, but not all, were signed by the author. The pictorial wraps of the advance excerpt is very similar to what became the first edition dust jacket. Click here for more photos...
June 28, 2009
The Killer Angels was written by Michael Shaara. The first edition was published in 1974 by McKay. It was 374 pages long, and the retail price was $8.95. The Killer Angels won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
The first edition criteria are as follows: Copyright page has 5 lines of text on the top, and five lines of text on the bottom. The 5 lines on the top include the copyright year of 1974 and no other years nor any statement of subsequent printings. The 5 lines on the bottom include by-lines, identification numbers, and manufacturing information. Boards are light blue cloth with darker blue paper spine. The dust jacket has photo of the author on the back with no reviews and no bar code. Click here for more photos...
June 25, 2009
The Onion Field was written by Joseph Wambaugh. The first edition was published in 1973 by Delacorte Press. It was 427 pages long, and the retail price was $8.95.
Here are the first edition criteria: "First printing 1973" is stated on the copyright page. Dust jacket has a photo of the author on the back and a single review by Truman Capote. The dust jacket remains exactly the same until at least the fifth printing. Boards are black with gold lettering on the spine, and red and blue metalic lines across spine and front. Published in September 1973. Click here for more photos...
Previously Featured Book: Bodily Harm
June 20, 2009
Bodily Harm was written by Margaret Atwood. The first edition was published in 1981 by McClelland & Stewart. It was 301 pages long, and the retail price was $16.95.
First edition criteria: The true first is the Canadian edition which was published in November of 1981. There is no statement of subsequent printings on the copyright page. boards are cream with purple spine. Dust jacket has photo of the author on the back with no reviews. back dust jacket flap has six reviews.
The U.S. edition was published in March of the next year (1982) by Simon and Schuster. The copyright page on the U.S. edition has the full number line "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1".
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June 09, 2009
Red Storm Rising was written by Tom Clancy. The first edition was published in 1986 by Putnam. It was 652 pages long, and the retail price was $19.95.
Here are the first edition criteria: Copyright page has full number line "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10". Boards are slightly marbled black with navy blue cloth spine, and gold lettering. The dust jacket remained the same until at least the 19th printing. It has nine reviews on the back for The Hunt for Red October that begins with a long quote from the Washington Post, and a three word quote from President Ronald Reagan. The book was published in August, 1986. Click here for more photos...
June 07, 2009
Portnoy's Complaint was written by Philip Roth. The first edition was published in 1969 by Random House. It was 274 pages long, and the retail price was $6.95.
Here are the first edition criteria: There is a bit of confusion about whether the Limited Edition or the so called "First Trade Edition" is the true first. While the limited edition is certainly desirable because it is signed and there were only 600 copies produced, we believe that the first trade edition is the true first edition. We say this not because we believe that one was released before the other, but rather because we believe that the first trade edition was intended to be the true first. We base this conclusion on the fact that the first trade edition's copyright page specifically states "First Printing", while the copyright page on the limited edition has no indication of first printing or first edition. Furthermore, the signature page on the limited edition simply says "LIMITED EDITION" and not limited first edition. That said, we would imagine that a signed trade edition would be more valuable than a limited edition. However, unsigned trade editions will probably continue to be less valuable than the limited edition because the signature makes up for its less-than-first status.
Now to address the points of the first trade edition, which we will refer to as simply "the first edition". "First Printing" is stated on the copyright page. The boards are navy blue cloth with gold lettering and red top stain. The back of the first issue jacket has two reviews for Goodbye, Columbus (beginning with one from Saul Bellow), two reviews for Letting Go, and two reviews for When She Was Good.
Every first edition we have located has a clipped dust jacket, with a price still present at the edge of the clip. This suggests that there was another price that the Publisher did not want shown. Later printing dust jackets have the corrected $6.95 price in the normal position (unclipped). These later printing jackets are otherwise identical to the first edition jackets.
Someone was kind enough to send a photo of a first edition dust jacket that was not clipped and it shows two different prices. On the left is $6.95, and on the right is $5.95. Please see the photo on the bottom of this page for reference. This rare dust jacket and it sheds light on the mystery. The publisher was likely unsure of pricing as the publication date approached, and so it printed two prices on the jacket. If the decision was made to charge $5.95, then the publisher would black out the price on the left. If the decision was made to charge the higher price, then price on the right would be clipped off. Apparently the latter happened, and the price on the right was clipped.
This practice of printing multiple prices and clipping them later is not unusual. Macmillan used a similar approach to give them pricing flexibility without jeopardizing. production schedules. See Why Macmillan Clipped Their Dust Jackets: Mystery Solved for more information.
Click here for more photos...
Previously Featured Book: Tracks
June 04, 2009
Tracks was written by Louise Erdrich. The first edition was published in 1988 by Henry Holt. It was 226 pages long, and the retail price was $18.95.
The first edition criteria are as follows: First Edition is stated above full number line "1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2". Boards are oatmeal with copper tracks on the front, and copper lettering on dark brown cloth spine. The book was published in September 1988. Back of dust jacket has three reviews for The Beet Queen, five reviews for Love Medicine (by Philip Roth, Anne Tyler, Kay Boyle, Peter Matthiessen, and Toni Morrison), and a single review for Jacklight.
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This website is intended to help guide you and give you insight into what to look for when identifying first editions. As such, the information presented here may not always be 100% accurate. Gathering and updating information about these books is more an art than a science, so some of our first edition points may be wrong. If you spot a mistake, drop us an e-mail and we will do our best to investigate and fix it.