On this day in 1988, the Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Toni Morrison for Beloved.
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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.
Today's Featured Book: Babbitt
December 31, 2009
Babbitt was written by Sinclair Lewis. The first edition was published in 1922 by Harcourt, Brace and Company. It was 401 pages long, and the retail price was $2.00.
Here are the first edition criteria: Copyright page states "Copyright, 1922, by Harcourt, Brace, and Company, Inc." with no references to subsequent printings, and "Printed in the U.S.A. by the Quinn & Boden Company Rahway, N.J." on the bottom. Boards are blue cloth with orange lettering and orange outlines. The back panel of the dust jacket is an order form for recent Harcourt books. The instructions say to "fill out this order blank and send to your bookseller," which might account for the lack of dust jackets available for this book. The publication date for Babbitt was September 14, 1922.
There were two first edition issues (or states) of Babbitt. The first issue has "Supposing Purdy" on line 4 of page 49, and "my fellow human" on line 5 of the same page. the second issue has "Supposing Lyte" on line 4, and "any fellow human" on line 5. These changes were made during the first printing. The first issue is preferred by collectors.
While the points on page 49 are alone enough to identify a first issue, there are other errors that are sometimes pointed out by book sellers. These include "Pennies" changed to "Penny" on page 271 (line 11) and "I means" changed to "I mean" on page 85 (lines 4 and 5). They are interesting corrections, but they are redundant and unnecessary for first issue identification.
All first and early editions have a dedication to Edith Wharton - it is not a first edition point. But it is interesting that Lewis decided to dedicate Babbitt to Edith Wharton. It was likely influenced by the fact that Wharton's Age of Innocence won the Pulitzer Prize over Lewis' Main Street. What made this particular award so difficult is that the Pulitzer jury recommended Main Street, but the Pulitzer board unanimously overturned the jury's recommendation. Click here for more photos...
December 31, 2009
Flags Of Our Fathers was written by James Bradley. The first edition was published in 2000 by Bantam. It was 376 pages long, and the retail price was $24.95.
The first edition criteria are as follows: Copyright page has full number line "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1". Boards are blue with gold lettering. Back of dust jacket has a single quote by Stephen Ambrose. This is the book on which the Clint Eastwood film is based.
Note: A Young People Edition was issued in 2001 by Delecorte Press. It too has a full number line on the first printing. It should not be confused with the the true first edition published by Bantam in 2000. Click here for more photos...
Previously Featured Book: Spirit Lake
December 31, 2009
Spirit Lake was written by MacKinlay Kantor. The first edition was published in 1961 by World Publishing Company. It was 957 pages long, and the retail price was $6.95.
Here are the first edition criteria: FIRST EDITION is stated on the copyright page. Binding is navy blue cloth with gold lettering and red top stain. Photo of author on the back of the dust jacket. there are no reviews on dust jacket. Click here for more photos...
Previously Featured Book: Brothers
December 30, 2009
Brothers was written by Da Chen. The first edition was published in 2006 by Shaye Areheart Books. It was 421 pages long, and the retail price was $25.00.
First edition criteria: FIRST EDITION is stated on the copyright page below full number line "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1". Boards are black with gold lettering on a black spine. Back of the dust jacket has four reviews.
Many of the signed copies are accompanied with the addition of the author's hand stamped "chop" and a large Chinese symbol in black-ink brush calligraphy. The symbols that the author paints tends to vary. So far we have seen symbols for "Good Fortune", "Longevity", "Happiness", "Joy", and "Summer". These signed books are beautiful, very unique, and potentially collectible. Click here for more photos...
December 29, 2009
Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All was written by Allan Gurganus. The first edition was published in 1989 by Alfred A. Knopf. It was 718 pages long, and the retail price was $21.95.
Here are the first edition criteria: First Edition is stated on the copyright page. Boards are blue with gold lettering on maroon cloth spine. No reviews on dust jacket, and dust jacket is unchanged through at least the eighth printing. Gurganus created the dust jacket calligraphy on the front and spine. Click here for more photos...
Previously Featured Book: Scarlett
December 12, 2009
Scarlett was written by Alexandra Ripley. The first edition was published in 1991 by Warner Books. It was 823 pages long, and the retail price was $24.95.
The first edition criteria are as follows: "First printing: September 1991" is stated on the copyright page above full number line "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1". Boards are white with gold lettering on a red cloth spine. Dust jacket lacks any reviews. The back dust jacket panel has an excerpt from the book.
There was a first anniversary edition that was published a year after the first edition. It was signed, numbered, and limited to 5,000 copies. It had a floral pattern in the binding and was issued in a matching floral slipcase.
Scarlett was sanctioned by the estate of Margaret Mitchell as the official sequel to Gone with the Wind despite the fact that Margaret Mitchell herself refused to write a sequel and never granted rights for anyone else to do so. Margaret Mitchell's estate selected Alexandra Ripley to write the sequel. The New York Times reviewed Scarlett with this headline - "In 'Scarlet,' Only the Names Are the Same". Click here for more photos...
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.