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: V.
March 30, 2010
V. was written by Thomas Pynchon. The first edition was published in 1963 by Lippincott. It was 492 pages long, and the retail price was $5.95.
First edition criteria: Copyright page has no mention of additional impressions. The copyright text is justified in a V pattern beginning with "COPYRIGHT © 1961, 1963 by Thomas Pynchon", and ending with "Manufactured in the United States of America by H. Wolf, N.Y. Designed by Marshall Lee." Boards are purple cloth with blindstamp "V"s on front with silver lettering and a large V on the spine. Top stain is blue. The dust jacket has chapter headings on the back and no reviews. $5.95 price is on the bottom right corner of the dust jacket front flap. Click here for more photos...
Previously Featured Book: The Stand
March 26, 2010
The Stand was written by Stephen King. The first edition was published in 1978 by Doubleday and Company. It was 823 pages long, and the retail price was $12.95.
Here are the first edition criteria: First Edition is stated on the bottom of the copyright page, with 1978 on title page, and "T39" gutter code on page 823. Boards are mustard with gold lettering on a black cloth spine. The first issue dust jacket has a price of $12.95 on the front flap, and a 35-line quote from the book on the back. The author bio on the back dust jacket flap mentions earlier books only - Carrie, The Shining, Salem's Lot, and Night Shift. Click here for more photos...
March 25, 2010
Episode in Palmetto was written by Erskine Caldwell. The first edition was published in 1950 by Duell, Sloan and Pearce. It was 252 pages long, and the retail price was $2.75.
The first edition criteria are as follows: First edition is stated on the copyright page with no references to subsequent printings. Binding is light green cloth. Back of the dust jacket has photo of the author next to the author's name, and without any critical reviews - only the phrase "America's Best-Selling Novelist". The top of the dust jacket front flap has the $2.75 price. The back dust jacket flap has an advertisement for the uniform edition of Erskine Caldwell. The publisher's name and address is at the bottom of both flaps. Click here for more photos...
March 22, 2010
Raintree County was written by Ross Lockridge. The first edition was published in 1948 by Houghton Mifflin Company. It was 1066 pages long, and the retail price was $3.95.
Here are the first edition criteria: 1948 is stated on the title page. Binding is green cloth with no book-of-the-month club dot on lower rear of board (near the the spine). The first issue dust jacket has a photo of the author on the back panel over a three paragraph biography where the third paragraph states that the author "has four children". This paragraph was removed after the author's death, but might have been restored in a facsimile edition decades later. The front flap of the first issue jacket has a price on the top, and there is no mention anywhere on the jacket that this book was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection.
All first printings seem to have the question "Wasn't Jesus God's?" on line 3 of page 152. We therefore do not consider it to be a first edition point. The question was removed shortly after the first printing, and was eventually restored decades later.
We have seen editions in tan bindings, but we have never observed one with 1948 on the title page, and this suggests that they are not first printings. Some tan binding books lack the book club dot, and some contain the "Wasn't Jesus God's?" question on page 152. These are probably early printings of the first edition. Their existence strengthens our believe that all first printings likely contain the "Wasn't Jesus God's?" question.
The background story of Raintree County and the Lockridge family history can be found at the Raintree County Home Page.
Click here for more photos...
March 20, 2010
The Dead Zone was written by Stephen King. The first edition was published in 1979 by Viking Press. It was 426 pages long, and the retail price was $11.95.
The first edition criteria are as follows: "First published in 1979 by The Viking Press" is stated on the copyright page with no references to subsequent printings. Boards are black with author's initials embossed on the front, and gold lettering on a black cloth spine. The dust jacket has no reviews. Back of dust jacket has an 11-line quote from the book with ISBN on the bottom right corner. The back dust jacket flap has a photo of the author above a 4-line bio. Click here for more photos...
March 18, 2010
Noah's Compass was written by Anne Tyler. The first edition was published in 2009 by Alfred A. Knopf. It was 277 pages long, and the retail price was $25.95.
Here are the first edition criteria: First Edition is stated on the copyright page with 2009 on the title page. Boards are light green with copper lettering on a textured light gray spine.
Noah's Compass raises significant questions about what it means when a book is published. As you can see from the first edition photos, all indications are that it was published in 2009. The copyright page states First Edition with 2009 as the copyright date. The title page states 2009. The back dust jacket flap has the code "10/2009", which indicates that the published time frame was around October 2009. There is in fact no mention of 2010 anywhere on the book. We even found a library copy where the Received Date was December 31, 2009 - and this lets us know that at least some copies were released in 2009.
Yet the publisher says that the publication date is January, 2010 on their website. The publisher also issued a "Signed Edition" limited to 50 copies; which is basically a regular first edition with a embossed band around the book, and a book plate signed by the author - this book plate explicitly states "FIRST EDITION 2010".
All of this suggests that the publisher intended to publish the book in 2009, and released some books in 2009. But for some reason the publisher changed its mind and declared a new publishing date after the book was already produced. So rather than changing the 2009 publishing information in the book, they left it alone, and simply declared a new publishing date, which they published on their website, in press releases, and on 50 "Signed Edition" book plates.
That said, we decided to go with the original information in the book and list its publication date as 2009. Our reasoning is that the year printed in the book will last longer than the "official" revised date which will only be evident in the 50 limited "Signed Editions". Click here for more photos...
March 08, 2010
Stallion Gate was written by Martin Cruz Smith. The first edition was published in 1986 by Random House. It was 321 pages long, and the retail price was $17.95.
The first edition criteria are as follows: First Edition is stated below Random House number line "24689753" AND there is no book club dot on the back boards.
Boards are blue/purple with silver lettering on a navy blue spine. The ISBN is present on the lower right corner of the dust jacket back panel.
Note: while the book club dust jacket can easily be identified by lack of price and lack of ISBN, the book itself states first edition with the same number line. The only difference between the true first edition book and the book club edition book is a small embossed dot on the back of the book club boards near the spine (see photo). Click here for more photos...
March 05, 2010
American Salvage was written by Bonnie Jo Campbell. The first edition was published in 2009 by Wayne State University Press. It was 170 pages long.
Here are the first edition criteria: The copyright page has full number line "13 12 11 10 09 5 4 3 2 1". Format is softcover.
The four reviews on the back of the first printing remained the same on the second and other early printings. These reviews are by Carolyn Chute, Rachael Perry, Laura Kasischke, and Jack Driscoll. American Salvage was published as part of Wayne State University's Made in Michigan writers series. The first printing consisted of 1,500 copies. There is no price listed anywhere on the book.
Note: American Salvage was reprinted by W. W. Norton & Company in late 2009. The Norton edition features the same cover photo by Mary Whalen, but the Norton edition uses a larger portion of the photo across the entire front cover, while the original Wayne State edition features a cropped photo that is positioned on the bottom two-thirds of the front cover. Also, the first Norton printing will have a full number line, so be careful not rely on this as your sole method of first edition identification.
American Salvage was a finalist for the National Book Award. 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.