There are two limited editions vying for true first status. The true first was likely published by the Franklin Library as part of their First Edition series. It is leather-bound and limited to an unspecified number of copies. It is not signed, but the spine and copyright page state that it is the first edition. The Franklin Library had a good history of making sure that their first editions were really first.
Then there is a Random House edition limited to 500 copies. The boards are navy blue cloth, and it is issued in a navy blue slipcase, numbered, and signed by the author. Even though it might not be the true first, this one tends to have more value than the Franklin edition because it is signed and numbered.
Random House also produced a "special edition" which states that is has been "prepared for presentation to friends of the author and the publisher". It was issued in a plain glassine jacket and is thought to be a special edition of the trade edition rather than the true first edition.
The first trade edition is undisputed. It was published by Random House and its copyright page states "First Trade Edition" below the Random House number line "98765432". It also states that a "limited edition of this book has been privately printed", which by itself does little clarify which is the true first. Some say it is referring to the Franklin edition because it does not describe the limited edition as signed.
Sophie's Choice won the National Book Award.
The true first edition of Sophie's Choice was likely published by the Franklin Library.
This is the copyright page from the Franklin edition.
This is the title page from the Franklin edition.
This statement is found on the Franklin edition.
This is the first trade edition dust jacket for Sophie's Choice.
This is the copyright page from the first trade edition of Sophie's Choice.
This is the dust jacket front flap from the first trade edition of Sophie's Choice.
This is the dust jacket back from the first trade edition of Sophie's Choice.
The first trade edition boards are maroon.
This is the dust jacket back flap from the first trade edition of Sophie's Choice.
William Styron signed this first trade edition of Sophie's Choice as "Bill Styron".
Disclaimer: This website is intended to help guide you and give you insight into what to look for when identifying first editions. The information is compiled from the experience of reputable collectors and dealers in the industry. Gathering and updating information about these books is more an art than a science, and new identication criteria and points of issue are sometimes discovered that may contradict currently accepted identification points. This means that the information presented here may not always be 100% accurate.