First Edition Points and Criteria for A Brief History of Time

Year Published: 1988
Author Last Name: Hawking
Author First Name: Stephen
Publisher: Bantam
Original Price: £14.95
Pages: 198

The true first edition is the UK issue. The copyright page says Published 1988 by Bantam Press, and has no statement of reprints. The ISBN is 0-593-01518-5. The dust jacket is silver and has a price of £14.95 on the bottom of the front flap.

The U.S. first edition was quickly recalled and scrapped because, in the author's words, it was "full of errors, with misplaced and erroneously labeled photographs and diagrams." Some scrapped copies escaped, and can be identified primarily by a silver dust jacket similar to the color of the UK dust jacket. This first state entirely lacks the table of contents and dedication statement. It has a full number line (0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1) on the copyright page. But its ISBN (0-553-05243-8) is different than the ISBN on the second state replacement.

The second state of the U.S. first edition also has a full number line (0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1) on the copyright page. But it has a dedication on the copyright page, and it has a table of contents. The second state ISBN is 0-553-05340-X. It has a dark blue dust jacket and a price of $18.95 on the top of the front flap. The second state is much more common than either the first state U.S. edition or the UK first edition.

To make matters more complicated, we have discovered what appears to be a book club edition of the U.S. first state. It has the exact same silver dust jacket, but it lacks the price on the front flap, and it lacks the barcode on the back panel (see the photos below). Unfortunately, the book itself looks identical to the true first state. There is no book club emboss nor any gutter markings.

The first state of the U.S. edition also has an extra passage on page 34 comprising two paragraphs. This passage was removed on the second issue, and on all subsequent printings; and it is also not found on the UK first edition. The passage discusses a scenario with two freely moving observers, and ends with this conclusion:

Thus, in relativity, neither the position in space nor the time of an event is absolute. They both depend on the motion of the observer.

A Brief History of Time is classified in the following category: Science

This is the UK first edition dust jacket.
This is the UK first edition dust jacket.

 This is the copyright page from the UK first edition.
This is the copyright page from the UK first edition.

 This is the dust jacket flap from the UK first edition.
This is the dust jacket flap from the UK first edition.

This is the dust jacket back of the UK first edition.
This is the dust jacket back of the UK first edition.

 This is the dust jacket from the first state of the U.S. first edition.
This is the dust jacket from the first state of the U.S. first edition.

This is the copyright page from the first state of the U.S. first edition.
This is the copyright page from the first state of the U.S. first edition.

This is the dust jacket from the first state of the U.S. first edition.
This is the dust jacket from the first state of the U.S. first edition.

This is the dust jacket back of the first state of the U.S. first edition.
This is the dust jacket back of the first state of the U.S. first edition.

This is the back dust jacket flap from the first state of the U.S. first edition.
This is the back dust jacket flap from the first state of the U.S. first edition.

The dust jacket flap on the left is from what appears to be a book club edition of the
The dust jacket flap on the left is from what appears to be a book club edition of the first state of the U.S. first edition. The flap on the right is from the true first state of the U.S. first edition. Despite the clip, it is still evident upon comparison that the price is not where it should be on the suspect book club edition.

The dust jacket back on the left is likely from a book club edition of the first state of
The dust jacket back on the left is likely from a book club edition of the first state of the U.S. first edition. The dust jacket on the right is from the true first state of the U.S. first edition.

This is the extra passage from the first state of the U.S. first edition of A Brief
This is the extra passage from the first state of the U.S. first edition of A Brief History of Time. It gives a scenario of two freely moving observers with accurate clocks, and concludes that in relativity "neither the position in space nor the time of an event is absolute. They both depend on the motion of the observer."

 This is the second state of the U.S. first edition.
This is the second state of the U.S. first edition.

This is the copyright page from the second state of the U.S. first edition.  Notice the
This is the copyright page from the second state of the U.S. first edition. Notice the dedication at the top and the ISBN 0-553-05340-X.

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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. If you spot a mistake, drop us an e-mail and we will do our best to investigate and correct it.