Frequently Asked Questions
How come a Second Printing Before Publication is not more valuable than a First Edition? Didn't it come before the First Edition?
We get this question quite a bit, and the short answer is a definitive "No". But what make the long answer so difficult is that the question itself is false. The question confuses two terms – Publication and First Edition. In this case, Publication refers to a date when a book is planned for release to the public. Edition refers the form in which the book is issued. So a printing before publication does not mean was printed before the first edition. It just means that it was printed before the date when it was released and distributed to the public. This makes sense because you have to print a book before you can release it to the public, and consequently all first printings of the first edition are printed before the publication date. Then after the publication date, publishers typically run second, third, fourth, etc. printings as people read the book, tell their friends, and demand increases. But in some cases the publisher may get a large amount of book orders up front, and run a second, third, or even forth printing before the publication date. Some publishers will simply call these the second, third, and forth printings. But other publishers might want to point out that these additional printings were made before the publication date as a way to impress us - it's like saying: look, this book is so great that we had to print more before the official publication date. So a Second Printing Before Publication is really just a plain old second printing, and it does not matter to collectors when it was printed because it was definitively printed after the first printing, and collectors are typically only interested in buying first printings.
Still not convinced? Here is an example of how a Second Printing Before Publication happens. When a publisher decides to publish a book for the first time, the book is called a first edition. The publisher picks a date when the first edition will be published. In the time leading up to that publication date, the publisher is busy working with the printing plants producing copies of the book, taking orders from book stores, and planning for distribution of the book. Let's say the publisher decides to release the book in two months, and it asks the printing press to produce 20,000 books. The printer produces all of the books and calls this the First Printing of the First Edition. At this point in time, the publisher has not yet published the books, meaning it has not yet delivered the books to the public because the publication date has not yet arrived. Then the publisher discovers that it is getting more orders than it planned for, and it needs more books. So it asks the printing plant to print another 20,000 books. Those additional books are called the second printing, and if those books were produced before the publication date, they can be considered the second printing before publication. If the publisher needs to print more books before the publication date, then they will have the third printing before publication. No matter how many printings are run before the publication date, the first printing was still the fist, and it is the most desirable.