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How to identify a first edition of a book

One of the great questions that arises from book collecting is…do I have a first edition of a certain book? In reality, we mean ‘do I have a true first edition of a certain book?’ because a title can be reprinted many times in various formats over the years. This video is designed to be a very basic guide to identifying first editions. It’s a complex subject because publishers use a large variety of methods, which are often changed, to define first editions.

One of the best ways to learn about books is to read a book. We recommend obtaining a guide to first editions. Bill McBride’s Pocket Guide to the identification of First Editions and the latest edition of Collected Books: The Guide to Identification and Values by Allen and Patricia Ahearn are two excellent resources.

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Richard Davies

One Response to “How to identify a first edition of a book”

  1. I have a book of old books and i am trying to understand the worth of these books. I have Jack London Martin Eden. The Spine has a lable attached to identify. Inside the copyrite states, Copyrite 1908. Under states, By Jack London. under that states, Set up and electrotyped. Published September 1909. I also came across Nigger Heaven by Carl Van Vechten. It is copyrite 1926. While I dont believe this is an original, the title page inside is printed in black yet the title itself is stamped in blue ink with a star, crescent moon and what can be interpretted as clouds. Would either of these books be considered worth valuable> I can not tell if one is a first edition. THank you for any insight. It would be appreciated.