What is a first edition?
Technically, a first edition is a printing of books in which the typesetting has not been changed. The binding may even have been changed but as long as the type has not been changed the book is still a first edition. For example, first editions of Go Down Moses by William Faulkner (1942) can be found in red, blue and black cloth bindings. This was because of a shortage of materials during World War II.
The way to identify a modern first edition is to begin with the copyright page which can be found on the back of the title page. Often "First Edition" or "First Printing" will be noted but modern publishers will note the series of printings. In order to be considered a first edition, it must be the first printing of the first edition. The printings are noted through a series of ascending numbers on the copyright page. The first example represents a first edition, first printing:
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
A second printing:
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
And so on.
This is the most basic way to identify modern American and British first editions. However, once you start looking you will find there are many exceptions to this basic method. Publishers appear to take pride in making the identification of first editions complicated and diverse. Over time, you will learn the different notations and can always ask for the assistance of a bookseller or fellow collector.
What is a first edition?
The term "first edition" refers to the first printing of the earliest edition of a book. First printing copies are unique because they are the first published record of a book. For collectors, the first edition of a book is the most desired edition, especially if it is signed. If a book wins an award or otherwise earns acclaim or popularity and the book's first printing was relatively small, copies of the first edition can become very valuable, and signed copies even more so.
What is a limited edition?
Limited editions are special issues of a book released in a small number of copies. They are usually bound in finer materials than the trade edition, may feature special decoration, or may be housed in a slip case or other custom enclosure. Limited editions are often signed by the author, usually on a special page which also notes the number of copies printed and the particular number of each copy. Sometimes limited editions are the only way to acquire a signed copy by an author.
What are advanced readers, uncorrected proofs and manuscripts?
Advanced readers (ARCs) and uncorrected proofs are copies of books that are sent to the media and booksellers prior to the official release date. These copies may have covers that will differ from the final cover and changes may still be made to the text. How collectible pre-publication books vary greatly. For many books, an ARC may be uninteresting, but an advance copy of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote or Jubilee by Margaret Walker carry historical markers, perhaps in a letter from the editor as Jubilee bears on its front cover.
Manuscripts are even more rare and are produced in extremely small numbers for individuals to read prior to the publication of the advance reader or proof. If they are very old, they maybe handwritten or typewritten. Manuscripts are found bound and unbound.
Where can I browse first editions at Lemuria?
Lemuria's first editions are kept in several different places: two rooms in the bookstore where we keep only first editions along with a couple of desks where we work, in our events building which we commonly call our Dot Com Building, and in a couple viewing cases in the fiction room and the main room of the bookstore. We also like to place a few collectible and out of print books on our open browsing shelves to help complete and beautify an author's work.
What kind of books does Lemuria have in its first editions collections?
About three years after the bookstore opened in 1975, John Evans began building the store's holdings. Lemuria's collection is mainly American fiction post World War I through today. We have a strong collection of signed first editions from southern authors: William Faulkner, Larry Brown, Elizabeth Spencer, Ellen Gilchrist, Walker Percy, Eudora Welty, Margaret Walker, Anne Rice, Pat Conroy, Mary Ward Brown, Alice Walker and many others.
On our website you will find some of what we have at our physical store. Most of our website inventory includes our first editions only. If you don't find what you're looking for, please let us know! We work to find first editions in the best condition we can. If you would like to communicate with us about the physical condition of one our books, please give us a call or send us an email.
How can Lemuria help me build or add to my own library?
Lemuria's team of booksellers can help you build a library for your home or office. We can build it by the foot or book by book, according to your favorite authors and/or subjects areas. Our First Editions Club is also a great way to start your own library of signed first editions.