Before you start to seriously go out and buy um curso em milagres, you need to learn some terminology and become familiar with book publishing and production process. For example, while most people think of book collecting only in terms of the final product as it appeared in the bookstore, there are other elements of a book that are more valuable, more elusive, and more heavily collected. Plus, the more you know about the history of books and how books are constructed, the more finely tuned your critical senses will be, and the more you’ll appreciate finding a truly good book. This article is an attempt to educate and provide you with resources to get you started in book collecting.
For the collector, there are three primary things to consider when buying a book: EDITION, CONDITION and SCARCITY in this condition and edition.
Understanding these areas is the different between success and failure, between being able to build a collection of treasures and an assortment of reading copies, between being able to collect and sell for money, or just going out and buying a lot of worthless books.
So, obviously, you’ve got to learn how to identify first editions to avoid making costly mistakes. After all, if you think it’s a first and you turn out to be wrong after paying a premium. The problem is, nearly every publisher has its own method of identified first editions. You can memorize the policies of every single publisher in the history of the book trade, and even then you’ll make mistakes, because all of the rules have exceptions. On my shelves, and on on the shelves of every collector I know, there are at least a few books that looked like a first of first, but turn out later to be plain old books instead.
As general rule, there are two things to look for right off the bat:a statement of edition, or a number line.
The statement of edition is exactly that: on the copyright page, the book says “FIRST EDITION” or “SECOND EDITION” or FIFTY-THIRD EDITION.” Or if not “edition” it will say “printing”. With lots of publishers that’s all you’ll need to find.
Unfortunately, some publishers don’t remove the edition slug from subsequent printings; or sometimes a book club edition will state that it’s a first; or sometimes there’s nothing stated at all.
The next thing to look for is the number line. This is a sequence of numbers which, on the first, usually go from it may be in order, or it may start with 1 on the left, the 2 on the right, and so forth, with the 10 in the middle. Look for the 1. On every publisher employing a number line except Random House, a number line with a 1 is a first edition. Random House, just to be sure that no one can ever be sure, use a 2 on the number line and the “FIRST EDITION” slug.
There are some publishers who indicate a first edition by not indicating it. If you don’t see anything that says it’s a second or third edition, then it must be a first. There are other publisher who code the information into the book somewhere, but it isn’t always easy to find.
Those three checks will help you identify most books from most publishers, but not all.
These little differences, about where the photographs should be, wrong lines printed in the book, etc., are known as points.
The easiest way to start learning points is the obvious one: pay close attention to the better price guides, which rarely fail to list the major points. Never just look at the price, look at the entire entry.
Because points are so vital, it’s time to introduce one of themes of this article: to collect successfully, it is important to specialize to a large extent. You are never going to learn the full field of points, of every single detail differing in every single book. In the comfort of a used book shop, maybe the owner has time to run back to check twenty reference books to research points.