New collectors and hobbyists are regularly asking themselves how do you tell a first edition book. There is no simple answer. Different publishing companies use different methods to note the first edition status of a book. Some publishing companies do not use any markings or identifiers at all. Use the guide and links below to help with the question: how do you tell a first edition book.
1. Copyright Page
Most often, publishers will note on the copyright page with the words First Edition or First Printing. The copyright page is at the very beginning of the text and includes publishing information. This should be the first place to look when determining if a book is a first edition or not.
2. Number Lines
On the copyright page, you will often find lines of seemingly random numbers. Sometimes, if this number begins with a 1, the book is a First Edition. Be sure that the publishing company in question uses this method. There are ways to find out the different methods each publishing house uses to denote a first edition or first printing.
3. Noted Later Printings
Sometimes, a publishing company will not note a first edition but will note later editions. For example; if you have a book that notes when the second and third editions were released, you can be sure that it is not a first edition.
4. Reference Guide Help
There are reference guides to help hobbyists for those moments when they ask, How do you tell a first edition book? Try The Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions by Bill McBride. These books will help provide you with comprehensive information regarding the edition or printing of your book.
If you find this confusing and are looking for other things to collect, check out this huge list of things to collect. Noting the edition or printing of your books is a big first step in determining their value. Follow the above steps when you are curious about how do you tell a first edition book.