How can you Tell if a Book is a First Edition?

stack of old books on a desk inside someone’s personal library

How can you Tell if a Book is a First Edition?

First editions are among the most valuable rare books anyone can find. Selling rare books is difficult to do, especially if you don’t know how to identify first edition books. Luckily, there are a few tell-tale signs that a book is a first edition. The topic of today’s discussion will help you become more proficient at selling rare books at their true market value.

Copyright Date

The first step in determining if a book is a first edition is finding out the copyright date. Begin with a Google search to figure out when your book was first published. Next, compare the copyright date of the printed book with the publication date. That information will tell you if the rare book is a possible first edition. You can sometimes find a copyright date within the book, but it is always a good idea to double-check your sources.

Check the Copyright Page

In many instances, you can find one of the most important resources by looking inside the book. The copyright page (usually on the back of the title page) indicates when or where the book was published. This information gives you immediate insight into the age and edition of your book. Look carefully because the book may also list the edition, saving you from having to do further research. The value of rare books is largely determined by its edition, so you need to make sure you know the publication and copyright date before selling it.

Find the Print Run Number

Sometimes there are multiple first editions of a book. In these cases, the first print run is considered the original first edition. If you can find the print run number on a rare book, this can deepen your understanding of the book’s worth. The most valuable vintage books will have a low print run number, which is another sign that you may own a first edition.

Use a Guide

In some cases, determining the edition of a book can be particularly difficult, especially if the copyright page is missing or the book is so old that that page did not exist yet. A guide is another resource that can give you insightful information when determining the edition of your rare book. There are various physical and digital guides available, so do your research to find a guide that works best for you.

There is nothing quite as exciting than finding a first-edition in your book collection. Once you realize you have a first edition vintage book, you will have an easier time pricing it. At Cash For Your Books, we can give you an estimate of your rare book’s worth and help you connect with rare book buyers. Contact us today to help you figure out the value of your rare book collection.