Thursday, December 11, 2008

Over the past few months, I've been trying to learn the book collecting and bookselling business. It's been enlightening and overwhelming. Second state covers, remainder marks, boards, papers, F, VF, and countless other abbreviations. The list of new terminology has been truly impressive. I've been working in publishing for five years now and have been a bibliophile for about 18 years, but each day I find a new element of the book that I was unaware of.

When collecting and selling books, you have to become acquainted with some important factors before you begin. I never thought that determining if a book was a first edition, first printing would be so difficult. I always thought, if there was a full print line, then it was a first printing. Not so. There could be a full printing line, found on the Copyright page and usually read 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1, but the book could be a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. Then there would not be a price on the inside front flap. Or if it was a hyper-modern book and Oprah had selected it as one of her books, her sticker would be placed on the cover of a first printing book. Easy enough, right? Nope. This cover would more than likely be what is called a second state cover. What I understand this to mean is that the first, say, 3,000 books are printed and distributed before Oprah selects the book. Then the first printing is stopped and the sticker is affixed to the cover. At the same time, an extra sheet of paper will be added to the front matter or some other minor change. Once this is done, the printing continues with the full number line. This is a 1st edition, 1st printing, second state cover. It's less valuable than a 1st/1st/1st. This is the case with my copy of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.

I'm continuing my research even though I know it will take a lifetime to get a true understanding of the book collecting world, but I'm enjoying it. I've changed the way in which I shop for books, the places I shop for books, the way I store my books and the way in which I look for books. But one thing that hasn't changed is the way in which I think of books. I've always revered them and continue to look at them and hold them with amazement and it's been peaceful going to bed dreaming of books.

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