When a book is sold for the first time, that is called the book’s “first edition.” Quite simply, it is the initial printing of a book (after the book proof/advance copy).
Technically the phrase “First Edition” consists of the first printing plus any additional printings of the same first edition.
What is the difference between first edition and first printing?
A first edition is the first printing of a book. It’s true that a first edition may have one or more printings and that a second edition will normally be noted only if there are actual changes, usually major, in the text. But for a collector, a first printing is the only true first edition.
Is a second printing a first edition?
That is a second printing, first edition. The copyright page may even still say “First Edition” on it somewhere. However, to most booksellers and collectors, a “true” first edition is both the first typeset version of the book AND the first printing.
What is a first trade edition?
The first trade edition is the first edition that is sold to the public – the one found in stores. In many cases the first trade edition is the first edition.
What makes a book a first edition?
In the simplest terms, a first edition is the first commercially distributed version of a book. For the purposes of modern collectible books, first edition is shorthand for the first printing of the first edition of a work. First editions are prized because they are as close as a reader can get to the source.