What is a first edition book and why is it so expensive to buy?

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There is a high demand among the book collectors for the purchase of first edition books. If you want to become a book collector or you are just curious to see why this happens, we thought of sharing more details related to the first edition books. This is one of the most prominent lessons that every rare book collector should keep in mind. If you don’t pay enough attention towards this fact, there is a high possibility for you to end up with making mistakes.

What is a first edition book?

As the name suggests, a first edition book is the very first published edition of a book. Once an author finishes writing a book, he will get the assistance of a book publisher to publish the book. At the time of publishing the book, the book publisher will be careful about the edition. If the book has not been published before, it will be published as a new book. The very first collection of copies will fall into the category of first edition.

In most of the instances, the book publishers and the authors only tend to publish a limited number of books within the very first attempt. That’s mainly because they are not sure whether the book will become a successful one or not. If the book becomes a success, they will go ahead and print a higher number of books under the second edition. However, the book collectors will specifically keep an eye on the books that were published within the first edition. Hence, the first edition books will have a high demand.

Why are first edition books so expensive to buy?

When you try to purchase a first edition book, you will figure out how you are being asked to spend a considerable amount of extra money to do it. This is where you will get the curiosity to understand why the first edition books are so expensive to purchase. Here are some of the factors that make the first edition books so expensive to buy.

They are available in limited quantities

Scarcity of the first edition books can be considered as the biggest reason behind their high price tag. As mentioned earlier, the book publishers and the authors don’t tend to publish a lot of books and risk their efforts. If the book becomes successful, they always have the ability to publish a second edition. Hence, they will test the waters and reduce the risk by publishing only a limited number of books under the first edition.

If a book is available for $10, the first edition version of the same book might get sold in the market for $10,000. This is the impact that the first edition of a book can create.

They are distributed among the friends and relatives of the author

Shapero Rare books says that once an author publishes a new book, he will usually go ahead and distribute it among the friends and relatives. Not all the books will be distributed like this. Some will be released to the market. However, a considerable percentage of the first edition books will be distributed among the friends, family members and relatives of the author. In addition to this, the first edition books will also be given to the individuals who provided support and assistance to the author with the publishing and writing work related to the book as well.

The first edition books that you can find in the market might have been owned by such individuals. The same factor would increase the overall value of the book. That’s because the books were handed over to the special people chosen by the author. This makes the book a lot more worthy.

They contain errors

This is one of the most surprising facts with related to the price of the first edition books you can see. The first edition books often have a lot of errors. Even though the author proof reads the book before publishing it, not all errors can be corrected. Some of the errors will get leaked into the very first edition of the book as well.

However, the author will get feedback from the people who go through the first edition books. As a result, the author will be able to note down all those errors and correct them before publishing the second edition of the book. The errors would no longer be available. The same errors can increase the price tag associated with first edition books as well. It can be spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes or any other kind of a mistake done by the author. However, this mistake can transform the value of the book and make it highly valuable for the interested people to purchase.

They have the autograph of the author

In most of the first edition books, you will be able to find the autograph of the book. This factor also increase the value of the book. That’s because the author himself has had the book in his hands. Not all the copies of the book have got that privilege. Authors of the books will find it as an easy task to do this because there are only a limited number of the first edition books. Hence, they will be able to spend a couple of hours and include the autograph in all the first edition books. This will add a great value to the book.

Final words

As you can see, the first edition books are always special. If you are a person who collects books, you need to know the true value associated with these first edition books. Then you will be able to go ahead and purchase the best first edition books from the market. Such books can heavily contribute towards enhancing the overall value of the book collection that you have. This is the main reason why the rare book collectors specially go after first edition books.

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About the Author: Peter Beaumont

Peter Beaumont is a senior reporter on Daily Mid Time Global Development desk. He has reported extensively from conflict zones including Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East and is the author of The Secret Life of War: Journeys Through Modern Conflict. Email: peter@dailymidtime.com