What is the difference between a first printing and a first edition?

What is the difference between a first printing and a first edition?

As a book collector, it's important to understand the nuances of book editions and printings. The terms "first printing" and "first edition" may sound interchangeable, but they actually refer to different aspects of a book's publication history. Let’s explore that further.

What is a first edition book?


A "first edition" book refers to the initial publication of a book, whether it's a hardcover or paperback version, a limited edition, or a special release. It represents the earliest form of the book that was distributed to the public.

A first edition can also have different print runs or states, which can further impact its rarity and value.

What is a ‘first printing’?


A "first printing" in comparison, refers to the first batch of copies produced from the first edition.

This means that the book has gone through the entire publishing process, from manuscript to finished product, and is now being printed and bound for distribution. The first printing can also have variations in printing processes or errors that were corrected in later printings.

Which is more valuable, a first edition or a first print?


When assessing the value of a book, collectors often place a higher premium on first editions compared to later editions or printings.

This is because the first edition represents the most authentic and significant version of the book. Furthermore, a first printing of a first edition is the most valuable, as it represents the earliest copies produced and is therefore more rare.

Understanding the difference between "first printing" and "first edition" is crucial for book collectors. By taking into account the nuances of a book's publication history, collectors can accurately assess its rarity and value, whether it's a hardcover or paperback, limited edition, or special release.

Add rare first editions to your collection

Shop Goldsboro’s extensive range of rare first edition books today, from signed copies to one-of-a-kind collectables, you don’t want to miss out.

Learn more about book collecting, read our guides on:

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