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"How Does the Number Line Impact a Book's Collectible Value?"

Lara C. writes:

Hi John! I have another question for you - when a seller says that a book is a first edition with a number line beginning with 2 and another that says first edition w/number line starting with 1, what's the difference? I found two copies of Caleb Carr's "Angel of Darkness" on Abe Books like this and I don't know which is the better buy. Thanks again for your help.

- Lara C.

John replies:

Hi Lara -

Some of the conventions used by modern publishers to identify first printings can be confusing. Even though the copy with the lowest number being "2" states first edition, it is technically a second printing, so marginally collectible. You want the one with the number "1" in the number line. That's the true first.

We highly recommend picking up a copy of McBride's Pocket Guide to Identification of First Editions. It's a small pocket book that can keep you out of trouble when someone tries to pass off a second printing on you.

Check it out at

All the best.


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