Collecting Modern First Editions

Recently the “hobby” of collecting modern first editions caught my attention.  I don’t collect them, and any first editions I own are purely by chance.  When I did a search on this topic and started reading about collecting first editions, I immediately ran to my small hard back book collection and checked them out.  I found a few nice surprises including a signed first edition of The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.  In this age of evolving digital reading, I thought it would be nice to explore this pastime since those of us with print media are intent on protecting the print books that we have and acquiring others before they disappear completely.

The first thing you need to know is how to identify a first edition.  The three easiest ways to identify them:

  • “First Edition” or “First Printing” appears on the copyright page.
  • There is a number line on the copyright page which includes the number 1,  i.e. ” 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1.”
  • The date on the title page is the same as the date on the copyright page.

You can read more about identifying first editions at

If just collecting first editions is not enough, and you want signed first editions then you should read an article on called “Moses Signed My Bible.”  It turns out that author signatures are not difficult to forge,  but an authentic signature will add considerable value to a first edition.  The article’s advice to buyers includes asking questions about the signature, learning about the author’s book signing habits, asking about provenance, and using reputable dealers (you may want to avoid!).

Although my budget is somewhat tight and books are often a luxury in these tough economic times, you may want to consider buying a first edition if it is a book you want to own and keep.