In publishing jargon, a proof is the preliminary iteration of a book, intended for a limited audience. Its purpose is to allow for final edits. The proofs can also help to build and maintain buzz about a book before its official release date, generate some early reviews and have potential readers eager to get their hands on the title. A galley proof or uncorrected proof may still have errors or areas open to change. It is generally bound differently than the final product, often only spiral-bound, and missing much of the polish of the eventual published version, opting instead for plain, often coarse paper. Inclusion of proposed publication information (date, price, etc.) can also be included. Usually the proof consists of text only, and is devoid of any art or illustration that may be present in the final published version.
If a book is successful and does well upon final publication, or if it goes out-of-print early but develops a fan-base or cult following, an uncorrected proof can become a valuable prize for collectors. Part of the appeal is their scarcity, and the fact that they will sometimes have slightly different text from the final piece.
We've found some of the rarest and best uncorrected proof copies available for sale, below, from Charles Bukowski and Truman Capote to the highly-sought after early proofs of everyone's favorite boy wizard, and many more.