Nothing beats having a first edition of a book you love. It's the pure, original form of the book, featuring the earliest layout, design, and cover art, and it's sometimes replete with typos. This is exactly what people saw and read when the book first appeared to the world. In a book collecting context, the term 'First Edition' is reserved for the first printing of the first edition of a book, although later printings are often in great demand.
A first edition can be identified in different ways depending on the publisher. Some publishers indicate the first edition status on the copyright page with the words 'First Edition' or 'Stated First.' Another method used by publishers is the number line. This is a series of numbers on the copyright page. For each new printing or edition, a number is removed. So if the number '1' is included in the number line, that indicates a first printing or edition. Some sellers do not know for sure if they are in possession of a true first edition, and will indicate this by describing the book as a 'believed first.'
Some collectible first editions include James Joyce's Ulysses, which had a first print run of only 1,000 copies, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyles' The Hound of the Baskervilles, published in 1902. On the back jacket of the first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby the name Jay Gatsby appears with the 'j' in lower case, making the book even more desirable to collectors. Some first editions are extremely rare. Beatrix Potter, the author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, printed 250 copies of the book at her own expense before it went into wider printing.
Buy first editions for your own pleasure, for your collection, or as an amazing gift for friends or family. Enjoy the books as they were envisaged in the eyes of the authors.