I Shall Buy Books on Ebay No More Forever

I don’t understand the bookseller who advertises a book club edition as the first edition, but I’ve fallen for it twice. Too much in a hurry for a deal, twice I’ve found Ebay auctions for one of my favorite modern firsts and believed the description “First Edition.”

First edition, for modern book collecting purposes, means the first printing. Twice now, what I have ended up receiving in the mail a couple of weeks after making my payment was the Book Club Edition. What really disappoints me is that I can tell it’s the BCE immediately upon seeing the book, just at a glance. Both of the Ebay sellers, two different sellers, that I bought from were book specialists. They sold exclusively books on Ebay, and had bookish sounding Ebay user names. What they didn’t have was basic knowledge of books.
The River Why
A couple of days ago, after work, I got a package with my “First Edition” of The River Why by David James Duncan. I already have one first edition, but I happened to notice the Ebay auction for a copy going for a quarter of the typical price. This second copy was going to be a gift for a friend.

The book I received has the typical cheaply reproduced dust jacket of the BCE, a pale ersatz imitation of the true Sierra Club publication. Opening the book confirmed the lack of a price printed in the inside DJ flap. Virtually all modern fiction hardcovers have a price printed on the inside dust jacket flap. The book club doesn’t print the price. Lifting the jacket to expose the cover was the coup de grace. A book club blind stamp deboss on the back board. This is a small mark stamped in the lower the back cover, near the spine, that uniquely identifies that book as the book club edition, not the “Trade Edition” that was sold in book stores.

I will return this book for a refund, and loose only the return shipping price, and some time, but I have finally reminded myself of what I always knew. Often, the price that a professional bookseller charges pays for their knowledge and experience. NO professional bookseller would EVER have sold me this book as a “First Edition.”

3 thoughts on “I Shall Buy Books on Ebay No More Forever”

  1. Holly says:

    Hello Stephen, I’ve been around the book business for some time, almost 20 years, but I do still have questions about this topic. I believe I would not make this mistake, but I sometimes wonder, with the numbers of the editions on the inside cover, where the ISBN number is located, if the #1 is still on the list, does that designate a first edition, or does it ALWAYS say ” first edition” if it is? I think there is some variety as to how different publishers do this. Any comment?
    thank you.

  2. stephen says:

    Publishers are notoriously inconsistent in identifying first editions. The number 1 in a number line often means a first edition, but there are so many exceptions to that rule.

    Every bookseller’s favorite piece of trivia is the way Random House identified first editions, which was by stating First Edition, and providing a number line which began with a 2. A 1 in the number line for a Random House book indicated that it wasn’t possibly a first edition.

    There are several guides to identifying first editions, but my favorite has always been A Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions by Bill McBride. It’s a little pamphlet format guide that really does fit in a pocket, and is surprisingly complete in its list of publishers. It’s relatively chap, too, at $15.95.

  3. Chloe Davies says:

    My alternative income stream is selling stuffs on Ebay and i can say that i earn a lot from selling on Ebay.~`

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