More Vocab

This being the time when half the world seems to be on Spring Break, I thought I’d pass along another bookseller vocabulary list. You don’t need to work on it while you’tr on break, but there MAY be a quiz.

True First: This signals that the book you might THINK was the first edition was not, in fact, REALLY the first edition. The book the book dealer has is the first edition. Sometimes this involves a book that was serialized first in a magazine but usually it is a matter of timing. There was a great to-do when Stephen King collecting was at its most hysterical that someone determined that the supposed first edition, the American edition in hardcover, was actually released several minutes AFTER the British book club edition, making the British book club edition the TRUE first. No, honest: this really matters to some collectors.

First Thus: This means it is NOT the first edition, but it IS the first edition with added notes, or revised, or with thnese illustrations. Sometimes it refers to the first edition in hardcover of a PBO, on the principle that a REAL collector wants only first editions in hardcover, whether they were the True First or not.

PBO: I think I covered this once before, but a PBO is a book which was written for the paperback market, as a PaperBack Original. A lot of books work the other way, coming out first in hardcover and then in paper. It was for a long time considered less respectable for an author to write JUST for paperback.

Number Row: This is that row of numbers (not everything in book collecting is counter-intuitive) on the copyright page. Most publishers number from 1 to 10, and you want that all-important 1, which indicates you have a first printing. (Unless it’s Random House, which starts with a 2. Not everything in this business is intuitive, either.)

Copyright page: Usually the verso of the title page, where the small print—copyright notice, number row, and anything else the author decided to throw in waits. Some authors put little jokes in the fine print, but most do not. By the time the book gets to this point, an author has read the manuscript, the galleys, and the proofs, and is sick of it.

Verso: The back of the page: the lefthand page if you have the book open. The front, or righthand, page is the recto. The recto is almost always an odd-numbered page; the verso even-numbered. (This is a clue in some mystery stories: if a character says he found the incriminating document betwen pages 77 and 78 of a book, watch out. That’s the front and back of the same page.)

Galleys, Proofs, ARC: These are steps between the manuscript and the final book. They used to mean different things, but are now used interchangeably by many bookdealers, because there aren’t many people who care. The galleys were usually unbound, hard-to-handle sheets of paper which were corrected to make the proofs, which were bound, usually in a plain paper cover. The Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) can be the proofs, or the proofs plus, with a picture on the cover (and a note that the picture might be changed before publication) and a statement on the back of how much money the publisher plans to spend on the promotional campaign, and what cities the author will be visiting, so a reviewer knows whether or not to bother with it. Any one of these could, with justice, be called the True First, but if you’re going to be that way about it, you might as well go for the manuscript (nowadays more than likely a computer file.)

True Second: True Magazine began publishing in 1937, in June, so the July issue would have been a True Second…look, pineapple pot pie, you ask a silly question, you’re going to get an Uncle Blogsy answer. 

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