Mail Bag

We will post here questions posed to VABA booksellers and their responses. You may also leave a question here in the comment section and we will get back to you with an answer as soon as possible [caveat: questions re: books and book collecting only!]

1.  What does \”Review copy, no slip. First printing, full number line\” mean in your description of \”A landscape history of New England\”?

I have indicated it is a review copy because of the source of the book. The local newspaper from whom the book was acquired did not include the review slip from the publisher which is the usual way of identifying a review copy. Review copies are notable for a couple of reasons. As in this case, they are often unread and little handled. The condition of this book and jacket is listed by me as New/New (the book-New/the jacket-New). This is important for a book with a relatively small print run as most copies on the secondary market will be either ex-library, paperback or both. In the case of a collectible book a review copy with a slip is an indication that that particular copy was sent out in advance of the book’s release. Often the review slip is dated along with a statement of the anticipated publication date. This assurance is important to traditional book collectors who generally seek out the earliest available copy and a copy in the best condition possible. 

As for the second part of your question “First printing, full number line” is simply a statement by which the seller states the printing of the particular copy by way of a line of numerals usually found on the copyright page. Many number lines look like this: 14 13 12 11 1 2 3 4 5. The first set of numerals gives the year of the printing. The second are the printing number. In most cases the number 1 must be present if the book is indeed a first printing. After the first print run the 1 will be removed from the printing plate or digital file and the dates may also be adjusted. Again this is may only be important to the serious, traditional book collector who would tend to avoid second or later printings. While this may not be a “collectible book” I almost always include this information in my descriptions so that it is available to the book browser for whom it is important. Thank you for the inquiry.

[from Joe Trenn, The Book Shed, in Benson, VT. 5/2012]


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