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Oct 20, 2021

How to Find the Edition of a Book

How to Find the Edition of a Book

If you’re thinking of selling your books, it pays to know what edition that book is – literally! The edition of a book determines its value. For example, a first edition book will hold more weight than a tenth edition book because it was the original printed copy.

First edition books are less likely to be in circulation; mostly if there weren’t many copies of that book printed in the first place. Scarce copies = rare books, and rare books can hold value.

However, your book could still be worth something even if it’s a later edition, so don’t get disheartened. 

You’d think finding the edition of a book would be easy, but it’s more complicated than you first believe in some cases. There are thousands of publishers, and some use different methods. Here are three ways you can check.

Look at the Copyright Page

1. Look for the text that states the edition of the book

Look for the text that states the edition of the book

The copyright page is usually found on the back of the book’s title page. There may be other information on there, such as legal notices, copyright notices, publication information, printing history and ISBN information.

Sometimes, the publisher will clearly state what edition of a book is by writing ‘First edition’ on the page with the original publish date. Other times, you may not be so lucky! 

One thing you can do is check whether the book has more than one publisher. If a book moves from one publisher to another, the edition is reset, and the process will start again. Unfortunately, this can leave people thinking they have a rare copy when technically it’s a reprint. If you check the image on the next direction, you’ll see this. 

2. Check when the book was copyrighted and when it was published

Check when the book was copyrighted and when it was published

Open your book up and look at the back of the title page, you’ll see some information about copyright, such as ‘copyrighted in…’ or text copyright. 

You’ll then want to look for the book’s publication date if you can’t find it in the book try a Google search. If the dates match you probably have the first edition, you’ll have a later edition if they don’t.

You should bear in mind that these dates may differ if copywriting was acquired at a different time than publishing.

Also, there may be more than one copywriting date in the book, always use the most recent date for your reference.

3. Use the Number Line to Determine the Print

Use the Number Line to Determine the Print

If you look at the printing page, sometimes it’ll have a line of numbers on it. While the number line doesn’t necessarily determine the edition, it will tell you how many times the book has been printed.

If there’s still a number one in the line, then it means it could be the first edition. Always go with the lowest number to determine how many times the book has been printed. 

Sometimes the numbers are in order, and sometimes they won’t be, but always go for the lowest number.

You may also find the printing date in this number list, so again, you should always go with the least recent date.

Examine Other Parts of the Book

1. Look for Information That Tells You Sections Have Been Added

Look for Information That Tells You Sections Have Been Added

Editions only usually change if there is more information added to the book or information in the book has changed. Check for any new passages in the book and search to find out what edition of the book you have. For non-fiction books, there’ll usually be information indicating a new section has been added to the book.

2. Check to See if Your Copy is a Bookclub Edition

Book club edition is produced for the specific use of, you guessed it, book clubs. Book club editions are reprints, so they usually aren’t worth much, but it’s worth researching. Inside the dust jacket, it’ll usually read book club edition rather than having a price and there may be no bar code.

3. Check if Your ISBN Is for a Limited Edition

Check if Your ISBN Is for a Limited Edition

An international standard book number (ISBN) is a ten or thirteen digit number used to determine the edition or variation of a book. It’s usually located on the cover or the copyright page. You can also check above the barcode. Search for the ISBN online or compare it to the one on the copyright page. Be aware that some books can have multiple ISBN codes depending on whether it’s a hardback, paperback or limited edition.

If You’re Unsure, Ask Us!

We’re always up for helping you determine what edition your book is, so if you’re still confused and need assistance, get in touch with our team, and we’ll help you.


Have books to sell? Sell them with WeBuyBooks!

Selling books with us is a quick and easy way to declutter your bookshelves and make some extra cash! Just follow the simple steps below:

  1. Enter the ISBN number online
  2. Get an instant offer
  3. Send us your items
  4. Get paid the next working day

If you have a rare book, including first editions, get in touch with our team for a bespoke price!

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