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What's with the numbers on copyright pages?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Merick, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. Merick

    Merick IncGamers Member

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    What's with the numbers on copyright pages?

    On some books, on the copyright page, at the very bottom some books have some numbers. It's usually around 10 numbers going up or down by one each time. Here's what's on the bottom of three nearby books:

    "0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1"
    "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2"
    "32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40"

    The 32-40 one surprised me actually, they seem to usually be around 0-10. Not all books have them though. So what's the deal?
     
  2. Stompwampa

    Stompwampa IncGamers Member

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    i've always wondered that too. . . but I don't know what to search for in order to find it
     
  3. superdave

    superdave IncGamers Member

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    every publisher has their own way of identifying printings...the first example is probably a 1st edition...the second example is most likely a 2nd edition....if i knew the publisher of the 3rd one i could probably let you know what it means....what book is it? it may be a 40th printing...not that you see that in very many books.

    edit...from some of the first editions i have on hand...the following have been used

    1 2 3 4 5 6 8 9 10
    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
    1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

    i have a 2nd edition that uses this system...

    76 77 78 79 80 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
    that is a 2nd edition printed in 1976

    i have a 3rd edition...

    3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 90 89 ** 87 86
    printed in 1986


    sometimes they leave in the first edition and first printing tags

    first edition
    3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10​

    is a 3rd printing.
     
  4. Merick

    Merick IncGamers Member

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    The third was Atlas Shrugged published by Signet, which I'm sure has had a lot of printings. However, the book itself is very beat up, old looking and actually, poorly made (you have to PULL hard to read the words toward the inside) so I would think it would a bit earlier then a a 40th printing.

    Also, while I was looking through my books Childhood's End by Clarke said it was something like the 46th printing (no numbers unfortunately). Do book companies sometimes repeatedly underestimate how many copies they need to make or what?
     
  5. superdave

    superdave IncGamers Member

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    childhood's end was written in the early 50's...53 or 54 i think...even if they did predict that it would still be in print today they would never print a 1/2 century's worth of books at once....i do have some books that the publishers did underprint...subsequent printings are listed by month or they list the actual number of books....i have an uncle tom's cabin printed in 1852...it is considered a first edition but it is one of the later prints(printed in the same month as the original book but demand was so great the printed more)...i think mine is a 10000...still a very early printing when you realized that the book sold hundreds of thousands in the 1st year....i have a few f scott fitgerald firsts published by scribners that were reprinted a few times in one month....this side of paradise was reprinted twice in april 1920.
     
  6. Stompwampa

    Stompwampa IncGamers Member

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    so what do each of the individual numbers signify then?
     
  7. superdave

    superdave IncGamers Member

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    by themselves nothing...again it depends on the publisher and even when the book was printed what rules they follow...usually though in books published in 1970-today if you see a string of numbers like this....

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    it will be a 1st edition...it is the 1st (sometimes last number in the string that let's you know what printing you have....it's very complicated....there have been books written on how 1st editions have been labeled...for a collector the difference between a first printing and a second can equal thousands of dollars
     
  8. rplusplus

    rplusplus IncGamers Member

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    Collectors are big on editions. I bought the Harry Potter #4 book awhile back in hardcover and when my son and I finished reading it I listed it on E-bay as Used First Edition in Good Condition and sold it for 1.5 times what I paid for it.

    I wish more things were like that.

    Buy a laptop for $1500.00 and use it for a week and you'll be lucky to get $700.00 for it.

    Yarr++
     
  9. DurfBarian

    DurfBarian IncGamers Member

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    Do some web searching for "impression line" to learn more about that.

    06 05 04 03 02 01 00 99 98 {wider space here} 6 7 8 9

    The first part of that line shows the latest year in which this edition has been printed and all subsequent years in which it is expected to be. The second part of the line, to the right of the wider space, is the printing in that latest year. You start with 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 and knock off the lowest number as you do a second printing, a third, and so on. So in my example the book would be the sixth print run in 1998.
     

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