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Selecting & Evaluating Editions

Online Resources

A good resource for tracking down first editions and/or signed copies

Book History
Contains information on the history of printing, the book and the publishing industry

Book History
A vailable through Project Muse (
A scholarly journal devoted to every aspect of the history of the book, broadly defined as the history of the creation, dissemination, and reception of script and print. It publishes research on the social, economic, and cultural history of authorship, editing, printing, the book arts, publishing, the book trade, periodicals, newspapers, ephemera, copyright, censorship, literary agents, libraries, literary criticism, canon formation, literacy, literary education, reading habits, and reader response.

BookLibris: How to Identify a First Edition

Bookpoi: A Comprehensive Guide to Identify First Edition, Rare and Collectible Books

Empty Mirror Books: Information on Publishers that have Offered Books by the Beats, Small Press Publishers, and Publishers of Modern Poetry

First Edition Points Online Reference Guide: Searchable Database of Points of Issue for Hundreds of Modern First Edition Books.
Includes images of cover, copyright page, dust jacket flaps, etc.

Pulitzer Prize First Edition Guide
Database of first edition Pulitzer Prize for fiction books. Includes images and points of issue.

Quill & Brush: First Edition Identification

A mega-library catalog containing more than 45 million records. Contains full bibliographic descriptions and cataloging information for: books, serials, manuscripts, sound recordings, audiovisual materials, maps, music scores, and computer-readable files. Can be used to identify what editions of books libraries hold.

Bibliography of American Literature (BAL)

Search Tip: To access, click on Individual Collections section. Aims to include all first editions, chronologically arranged, of each author listed. In addition, it includes any book (pamphlet, broadside, etc.) containing the first appearance of any prose (except letters) or poetry by such authors. It records variant issues and states of the first editions, as well as details of illustrations and maps, and standard and variant publishers' bindings. European editions in English are included as and where necessary. Reprints which might be confused with first editions, and subsequent editions containing important textual changes by the author, are briefly noted.  Expanded print edition (9 volumes) located in LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Reference: Z1225 .B55  

Print Resources

Bibliography of American Literature (BAL) LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Reference: Z1225 .B55  

A Guide to English and American Literature LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Book Collection:  Z2011. B32 1976An evaluative survey of the best editions of important works as well as the reference works, literary histories, anthologies and special studies essential to the study of a period.

First Editions, A Guide to Identification: Statements of Selected North American, British Commonwealth, and Irish Publishers on their Methods of Designating First Editions LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Reference: Z1033 .F53 F57 1995

First Editions of Today and How to Tell Them: American, British and Irish LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Book Collection: Z6514.F5 B6 1965

A First Edition?: Statements of Selected North American, British Commonwealth, and Irish Publishers on their Methods of Designating First Editions LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Book Collection: Z987 .F47

First Printings of American Authors
LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Reference: Z1231.F5 F57

How to Identify and Collect American First Editions: A Guide Book
LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Book Collection: Z987 T27 1985

British Bibliography and Textual Criticism: a Bibliography (authors) LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Reference: PR83 .H63

A Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Book Collection: Z987 .M33 1980  

Points of Issue: A Compendium of Points of Issue of Books by 20th Century Authors LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Book Collection: Z987 .M43

For further resources, consult:

James Harner’s Literary Research Guide: An Annotated Listing of Reference Sources in English Literary Studies LOCKWOOD LIBRARY / Reference: Pr83 .H34 2008