First Edition Books

Finding and possessing a rare first edition book is often a goal of both the novice and expert book collector. For many vintage books or books published by a small imprint, only 100 or so copies were run for the first edition, so they are both highly sought after and hard to find. This is particularly true of books that later became unexpectedly popular. First edition books that have won a literary award are a true treasure for collectors.

First edition books are often particularly prized because of the integrity to the author’s intent. Later editions may include changes to the original text, format, or binding. Some first editions are almost impossible to find, such as a "Don Quixote" original by Miguel de Cervantes.

Collecting first edition books can be both a science and a gamble, much like playing the stock market. For many books, it only takes time and patience for a contemporary first edition to gain value in the collector’s market. But in addition to popularity, condition makes a significant difference in the value of a first edition book, particularly the dust jacket. Many modern dust covers were torn or simply tossed aside, but the jackets are often valued for their signature artwork, making a dust jacket an integral component of the work itself.


Quick Facts

  • A first edition of "American Pastoral" by Philip Roth with an original pictorial dust jacket realized a price of $80,000 at a 2014 Christie's New York auction
  • A 1937 first edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s "The Hobbit" with an elvish inscription by Tolkien sold for $194,807 at a 2015 auction by Christie’s
  • In 2014, Christie's held First Editions: Second Thoughts: An Auction of Books and Artworks to Benefit Pen American Center featuring many contemporary first edition titles. The sale raised $918,800

Recommended Items at Auction

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THE PLAGUE First American Edition, Albert Camus
Oct 20, 10:00 AM EDT
THE PLAGUE First American Edition, Albert Camus
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc
Est: $100- $500
$605 Bids
"A Treasury of Stephen Foster"- First Edition
Oct 24, 6:00 PM EDT
"A Treasury of Stephen Foster"- First Edition
by Caswell Prewitt Realty, INC
Est: $0- $0
$102 Bids
Signed First Edition K. Vonnegut "Bluebeard" Book
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Signed First Edition K. Vonnegut "Bluebeard" Book
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $20- $200
$402 Bids
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Signed Copy of Jabotinsky’s (not Herzl’s!) "Der Judenstaat" ("The Jewish State")
Oct 27, 1:00 PM EDT
Signed Copy of Jabotinsky’s (not Herzl’s!) "Der Judenstaat" ("The Jewish State")
by Lion Heart Autographs
Est: $1,200- $1,500
$6002 Bids
Stephen King Cell Hardcover Signed
Oct 23, 10:00 AM MST
Stephen King Cell Hardcover Signed
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$152 Bids

Sellers Who Sell First Edition Books


Forum Auctions - UK

Forum Auctions - UK

Hindman

Hindman

Karamitsos

Karamitsos

Chaucer Covers & Auctions

Chaucer Covers & Auctions