Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Land of Little Rain
by Mary Austin

For 1st time visitors I recently acquired a library - This posting is the first of many concerning it.

My slogan for this blog is "Digging a Little Deeper" and that is one thing I find myself doing as I prepare to list a book for auction on eBay.

Book collectors most often look for books that are in the best condition and closest to a first edition in the genre they collect. If they cannot afford a pristine first edition they may settle for a more handled and used first or second edition.

Sometimes they just buy a book to read it...

So what happens when you find a collectable book that was produced in more than one printing without having 'First Edition' stamped right on it? Just the copyright date and thats it. Nothing about first, second or third printing. Just one date.

I found one such book by Mary Austin. Land Of Little Rain. Dated 1903. A classic book on life and resources in the Owens Valley of California at the turn of the last century. Quite a good read which is why it has been reprinted so many times. I have another copy that is illustrated with Ansel Adams photographs. Much newer than the copy I'm writing about now.

Oftentimes I will list a book like this as "First Edition Assumed, Not Stated"

BUT ("There's always a big BUT" - PeeWee Herman)

My copy has only two colors printed on the cover and while researching it's value I found a "First Edition" with four colors on the front.

- - - HMMMM - - -

So I dug a little deeper - Was their's a "True First Edition" or mine?

I found that there was a second printing a few months after the first using the single date with a few subtle differences. The cover color, position of the words on the half title page & the gathering of the first set of colated pages. - So why is it my copy does not match either the first or second printing? It is like a hybrid.

Could it have been a pre-production copy? Either before or after the actual first or second printing? Perhaps the publisher was looking for ways to cut costs (Two colors on cover as opposed to four) and produced this book as a prototype. I don't know yet but I'm going to "Dig a Little Deeper" to try to find out.

Of course it is important to book collectors that they know what they are buying and it is important to my conscience that I not misrepresent something. Besides, I need to make sure that this copy I have is valued properly so I don't get cheated.

That's the last thing I want...

Technorati Tags -


Visit Cary Cartter at
- "I'm Thinking of the "O" Word..." -