Bill McBride’s other book, A Guide to the Identification of First Editions, shares the basic methods that individual publishers use for distinguishing first editions from later printings.
Points of Issue: A Compendium of Points of Issue of Books by 19th-20th Century Authors is a great companion to that volume. It’s also by Bill McBride, and will help you delve much deeper into the finer details of first editions.
It lists the “points of issue” — these are the fine details (a typo, binding color, dustjacket detail) that may distinguish the first books printed in a first edition from later ones. McBride focuses on well-known 19th and 20th century authors, giving the information which will help you identify, for example, a first-issue dustjacket which will greatly enhance the book’s value, vs. a common later-issue one, or a hard-to-spot typesetting error that may distinguish the valuable first run of books from the more commonly found corrected first editions.
Not every book has “points of issue,” but for many literary works which do, these differences can make a vast difference in value.
It’s small, inexpensive and easy to slip in your bag or pocket, perfect for book hunting trips. It’s well organized, so upon opening it, you’ll find it easy to find the necessary information quickly. Collectors and booksellers alike (I am both) of all experience levels will find it an invaluable tool.