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What is a Pre-First Edition? Manuscripts, Galley Proofs, Advanced Reader Copies and more.

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The illusive true first edition is often the Holy Grail for book collectors and enthusiasts alike. However, often there are other editions printed in small quantities before the release date. A pre-first edition is any limited run of a book printed before the stated first edition is published.

A manuscript is usually the first iteration of a book’s text as written by the author and usually pre-dates an uncorrected proof or galley (more on those later). They are often marked with comments and corrections by the author or editor and can be unbound or sometimes handwritten.

A Galley Proof is a preliminary version of the book meant for the author, editors and others within the publishing house to review. Also called Galleys, these versions are often unbound, uncut or sometimes electronic. Sometimes they are signed by the author.

Advanced reader copies, also known as ARCs or advance review copies are distributed to booksellers, journalists and key influencers such other authors prior to the official release date. These books may still need more revisions, so often the copy and cover art differs slightly from the official edition.

Lastly dummy editions, are books that look exactly like the official edition but only contain a small amount of text. These books were used by the publisher’s sales force to help convince bookstores to sell the book.

The importance of these editions vary from collector to collector – some enjoy seeing the evolution of a book from concept to publication while others are only interested in collecting the editions meant for public release. Signed editions can become particularly valuable. Regardless it’s an interesting look behind the scenes of publishing for any book lover.

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