I was sorting through some old books and noticed that both these “My little pony” picture books say first edition on them. If they really were first editions they probably wouldn’t be worth much. But, why do they both say first edition, yet only one has the proper “10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1” printing number indicating a first edition? Whereas the other one says “10,9,8,7,6,5” indicating a 5th edition?

Yellow MLP Picture book

Purple MLP Picture Book

  • 2
    "If they really were first editions they probably wouldn’t be worth much." As a rule, first editions are more valuable than later editions.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 7:51
  • 3
    "the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher is unlawful piracy" Ehh, I think they'll probably let it slide if it's literally just the publisher-info page... Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


Is this really a first edition? It depends on whether you ask a book collector or a book publisher.

The yellow book you are asking about is the first edition, fifth printing. The purple one is the first edition, first printing. In the second, third, ..., printings, generally the only thing that changes is the printer's key (the line of numbers above).

Book collectors only consider first editions, first printings as valuable "first editions", but for book publishers, a "second edition" is a version of the book which isn't just reprinted, but where something has changed (not necessarily much—possibly a few errors were corrected, possibly just the format—i.e., hardcover or paperback—is new, or possibly it has undergone a very substantial revision).

See this wikipedia page, which says:

Bibliographers usually define a first edition as all printings from substantially the same type setting, no matter how many printings are done. Book collectors tend to define first edition as the first printing of the first edition.

  • Just so I make sure I’m understanding correctly: The Yellow one is the first edition of the fifth printing, (Meaning to a book collector it’s not really a first edition but, to a publisher it would be the first edition of the fifth ‘edit’ they did to the book and the Purple one is the first edition of the first printing Making it an ‘actual’ first edition to book collectors?
    – user13907
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 3:37
  • 4
    No, a 'printing' is just another run of the very same, unedited edition which will be done when the stocks run low. Only the last of the print count numbers gets removed..
    – TaW
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 7:47
  • 4
    @Morgan No the reverse - the yellow is the fifth printing (fourth reprint) of the first edition. Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 15:21
  • 6
    It might be worth noting that the "countdown" is included because , with historical printing methods, it was easy to permanently erase text from a cast plate, since removed material wouldn't touch the paper and didn't have to be perfectly level; adding anything to a plate was much more difficult since any added material would need to be precisely level with all other printed material on the plate. Having the countdown on the plate would allow a publisher to reuse a set of printing plates and increment the printing number without having to recast anything
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 17:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.