I estimate that generally the latest edition of a book is preferred unless you're after collection value or if an older version is preferred for some reason, for example due to original cover. In non-fiction new or updated chapters may be added. Translated fiction literature perhaps sees the most revisions. But even if the new edition has only been expanded by the author, the differences are still valuable information to be had and can be used to compare the book to its release period.

  • 1
    Welcome to Literature SE! Could you edit to clarify exactly what you're asking about? You want to find information - what sort of information? - about the editions of a book. As you note, the answer may differ among different types of book; is there a particular category (fiction, non-fiction, etc.) that you're interested in? – Rand al'Thor May 20 '18 at 20:45
  • @Randal'Thor: No, this is a general question about the editions of books. I want to know how the editions differ and I'm looking for a resource. – user4546 May 20 '18 at 20:52
  • Like the difference between the "male" and "female" versions of Dictionary of the Khazars? Editions of Leaves of Grass? Sounds like something Google will be able to provide one day, at least for work in the public domain! – DukeZhou May 21 '18 at 20:29
  • Good question. I've found that online booksellers can be of some help in this regard. E.g., Amazon or AbeBooks.com can be of some help assuming that multiple editions are being sold and one drills down to the publication details. Online library catalogs such as the New York Public Library's are another useful benchmark (catalog.nypl.org). While I've never used it for this purpose it's also likely that the US Library of Congress would be of use. – DJohnson May 24 '18 at 17:20

Your question "How can I find information about the editions of a book?" has no simple general answer. There is a whole field of learning devoted to it: "bibliography". Basic questions in that field are: what are the various editions of such and such a book, where and when did they appear, what are the relationships between them, what are the differences between them?

The answers here depend on the purpose of the questions. Often, for instance, publishers will print essentially the same book with identical contents but different title-and-copyright pages showing (say) London as the place of publication of the one edition and New York as the other. For some purposes I suppose this counts as one edition, for others, as two.

Depending on the era, and kind of book, and importance of the book, there might be shortcuts. Library catalogs often help a lot. For very recent books (after the invention of the ISBN, say) there are various databases used by the book-selling industry. You can ask experts in the subject matter of the book in question. For instsance, if I wanted to know about the various editions of the work of the cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, I'd ask a friend who is a scholarly Peanuts fiend.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.