The first printed edition in its original language of a text which had previously circulated only in manuscript or had been printed in translation; therefore restricted mostly to classical texts. Aldus Manutius was a notably prolific publisher of editiones principes in the Renaissance era.
An edition comprises all the copies of a book printed from substantially the same setting of type. In early books, where it was not practical to keep the type standing for any length of time, the distinction between the first and subsequent editions is usually clear, and even a paginary (page-for-page) reprint of the first edition made from an entirely new setting of type will be designated a second (or third, etc) edition.
Since the invention of stereotype in the nineteenth century and photo- and computerized typesetting in the twentieth, the distinction is less clear, and a reprint for which no corrections or only minor corrections are made is distinguished as an impression (British usage) or printing (American).
It is our practice to designate the true first editions of all books printed after 1900 as “first edition, first impression” (for British books) or “first edition, first printing” (for American books), even when we are not aware of any subsequent impression or printing of that edition.
Of course if a book is a second or other later impression, we say so; such books are almost invariably less valuable than the first.
A book goes into a new edition when it is entirely reset, revised, enlarged, abridged, or published in a new format. Sometimes, for example in a travel book where a new map or some vital information is added such that the new edition is particularly sought-after in preference to the first, this may be described as the “preferred” or “best” edition.
A general term for all the paper, including the endpapers and any additional binder’s blanks, inserted before and after the text.
A single sheet, half of it pasted to the inside of the binding (the pastedown), and half forming a blank leaf at the beginning or end of the book (the front or rear free endpaper). In case-bound books, endpapers are usually of slightly stronger paper than the text; they may be plain, coloured, or marbled, or lined with watered (moiré) silk or even leather.
Figures, maps, illustrations or advertisements are sometimes printed on the endpapers.
In earlier books sewn on cords, simple trade bindings may dispense with endpapers altogether: these bindings are described as unlined.
Books with new endpapers have been relined.
A piece of printed paper smaller than the page size, either loosely inserted or tipped-in, listing errors and their corrections; if there is only one correction the correct term is erratum slip. In many early books, the errata are set as part of the prelims or end matter, and so would be unlikely to be mentioned by us.
The English Short Title Catalogue, which lists nearly half a million items published between 1473 and 1800, mainly, but not exclusively, in English, published mainly in the British Isles and North America, from the collections of the British Library and over 2,000 other libraries. A useful resource for locations, and also for collations.
A copy that once belonged to a public institution, and is therefore marked with stamps, bookplates, de-acquisition marks, etc., and may be rebound in utilitarian library cloth. The implication is that the condition is less than ideal for collectors. We would not use the term for copies from private libraries, such as those from the library of the earls of Macclesfield at Shirburn Castle, or of Sir James Colquhoun of Luss, where the provenance would, on the contrary, usually imply fine contemporary condition.
All the edges of the binding: the headcaps, corners, and board edges.