When is a Nancy Drew book really a First Edition and what does that mean. What is the difference between a First Edition and a First Printing. Not knowing the answer can cost you big bucks.
Many people are confused by the vast number of offerings for Nancy Drew books that use terms like First Edition and First printing. People often overpay because they don't understand the difference between these two terms and what it means for the value of the book. In this guide I'll let you know what the true difference is and how to tell exactly what Nancy Drew book you're getting.
First of all, in the world of Nancy Drew, a first edition refers to the original text of the book, with original artwork, dust jacket, cover art, etc. If the text is changed and another print run is made, then that would be a new edition. Some people will consider that any change to the dust jacket is enough to declare the book a new edition. This is not usually the case. Generally when we use the term First edition we are talking about the text of the book. So what happens when the text stays the same, but the art changes, or the end papers change, or the dust jacket changes, and so forth? That is called a new printing. So when the book is printed for the first time, we have a true First Edition and a true First printing of that edition. If someone just uses the term "first printing", that doesn't tell you all you need to know, because they might be talking about the first printing of the second edition, for example.
Some people go even further in confusing the potential buyer by talking about a first printing of a new format for the book. So suppose that only the end papers have changed. In that case, we might call the first run of that new format a first printing of that format. Some might even call it a first edition, but that would be quite misleading. But it is okay to call it a first printing of a new format, because there are lots of people who try to collect all of the first printings of a particular format.
So what really determines the value of a Nancy Drew book? As a general rule, the most valuable Nancy Drew book is a First Edition, first printing. For maximum value it must have a dust jacket and it must be the first version of the dust jacket. Keep in mind that sometimes sellers will auction a book that has a different dust jacket on it than when the book itself was originally published. You must watch out for clues to this possibility. Also the condition will affect the value. The better the condition of the book and the jacket, the higher the value. Also keep in mind that some later Nancy Drew books were sold in Picture cover only, and so never had a dust jacket. The books that once had dust jackets were later issued in new printings that had picture covers. At some point, the text of many of the earlier books was changed to modernize and make it politically correct. When that happened we had a new edition of the book (the 2nd edition).
There are hundreds of factors in telling which edition or printing of a Nancy Drew book is being sold. To keep this guide simple, we will just look at one or two key factors. One important factor is the list of other Nancy Drew books that is included either in the book or on the dust jacket, or both. If a book had a dust jacket and a list of Nancy Drews on the dust jacket and the book itself has a list of books, then we have two lists. Often they will not be the same. In that case we may have a mismatched book and dust jacket set. But you can't know for sure, because they didn't always match.
So what do we learn from the list of books? Well, if the last book in the list is the same as the title of the book itself that is one indication of a first printing. But suppose the title there is of a later book in the series. We then know that the print date of the current book must have been sometime later than the copyright date, since it lists to a later book. But it doesn't stop there! Often there will be lists of other series books on the dust jacket or in the book itself. Dana Girls is an example of one such other series. So now we can look at the publication date of the last title listed in that series and we know the approximate date of the publication of the Drew book.
Suppose the Nancy Drew book (#2) is copyright 1930 and it lists to Nancy Drew #18. We would then know that this book is probably a 1941 printing (32nd printing). But what if we see it lists to Dana Girls #9? That would mean it is still a 1941 printing, but it was the 34th printing rather than the 32nd.
So what should you look for in an auction description? Well first, do they use terms like First Edition or First Printing? If so, have they included the last book of each series that is shown in the book or on the dust jacket? If they haven't, then that means they may not be using the terms accurately. You would need to ask a question of the seller. Typically you would just ask, "what is the last Nancy Drew book listed in the list of Nancy Drew books on the dust jacket or the inside book list. You might also ask which other series book lists are shown and what the last book is of each series. With that information you can make a better decision as to the value of the book. If, as often happens, the seller claims not to know, or seems confused in their answer, you should be very cautious. Many sellers just look at the copyright date and if it is the first edition copyright date, they will just say First Edition with no mention of printing. But if they say first printing, you must now ask questions to pin down what they mean. First printing of what? A new format, new artwork, etc. If photos are included, but they are so poor that you can't read the lists of books, then often that is a sign to beware.
Also keep in mind that the copyright date is really not particularly relevant. All of the printings of any edition of Nancy Drew will have the same copyright date. For example, the #2 book I spoke of above is copyright 1930. But the one printed in 1941 is also copyright 1930. So that information means nothing by itself. In our #2 example, the 2nd edition was published in 1959 and a 1959 copyright would be listed on that book.
Do you want to know more about Nancy Drew books. Then you might want to look for a copy of Farah's Guide authored and published by David Farah. It is more or less the bible for Nancy Drew information, versions, printings, etc.
I hope you have enjoyed this guide. If you have questions, drop me a note.