A week ago, it hit me that I'd failed to find a copy of H is for Hawk,
our book club choice for February. It wasn't for lack of trying, I prowled through all the used bookstores in town (well, most of them. Okay, one of them). I checked online at Abebooks, Powell's, and even did an Indie Bookstore search for the title. I finally came to the realization that if I was at all interested in getting the book in time to read for February's book club, I would have to look to Amazon.
Now, I know, there are plenty of used copies out there (I hear you, I do), but I was looking (nay hoping) for a first printing that wasn't going to cost me $50+.
There are, I know in my heart, still people out there who do not collect books. They are readers, who have the means to buy a book when it first comes out and don't feel the need to hold on to it once they've read it. It may be a little bit of a fantasy on my part, but I believe these people just want to pass it on. Sure, they'll ask a nominal sum for their troubles, but it's the sharing of the stories that holds the greater value. (What? They might be real).
And, a week ago, I thought I found such a person. An independent book dealer (listing on Amazon) whose description of H is for Hawk
stated "Pristine First Edition - Full Number Line... Satisfaction is Guaranteed!" And the price was only $15!
And besides, look how exuberant they were. Everything is CAPS and exclamation points. How could you not be excited? I was excited! (don't judge).
Anyway, my copy arrived yesterday, and I have to say it is absolutely pristine, very tight binding, a little wear to the lower cover but overall in Very Good condition. I was really impressed, because it came in a little bubble mailer via the USPS. I mean, don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Post Office, but sometimes they're not so careful with the packages.
I opened the book to check that it was indeed a First Edition, and instead of hearing the triumphant horns (you know, like the ones that announce the King in those old movies about medieval knights? right, well), what I heard was "wah wah waahhhh." (Yeah, you probably saw that coming). It turns out the copy that I was sent was, in fact, a 7th printing. The number line reads:
15 16 17 18 7
TEACHING MOMENT! The first set of numbers (15 16 17 18) indicates the publishing year (the lowest number of which indicates that it was published in 2015). This is followed by a lone number (7) indicating the print run. And nowhere on the copyright page does it state "First Edition."
Also, in doing a little research after-the-fact, I've noticed that an actual first printing (U.S. version, not U.K.) will have only a gold medallion on the cover (stating "WINNER of the Samuel Johnson Prize"). Apparently, the yellow "New York Times Bestseller" and red "Costa Book of the Year 2014" medallions didn't appear until the 2nd U.S. printing.
|Cover for a first U.S. printing|
Now, I'm hoping the fact that I was sent a 7th printing was just an error, because let's face it mistakes happen. And at this point it's not a big deal, but I'm really hoping beyond hope that buymeimcheap actually has several copies sitting on their shelves and while having a rousing conversation about the aesthetics and implications of Dadaism in the early 20th century, they just pulled down the wrong copy & sent it out. I sent them a nice little email asking if maybe I could just exchange the one they sent for the correct copy, although I did neglect to ask about their conclusions regarding the DaDaists. We will see what they say (fingers crossed).
That said, it's still a very lovely book and discounted well below the cover price - a good deal whether a 1st printing or a 7th. It's just, I'd rather have the first printing if it's still available, as it is what was listed in the product description.
[Addendum] - Tina from buymeimcheap
did get in contact, indeed it was a mistake. It'd been a long day of listing First Editions and by the time she got to the H is for Hawk
listing she simply forgot to delete the 'First Edition' statement. She very nicely offered to refund my money and apologized for the confusion. I told her no worries (like I said, it's in beautiful condition & a fair price no matter what printing it is) & that if she ever did come across a first printing to give me a shout. So, my search continues & in the mean time I have a beautiful 7th printing to add to my reading pile.