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Defining “2nd Edition”


How do I define “2nd edition” for an author who wants to revise her book? In the past I’ve used the standard that in order to qualify as a legitimate 2nd edition the book needs to have 1/3 new or revised content. However, when I look at what some people call a 2nd edition, I don’t see this level of editorial oversight. Often if it has some new content, they call it a 2nd edition.

If you agree that to be a new edition it needs at least 1/3 new/revised content, then what does a publisher call a book which has been changed but not that extensively?

Answer (03/2013):

Dan Poynter (Self Publishing Manual) says that a “Revised Edition” is the printing of a book after substantial changes to the contents and the ISBN must be different as well.

A reprint means that there are no changes; a revision means that your have made updating content corrections. As a publisher, you decide how many changes are necessary for the book to qualify as a revision. Books may be revised or completely revised. A revised edition is a new book – with a track record.

Michelle DeFilippo of 1106 Design says: When books were printed offset, the term “2nd printing” would have been used, but that’s somewhat meaningless now that POD books are updated constantly. Maybe it’s not necessary to say anything at all.

Wikipedia says: Publishers use the term first edition for their own purposes, with little consistency. The “first edition” of a trade book may be the first edition by the current publisher, or the first edition with a particular set of illustrations or editorial commentary.

Non-fiction, academic and textbook publishers generally distinguish between revisions of the text, usually citing the dates of the first and latest editions on the copyright page. However, even this rule of thumb is sometimes bent. A new textbook with a different format, title, and authors may be called a “second edition” because a previous textbook is being counted as the first, despite being essentially a different book (sharing only the subject with the new one). This stretch of the definition is done for its marketing effect, because the new textbook may seem more authoritative to the potential buyer if it implies that there have been “previous editions”.

Lisa Krebs was hired by Jan Nathan and Publishers Marketing Association (now IBPA) in 1998 and has been a sounding board and advocate for independent publishers for the past 15 years. She was previously contracted for West Coast publicity by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books and Disney/Hyperion.

We hope you will find this program useful, but as with any advice, we recommend that you make sure it fits your specific business needs. IBPA does not specifically endorse or support any particular group or service.

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