Finding 1st editions out in the wild is difficult, there are many Book Club editions floating about… They appear to look almost identical to proper 1st editions, they may show no other reprint information just like a real 1st editions.
On newer books its a little easier, with ISBN details missing. I have also noticed the lack of a price on the dust jacket, and in many cases a identifiable code like CW2234 on the dust Jacket.
The hardest to spot are American book club books.. where there is nothing to distinguish a real copy apart from examining images of real 1st editions… the binding is usually a different color or format… the dust jacket may be a zoomed in or out version of an original dust jacket. A genuine 1st edition may also state that it is a 1st edition.. where the book club will simply not have any printing information.
Why is this important? that is identifying a book club? Simply there may have only been 1000 copies printed of the 1st edition whereas the book club may have had several thousand copies printed. Although a nice looking copy for the library, the value of book club books is significantly lower. Ebay is flooded with books claiming to be 1st editions, the vast majority are book club editions, I have bought several now, only to be disappointed once I got them and could closely examine them.
The longer that I have been collecting books, the easier it is to identify the book club editions… while listing books today I found one of my 1st editions was a 1st edition, but it had a book club dust jacket, the person I bought the book from must have had a damaged or missing DJ and simply exchanged it to sell the book at a higher price.
I may do a proper article with images at some stage, I hope that at least this blog has helped with some idea of identifying those pesky book club books, and saving you money for buying actual 1st editions.