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Publishers Info: The Phenomenon of Harry Potter

One of the major publishing phenomena of our time has (and is) taken place in the world of children's books. Of course, this refers to one Mr. Harry Potter (born on July 31) and his creator, Ms. Joanne K. (Kathleen, if you were curious) Rowling. The "Harry" books have inspired many millions of children to read, and has set off a collecting frenzy that has caused the true First Editions (the U.K. issue) of the early books to skyrocket in price. It remains to be seen whether these prices will remain at these levels, or increase or decrease.

This article will address some of the publishing history and the "points" regarding the First Editions (first printings) of both the U.K. and the U.S. editions.

Trade Editions, U.K.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (U.K.)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish Date: July 1997
First Edition Size: 500 hardback copies (according to Bloomsbury)
ISBN: 0-7475-3269-9

The First Edition has the full number line, down to "1" on the copyright page, and was issued without a dustwrapper. It has illustrated boards (covers) by Thomas Taylor. This illustration was carried onto a dustwrapper that was issued starting with the third printing.

According to the Bloomsbury, the publisher, the first printing was limited to just 500 hardback copies with most of these intended to go to the U.K. school library system. It seems that even this number of trade copies may be too high, as it appears that while in truth there were 500 copies, they were divided into 350 hardcover copies and 150 proof copies. These first editions are scarce, and quite pricey.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (U.K.)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish date: July 2, 1998
First Edition Size: 10,150 copies (according to Bloomsbury)
ISBN: 0-7475-3849-2

The First Edition has the full number line, down to "1", on the copyright page. It was issued with a dustwrapper illustrated by Cliff Wright, with a price of 10.99. This book is also in illustrated boards (covers) with the illustration matching that on the dustwrapper.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (U.K.)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish date: July 8, 1999
First Edition Size: 10,000 copies (according to Bloomsbury)
ISBN: 0-7475-4215-5

This volume presents some challenges to the collector. There are apparently three states of the trade edition. There is also a deluxe (collector's) edition that was issued simultaneously with the trade edition. All of the deluxe editions will be discussed later.

The First Edition has the full number line, down to "1", on the copyright page. It was issued with a dustwrapper illustrated by Cliff Wright, with a price of 10.99. This book is also in illustrated boards (covers) with the illustration matching that on the dustwrapper.

The trade edition has a number of points. The first issue states 'Copyright Joanne Rowling' on the copyright page, whereas the second issue is amended to 'J.K. Rowling'. Also on the first page of text (p. 7), there is a misaligned text block with some dropped text. Clays Ltd. is listed as the printer. The speculation is that the errors were discovered early in the print run. Early thought was there were only 500 copies with these errors. It is now assumed that there were actually about 2500 of these copies.

The second state has J.K. Rowling listed as copyright holder. In addition, the dropped text on page 7 is corrected. Clays Ltd. is also still noted as the printer. There are no black and white advertisements in the back of the book. Based on the number of copies offered for sale, and the number of copies seen, this state actually seems to be scarcer than the first state, although the number of these is undetermined, and based on the publishing numbers should not be so.

The so-called third state is very interesting. It lists J.K. Rowling as the copyright holder, and has the corrected text on page 7. It also has an added 2 pages of black and white advertisements for the first 2 books at the back of the book. This is also lacks the Clays Ltd. imprint, and lists no firm as the printer. This state is the most common of the three, but again there has been no determination on the number of these that were printed.

One has to wonder what the third state really is. Why would Bloomsbury stop the presses to add the 2 pages of advertisements, if they did not add the advertisements when they made the error corrections to the first state? Why is Clays Ltd. not noted as the printer? Who (or where) printed these copies? Could these actually be the first Australian editions? Especially as we have yet to see or hear of an Australian first. These are questions that still need to be answered.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (U.K.)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish date: July 8, 2000
First Edition Size: 1 million copies (according to Bloomsbury)
ISBN: 0-7475-4624-X

This large print run was split between two print houses, Clays Ltd (750,000) and Omnia Press in Scotland (250,000). All of the first printings state "First Edition", with no number line, on the copyright page. The copyright holder is listed as J.K. Rowling. This was issued in illustrated boards (covers) with a matching illustrated dustwrapper with a price of 14.99. Illustrations are by Giles Greenfield. There are no points that we are aware of in this issue. This book was the winner of the 2001 Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year for 2000.

This book has some booksellers listing copies with "storyline errors" on pages 503 and 579 that were supposedly corrected during the first print run. These "points of issue" however still exist in at least the seventh printing, so it is doubtful that these are actually errors or misprints.
Deluxe (Collector's) Editions (U.K.)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish date: July 8, 1999
First Edition Size: 1,000 copies (according to Bloomsbury)
ISBN: 0-7475-4511-1

This deluxe edition is being listed first as it was the first deluxe edition to be published. It was issued simultaneously with the trade hardcover, and thus is a true first edition. Thus far, it is the only deluxe edition to be so issued.

The book is in green harlequin cloth, with a yellow silk bookmark bound in and all edges gilt (AEG). The first printing is indicated by the full number line, down to the "1" on the copyright page. The copyright holder is listed as Joanne Rowling. The Cliff Wright illustration from the trade copy is embossed on the front cover. A facsimile of Ms. Rowling's signature is also embossed in gold on the front board.

This is another book that has some bookseller listings showing a "point of issue" that does NOT exist. They say that the copyright holder is shown as "Joanne Rowling" in the first state, and then changed to "J.K. Rowling" in the second state. This is highly doubtful, as the second printing of this book (number line ending in "2") still shows the copyright holder as "Joanne Rowling".

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish date: September 27, 1999
First Edition Size: 4,000 copies (according to Bloomsbury)
ISBN: 0-7475-4572-3

This book was issued along with "The Chamber of Secrets" almost three months after the deluxe edition of "Azkaban". Bloomsbury apparently still had little faith in the books, issuing only 4000 copies of each.

The book is in red harlequin cloth, with a blue silk bookmark bound in and all edges gilt (AEG). The first printing is indicated by the full number line, down to the "1" on the copyright page. The copyright holder is listed as J.K. Rowling. The Thomas Taylor illustration from the trade copy is embossed on the front cover. A facsimile of Ms. Rowling's signature is also embossed in gold on the front board.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish date: September 27, 1999
First Edition Size: 4,000 copies (according to Bloomsbury)
ISBN: 0-7475-4577-4

This book is in blue harlequin cloth, with a green silk bookmark and all edges gilt (AEG). The first printing is indicated by the full number line, down to the "1" on the copyright page. The copyright holder is listed as J.K. Rowling. The Cliff Wright illustration from the trade copy is embossed on the front cover. A facsimile of Ms. Rowling's signature is also embossed in gold on the front board.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish date: October 2000
First Edition Size: ?? copies
ISBN: 0-7475-4971-0

This book is in purple harlequin cloth, with a red silk bookmark bound in and all edges gilt (AEG). The first printing is indicated by the full number line, down to the "1" on the copyright page. The copyright holder is listed as Joanne Rowling. The Giles Greenfield illustration from the trade copy is embossed on the front cover. A facsimile of Ms. Rowling's signature is also embossed in gold on the front board.

Trade Editions, U.S.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (U.S.)
Publisher: Scholastic
Publish date: October 1998
First Edition Size: 125,000 copies (according to Scholastic)
ISBN: 0-590-35340-3


The first book was renamed "Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone in the U.S., and was released in October, 1998, nearly a year and a half after the British version was released. This book has had the some of the language "Americanized", as evidenced by the title change. The relative scarcity of this volume seems to bear out the thought that the vast majority of these were destined for school and public libraries. Still, with a print run of this size, one would expect that that there would be a greater number of copies available than seems to be the case. Which makes one wonder if Scholastic did indeed issue this many copies.

The first printing (and all subsequent printings) of the trade edition is in purple boards (covers) with an embossed diamond pattern and has a red cloth spine. Be careful, as there are book club editions on the market with the correct number sequence on the copyright page, but they are in plain black boards (covers). The copyright page has the full number line (1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 8 9/9 0/0 01 02), and states "First American Edition, October 1998." It also states "Printed in the USA 23". The "First Edition" statement has been the cause of many misidentified books, as this statement has stayed in all of the printings to date. The determining factor for a First Edition (first printing) is the number line. Also the book does not have a volume number on spine of the book.

Mary GrandPre, who has illustrated all of the U.S. editions, illustrated the dustwrapper (dustjacket). The dustwrapper also has some identifying points. The first state of the dustwrapper has a blurb from England's "The Guardian" newspaper on the back. Subsequent issues have a blurb from "Publisher's Weekly". The price on the dustwrapper is $16.95, which was later raised to $17.95. Also, the number "51695" (which corresponds to the price) appears over the bar code on the back of the dustwrapper. There is no volume number on the spine of the dustwrapper, and the lettering is slightly raised. The book club edition dustwrapper is readily identifiable, in that the lettering is NOT raised, it lacks the price on the dustwrapper, and the corresponding number over the bar code.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (U.S.)
Publisher: Scholastic
Publish date: June 2, 1999
First Edition Size: 250,000 copies (according to Scholastic)
ISBN: 0-439-06486-4

The first printing of the trade edition is in purple-blue boards (covers) with an embossed diamond pattern and has a green cloth spine. The copyright page has the full number line (10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 9/9 0/0 1 2 3 4), and states "First American Edition, June 1999." It also states "Printed in the USA 37". The "First American Edition" statement has been the cause of many misidentified books, as this statement has stayed in all of the printings to date. The determining factor for a First Edition (first printing) is the number line. Also the book does not have a volume number on spine of the book. Mary GrandPre illustrated the dustwrapper (dustjacket), which has an issue price of $17.95.

There is a rather remarkable second state to this book. The copyright page has the complete number line, as above. The differences are to the binding of the book, and to the dustwrapper. In the second state binding, there is an embossed "2" on the spine of the book. The associated dustwrapper also has the embossed "2" on the spine, as well as having the price changed from $17.95 to $19.95. There is also a state of the dustwrapper without the embossed "2" on the spine, but with the increased price. Thus there are 2 states of the book (with and without the "2" on the spine) and 3 states of the dustwrapper. The second state binding was issued in the third state dustwrapper.

The speculation about where the second state sheets came from is interesting. The second state showed up on shelves quite a bit after the initial print run, as evidenced by the third state jacket. Add to this the fact that these sheets were bound in the then current binding (adding the "2"), and it makes one wonder where these sheets were hiding for all of those months. Our own view is that these were sheets that were set aside for sale to the BOMC, but were never used. When Scholastic decided to use them, or the BOMC decided to not issue a version, they just sent them to the bindery and bound and issued them in the then current state. We have not seen, nor have we heard of any book club issue for this, or for any later title, which adds some weight to our idea. But it is just that, our speculation, based on some facts, but not confirmed by Scholastic or anyone "in the know".

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (U.S.)
Publisher: Scholastic
Publish date: September 8, 1999
First Edition Size: Unknown
ISBN: 0-439-13635-0

The first printing of the trade edition is in green boards (covers) with an embossed diamond pattern and has a purple cloth spine. The copyright page has the full number line (10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 9/9 0/0 1 2 3 4), and states "First American Edition, October 1999." It also states "Printed in the USA 37". As in all of the books, the "First American Edition" statement has been the cause of many misidentified books, as this statement has stayed in all of the printings to date. The determining factor for a First Edition (first printing) is the number line. This is the first title to be issued with a year number embossed on the book and the dustwrapper spine (it has Year 3). Mary GrandPre illustrated the dustwrapper (dustjacket), which has an issue price of $19.95.

There is one interesting note about this title. It was during the summer of 1999 that the "Harry" craze really took off, especially in the U.S. Originally Scholastic intended to release the book in October, as it had done with "Sorcerer's Stone". The problem was that "Azkaban" had already been released in the U.K., and many American buyers were purchasing the U.K. version over the web. So Scholastic, fearing that it was losing too many sales, pushed up the "street date" on this title. Hence, we list the publish date (which is the date the book is released for sale, or the street date) as Sept 8, 1999. The copyright, though, states the first American edition to be in October.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (U.S.)
Publisher: Scholastic
Publish date: July 8, 2000
First Edition Size: 3.2 million
ISBN: 0-439-13959-7

The first printing of the trade edition is in maroon boards (covers) with an embossed diamond pattern and has a black cloth spine. The copyright page has the full number line (10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0/0 0/1 1 2 3 4), and states "First American Edition, July 2000." It also states "Printed in the USA 56". As in all of the books, the "First American Edition" statement has been the cause of many misidentified books, as this statement has stayed in all of the printings to date. The determining factor for a First Edition (first printing) is the number line. This title has "Year 4" embossed on the book and the dustwrapper spine. Mary GrandPre illustrated the dustwrapper (dustjacket), which has an issue price of $25.95.

There are no points that we are aware of in this issue. This book was the winner of the 2001 Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year for 2000. This is also the first title in the series to released simultaneously with the U.K. edition.

Deluxe (Collector's) Editions, U.S.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Publisher: Scholastic
Publish date: November 1, 2000
First Edition Size: Reputed to be 100,000
ISBN: 0-439-20352-X

This is the first, and so far only, "Collector's" edition issued by Scholastic, and is in dark green leatherette with elaborate gilt writing & stamping on the cover and the spine, all gilt edges, and the Mary GrandPre illustration from the trade copy embossed on the front. The copyright page has the full number line (10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0/0 01 02 03 04), and states "Collector Edition November 2000." There is a frontispiece illustration of Harry at No. 4 Privit Drive in front of the mantel by Ms. Rowling. This is a facsimile of a drawing that Ms. Rowling did in1995. The book was issued in a glassine (acetate) dustwrapper, which is very prone to rubbing.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)

This is the presumed, and working, title of the next book in the series. According to Ms. Rowling the book is essentially complete, but for some minor tweaking. Bloomsbury says that it expects to publish it sometime in late spring, early summer of 2003. Since the manuscript has not been submitted by Ms. Rowling as of early October, 2002, it seems that the Bloomsbury date would be the earliest that this title will be released (since it takes form 4-6 months from the time the manuscript is received until it can be released). It apparently is a substantial book, along the lines of "Goblet" in length, so may be worth the wait.


Content provided by Lester Elisco.

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