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The IOBA Standard is the journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association and covers the book world, with a special focus on the online used, out-of-print, and collectible bookselling markets.


Comparing an American First Edition to the Taiwan "Pirate" Edition

As a part of our efforts to revise the IOBA website we have worked to add images to our Book Terminology page. We have also been looking to add additional terms to those found on our older website. One such term is Pirate Edition. These are books created without the authorization of the original author and/or publisher. When we refer to pirate editions we are often discussing those created in Taiwan.

Internet research located an article from the Hugh Stevens Blog (article linked here) that discusses these books. A great many of these "pirate" editions were produced in the 1960s. While US publishers were unhappy with these books, Taiwan was not a signatory to the treaty regarding copyrights and these books were produced there in compliance with their laws. See the article for more.

The impetus for adding this term to our page was a copy of Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet. The copy found had a pencil notation at front from a prior bookseller indicating that it was from the First Edition as published by Grove. Scrutiny of this book raised some questions about this attribution. This book is now featured as an image under that term on our Book Terminology page. The "pirate" copy has been put together with a copy of the actual Grove edition. These images are the result of an effort to illustrate the differences between the two books. The following is presented in the hopes that booksellers and buyers alike will become better at recognizing these books when they are seen. In each image, the "pirate" edition appears first with the true Grove edition following.

The books are very close to the same size but the dust jacket printing is not quite as clear.

On the rear dust jacket panel we see that the credit to the photographer is omitted on the "pirate" copy.

Looking at the spine of the dust jacket we see that the name of the publisher is omitted. You can also see that the Grove edition is thicker. Both are approximately 8 ¼” x 5 ½”, but the Grove version is 1-5/8” thick, while the "pirate" copy is only 9/16” thick; boards on each approximately same thickness, so it’s all differences are due to the paper thickness.

The difference in thickness is even clearer when looking from the top.

The difference in thickness is also quite pronounced when comparing the spine of each book.

Looking at the rear inside flap of the dust jacket, we see that the publishers name and address are omitted on the "pirate" copy.

Comparing the cloth we see that the "pirate" copy is bound in a purple cloth while the Grove edition is bound in light green cloth.

Comparing the half title pages, we see the improved quality of the binding and that the page can lay flat. The images do not show this, but the paper of the "pirate" edition is thinner and has a grayish tint. The Grove edition is on thicker paper that is a purer white.

Comparing the title pages we see that publisher is not identified on the "pirate" copy. We can also again see the rippling of the pages on the "pirate" while the Grove copy lies flat.

Comparing the copyright pages, we see that the "pirate" copy notes the 1961 copyright date but does not say who holds the copyright. This is one of the best tells when looking at these books. Both have First Edition stated. We also see a notation that the Grove edition is "Manufactured in the United States of America". No such notation is seen on the "pirate" copy.

Both books have 318 pages with one preliminary blank endpaper and two final endpapers. Following the last page of text we see publication info only on the "pirate" copy.

*** We hope that reviewing the differences between these books in some detail will enable you to spot the "pirate" editions. This exercise illustrates that there is no substitute for a careful examination of all aspects of a book. *** This article was developed as a collaboration between Stephen Clauser of Arroyo Seco Books and Andrew Langer, doing business as Andrew Langer, Bookseller, together with edits from other interested IOBA members.




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