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How to Identify First Editions: St. Martin's Press

By Kristin Masters. Aug 19, 2013. 10:27 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Modern First Editions

Headquartered in New York City's iconic Flatiron building, St. Martin's Press is one of the largest publishers of English-language books in the world. The publishing house puts out approximately 700 titles per year under multiple imprints.

Macmillen Publishers of UK founded St. Martin's in 1952, naming it for St. Martin's Lane in London. The house was privately owned until the late 1990's, when it was sold to Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC. This group of publishers, held by Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, is a family concern that also owns publishing houses Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Holt Publishers, and Tor-Forge Books.



St. Martin's Press has published some interesting and controversial titles over the years. 

St. Martin's Press is known for publishing works by an incredibly wide variety of authors, and they wor with a number of bestselling authors such as Dan Brown, Janet Evanovich, and Robert Ludlum. Another claim to fame: St. Martin's Press publishes The New York Times crossword puzzle books.

In 1981, the textbook division, Bedford-St. Martin's, was founded. Three years later, St. Martin's became the first major trade-book publisher to release its hardcover books through its own in-house mass market paperback company. St. Martin's Mass Market Paperback Co, Inc was founded by current President and Publisher Sally Richardson, with the stewardship of then-President Thomas McCormack.

Collectors of modern first editions frequently encounter books published by St. Martin's Press. While mainstream books and bestsellers are published under the auspices of St. Martin's Press, other genres have been published under St. Martin's Press imprints:

  • St. Martin's Griffin (mainstream paperbacks, including romance and science fiction)

  • Truman Talley Books (specialty and business)

  • Minotaur (thrillers, suspense, and mystery)

  • Thomas Dunne Books (mainstream and suspense)

  • Picador (specialty) 

How to Identify First Editions from St Martin's Press and its Imprints

Unlike other publishers, which issue frequent statements about first edition identification, St. Martin's Press offers little guidance.

St. Martin's Press, Incorporated

In a 1976 statement, the publishing house stated that it "rarely [designates] first editions per se." Revised editions of the book may be denoted as subsequent editions, and occasionally the printing will be noted on the copyright page. The next statement, in 1988, noted that there was no change in first edition identification practices.

St. Martin's Press, Australia

Both St. Martin's Press, Australia and Picador, Australia follow the conventions outlined in Pan Macmillan Australia's 1994 statement. First printings are identified with the word "First published (year) in (imprint). Prior to 1994, the group hadn't been denoting the imprint. In 2001, Pan Macmillan Australia added that its imprints are Macmillan, Pan, Picador, and Pancake Press.

Picador (UK)

Picador's first statement regarding first edition identification defers to the conventions of Pan Books Ltd, as do Pavanne, Piccolo, and Piper. . Their 1988 statement begins with a reminder that Pan Books largely publishes reprints, and that only approximately 15% of their output was original material. The publisher denoted four different categories of books, each with its own convention: 

  • Books first published in Great Britain as hardcover editions bear the words "First printed in (year) by (British publisher)"

  • Books first published elsewhere, then in Great Britain as hardcover editions say "First published in Great Britain in (year) by (British publisher). This edition published (year) by Pan Books Ltd.

  • Books first published outside Great Britain, then by Pan Books Ltd directly bear the words "First published (elsewhere) (year) by (publisher) This edition first published in Great Britain (year) by Pan Books Ltd.

  • Original works say "First published (year) by Pan Books Ltd.

Following this information are the Pan Books address; numerical indication of impression number; copyright symbol and copyright owner; and the ISBN. Impression number had been noted throughout the publisher's history, but the addition of "2nd printing," "3rd printing," etc began only around 1982. Since then all printings have been indicated with a row of numbers from 9 down to 1, 19 down to 10, and the lowest figure indicates the impression number. A reprint with corrections is also specified if the changes aren't substantial enough to designate the book as a new edition. In 1994, Pan Books Ltd issued another statement, reiterating the conventions followed in 1988.

In 2000, Picador's statement deferred to that of Pan Macmillan (United Kingdom), which in turn adhered to the statements of Macmillan Publishers Limited (United Kingdom).

Macmillan Publishers Limited (UK)

In 1982, Macmillan Publishers Limited stated that "Until 1968/9 our first editions carried the date of publication on the title page." If a new edition was produced or the book was merely reprinted, a statement was added to the back of the title page that says "First edition (year)/Reprinted (year)/Second edition (year)/Reprinted (year)." The latest printing year appeared on the title page.

After about 1968, the date was omitted from the title page and instead the words "First published (year) by (imprint)" appeared on the back of the title page of all first editions. Reprints and new editions bore the words "Published by (imprint)" and a statement similar to that used before 1968 to indicate the book's bibliographic history. During the transitional years of 1968 and 1969, either practice may have been used. Other important points:

  • Books completely lacking bibliographical information or that say on the title page only "First published (year) by (imprint)" are almost undoubtedly first editions.

  • If a book bears the words "First published in (location)" or something similar, it's likely that either earlier or simultaneous publication occurred.

  • It's generally evident when a book has been translated from another language.

  • In the case of joint imprints (usually two associated publishers in different countries), simultaneous publication should be assumed.

  • Where copies of the same edition are bound in both hard and paper covers, they were often but not always published simultaneously. But if the paperback appeared later, the year isn't always noted on the copyright page.

  • Numerous publications have been acquired from elsewhere over the years, namely those of Julius Charles Hare (1856); Lord Tennyson (1884); Richard Bentley (1898); Thomas Hardy (1902); and WB Yeats (1916). Collectors should consult the relevant bibliographies for extensive information.

  • The pre-Macmillan and US editions of Rudyard Kipling (both original and pirated) are well documented.

  • The publication date of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass is often listed as 1871, though the edition is dated 1872. The actual publication date was December 11, 1871.

In 2000, Macmillan Publishers Limited added that starting in 1996, they had begun the practice of marking printings and reprints with a row of numbers from 1 to 10. First printings had the "1" present in the string. They also added that the following imprints followed these conventions: Macmillan Press Ltd (UK) (from September 1, 2000 rebranded as Palgrave Publishers Ltd); Macmillan Children's Books (UK); Pan Macmillan (UK); Pan Macmillan UK imprints; Picador; Boxtree; Sidgwick; and Jackson. 

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Kristin Masters
Master Content Brain. You think it, she writes it, no good thought remains unposted. Sprinkles pixie dust on Google+, newsletters, blog, facebook, twitter and just about everything else.


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