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How to Identify a First Edition of Carrie, by Stephen King
Stephen King published his very scary first novel, Carrie, in 1974. The novel was followed by the film version, starring Sissy Spacek, John Travolta, Piper Laurie and Amy Irving in 1976. Anyone who has read the book or watched the movie has a favorite scene - the buckets of blood, the crucifixion of Piper Laurie, the destruction of the town. Carrie has something for every lover of the horror genre. Stephen King followed Carrie with Salem's Lot in 1975 and The Shining in 1977. His reputation as a horror writer was established.
What if you loved reading Carrie so much you wanted to own the book, or decided to become a Stephen King collector? How much should you expect to pay for a first edition, and how will you know if it really is a first edition? There are a lot of people out there who would love to sell you a first edition, and many of those people are misrepresenting their book as a first, when it's really not. Most of these people probably don't know how to identify a real first. A few are unscrupulous.
A first edition of Carrie will cost you between $1000 and $7500 in the current market, depending on whether or not the book is signed. The condition of the book will also determine your cost. If you don't want to spend that kind of money, and have a fair amount of patience, you can start frequenting flea markets, rummage sales, and friends of the library sales. But what should you look for, whether buying from a dealer, or heading out to do your own legwork?
Carrie commands a high price because it's uncommon (there were only 30,000 copies of the first edition), and Stephen King remains highly collectible. King also rarely signs books, so a signed copy is extremely rare. You have more options to choose from if you don't have to have a signed copy. In this case, your determining factor, after edition, is the condition. Look for an intact copy of the book with a strong binding and very little soil and wear. The dust jacket should be as close to 'as new' as possible, with no tears or dirt, and the original price should be on the inside flap of the dust jacket. If you're reading a description of a particular copy of Carrie, and it doesn't include this information, go ahead and ask the person who is offering it to send you scans, and to describe it fully.
So, how do you tell if you've got a first edition?
A true first is the American edition, published by Doubleday in 1974. When you've got a copy in hand, look for these points:
A price on the inside front of the dust jacket - C. $5.95 - the C appears above the $5.95
The year 1974 printed on the title page, and on the copyright page - the copyright page is the reverse of the title page
The words First Edition on the copyright page
On the inner margin of page 199, the code P6
The binding is full maroon colored cloth - this means that the binding is all done in the same fabric, with no different colors or materials around the spine
Gold lettering on the spine
The endpapers are black- the endpapers are the pages that are stuck to the front and rear inside of the binding, and carry over to become the first and last pages of the book
All of these criteria must be met for the book to be a true first of Stephen King's Carrie. Be careful if you find a copy where the upper inside front flap of the dust jacket has been snipped off (where the price would be). This could indicate that this copy is a Book Club edition, not a first edition. The same is true if the jacket is missing.
Be careful in your purchasing, and have fun in the hunt.