Star Wars - First Editions of the 1976 Novelization

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For years I've read a lot of bantering about which version of the novelization written by Alan Dean Foster was the 'original' or released first.

The first paperback is fairly clear cut. It was apparently released in November 1976, though the inside states 'First Printing Dec 1976'. It features the Ralph McQuarrie artwork on the cover.

However, there is also the hard cover which features the John Berkey artwork, which also says 'copyright 1976' inside. Though it doesn't say 'First Edition 1976'.

Here's where it gets confusing. From what I've heard there are apparent several versions of this hard cover. The regular release and the 'sci-fi book club edition'. I believe the 'book club' editon says 'book club' some place. But it also features an 'S27', 'S31' or 'S33' on page 183 in the gutter. 'S27' is a July printing, 'S31' & 'S33' are August printings.

A lot of people claim these book club editions are the first released, in the summer of 1976 (July & August). However, the principle filming of Star Wars movie only ended in July of 1976. It seems a bit weird for the novelization to be released, full of pictures, so early. Are people assuming that the year of release was 1976 becuase it says 'copyright 1976' on the inside?

This source says the actual release dates of the hard cover were 1977, the book club editions being printed/released in July/August of 1977. Which in some ways makes more sense.


I could see people making the mistake of thinking 'copyright 1976' means the printing occurred in 1976.

Anyone else here dive into this issue before?
 
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Doing some research into the SFBC editions, I found this comment on a wiki page... the implication, because SFBC books never used an edition statement or ISBN, is that the 'copyright 1976' is NOT the printing date for the HC Star Wars SFBC book.

"For almost forty years, SFBC editions never printed the ISBN of the original edition, and never carried an edition statement, e.g. "First Edition", "First American Edition", etc. (There is at least one noted exception when the book club accidentally failed to remove the line from its copyright page.) Even when club members were offered a selection originally published by Doubleday itself, their copies had the "First Edition" slug line removed from the copyright page. The club first used an ISBN on their original publications (mostly omnibuses) in 1989 under the GuildAmerica imprint (the first known publication), but this did not become a standard practice until mid-1993."
 
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Reading further, it also lists the SFBC HC of Star Wars as being released in 1977...

1977AugustGeorge LucasStar Wars2403S27Known reprint codes: "S31", "S33", "S41", "S45" (all later in 1977) and "T36" (1978)
 
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I realized there's some more direct evidence that the SFBC HC editions were released in 1977. Some of the images in the book weren't created until late in 1976 or early 1977.
 
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StarWars.com agrees that the paperback was the first released in 1976, and that the hard cover came in 1977.

"Unlike the modern era, Star Wars saw its paperback release hit shelves before the hardcover. A Science Fiction Book Club version with full-bleed art by John Berkey landed in late ’77, along with the classic gold hardcover with that familiar Berkey artwork boxed off, much like the ubiquitous gold-framed paperback versions."

 
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I guess that's that then. Welcome to the thread featuring me working things out by myself. LOL.
 
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Its been a long time since I have been on here... but I do peek from time to time. Back when I posted a lot on here, I wrote about this... I would have to dig up the thread. But there is some information about what you seek. My memory cannot recall exactly what I found.... but it is here... in these forums, somewhere. LOL. I will see what I can find.
 
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I should clarify... my info was about the gutter codes in the HC SFBC versions as to which was released first.
From what I understand the S27 gutter code on the 1st printing of the SFBC edition was printed in July of 1977, where as S31 & S33 were the 2nd & 3rd printings, done in August of 1977.

What I've learned is that many people's impressions of the Star Wars novelization printing order comes from what they've seen in post or auctions online, but they haven't really paid attention to the details. For instance, someone selling an S33 SFBC will say "This is the 'first edition'" which is both true to an extent and deceptive to an extent. In actual fact the S33 SFBC is a first 'hard cover' edition, but not the first edition of the novelization. It's also the 3rd printing of the SFBC, but they'll leave that part out. Also, many sales ads will claim the 'copyright 1976' is the printing year, which its not. It's the year the copyright of the novelization came into being, not the year of printing. Even on books published much later the copyright year will remain 1976.

The other thing I've noticed is that there are lot of online articles out there that haven't done a very good job of fact checking. For instance, I've read in one article that the 2nd printing of the paperback came in February 1977. In actual fact, that's when the 1st printing sold out. The 2nd printing didn't come until June of 1977.
 
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