Friday, February 22, 2008
Concerning Printings and a New Cover

Over the last year or so, I've learned a lot about the publishing industry.

I've always been a big reader, but I never spent much time wondering where books came from, or how they were made. Even when I started working on my books, I focused on the craft of writing, and not the particulars of getting published.

Because of this, I have weird gaps in my knowledge. For example, I just recently learned how identify different printings of books.

What's a printing? Well, when your book first comes out, your publisher takes a look at how many books the booksellers and distributors have ordered. Then the publisher prints enough books to cover those orders, plus some extra to have in the warehouse so that they can fill additional orders. That first printing is, well, the first printing.

These first printings can be of wildly different sizes. The first printing of the last Harry Potter book was huge, of course. While a lot of books by new authors get a very small first printings because the publishers don't know how well the book is going to sell.

From what I understand, a lot of books only get one printing.

But occasionally, something magical happens. Sometimes people keep buying a book from the stores, so those stores keep having to order more from the distributors. The distributors have to order more from the publisher, and then the publisher prints a new batch of the book: that's the second printing.

And so on, and so on...

I learned all of that fairly early on, but what I *didn't* know was how to tell the which printing was which. But now I do...

You know that page early on in the book with all that legal-y information on it?

Here's the one from my book. As always, guest starring my thumb...

Down here is the important bit.

Here's the tricky part. The line that says "First Hardcover Printing" doesn't actually tell you anything about the printing. It's the numbers underneath. Here all the numbers 1-10 are printed out. That means that this is a first printing.

Here's the second printing of my book. You can tell because the little number one is missing from the list. (Click the picture to embiggen.)

The fourth printing....

And lastly, the fifth printing:

The fifth printing is actually easier to spot than the other ones, as it has one additional subtle difference:

That's right. The fifth printing of the hardcover got an awesome new cover. I was really flattered that the publisher would do this. I really like the way it looks.

This means that Shirtless Kvothe and Angry Stone Man are a thing of the past. So hang on to them, folks. In five or ten years you'll be able to e-bay them and put your kids through college.

Also note that this cover makes it very clear that I am a winner, and that The Name of the Wind is a novel. If you were confused about either of those things, you can rest easier now.



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posted by Pat at


Blogger Anton Strout said...

Yes, but how will we un-embiggen your head?

Huge fan of the new look btw...

February 22, 2008 7:55 AM  
Blogger Mary J. said...

We knew you were a winner, Pat!
I noticed that is the cover for the paperbacks too- do you get any input into that sort of thing or is it a pleasant (I hope) surprise?

The flu sucks, by the by. Miss me?

February 22, 2008 8:06 AM  
Anonymous ToddM326 said...

That is a great new cover. Any chance of making a jpeg of that picture as a computer wallpaper?

That way I can advertise your book to all those around me!

February 22, 2008 8:08 AM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

Very cool! Looks similar in style to "The Wise Man's Fear" cover (I guess that is the point).

P.S.: Pat, did you know that you were voted #1 of the year by the readers of SF Site? :P

Here is a link: SF Site

February 22, 2008 8:17 AM  
Blogger Arevanye said...

Congrats on a new cover and a 5th printing!

I'm tired of seeing "a novel" on book covers. Is this strictly a U.S. thing or is it universal these days?

February 22, 2008 8:30 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I wanted to check and see which printing I had, but remembered my copy is on loan to a friend yet again.

I WOULD just e-bay the copy I have (Stone-face Rothfuss), but my copy is also autographed to ME and they can't have it.

So there. My kids can go to community college.

February 22, 2008 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Jeffrey_Wells said...

Now I'm going to be going through all my books looking for that little number string.

--that one kid from your high school

February 22, 2008 8:53 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

the new cover is awesome. I might buy another copy just to get that cover! I really want to check which printing i have but I'm at school so yea....

i bet its the 3rd.

February 22, 2008 9:25 AM  
OpenID suziko said...

I love the new cover. We wanted to get the gargoyle cover when we ordered our copy but ended up with shirtless, red-headed Fabio guy, which is, no offense intended, kind of cheesy looking. Still, maybe i'll hold on to the dust jacket now that I know it's being replaced.

February 22, 2008 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Sienged said...

I prefer the old covers but its still a good cover. Do you know how many books are in print now?

Lost guy:"Hum..The Name of The Wind, I haven't seen this movie before. Yo, do you know if this movie is any good?"

Book Store Clerk:.......

Lost guy:"OH, its a novel. Wait,how did I end up in a book store. Either way thank god for that dvd case having novel written on the front of it."

Book Store Clerk:......

February 22, 2008 9:47 AM  
Blogger I. M. Bitter said...

Cool. I am a proud owner of a first edition shirtless version, even though I much prefer the angry stone man.

February 22, 2008 10:07 AM  
Blogger Adam B. Shaeffer said...

Congrats on the fifth printing! That's wonderful news! And thank you for adding "embiggen" to my vocabulary. Now I just need to use it 3 times today and it'll be mine to use forever!

February 22, 2008 10:14 AM  
Blogger Pei-Hsin said...

The new cover looks good, Pat! By the way, I think UK print runs are marked differently from US ones: the highest number missing is the current print run. So a first print will have 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 or something like that in it, the second print run 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10...

February 22, 2008 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Steven Jackson said...

Wow. That is sexy.

February 22, 2008 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That page with the information on is called the verso of the title page.

Thought you might like to know.

5th printing! You must be living the high life. I expect to see the castle soon.


February 22, 2008 11:01 AM  
Blogger Althalus said...

I love the new cover, I may just have to go out and buy it now..

February 22, 2008 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Llyralei said...

fgsfds I let my friend borrow my copy; I want to know what printing I got. D:

And, damn, I really love the new cover! XD But I can't afford to buy another copy of your book... What to do... lol.

Anyway, maybe I was lucky enough to get a first printing copy! *gasp* Then I can, uh, go to college twice! Yeah! :D

February 22, 2008 11:10 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I knew about the printings thing because i used to work at a bookstore and learned it there.

But the thing is, now, I have to buy ANOTHER copy? To get that cover. Oh well. :)

February 22, 2008 11:18 AM  
OpenID roseneko said...

As a bit of an amateur book collector, I did know about printings (although I'm almost tempted to laugh about how number lines are cheating - the real challenges are in figuring out which printing a Jules Verne book is, since number lines didn't really come into use until after WWII). So I was happy to see that the copy of your book that I ordered was a first printing, and even more stoked when I read said book and enjoyed it immensely. =) One of these days I'll have to get it signed, when I figure out something cool enough to send...

February 22, 2008 11:23 AM  
Blogger Shawn C. Speakman said...

Pat: Congrats on so many printings. I'm sure it makes you, and those at DAW, proud. :) Nice to know a book can still garner that kind of support out of the gates.

And not to embiggen your head further, but I think you've sold more copies than the first Harry Potter book did at the beginning. ;)

February 22, 2008 12:01 PM  
Blogger Wysen said...

I love the new cover. My copy is of "Romance Novel Kvothe" on the cover and I've always thought it was kinda a goofy cover. Luckily the substance in between the front and back cover made up for it 100 fold.

February 22, 2008 12:10 PM  
Blogger Micah Cowan said...

I've got "shirtless Kvothe" myself. And I've got to say (and I know you had nothing to do with this), that if the cover was all I'd had to go by, I'd probably never have experienced the delight that is The Name of the Wind. The picture itself is fairly blah, but add to it that the printing is dark and low-contrast, and it's definitely losing.

I know they say never to judge a book by the cover, but if you're just browsing through stuff at the local bookstore (a physical bookstore? How quaint, I know), you don't have any other choice. Anyway, glad it's gone.

Here's being glad that I bought it on the recommendation of an Amazon Delivers newsletter (along with Wicked, which was an only so-so piece of teen fantasy fiction), thus discovering my new favorite piece of fantasy (and my other new favorite piece of fantasy, too, since I bought Mistborn on your say-so, Pat!).

Of course, my current all-time favorite piece of fiction in general (speculative, I guess?), is The Time Traveller's Wife. Sorry, Pat, Niffenegger trumps (though not by much). And if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. :)

February 22, 2008 1:07 PM  
Blogger TK42ONE said...

I hate the new cover. Why? Because I can. And because I love the shirtless Kvothe cover (aka "that dreaded Fabio cover"). As I've said before and I'll continue to say, I judge a book by it's cover. And the shirtless Kvothe sold me. I wasn't really aware he was shirtless because I was too damn busy staring at his eyes. They kept haunting me as I walked up and down the aisle of the store trying to decide if I should by the book.

In case you couldn't tell, his eyes won. Maybe i should start looking at "rescuing" the other shirtless Kvothe covers out there.

And congrats on the multiple printings. And it's also nice to see other upcoming authors on here patting your back. You guys (and gals) are such a great family.

February 22, 2008 1:56 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Very cool. I can rest easier now :)

Someday I'll tell my kids how I saw shirtless Kvothe's doomsday.

February 22, 2008 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, what if I don't have any numbers?

I did buy it from a book club because it was cheaper. I hope I didn't screw you out of any royalties or something. I would hate for you to still be eating ramen because of me! :)

Michelle from Hudson

February 22, 2008 8:03 PM  
Anonymous cameron said...

I have to admit, I too like the old covers better.

I'd have a word or two with your publisher though, as it is unclear if the "winner" is you or the book.

5 printings within a year _is_ pretty spanky.

If this type of think continues, you might need a good trepanning ; )

February 22, 2008 9:22 PM  
Blogger yellowdog granny said...

i have the stone man on the cover...I would like to get one of each..and have you sign them all...hmm....

February 22, 2008 11:07 PM  
Blogger yellowdog granny said...

I'm still looking for the link to my book review on my blog..js

February 22, 2008 11:09 PM  
OpenID thornofcamorr said...

Heh, he said embiggen.

February 23, 2008 12:29 AM  
Anonymous caesar said...

Where can we purchase the new one at? also, seems like you're going to need to update the website to show an alternate alternate cover! Congrats on the 5th printing!

February 23, 2008 2:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I LOVE that cover!!! I searched high and wide for shirtless Kvothe for my hardback, but I'm thinking I'm willing to shell out some more cash for this cover. It's beautiful! And just so you know, I rarely buy books (that's what librarys are for) and it's even more rare for me to buy hardcovers. But for me to be willing to buy two? I had no idea I was such a groupie!

February 23, 2008 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh, and I just checked and my shirtless Kvothe is a first printing. Score baby!! Now all I have to do is get it signed. But I'm gonna wait, years if I have to, until I can get it signed in person. That'll totally be worth it.

February 23, 2008 9:33 AM  
Anonymous krighton said...

Not to hijack the topic, but how about heading down to the Dayton OH area for a book signing (Books & Co. are the major signing stores in this area). I keep being unable to get to any of thes 'Cons' you seem to spend a lot of time at. I could start a 'Pat's 5th edition Cover Con' if that would help lure you down to the armpit of the Midwest.

February 23, 2008 5:36 PM  
Blogger AJMkarate717 said...

Cool: I actually have a copy from the first printing... And I bought it in January... does that make sense?

By the way, I find your comment about "a novel" being printed on the book cover quite amusing.

Keep on truckin', Pat!

February 23, 2008 9:31 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

First printing! oh yea.

i bought mine in November.

Stone man > shirtless kvothe

I can't decide if i like the new cover or stone man better. there both good.

February 24, 2008 12:07 AM  
Blogger amber_mane said...

Nice to get that cleared up. You never can be sure what a novel is these days...


February 24, 2008 3:40 AM  
Blogger amber_mane said...

Oh yeah and on another note... My paperback has neither shirtless Kvothe or strange hooded figure on shadowy grasslands. I'm supposing thats because mines an international release, printed and bound in Australia (so it says on the legals page). My cover has twisty green vines bordering it with a hooded figure with what appears to be either... bleeding eyes or glowing red eyes (I can't be certain)in the centre of the front cover. It's very attractive. I'll have to google for the semi-naked Kvothe and stone man :P


February 24, 2008 3:46 AM  
Anonymous Kalligenia said...

I love that new cover. I have one of the stone man and shirtless Kvothe, but the new one is now my favorite!

February 25, 2008 9:03 AM  
Anonymous krighton said...

so how long until a 6th printing...makes me want to go out and up the remaining 1st printings in my local bookstores and hoard them till PRoth is as HOT as Rowling.

February 25, 2008 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happens after the 10th printing? There's no more numbers to remove!

February 25, 2008 3:06 PM  
Blogger TK42ONE said...

Anonymous - I believe they continue to print numbers after 10. So it would look something like this:

5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

For those more knowledgeable, feel free to correct me.

February 25, 2008 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Sean said...

The cover's cool, but its kinda the redheaded step child of the dutch cover :( i'm still sad i can't get the dutch cover, err..uhhh...can't readily get it with all the wonders of the english language bound inside.

February 25, 2008 3:58 PM  
OpenID bluharlequin said...

My Dad used to work in publishing. So I kinda already knew about the little numbers. That, and I'm a geek.

The new cover is very cool, though I'll have to profess my love for the "shirtless Kvothe" cover. (Apparently this puts in the minority.) There was something very unique about that character, and that's what drew me to the book initially. Well, the big cardboard display at the end of the aisle in Barnes and Noble didn't hurt either.

February 26, 2008 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the first thing i look for before buying a book is the number line...if it starts with anything but a 1 i put it back and search someplace else...spoils the fun of the read knowing it's not a 1st/1st.

February 26, 2008 7:46 PM  
Blogger Grayone said...

Proud owner of the 'gay' cover. I also bought my sister one and got it signed something like the gay cover from the gay brother. haha.

February 26, 2008 10:13 PM  
Blogger Incubus Jax said...

I just received "The Name of The Wind" from Barnes and Noble... Mine has 1-10 written in it... and the shirtless Kvothe on the cover.

Looks like I'll get to retire afterall! ;)


February 27, 2008 10:13 PM  
Blogger Chad said...

I bought a first edition of the book from Borders, but the dust cover has the new picture (fifth printing). Is that wierd? Maybe they replaced the old cover because the new dust cover clearly states that you're a winner and that it is in fact a novel.

March 21, 2009 5:37 PM  

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