What Is The Difference Between Books And Editions? The Best Answer

by CJ McDaniel // March 9  

Books and editions have some differences. But if you didn’t know, you would think otherwise. There are also different types of books and editions. Types of books include fantasy, horror, action, adventure, graphic novel, comic book, historical fiction, etc. Editions comprise the first edition, second edition, and so on.

In this article, we’re going to look at the difference between books and editions. Keep on reading to know the differences.

What Are Books?

Simply put, books are a set of printed sheets of paper bound together between covers. The earlier forms of books are scrolls. The change to books from scrolls dates far back to the Roman Empire.

Books are media for recording specific information in the form of images or writings. Books are made of multiple pages (paper, parchment, papyrus), held together and protected by covers, front, and back.

History Of Books

Humans have used numerous varieties of objects in ancient civilizations for writing. Examples of such are rocks, stones, bones, clay, tree bark, metal sheets, etc.


Humans have used tablets in the Bronze and Iron Age for writing. They were produced from clay, wax, etc. The binding of several wax tablets together was the precursor of the modern bound books. Modern books were formerly known as a codex, which means a block of wood.


Humans made scrolls from papyrus, parchments, and thin wood. They also used them for writing in Ancient Egypt. They’re typically glued papyrus sheets together to form scrolls.


A codex consists of leaves of thin wood of uniform sizes bound together along the edge and held between two thick materials.


When papyruses were scarce during the fall of the Roman Empire, parchments became popular. People made parchments from an animal’s skin. The parchments were goats and sheep’s skin which are scrapped and dried but not tanned. It was what the Roman scholars used to write their manuscripts.

Modern Daybook:

The modern-day book is what is obtainable today. They are made of thin sheets, bound together at the edge, covered and protected by two covers. The cover could be a hardcover or a softcover depending on the thickness of the material used.


The words written in a book can be read aloud, recorded, and saved on tapes, discs, or other memory devices. You can refer to them as audiobooks. An example is the audio Bible.


These are electronic books. They are books in soft format. They are made available through the internet, on smartphones, electronic tablets, and other electronic devices. They can come in ‘Word Doc format,’ ‘PDF’ or ‘EPUB.’

Books can consist only of photographs, drawings, puzzles, etc. it is also possible for a book’s pages to be left blank. It may also feature abstract lines to support entries. Examples of such books are an autograph book, an account book, a notebook, photograph album, appointment book, diaries, or a sketch pad.

Types Of Books

You can classify books by content and physical format.

Books by Content

They are often separated based on content into fictional books and non-fictional books. There are also other types, such as musical notebooks.

  • Fictional books. These are books containing stories that the author has imagined. Some may rely on history’s real events; however, the author can create imaginary characters and dialogue. You can refer to them as creative literature. Novels are common forms of fictional books. You use them for entertainment. Also, comic books are in this category.
  • Non-fictional books. They are books based on facts. They are usually on specific education subjects. Subjects like history, politics, and education, social and cultural matters are also in this category. Almost all academic books are non-fictional. Examples of non-fictional books are Bible, dictionary, atlas, scholarly publications, textbooks, encyclopedia, engineering index, manuals, etc.
  • Private books. These books are for personal reasons. The owner or user fills them. Examples of such books are workbooks and examination books. They are printed with spaces to be filled by the user (students or pupils). Another example of such books is diaries.
  • Other types. There are several different types of books. Albums (used for holding items such as pictures, cards, memorabilia, etc.; hymnals (for musical hymns by churches); prayer books (used by monks, clergy, and nuns); lap books (learning books for students).

By Physical format

This is where publishing comes in. To publish a book means to produce it in printed or electronic formats for the user to buy and use. Physical books may come in hardcover backs, ordinary paperbacks, glossy cover backs, spiral bounds, etc.

What Are Editions?

Bibliographers define a book’s edition as copies of a printed book. It is from the same type, including even all the variants with a minor typographical difference.

You can only speak of editions of a book when you have first produced and published one and then made a significant change in the book and re-print and publish it. It doesn’t matter if you edited a few typographical errors; the change you made must be essential before you can call it another edition of that book.

To find out the edition of a particular book, open to the page that contains the publication information like the copyright, publisher’s name, etc., there, you’ll find the edition of that book.

With this knowledge, it won’t be wrong for the announcer at a book launch to call a copy of the book an edition launched on that occasion. It is only an example of that book. Since one believes that everybody who came for the event already knew the book we are talking about, those set of copies launched are all a particular edition of that book, most likely the first edition.

Types Of Edition

  • First edition. As the name implies, it is the first and earliest edition of that book made available to the public for purchase. The first edition of a book is what you would regard as more valuable than the book’s subsequent editions.
  • Revised edition. Authors produce an edition when he or she has made some improvements to the book. It could be due to a request seeking the book’s revision. The designation of a revised edition of a book is ‘revised edition,’ or ‘revised and updated edition.’
  • Co-edition. It is where two or more publishing houses publish the same edition of a particular book at the same or almost at the same time. You could have translated versions of that same edition published together. It could be an English language edition and the French language edition of a particular book.
  • E-edition. It is the electronic edition of a particular book. It could be the content of the hardcopy available online or an online-only publishing version of that book.
  • Library edition. The library edition of a book may look like the ones available for everyone to buy from, but they come with hinges that are stronger to allow for durability.
  • Book club edition. These are editions of a book sell at a reduced price to the original. They usually produce them with cheaper materials and reduced content compared with the original.
  • Other editions. There are several different editions; they include Colonial edition, Cadet Edition, Cheap edition, large print edition, and critical edition.

Why Editions?

Editions of books exist because something changed in the first print. Putting books in the edition is to mark that change for consumers, sellers, and publishers.

Another reason why books are in editions is to allow more people to buy the book at a cheaper rate. It is true if the previous print was too expensive for most people to buy due to the quality of materials used. Editions accommodate for new information to be in a book.


We can safely conclude that editions are books, either physical (printed copies) or an e-book, while books can either be written in editions or not. All editions are books, but not all books are in editions.

It would be safe to say that, in a way, the term ‘editions’ becomes relevant when there are several books in print. It can’t be an edition if it were to be one book.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!