If my email is any measure, the most pressing question of the day is “is the book edition of A Charlie Brown Christmas that comes with the Snoopy-with-a-hat at Kohl’s a different edition from the one that came with the Snoopy-sans-chapeau at Kohl’s last year?” And as the mailman delivered by behatted Snoopy yesterday, I am now in position to answer the question that has many of the world’s greatest thinkers stumped, or at least disinterested.
At first glance, it looks the same. Same size, same cover image, same spine. But for a real test, let’s look inside.
See that line that says “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 ISBN 978-1-5344-8364-4”? That tells us all we need. The numbers after “ISBN” are, well, the book’s ISBN, its International Standard Book Number. Each different edition of a book gets its own number. As this is the same ISBN as in last year’s book, this is the same edition.
But did they just print up too many of these, and decide to add a hat to the Snoopy to get more sales? Well, the numbers to the left of the ISBN tell us that. See how they count down, stopping at 2? That means this is a second printing of this edition of the book. So it’s not just left over copies; they went back to print.
(The reason that the “print line” is done that way goes back to the pre-digital days of book creation. The first printing of a book would have all the numbers from 10 down to 1. When it came time for the second printing, they would just scrape the “1” off of the existing printing plate for the page, which was a lot easier than making a whole new plate that said “second printing” on it. This way, they had to make a new printing plate only after the 10th printing.)