Talk:Gutter code

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Doubleday Gutter Codes

Here's a good example from 1971. The SFBC edition of Thomas Disch's Fun With Your New Head. My copy has a gutter code of B11, meaning March of 1971. This aligns with the book's April selection of the book club. Scott Latham has the date of the trade edition as being in December, because that's what he found on somebody's website. I told him at the time I entered my edition that December can't be correct, but he never got around to changing it (or chose not to.) If you need any more examples to fill out your chart, let me know. Hope this helps. Mhhutchins 21:29, 7 Feb 2008 (CST)

Thank you - can you please check the copyright date? The title record says 1970 but the publications are in 1971 and 1972 and it's a variant title of a 1968 release. I'm assuming your dating of Fun with Your New Head at April-1971 is based on the April selection and not something stated in the publication? If so, then that should be noted in the comments otherwise it looks like the publication states "April 1971" though as now we know it's gutter code you could make a note of that too.
I've added Fun with Your New Head to the gutter code list. I'm not sure where to go with the article at this point. It could turn into another DAW list and before jumping into making a 1000 row table I'd want to see about adding a database back end to store the list. Plus you mentioned "April selection of the book club" meaning that tidbit should be recorded too; especially as it aligns so well with the gutter code.
I'm not going to worry about Scott's publication - He cited a source for the date and so the record looks clear enough in that the publication must not show the date. Most people looking at the list of publications will draw the same conclusion as you and maybe someone will come along and do the legwork to research a better date. Marc Kupper (talk) 22:59, 7 Feb 2008 (CST)
Copyright is 1968, the year of the first UK edition, which is mentioned on the copyright page (while omitting the fact that it was published under another name!) The 1970 date is wrong. There is no earlier US edition. As for the dating of SFBC editions (and, for that matter, pricing as well), neither the date nor the price is printed in or on these editions. Most of the book club editions that I've verified are dated and priced based on the club's flyers, and the remainder are based on the "Books Received" listings in Locus. When I first started editing here on the ISFDB, I made inquiries as to how SFBC editions should be entered. The response was basically do the best you can since no standards had been established. I see now that it's pretty much up to someone taking the initiative and writing the standards. I'll work on it, and use your gutter code system as a guideline to narrowing down publication dates when the club's flyers are unavailable. Up until about a year ago, I never knew what those codes were and never would have suspected they could be of much use! Thanks. Mhhutchins 15:54, 8 Feb 2008 (CST)
The 1970 edition was the first UK (Panther) mass market paperback edition of Under Compulsion, which is perhaps the source of the date confusion. Ahasuerus 16:55, 8 Feb 2008 (CST)
I've got the 1978 Panther version if you'd like me to check it (if I can find where my cleaner has placed it this week)? BLongley 17:16, 8 Feb 2008 (CST)
Well, you verified it back in May and I trust it hasn't changed much since then? :) Ahasuerus 23:38, 8 Feb 2008 (CST)
No, but I didn't leave any notes about copyright dates in it. BLongley 06:28, 9 Feb 2008 (CST)
Ah, good point! Sure, unusual copyrights are worth looking up and recording since they can lead to the kind of confusion that we may have here. Ahasuerus 12:59, 9 Feb 2008 (CST)
In that case I had seen the 1970 reprint in ISFDB but don't see a need to revisit it as it's just a reprint under the original title (Under Compulsion). The odds are quite high it'll say (c) 1968. In revisting the data-point that triggered this discussion it's that the Fun with Your New Head title record says "1970" and yet the publications start in Apr-1971. However, the second publication has a suspect date, Dec 1971 "from the author's web site", which I need to dig up [1] as the author page does not say what it is (fixed).
  • His site's summary bibliography just has Under Compulsion (UK) / Fun with Your New Head (US) (1968)
  • His site's detailed fiction bibliography has
    • Under Compulsion, Hart-Davis, 1968
    • Fun with Your New Head, Doubleday, 1970
  • His site's stuff for sale has "Fun With Your New Head Doubleday, 1971"
  • And finally his Anthology / Collection page says
    • "Under Compulsion" London: Rupert Hart Davis. (Sep. 1968) First Edition. "First Published in 1968" on copyright page. # pp. Paper over boards. Dust jacket design by Ken Reilly.
    • "Under Compulsion" London: Panther Books 03265. (Mar. 1970) First paperback edition.
    • "Under Compulsion" Second printing 1978. Cover illustrated by Tony Roberts.
    • as "Fun With Your New Head", Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc. (Dec. 1, 1971) "First Edition in the United States of America" on copyright page. 207 pp. Cloth over boards. Dust jacket illustration by Anita Siegal
    • as "Fun With Your New Head", Garden City: Science Fiction Book Club. (1971) 216 pp. Paper over boards. Dust jacket illustration by Anita Siegal.
    • as "Fun With Your New Head", New York: New American Library (Signet) T4913. (Feb. 1972) 176 pp. A paperback original. Cover illustrator unknown
    • as "Poussière de Lune ". Paris: Denoël, Presence du Futur #172. (Nov 9, 1973) 217pp. First French edition. Translated by Roland Delouya. Paperback.No cover art.
    • Second edition: Oct 1999 Cover art by Stéphane Barry
I'm wondering if perhaps that Dec 1, 1971 is a typo and that it should be Dec 1, 1970. That would get everything to line up as both he and ISFDB say "1970" for the first printing of the "Fun With Your New Head" title and it would also shift the retail edition to before the SFBC edition.
Contento also has #A795 for Fun with Your New Head which says "Doubleday, Dec ’70, hc." I have revised the publication to Dec-1970 plus am copy/pasting this discussion into the bibliographic comments.
I was not planning on having this fun with my head this morning... Marc Kupper (talk) 13:56, 9 Feb 2008 (CST)
I just checked two of my non SFBC Doubleday books and they both have a gutter code in the back. I think if we also record these it will give us a better idea of when the letters begin and end, we should also be able to derive some better publication dates for first editions and maybe later editions(if the code is different from the first edition).Kraang 21:28, 14 Feb 2008 (CST)

(unindent) Yes, it's been established that most Doubleday pubs have the gutter code, regardless of whether they're trade editions or book club editions. (And don't forget, Doubleday had very many book clubs.) The codes can be used to estimate the publication date, but are not definitive. Looking at the codes that I've placed on the SFBC lists, you'll see most of the books were printed within 2 weeks of publication date. The only trouble occurs in the 1973-1976 years when the pattern becomes somewhat skewed in several instances. For example, the first edition of Frank Herbert's Hellstrom's Hive was a book club edition published in November 1973 with the code "42P". It was reprinted the following year with the code "29Q". Neither printing falls into the pattern that Marc has shown here. Does the reversal of the alpha and numeric order play into this exception? Perhaps, but we'll have to find more examples to discover how this variance works within the larger pattern. We need a bibliophilic Sherlock Holmes on the case! Mhhutchins 22:14, 14 Feb 2008 (CST)

Have a look at this site [2]. The "P" would appear to be in 1973, and if the "29Q" was 1974 it would fit into the sites sequence.Kraang 22:48, 14 Feb 2008 (CST)
Feel free to make adjustments to the table. While I was aware of the bookthink.com article I decided to just do ABCDEF...Z pending discovery and verification of publications that conflict with that pattern. I had also wished the bookthink.com article had cited the publications that lead to some of his conclusions and also stated if he did physical verification or used secondary sources such as seller listings, catalogs, etc. For example, one of the publications I checked had something like R28 but the printing was mangled a little and it looked like a pair of letters with a subscripted 2 between them. I pulled up the magnifier lamp and was able to read the code.
As it is, the Science Fiction Book Club tables are starting to show some nice patterns regarding letter # vs. # letter. I rechecked The 1973 Annual World's Best SF O25 as it breaks the pattern. Maybe it's D25. Nope, It's clearly an "O" though the 2 looks like it's subscripted and the 5 is hanging like the letter q.
"Yes, it's been established that most Doubleday pubs have the gutter code, regardless of whether they're trade editions or book club editions." I did not know the retail editions also had gutter codes. Marc Kupper (talk) 04:24, 15 Feb 2008 (CST)
I randomly pulled this book from the shelf: Cosmic Kaleidoscope by Bob Shaw. Well, not completely random. I wanted a Doubleday trade edition that never had a book club edition. The gutter code is "H35" which falls nicely into your chart, as it was published in the fall of 1977. Mhhutchins 16:21, 15 Feb 2008 (CST)
Of course you randomly pull one of the books on my short list. :) That's great that it falls nicely onto the chart. It's a shame publishers have not used similar coding systems on a regular basis. Maybe with the advent of computers coming into full scale use they are able to track the gutter code internally or perhaps have the codes on the cases the books are stored in. Marc Kupper (talk) 23:16, 15 Feb 2008 (CST)

1980 Gutter Codes K & V

The gutter code for this 1980 publication is V10. This means you can extend the lettering system from 1978 by adding U to 1979 and V to 1980. Here's another one from 1980, but it has the gutter code K31. Proof that two letters were used in the same year. Perhaps it was differentiated by whether the book was published by Doubleday or if it was a book club edition of another publisher (but printed in Doubleday's plant)? I keep looking for a pattern. Also, this 1983 publication has the gutter code N32. Mhhutchins 18:11, 8 Feb 2008 (CST)

Thank you! I added the Wollheim World's Best SF series books that I have. 1979 was never issued in hardcover (actually, one AbeBook seller claims to be selling it but says it contains the 1975 contents?), and I don't have 1980 and 1990 in BCE hardcover though they exist. I have 1988 and 1989 but they did not have gutter codes.
I have the 1980 edition with a gutter code of K32--Bluesman 16:27, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
I've been looking for patterns too. One thing I saw with the World's Best SF books is sometimes wildly different type faces in the codes, sometimes reversed as in 45N, and P035 is three digits. At this point I suppose I should concentrate on looking for missing letters. Marc Kupper (talk) 23:32, 8 Feb 2008 (CST)

Magic's Pawn

I spent some time working on DES' submission earlier today and consequently revamped/clarified/expanded our data for many publications under the Magic's Pawn Title. These changes affected some of your verified publications as I added publication months from the Locus Index (where available), corrected the date of the first printing, added Notes and also changed the 1989-06-17 format (for the 17th printing), which seemed to be gaining popularity earlier last year, back to 0000-00-00, which seems to be the prevalent approach now due to the problems that we have found with the other format. It's a never ending battle, isn't it? :) Ahasuerus 18:59, 8 Feb 2008 (CST)

Thank you. What's out there looks ok - I did not re-verify the books but suspect there will be another pass at some point. The Never Ending Battle does not seem to have entered the lore of specfict titles yet. :-)
Is the "1989-06-17 format" for later printings officially banned now? I did not catch up on all of the talk pages from late last year and January. Marc Kupper (talk) 23:46, 8 Feb 2008 (CST)
More like "found wanting", I think. It does help organize our "unknown" printings, but it is also somewhat misleading because it implies that they all appeared the same month as the first printing. It also makes subsequent undated printings appear before earlier printings with a known publication date. Now that Al has more time for the ISFDB (fingers crossed), we hope that he will eventually add a new field for printing numbers (along with standardizing publisher IDs), which should address 90% of our concerns. Unfortunately, some late 19th-early 20th century publishers used a two tier notation along the lines of "2nd edition, 4th printing" (a number of my F. Anstey books are like that), but that should only affect a small percentage of our records. Always something :) Ahasuerus 00:08, 9 Feb 2008 (CST)
I've been thinking that along with the printing # field to have a field that's a pointer to the first printing. That'll allow for clustering publications with the first printing and also handles the two-tier notation as you can designate a record as the first printing of the second tier for example. I was not planning on n-tier but suppose it could be made to work. Marc Kupper (talk) 20:24, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
Printing number will definitely need an "anchor" first printing of some sort, I think. And the number of times I've entered a series of Editions and Reprintings in notes (as we also have to solve the display problems that dumping all umpty-twenteen printings at once would cause) makes me think that two-tier is needed. I haven't yet seen a need for more than 2 tiers ("New editions" and reprintings of such) unless we also want to connect paperbacks from one publisher with the original hardbacks from another (a fairly straight one-to-one relationship within the UK): or connect British publications with US original publications or vice versa (they're not printing relationships really though). I'm a bit wary of Al just adding "printing number support" now as the Publisher changes haven't led to any sort of consensus yet except in the most limited sense of regularisation of some names. But there we are working AGAINST Amazon crap like "Scholastic" being applied equally to "Point SF", "Point Fantasy", "Point Horror" titles - at least with printing numbers it should be within our control. Unless there are assumptions made like "reprintings are only done within the same publisher" - which would require some major organisation of publishers and imprints first. (And those DO need more than two tiers to record the level of data I need.) Hopefully this is why we haven't got Printing number support yet - we need publishers and imprints sorted first. But that's looking a bit stymied as we're approaching the "destroy data with over-regularisation" level and we have no preservation of real editor intentions there. Fix publishers and imprints first and printing numbers will be a LOT easier. As at least I can then explain, centrally, why Grafton or Orbit record printings they had long before they even existed. BLongley 21:18, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Hugo Winners, Volumes 1 & 2

I've updated your verified copy of this title with the month of publication, and adjusted your notes accordingly. Can you check for the gutter code in your copy? Mine has "P5" indicating a 1974 reprint. Thanks. Mhhutchins 20:57, 10 Feb 2008 (CST)

My copy is N27 - early July 1972. What I'm thinking is we can clone the verified publication twice with the records being
  • Unverified first printing - a note would be added for the verifier to look at the gutter code on page 849 and to clone the record if their gutter code is not M or B and probably a number that's 45 or higher.
  • Verified 1972-07-00 printing with gutter code N27 - early July 1972.
  • Verified 1974-01-00 printing with gutter code P5 - late January 1974
I'm also thinking of moving the gutter code article to Gutter Codes. Originally it was going to be the Doubleday page and though Doubleday prints the SFBC books it seems it'd be better if the page itself was generic.
BTW, given the SFBC was reprinting this as late as 1974 do you know if they sold it at the original price? In this case I don't know the price but if we did then do you think it's safe to use for the reprints or do we leave the price blank/none/N/A? Marc Kupper (talk) 00:14, 11 Feb 2008 (CST)
The situation with prices is going to be a sticky one. When a book was one of the two selections of the month, the price was cheaper. The next time it was offered in the club catalog (usually about 2-3 months later) the price was higher. I've chosen to use the prices when the books were first announced. Mainly because it's easier to locate the book when it was the selection of the month. If I don't have the announcement, I can find the price in the Locus listings (I have back issues from about the mid-70s forward). Once I've populated and linked the listings on the Science Fiction Book Club wiki page, I'm considering going back and removing all prices from these editions, and placing these first announcement prices in the notes field. After all, the books really don't have a printed price. What do you think of the idea? Input is appreciated.
When you get the chance, check out the SFBC wiki page and you'll find more gutter codes. Once you've created a separate gutter code page, I'll link to it from the SFBC history section. Mhhutchins 17:48, 11 Feb 2008 (CST)
And don't for get that the Hugo winners, in particular, was at least through 1981, often promoted to new members as part of the "6 books for one dollar" offer, and that continuing members often recived substantial discount offers on various books, making the concept of "the price" of an SFBC book rather fluid. (I was a member from 1974-1980, IIRC)-DES Talk 22:46, 11 Feb 2008 (CST)
I personally don't mind a price in the Price field as long as there's a note explaining it's not stated and giving the source for that price. Of course, many SFBC publications are in the db with a price, no note, and it's understood that the price is not stated though I sometimes wonder if the price listed on the record is the first SFBC sale price or something else. Marc Kupper (talk) 20:20, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Y code

New monkey wrench: have a copy of DUNE with a gutter code of Y-49 (yes, the hyphen is there). Purchased directly from the SFBC in the late 80s.--Bluesman 16:32, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

I'd guess it's a 1983 reprint of DNPLHFMHLC1971 that they still had in stock in the late 1980s. I've updated the table to include W, X, and Y as all three of those codes are showing up in reprints with W confirmed for 1981. Y49 was already listed as a reprint on Publisher:SFBC_1970-1974#1971. I've not figured out the pattern yet as to why some gutter codes have a space, others a hyphen, and sometimes flipped to 18Q, etc. Marc Kupper (talk) 03:44, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

Early 1959 gutter codes

This is a follow-up on User talk:Bluesman#A Mile Beyond the Moon where an ISFDB editor ran across a book with gutter code 2 that did not fit into the gutter code pattern. The pattern we had seen was the numeric only gutter codes were for 1958 and the "A" codes are 1959. However, A Mile Beyond the Moon (1958) throws a wrench into the process.

  • The trade edition has gutter code 32 indicating an August 1958 printing/manufacturing.
  • The first SFBC edition has gutter code 49 indicating a December 1958 printing/manufacturing. This publication was the SFBC selection for February 1959.
  • The puzzle is that there are SFBC editions with gutter code 2 indicating a January 1958 printing/manufacturing but most likely this is a second print run done in January 1959.

The implication is that Doubleday initially intended the gutter code to have just the week of the year and that at some point in 1959 they realized they should also code the year in the gutter and so added the "A." The earliest known 1958 gutter code is 22 (late May 1958) and the earliest known 1959 code is A13 (late March 1959) implying that the gutter codes never overlapped.

This note is a notice to be on the lookout for 1959 publications with numeric-only gutter codes and also to look for gutter code "A" publications earlier than A13. We can start with Publisher:SFBC 1953-1959#1959 but are not restricted to SFBC publications.

  • The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction, Eighth Series March 1959 SFBC selection. Scanned AbeBooks listings - many copies available but none mention the gutter code but the last two had cover images which I recognized as I own a copy... Gutter code 4.
  • The Star of Life April 1959 SFBC selection - Scanned AbeBooks listings - many copies available but none mention the gutter code.
  • A-40 The Ghost Squad by John Gosling (Crime Club Special) (found on AbeBooks) Marc Kupper (talk) 08:23, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

BOMC gutter codes?

They're not SFBC or Doubleday, they will be relevant to all you guttercodephiles, but I have found some gutter codes on BOMC and apparent book club editions by other publishers. Thought you might be interested.

  • "MP 10V" in a Knopf / BOMC edition of Anne Rice's The Witching Hour from 1990, running vertically at the bottom of the after-page "A Note on the Type".
  • "RD 11 W" in a HarperCollins (apparently BOMC/BCE -- no price anywhere) edition of Clive Barker's Imajica from 1991, running vertically at the bottom of the verso side of the otherwise blank after-page.

I may have a few more. I will check. Thought you might be interested. --MartyD 11:04, 29 March 2009 (UTC)