Guinness Record Book Collecting
Frequently Asked Questions
This section attempts to answer some of the questions that we are asked. If your question isn't answered below, please feel free to e-mail us.
Q. Can you help me get into the Guinness Book of Records?
A. No. We are not associated with the Guinness Book of Records. For information on record breaking and record adjudication, please visit the official website.
Q. How many editions of the UK book are there?
A. As of September 2017, there are 64 standard UK editions. Prior to 1962, the edition naming scheme was different, in that each version of the book was given a new edition number and then an impression number for subsequent reprints. In order to standardize edition numbers, the early publications were renumbered as editions one to nine.
As well as the standard editions, there are a number of special editions. Some of these were available for sale but had so few changes to the standard edition that they are considered minor revisions of those editions, rather than new editions in their own right. There are also a number of private editions, published as promotional gifts by Guinness, and some specially bound editions that were privately commissioned.
Q. How many books are there in the Facts & Feats series?
A. Good question! To our knowledge there are 34 subjects, within which (including special editions and variants of the standard editions) we have identified at least 111 different editions to collect.
Q. Can you tell me how much my books are worth?
A. Sorry, no. The simple answer is that we have no idea - an edition is only worth what someone will pay for it. If you want to get an idea of an edition's value, search for completed auctions on eBay and see how much similar books have sold for in the past.
Q. How are the number of pages reported for each edition?
A. We report either the publisher's stated page count, or the highest numbered page, which is not necessarily the number of actual pages in the edition. For example, some editions number the index pages, others do not.
Q. How do you count the number of page amendments?
A. With difficulty! Without checking every single entry, the figure given is, at best, an estimate. Many of the "Stop Press" sections have errors themselves (wrong page numbers, etc.), so our figure is a guide to show year-on-year how the editors tried to keep up with the pace of record breaking.
Q. What do new price 5/- and new price 17/6 mean?
A. The price of an edition when it was first published. In pre-decimal money (before 1971), 5/- was 5 shillings (now 25p), and 17/6 was seventeen shillings and sixpence (now 87.5p).
Q. How do I find unusual editions and how do I complete my collection?
A. Finding new books is all part of the fun! Things have got so much easier since the Internet became popular - when we started trying to complete our collection, it was hard work (and expensive) finding second-hand book shops with copies of the editions we were looking for. These days, finding editions is much easier, but finding the exact edition in perfect condition, or finding rare private editions is still a challenge. Obviously, use the Internet to help you - watch eBay auctions to see what turns up and try using a standard search engine to locate specialist book shops. Many of the books that appear on eBay have been found elsewhere, so try visiting car-boot sales, take a trip to Hay-on-Wye, search through the books in second-hand (charity) shops, and so on.
Q. Are you going to document editions in other languages?
A. Probably not all of them, no. Our first aim was to catalogue all of the UK and US editions, followed by a brief catalogue of first editions in other languages. After that we may consider other editions, but only if we get sufficient data to make the lists definitive. We don't (currently) have any plans to collect too many other editions ourselves, so our data may not be good enough. If you'd like to help, please get in touch. After all, the more information available, the more enjoyment people will have researching, buying and reading Guinness books.
Q. Why don't you provide more information about some special editions?
A. We do not generally consider a book's rarity to be its most important attribute. Our main interest is in the the book's information (so that we can see the way in which records have changed over the years). If a special edition is - to all intents and purposes - identical to a standard edition, please refer to that edition for more details.
Q. What is the difference between a laminated first edition and one with a glassine cover?
A. Glassine covers are the hardest to find on any editions. A laminated cover is a clear cover "stuck" to a book - a Glassine cover is a translucent "dust-jacket", similar to thin greaseproof paper. If you think of an envelope with a translucent window in the front - that window is similar to glassine. A glassine dust-jacket is very fragile, and few have survived in one piece. Laminated editions are easier to find - though, over time, the laminate can come away from the book. When that happens, the laminate usually takes the gold lettering with it (so if you find an early edition with no lettering but "indentations" where the text should be, then it was probably laminated to start with).