UK UNCORRECTED PROOFS - THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE
UK Uncorrected proofs should not be confused with the US Advanced Readers Copy (ARC). The US ARCs are not as rare and while I have no figures of quantity, I believe they number in the thousands.
Some people call the UK Uncorrected proofs "the true first editions". While they are correct, they are also talking pretentious claptrap. An uncorrected proof comes out prior to the first edition and is given to book critics, people to proof read etc.
The Colour of Magic First Edition Hardback is one of the most prized Discworld books to own. Only 506 copies were published and they go for mega-bucks. I know of this one at Wrigley Cross books which is on sale for $18,000.http://www.wrigleycrossbooks.com/?CLSN_ ... rch=Search
The thing about Uncorrected proofs is that they are actually rarer than First Edition Discworld books, including the limited edition slip-cased publications and even the COM Hardback itself.
The following figures are from the Colin Smith site and show how many proofs of each book were printed and which ones are available;
The smilie denotes proofs I own.
The Colour of Magic 0
The Light Fantastic 0
Equal Rites (Between 50-100)
Sourcery ? 61 page sampler
Wyrd Sisters 100
Guards! Guards! 100
Moving Pictures 100
Reaper Man 150
Witches Abroad 100
Small Gods 100
Lords and Ladies 116
Men At Arms 150
Soul Music 146
Interesting Times 250
Feet of Clay 167
The Last Continent 100
Carpe Jugulum 148
The Fifth Elephant 155
The Truth 370
Thief of Time 100
The Last Hero ? 16 page sampler
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents 430
The Wee Free Men 200
Monstrous Regiment ?
A Hat Full of Sky 490
Going Postal 727
Making Money 150
Unseen Academicals 120
I Shall Wear Midnight 140
Ladt Hero sampler
Good Omens Less than 100
Good Omens Sampler ?
The Science of Discworld 500 (88 page sampler)
The Science of Discworld II: the Globe 500
Sea and Little Fishes 1000 (2 story double sampler, 200 double signed)
The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch 0
Discworld Companion ?
Johnny and the bomb ?
Johnny and the dead ?
Only you can save mankind ?
Using the Wyrd Sisters Uncorrected proof as an example.
It was printed in 1988 and was limited to only 100 copies.
How many copies still exist today, 22 years later? Who knows?
How many copies are in pristine, unread condition? Who knows?
How many copies are signed and dedicated by Sir Pterry? Who knows?
Needless to say, the figure is probably very small indeed.
Up to Jingo (and possibly Last Continent - though I don't have that proof so I'm not sure) Discworld books were published by Gollancz. They then changed to Doubleday. The Gollancz proofs are plain white, blue, purple or cream, whereas the later ones are oversized Softbacks with the same cover as the First Edition.
Because they are "uncorrected", they contain spelling and grammar mistakes and bits which are not in the published First Edition.
I started collecting them a year ago, they are fun to track down (keep your eyes on ebay), haggle over the price, and each one you get is an historic piece of Discworld memorabilia. I now have 30, a lot are signed and inscribed, the most I paid for one was 500 pounds for a Nation proof. A lot of money I hear you say, but the money went to Alzheimers and my Nation proof is signed and dedicated to my two daughters with the inscription "Imo made YOU
clever enough to work out that he doesn't exist." It also came with a letter of autheticity signed by the man himself, stating it is one of only 120. If I ever were to sell it in ten years' time, what sort of price do you think it would fetch?
They are not cheap to buy. Prices start from around 50 pounds going up to $2,000 for the Equal Rites proof (see the Wrigley Cross link), but they are still relatively unknown to most collectors, so should you wish for a possibly excellent investment, I would highly recommend getting your hands on as many as possible.