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The purpose of this page is to keep notes about my activities as an editor of The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Other ISFDB related pages on this wiki are:

  • This page where I track the books whose data I have entered into the ISFDB
  • This page (old and probably outdated) where I have outlined instructions on how to install a local copy of the ISFDB on a Mac


I started contributing to ISFDB in June 2007. Only after a slow learning curve of about 2 months did I begin to feel somewhat confident about making edits for regular books. Then, after a few months, I stopped working on ISFDB due to lack of time and forgot everything. These days I have more time on hand and am eager to rejoin the project, but I will have to relearn practically everything from the ground up. In the following section I try to keep notes on the (re)learning process, just in case I need to get started another time in the future.

What to do after a long absence

  • Check the What's New page to see what has changed while I was absent from ISFDB
  • Process the comments that have on my talk page
  • Check out any loose ends listed in the TODO section further down this page


Author sites:

SF & F ressources:

Science Fiction related links, not necessarily ISFDB stuff:

General book-related:

  • Book design (Wikipedia). This is useful because it has all kinds of nice domain words (e.g. "front matter", "dust jacket", etc.)

How to work as an editor on ISFDB

What are my standards / best practices for editing

TODO. Maybe this could be moved to my ISFDB user page.

  • I strictly ignore copyright notices, i.e. I don't use them as source for the publication date and I don't add them to pub notes. I might use them as hints for doing research in secondary sources. Reason for this: Help:Screen:EditPub says the following in regard to the publication date: "[...] the copyright date is often misleading, since works can be reprinted."
  • When entering data for a DAW publication, I add as much DAW-specific information as possible (see this example (older pub), this example (newer pub), this example (most recently entered pub with a dedicated block) and the DAW page on the ISFDB wiki). This helps the special interests of some DAW experts, notably Marc Kupper. See also the discussion on "The Pride of Chanur" on my talk page.
  • I add a note that documents where the credit for the cover artist can be found on the publication that I am verifying. If no credit exists I mention that as well.
  • I add a note that documents how the publication date was derived. If no publication date is indicated, I mention that as well.
  • I add notes about the publication's entire printing history that is available from the copyright page (even if another publisher is involved).
  • I don't add title records for excerpts. Instead I add a note to the pub record that mentions the excerpt. When encountering multiple excerpt title records for the same book, I merge them if I am 100% sure that they are the same, otherwise I add an explanatory note that will prevent other editors from accidentally merging the records. See this discussion for details and examples. Dune (Excerpt) (1) and Dune (Excerpt) (2)
  • I don't add interior art title records for simple illustrations. Instead I add a note to the pub record that mentions and describes the interior art (e.g. The Jesus Incident). An example where I did add a title record is The Chanur Saga - the "Map of Compact Space" is a recurring piece that appears in all Chanur novels, so I decided it would be worth to add the title record.
  • I add a note that lists all prices besides the main price, and where these additional prices can be found on the publication. I add a note if the main price is missing, or any prices are illegible.
  • I don't add title records for synopses since I consider them to be part of the fictional work that they summarize (e.g. Foundation's Edge). Instead I add a note to the pub record that mentions the synopsis. The exception to this rule is if I clone an existing publication which already contains a synopsis title record: In this case I am too lazy to remove the title record. Apparently some ISFDB editors like to include title records for synopses, but this discussion at least shows that I am not alone with my view.
  • I ignore all "Acknowledgments" and "About the Author" items (I don't even add a note for them).

Questions and Answers

Do different printings constitute different publications in the ISFDB? 
Yes. See this FAQ.
And what about books that have the same printing number, but were manufactured in different countries? 
These also constitute different publications and need to be entered separately. See this Help Desk page discussion:
When is it allowed to enter a publication date? 
If there is a clear and unambiguous statement about the book's publication date. For instance, "Published in June 2001" would constitute such a statement. Whereas, for instance, a copyright notice is misleading most of the time and should therefore be ignored. If unsure, enter 0000-00-00 as the publication date. Sources for this answer: Help on editing a publication, and also this discussion on my talk page.
Is the price useful in any way? 
This list may be useful in confirming a publication date (see this publication), but most of the time it helps distinguishing different printings of the same publication.
A publication is old and has something that looks almost, but not quite like an ISBN. How should I enter this? 
If possible, try to make an ISBN from the code, then mention what you did in the pub notes (e.g. "ISBN derived from ..."). For instance, Ballantine books from the 1970ies such this pub have an SBN such as this: 345-01950-4-075. Just leave off the trailing "075" (which is the price), then add the leading "0-", and you get a valid ISBN. More information about ISBN or catalog numbers is available on the EditPub help page, but the essential thing is to write a pub note if you enter information that does not come straight from the book.
The cover artist is not credited, how can I find out more? 
Look at other publications of the title that may have the same cover image and that have a confirmed cover artist. The notes of such pub records possibly contain hints about the cover artist credit. Also, the ISFDB wiki has a list of artist signature images that may be helpful. Finally, for a comparison of style the wiki also provides some actual cover art.
The publication contains an uncredited content item (e.g. interior art), how should I record this? 
Look at other publications of the title, they might provide a clue. If the item is credited to "Anonymous", then put "Anonymous" in the author field. The same applies for any obviously similar pseudonym, such as "Noname", "Editor", "The Editor", "Publisher", etc. If the item is not credited at all, use "uncredited", with a lower case "u". If in doubt, consult the notes about the author field on the Edit pub help page of the ISFDB wiki.
I want to change verified publication records, or information that has a connection to verified pub records (e.g. a title record that is part of a verified publication). How am I supposed to proceed? 
If the change adds information (e.g. more notes, a new cover image where previously there was none), a simply note on the verifier's talk page is sufficient. The verifier is then free to check the new information at his or her leisure. If information is changed or removed, the intended change should be outlined and a question that asks for permission should be put on the verifier's talk page. Only after reaching an agreement should the change be implemented. If multiple verifiers are involved, individual consent is required and you are responsible for coordinating the entire editing task.
Normally, a work that is published under a generic title (e.g. "Afterword") is given a title record whose title has a suffix " (<title>)", referring to the publication the work appears in. This practice is described in EditPub. What should I do if the work appears in several publications with different titles?
Answer 1: The simplest solution would be to use the generic title. However, this might be a problem if the author already has other titles that follow the suffix scheme, because it is recommended (again refer to the EditPub help page) that the same naming scheme is used within the scope of a single author. In this case, a solution could be to add a suffix for any one of the publications that the work appears in, and then add a note to the title record that describes the chosen naming solution. This title record is an example for this.
Answer 2: Another solution is to make variant titles. The rationale for this is given in this discussion by Bluesman, an implementation is this title.
A piece of artwork exists independently of a genre publication (e.g. a classical painting). How should the title record representing the artwork be dated? (this was a concrete case I had) 
There seems to be no rule. I have seen a minor discussion on ISFDB wiki, but there was no consensus. In the concrete case mentioned, I initially added the title record without a date, as the artist was unknown in the first place, but then Mhhutchins changed the date to match the short story that is illustrated by the interiorart record. This also makes sense. Since there is no rule, any decision is good but should probably be documented in the title record notes.
A title appears under an author's pseudonym. However, the title does not appear on the bibliography page of the canonical author name, and the canonical author name does not appear in publications that contain the title. Why is this? 
This is due to how the database scripts work. The following operations are necessary to create the expected linkage between title and canonical author name.
  • Display the title record
  • Select the function "Make This Title a Variant Title or Pseudonymous Work"
  • In the lower half of the form, change the author to the canonical author name
  • Click the button "Create New Parent Title"
The title now appears on the canonical author bibliography page with the note "[as by <pseudonym>]". In publications the title appears under the canonical author name with the note "[as by <pseudonym>]". The discussion explaining this is found here.
An existing publication record needs to be fixed so that it is associated with a title record that uses a different variant of the author name (e.g. "Brian Aldiss" instead of "Brian W. Aldiss"). How do I do this? 
This is a three-step operation:
  1. First fix the publication record to use the correct author name (e.g. "Brian Aldiss" instead of "Brian W. Aldiss"). The pub record is still associated with the wrong title record, so we need to fix this next.
  2. Display the title record, then select the function "Unmerge titles". Check the publication you want to dis-associate from the title record, then submit. The unmerge operation now associates the publication with a different title record, one that matches the author name that is present on the publication. If no such title record exists, a new one is created now.
  3. If the title record already existed and was a variant, you are done. If a new title record was created by the unmerge, that title must now be made into a variant of the canonical title.
A collection publication does not display collection titles that it contains. How can I make them appear? 
Change the publication to be an omnibus.
A publication uses the wrong content title as its yellow marked-up container title. How can I change this? 
  • The ISFDB software automatically determines which content title it should use as its container. The logic seems to depend on the type of the publication.
  • For instance, if a publication is a collection and contains both an omnibus and a collection title, the software will use the collection title as the container. If the publication is changed to be an omnibus, the omnibus title will be used as the container.
  • In another case I simply wanted to switch to a different container title. I first added the new container title, then removed the old one. Both containers were simple NONFICTION titles. The two submissions were accepted in the order they were submitted, so that when the old container was removed the new container was already present. It's not clear what would happen if submissions are made in the wrong order...
An omnibus contains multiple works but has no title of its own. What title should I use? 
No authorative answer, but what I have seen (and used) in the past is a title that separates the content titles with a slash ("/"). For instance: The Status Civilization / Mindswap.
What about authors that have the same name? 
This should be avoided, instead author names should be distinguished according to a certain scheme (e.g. "Peter Phillips" uses year number suffixes). Although it is possible to have different author records with the same author name, such a situation creates problems and confusion in other areas. For instance, when editing publication records, content items are matched to author records using the author name. If the match is erroneous, it might be possible the manually fix the error later on, but doing this all the time is error prone and a hassle. IMHO the problem is buried not on the database level, but in the ISFDB user interface, which is simply not good at handling duplicate author names.
How to handle the case where several authors use the same pseudonym? 
Go to the pseudonymous author record and click "Make/Remove a Pseudonym" for each canonical (=real) author that is known to use the pseudonym. In the instance of the Ivar Jorgensen, this has even been made into a pseudonym for "unknown". Additionally, make all titles credited to the pseudonym into variants whose parents are credited to the real author.
A title that I am entering has originally been published under a different name, or under a pseudonym. There is no record of the original publication in the database. What should I do? 
Determine whether the original publication, or the one that is being entered, is the canonical title (the canonical title is the one under which the story is commonly known). The canonical title then becomes the parent title, the other one the variant title. See also Help:Screen:MakeVariant.
A variant title is associated with the wrong parent title. How can this be fixed? 
Go to the variant title and click "Make This Title a Variant Title or Pseudonymous Work". Remove the link to the parent title by entering 0 (zero) in the Parent # field. Leaving the parent title blank results in an error message. If you want to associate the variant title with a different parent title, simply enter the record ID of the new parent title.
The same printing of a book is published with different covers, how should this be recorded in the ISFDB? 
The answer to this question is a summary of this Help Desk page discussion. No official policy exists, but common sense dictates the following two solutions:
  1. Record the fact that there are different covers (and what differences there are) in the pub record notes. Optionally provide a link to the alternative cover images. This solution is appropriate for cases where the covers are from the same artist and differ only in minor things such as the background color (examples are this pub and this pub).
  2. Create different pub records. This solution is appropriate for cases where the covers are from different artists (example: this pub and this pub. It is also appropriate if the covers are from the same artist, but are markedly different (e.g. different text or art work framing, etc.).
If in doubt, go for solution 2. Finally, keep in mind that there is always the possibility that the printing was mislabeled in the book that you have in hand. I would assume that this is the case if no reliable secondary source (e.g. Locus1) confirms that the same printing was issued with different covers.
What date should I use in a title record? 
The date of the first publication of that title. If there is a special reason to use a different date, explain this in the title record notes. Note that this is also true for variant title records, i.e. a variant title should have the date of the first publication with that variant title. This discussion explains the reason why historically variant titles did not follow the rule.
What should I do if a publication uses a title that is different from the canonical title of a work (typical examples are the use of an additional subtitle, or omitting the subtitle of the canonical title)? 
Simply record the title as it appears in the publication in the pub record, then link the pub record to the canonical title record. Do not create a variant title record! Apparently this is an undocumented convention among ISFDB editors. This pub is an example, here is the discussion where I was advised how to record this publication, and here is the discussion that mentions the convention. Some notes:
  • A variant title is always required for a translation (the variant title record gets a different language).
  • A variant title is always required if the difference is in the author's name (example).
  • Last but not least, a variant title is always required if the work appears as content item in a container publication, and the content item uses a non-canonical title. This is actually the main reason why so many variants exist where normally this would not be the case.
Should I create a variant title if a content item differs from existing title records with an accent or diacritical mark only? 
No, at least not according to Mhhutchins. I have not yet formed my own opinion; if searching for the title works both with or without the accent or diacritical mark, then I might agree with Mhhutchins.
Several editions of an omnibus exist, each edition has varying content. How should I handle this situation? 
Create different title records for each edition and assign the publications of each edition to the correct title record. It may make sense to add notes to the title record to explain the situation. This is especially important if the title records have the same title - in this situation a title note is critical to prevent unwary editors from accidentally merging the title records. This discussion has details. Note: It is unclear whether the same rule applies to collections and anthologies.
How do I enter a translated work? 
Enter the work as a variant title. Note the translator in the title notes of the variant title. If there are several translations, create a separate variant title for each translation. The main help page with more information is How to enter foreign language editions.

Where can I find information on...

The FAQ. Also this HOWTO.
DAW books
This article

How to...

Cancel a submission 
You can cancel your own submissions if they haven't been approved yet on this page.
Add or delete an author 
This is not possible, authors automatically appear when their first work is entered, and they disappear automatically when their last work is deleted. Information found in the last section on the HOWTO page.
Add a title 
Adding a title usually happens automatically when you add a new publication, or when you add new content items to an existing publication. If you clone an existing publication, the titles involved in the original publication are reused and no new titles are created. One more trick how to create a new title is through the tools "Make this title a variant title" and "Add a variant title". This tool, by the way, is also essential in making a title appear on the bibliography page of the author's canonical name.
Change the content of a publication 
  • If the page number is wrong: Edit the pub and change the page number
  • If a title is missing: There are several ways how this can be fixed. Which method you choose depends on the situation.
    • If the title already exists, select the function "Import content". If only a single title is missing, use the lower half of the screen and specify the ID of the title record to import. If several titles are missing, one option is to specify a comma-separated list of title record IDs in the lower half. The other option applies only if there is a different publication record that you know has all the titles that you want to add: In this case, use the upper half of the screen to import the titles from the other publication record.
    • If you need to edit the pub anyway, simply add the title to the content. Important: This creates a completely new title record, so if this is not a genuinely new title you have to wait for moderator approval and then either merge the new title record with an existing title record, or make it a variant.
  • If a title is not actually in the pub: Select "Remove titles from this pub"
  • If a title should be changed: Edit the pub and add the correct title (this creates a new title record), then remove the wrong title from the pub. Wait for the changes to be approved by a moderator. Possibly merge the newly created title record with an existing title title record, or make it a variant.
  • See this HOWTO
Merge a title record 
Merging destroys one title record in favour of another, so it can be done only if the two titles are completely identical (i.e. not variant titles). One way to do a merge is to do an advanced search for the title, then on the result page click the checkboxes next to the titles to merge, and finally click on the "merge selected records" button. The second way to perform a merge is to go the author page and select the "dup candidates" link. For details read this HOWTO.
Find a publication image on Amazon 
Browse the database by ISBN, or some similar useful search criteria. Find an entry that has a suitable picture, then get the URL to the picture. See EditPub help page for details. Also see the image linking permissions page. Don't use, this is unstable!
Enter a price in British currency 
Use the "£" sign, or an uppercase "L".
Handle excerpts 
Although the help page explains how to add excerpts, if you encounter one you can probably ignore it, or add a note to the pub record that mentions the excerpt, without getting eaten by the other editors. See the Help Desk page for a sensible policy outlined by MHHutchins. If you do add an excerpt title, another question is which date should be used. I tend to use the date of the publication that the excerpt appears in (even if it's 0000-00-00), although one could also argue that the date of the title that is excerpted should be used.
Make a variant title 
A variant title is nothing else than a parent-child relationship. The variant title becomes the child, the canonical title the parent. Go to the variant title record and select "Make this a variant title or pseudonymous work". Also see this help screen.
Record interior art 
If the entire interior art is done by a single artist: Add a single entry, without a page number, whose title is the same as the publication title. Type is, obviously, INTERIORART. Information found in the last section on the help page, under entry type INTERIORART.
Upload images to the ISFDB wiki 
This help page provides information.
Upload a cover artist signature 
Basic procedure see help page linked from the previous question. Concrete procedure: Use the template "Sig Image Data" in the description field when the image is uploaded. Example: Boris Vallejo signature image. In addition, create a wiki page for the author if it doesn't exist. Example: Boris Vallejo, again.
Upload a new version of a cover scan 
Go to the wiki page for the cover image. At the bottom of the page there is a link "Upload a new version of this file" that you can use to perform the upload. After the upload is complete, edit the wiki page so that your user name is shown as the image source. Also make sure that the old revision of the image gets deleted - if you have moderator capabilities you can delete the old revision yourself, otherwise a moderator will have to do this for you. If no one from the moderator crew does this "automatically" you may need to alert them, e.g. on the moderator notice board.

How to get help

Important ISFDB links

Familiarize yourself with the ISFDB by browsing these resources:

Various links

The watch list

Because the ISFDB project does not have a mailing list or any other form of communication besides the wiki, the wiki's watch list is essential so that you can keep track of what's going on.

What's on my watch list:

  • Shortcut to the watchlist (only works while logged in)
  • Generally I watch all pages where I have "recently" placed a comment, so that I am able to see responses
  • The community portal, to catch important announcements and changes
  • The help desk, because I usually have questions of my own, but also to catch interesting editing problems of other people
  • Verification requests, because I might have the requested publication in question
  • What's new, to find out about new software features
  • Current events; appears to be unmaintained

Stock phrases for pub record notes


<li>nth printing (from number line)</li>
<li>nth printing (from printing history on copyright page)</li>
<li>Printing history on copyright page:
<li>No printing information (no number line)</li>
<li>No number line, but above statement indicates this is likely to be a 1st printing</li>
<li>No number line</li>

Publication date:

<li>Publication date not available</li>
<li>Publication date derived from copyright page statements</li>
<li>Publication date derived from this copyright page statement: ""</li>
<li>Publication date derived from printing history</li>
<li>Publication date derived from the fact that this is a first printing, and from this copyright page statement: ""</li>
<li>Publication date derived from the fact that this is a first printing, and from copyright page statements</li>
<li>[Exact] Publication date present on this pub record cannot be confirmed. The copyright page states this: ""</li>
<li>Publication month not stated and taken from Locus1. The copyright page simply states: ""</li>

Copyright page statements:

<li>Additional copyright page statement: ""</li>
<li>Copyright page statements:
<li>Additional copyright page statements:

Cover art:

<li>Cover art credits on back cover</li>
<li>Cover art credits on copyright page</li>
<li>Cover art credits both on back cover and copyright page</li>
<li>Cover art credits appear on the back flap of the dust jacket</li>
<li>Cover art not credited</li>
<li>Cover art not credited, attribution taken from Locus1</li>
<li>Cover art not credited, attribution taken from <a href="">here</a></li>
<li>Cover art not credited but cover is signed</li>
<li>Cover art not credited, no visible signature</li>
<li>Cover art consists of a photograph, which is credited on the back flap of the dust jacket with this statement: "Photo copyright (c) Bryan Wharton"</li>


<li>Additional prices on back cover: C$5.99</li>
<li>Price appears on the front flap of the dust jacket</li>
<li>Prices on the back cover of my copy have been obscured and are illegible. Please remove this note if accurate price information becomes available.</li>

DAW notes:

<li>DAW information:
<li>Book# 879</li>
<li>Order# UE2511</li>
<li>Spine format ISBN3</li>

Other notes:

<li>Content items that are considered part of the main text: Prologue ([ix]), 4 maps ([xvi], [xviii], 172, 688) and a glossary (783)</li>
<li>A map and a genealogical tree, both uncredited, appear before the main text</li>
<li>A synopsis titled "" precedes the main text</li>
<li>An excerpt titled "A special preview of <over> The King's Buccaneer <over> by Raymond E. Feist" follows the main text</li>
<li>An excerpt from "The Great Hunt" appears after the main text on page 801</li>
<li>Date for the essay taken from statement at the end of the essay</li>
<li>Date and attribution for the introduction taken from signature statement on page xii: "Ursula K. Le Guin, August, 2009"</li>
<li>Date for the introduction taken from copyright page statement "Introduction Copyright © Adam Roberts 2009"</li>
<li>Date for the afterword taken from statement at the end of the afterword. The copyright page states "Afterword Copyright © Peter F. Hamilton 2006"</li>
<li>Map and interior illustrations credited on copyright page</li>
<li>Map and chapter ornaments credited on copyright page</li>
<li>This printing is from a boxed set containing books 4-6 of the "Wheel of Time" series. Boxed set title: "The Wheel of Time". Boxed set ISBN: 0-812-54011-5.</li>
<li>Inside the front cover is a double-page frontispiece depicting a colored and ornamented version of the map on pages [10]-[11]</li>
<li>Other credits also on the back flap: "Jacket design by R. D. Scudellari" and "Calligraphy by Gun Larson"</li>

Publisher information

This publisher apparently never used a number line, instead they add a note to the copyright page when they do a reprint. This allows to accurately determine both the printing and the publication date. An extreme example is this pub. Also, "Analog One" is a concrete example where the notes distinguish the first printing and the second printing.
Vintage Books 
As observed in The Man in the High Castle, Vintage Books uses a peculiar number line format: It appears in the form of "C9876" (indicating a 6th printing), or "C9" (indicating a 9th printing), which is easily overlooked because it looks so much like an obscure internal code.
Orbit / Futura 
This publisher does not use a number line, instead they include the entire printing history on the copyright page. Example: "Reprinted 1988 (twice), 1989". One can arrive at the current printing of a book by summing up the number of reprints and adding 1 for the 1st printing. The example constitutes the 4th printing. The printing history also provides the publication year. Cf. this discussion.
A quote from Ahasuerus: "At some point in the 1970s, they apparently decided to forget all about their older printings and start the numbering scheme from scratch. The result is that different printings of an Ace books may say something like the following on their respective copyright pages:
  • First Ace printing - 1964
  • Second Ace printing - 1966
  • Third Ace printing - 1969
  • Fourth Ace printing - 1972
  • First Ace printing - 1976
  • Second Ace printing - 1979
  • This Ace printing - 1982


Current TODOs

  • For the following authors, check if my verified pubs contain notes about 1) cover artist credits, 2) publication date:
    • Andre Norton
    • Harry Harrison
    • Dan Simmons
    • Michael Moorcock
    • Murray Leinster
    • Olaf Stapledon
    • Alfred Bester
  • In another pass of all verifications
    • Perform Locus1 verification (cf. this pub). Note that a book sometimes appears in the Locus index one year earlier or later than in the ISFDB. Also pay special attention to already existing pub notes saying that the publication date could not be confirmed, fixing the date if appropriate.
    • Add missing cover scans
    • Add pricing information
    • Check if my book is a Canadian or US printing
  • Add my German publications. See this HOWTO.
  • Again, Dangerous Visions
    • Both in book 1 and 2 the introduction is recorded in the ISFDB under the title An Assault of New Dreamers. When looking at my copies of the books, I believe, however, that the title should be "Introduction: An Assault of New Dreamers".
    • In book 2 there is a story Totenbüch which the ISFDB records as by the author "Parra y Figuéredo". A variant title with the same title is recorded as by the author "A. Parra (y Figuerado)". Neither recording matches the author name as given in my copy of the book: "A. Parra (y Figuéredo)" in the TOC, and without the accent on p. 237
    • At the moment, I don't have the energy to follow these issues up as it would involve discussion with many primary verifiers. Maybe a good starting point to ask about these issues would be on the Verification Requests page
  • Unresolved questions where I didn't want to wait any longer for an answer.
  • Unresolved questions on inactive editors' talk pages:
  • The Chanur Saga: There is another piece of interior art that is not credited and for which the signature is present but not legible. Add the interior art to ISFDB.
  • Clear up the mess that exists in regard to Midkemia, Kelewan and Novindus map title records. Details about the problem and the different map versions I have in my publications are on SFBooks in the entry about the "Magician" pub. I already have made an effort to identify title records, see this entry on AndonSage's talk page.
  • Merge Landover map titles into a single title. In reality, the various Landover novels all seem to have the same map by Shelly Shapiro ( The map is always signed with "Shelly Shapiro '85". However, the ISFBDB records a different title record for each of the novels, e.g. "The Black Unicorn (map)", "Wizard at Large (map)", etc. Each of these map title records has the same date as the novel to which it belongs. I would prefer it if there was a single title record, e.g. "Landover (map)" with date 1985. If this is not possible, at least the title records should be updated to include a note.
  • Identify cover artist for War of the Worlds (title record)
  • Identify cover artist for Faerie Tale (title record)
  • My copy of "A Princess of Mars", which is by Ballantine, contains a foreword. Other people who have also primary verified a Ballantine pub of the title should check if their book does not contain the foreword.
  • This pub had a note stating that the cover artist name is legible on the front cover. I left the note in place when I primary-verified the pub, but from cursory-only checking I was unable to decipher the small print in the bottom-right corner. Double check this.
  • Doublecheck the printing information and publication date of all of my Orbit/Futura books. In this discussion on BLongley's talk page concerning "Magic Kingdom for Sale -- Sold!", Bluesman asserted that the printing history on Orbit books' copyright pages includes the printing of the book at hand. Up until now I assumed that the current printing was not included, therefore the information I recorded on ISFDB is inaccurate in two ways: 1) The printing should be one less; and 2) The publication date should not be 0000-00-00, instead it should use the year of the printing history. As a corollary of changing the printing on a pub record, I need to also check if I can merge the pub record with another pub record that already exists for the new printing. Before going to the length of doing all this, ask for confirmation on the help desk page that the assertion made about Orbit's printing history information is correct! Also ask where such information is available/written down? Shouldn't it be on a publisher's page (e.g. the Orbit page)?
    • Note to self: On review, there is no need to get confirmation from the help desk. It really does not make sense that the current printing should not be included in the printing history. How on earth did I come up with this idea?!?
  • Follow up on my Magic Kingdom for Sale -- Sold! questions that were never answered by BLongley, regarding page count and map title.
  • Add a pub record for the boxed set "The Wheel of Time" (0-812-54011-5). The pub record already present does not match mine.
  • My question about the cover art credit for "The Grey Mane of Morning" was never answered by Rtrace. Follow up on this.
  • Fix the title type for this title record: IMHO this is an essay, not shortfiction. There was some discussion about this on Bluesman's talk page, but there was no resolution.
  • Find a solution for the Quest of the Three Worlds situation. Currently the pub is a collection, but it should probably be made into a novel. See this help desk discussion. It is also unclear whether this is a fix-up novel, or a regular novel collecting the individual novellas without any changes. This can probably be determined only by comparing texts with other book owners. Note that a german pub of the book has generic variant titles such as "Teil 1" etc.
  • Rekindle this discussion on the Community Portal. The publication in question still does not use the variant titles...
  • Enter data for my German publications. Here is some advice to get started.
  • The title "Prologue: Eve" in Vacuum Diagrams should be named simply "Eve" - this is how it appears on the title page 1. Only the table of contents has "Prologue: Eve". Ironically, the title "Epilogue: Eve" is correct.
  • The "EditPub" help screen page states that "About the Author" items should be recorded - huh? I have often excluded those. Ask on the help desk about this, then, if necessary, record missing items.
  • The Road to Science Fiction: Volume 1: From Gilgamesh to Wells: Find out whether Scarecrow Press really made additional printings after the first. There is no indication in my book that this is the case, except for the ISBN-13, which was introduced in 2007 (i.e. after the first printing from 2002).
  • Add Stephen King, and possibly other archived titles to ISFDB
  • Remove brackets around page number for these pubs: This, this and this
  • Tolkien related: Stuff moved to the ISFDB wiki.
  • Add Mac Kinsey, John Sinclair and Tony Ballard to the database
  • Is Achermann and/or his books above the threshold? Probably not.

Old TODOs (probably still need to be done)

  • My tp pub for "Last And First Men" has the subtitle "A Story of the Near and Far Future" but contains the novel "Last and First Men", without subtitle; shouldn't there be a sub-titled variant title, and the publication should contain this variant title? Later: Not sure any more, I discovered an undocumented convention about subtitles (search for "subtitle" on this page).
  • Remove price label from "Star Light, Star Bright" to verify price
  • IBooks systematic error 192 pages?
  • "Ports of Call" series should be sub-series of "Gaean Reach" series; any others, too?

Interesting things that I learned from ISFDB

The number line

Often books have a so-called "number line" on their copyright page. Typically, the smallest number in a number line identifies the printing of this particular edition of a book. Here are some examples of number lines, mostly taken from random books picked out of a pile:

Example A: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Example B: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Example C:  0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Example D: 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21
Example E: 19
Example F: 1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2
Example G: 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 80 81 82 83 84
Example H: 11 10 9 8 01 02 03 04 05


  • In example A and C, the book is a 1st printing.
  • Example B shows how a 2nd printing looks like. What happened here is that the printer simply took away the number "1" from the print plate to indicate that a new print run has started.
  • Example C illustrates that "the smallest number" is maybe not the best phrase to use :-) Anyway, in this example the publisher uses "0" instead of "10", for whatever reason.
  • Example D shows what happens when the number of printings exceeds 10.
  • Example E shows how difficult it can be to spot the number line, if it contains only one number, among the mass of information on a copyright page.
  • In example F we see that the digits of a number line are not always distributed in the same way. This example comes from Green Mars.
  • Example G shows a number line that mixes printing numbers and years. The example indicates a 3rd printing from 1980. It comes from this article.
  • Example H is similar to example G, but with a quirk: Normally we would interpret this number line as an 8th printing from 2001, but the copyright page of the book states "First IDW Printing. August 2008." This statement forces us to reverse the interpretation of the number line - because if we didn't we would have an 8th printing that is earlier (2001) than the first printing (2008, according to the statement). So the correct interpretation is that the number line indicates a 1st printing from 2008. This example comes from Nightwings.

Gutter code

A gutter code consists of a series of letters and digits that identify the printing date and/or printing number of a book. Gutter codes are usually found somewhere near the border of a page, or near to where the pages attach to the spine. Generally speaking, a gutter code is intended to be non-obtrusive because it has no meaning to the reader of a book.

The significance of a gutter code depends entirely on what the publisher intended to encode. Since this normally is not public knowledge, decoding a gutter code is arcane and looks like black magic to the uninitiated (i.e. me). I have found these useful articles that explain gutter codes in general, and show the scheme for a particular publisher:

Keep track of this stuff