A “first edition” is the first (hard) format bound run of a book. In this day and age, we pretend that this doesn’t mean Advance Reading Copies by saying that ARCs are “unedited,” which is to say, not the finished work.
A “second edition” is the next altered printing — for instance a mass market paperback edition, or a printing that incorporates Significant Alterations in the text.
A “first edition” may go back to press many, many times, at the publisher’s whim.
Now, pay close attention, because I’m only going over this once more:
1. Lee and Miller had an arrangement with Baen, said arrangement being that L&M would receive, as part of their advance, Saltations sufficient to cover the subscriber books — some 1200 novels.
1a. Baen printed what its many years of experience had taught it was entirely enough books to cover its contractual obligation to Lee and Miller, and probable bookstore sales, as supported by the evidence of bookstore pre-orders.
1b. For some reason outside of Lee and Miller’s and Baen’s control, a large number of books were ordered at the last minute by bookstores. The books were early in the warehouse; the warehouse filled the orders, with the result that. . .
1c. When Baen Management issued the order to transfer inventory from the warehouse to Lee and Miller in Maine, the day before Saltation‘s street date, essentially all of the books were in the distribution channel, covering orders.
1d. Baen Management immediately sent Saltation back to print, in order that it might honorably discharge its contractual obligation to Lee and Miller, and through them, the subscribers, and (one devotely hopes) to cover the bookstore re-orders even now clogging the ordering system.
2. The above series 1 is a Good Thing because…
3. The early, unexpected movement of Saltation from warehouse to bookstores resulted in the early and highly gratifying movement of Saltation into the hands of readers, which resulted in Lee and Miller’s appearance on the Wall Street Journal’s bestselling SF list, which is one of those resume building things that are important to authors if they want to keep writing.
4. Writing me a nasty note about how you’re disappointed that you’re going to be “stuck with” a “second edition” when you were “promised” a “first edition” (which you were never promised; you were promised a “thank you book” signed by the authors) only irritates me and reveals you as someone of inferior understanding. Also? Don’t expect a reply; I am hereby serving notice that any more such mail goes straight into Trash.
Thank you for your attention to and understanding of this situation.