It’s my husband’s big 3-0 next month and, naturally, I want to make a bit of a fuss. My first thought for something a little unique as a present was to get him a first edition, preferably signed, of one of his favourite books.

Having ummed and ahhed about what literary masterpiece to actually get him, I finally decided on Roald Dahl’s ‘My Uncle Oswald’ – wonderful author, great book, and one that my husband only has a pretty shabby second-hand copy of; plus, it was published relatively recently, so I was hoping I’d be able to get one in good condition. Easy peasy. I usually buy any used books from the many bookstores in my area but as I was after something specific, I figured the Internet was the best way to go.

Off I confidently went and typed ‘Roald Dahl Uncle Oswald first edition’ into google. 10,200 results. Blimey. The sheer number of websites selling collectible editions of books is just mindboggling; and there are so many different editions to choose from: uncorrected proofs, UK first editions, American first editions, signed copies, signed first edition copies…… It also turns out that there is a kind of secret code used to describe the condition of collectible books that I am still attempting to completely decipher.

The other problem I found was that most of the sellers don’t post photographs of the items; this can be really annoying, especially if the book was published with more than one cover design and you want to make sure that you order the artwork you like. There are items on eBay selling for a pound that have two or three pictures, yet I saw books on specialist sites priced at over a hundred pounds with not one photograph.

After three hours of searching I’ve come up with a plan: I’ll tell hubby that as he’s so particular about what he likes and I really want to get him a brilliant pressie, I think it’s best he buy his book for himself.

All of this almost makes me wish husband was the sort of man who’d appreciate the latest football shirt for his birthday, at least that would be simple to order and I could get on with the important task of sourcing a first edition of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ for myself!

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