Recently I embarked on a project analysing different copies of A Clockwork Orange, the novella. Here is a question about book publishing that has started to baffle me; which might actually turn out to be quite general knowledge, so here goes.
I purchased an old Penguin copy of which inside reads:
"First published by William Heinemann Ltd 1962
Published in Penguin Books 1972
40 39 38 37 36"
Ignoring the fact that I don't know what the last line of descending numbers mean, I got the impression that this was a copy from 1972, as was listed by the Amazon seller from whom I purchased it. However, on the very first page, it references events in Burgess's life in 1975 and 1982.
Again the same happens when I look at a W. W. Norton copy which says it was published in 1986, and is yet able to tell us that Burgess died in 1993.
I guess what I'm really wondering, is whether there's a way to track down the dates of paperback reprints, as many non-fiction books will list and date these.