JGB Guide Novels Collections Stories
Non-Fiction Miscellaneous Media Books About Ballard

Back to the "Collecting J. G. Ballard" Home Page


The following descriptions of Ballard's books are orientated towards first editions, or speaking more strictly, first printings of first editions. I have followed the practice of Russell's Guide to First Edition Prices and listed both U.K. and U.S. first editions, as well as paperback editions but only where a paperback is the first edition in any format in the relevant country. I have also listed a small number of other editions that are of particular interest. The later novels are much more straightforward in bibliographic terms, and therefore only brief publication details are given.

I have noted cases where there are difficulties in identifying a particular edition or printing, where I am aware of them, and also common faults to watch out for (for example, some titles are particularly prone to fading of the colours on the spine of the dust jacket). Also noted are novels where I am aware that a Book Club edition was produced, a particular difficulty in the U.S. where they can be easily mistaken for a first edition.

Where a novel was first published in paperback format, it may well have been re-printed by the same publisher at a later date. Usually, the re-print will be recognizable because the artwork on the front cover will be completely different from the first printing. I have tried to note those other cases where a re-print can be readily confused with the first printing.


Written by Ballard in ten days, in order to give himself a start as a full-time writer, The Wind from Nowhere first appeared under the title Storm-Wind as a two-part serialization in New Worlds #110 and #111 (Sep and Oct 1961).

The first book publication was as a U.S. paperback (Berkley, 1962), with considerable changes including the omission of an epilogue which had concluded the magazine version. Berkley re-printed the novel in 1966 with a very similar cover (the re-print is recognizable because the front cover includes a reference to the later books The Drowned World and The Voices of Time). The novel's appearance in the U.K. didn't occur until a few years later, again as a paperback (Penguin, 1967).

The only hardback publication was in the U.S. as a 'two novels for one' with The Drowned World (Doubleday, 1965). Many copies of this edition suffer from splitting of the spine at the free front end paper (apparently a common problem with Doubleday books around this time). Doubleday also printed a Book Club edition of The Wind from Nowhere / The Drowned World.

Berkley p/b, 1962

Doubleday, 1965

Penguin p/b, 1967 

Berkley reprint, 1966


The Drowned World was initially published in an abbreviated form in Science Fiction Adventures #24 (Jan 1962). The first full length book edition was again a U.S. paperback (Berkley, 1962). Note that there was a later reprint of the Berkley edition (1966), which had a completely different cover.

The novel's first hardback edition was in the U.K. (Gollancz, 1962); the initial printing is dated 1962, although it was apparently not published until January 1963. There were also a number of subsequent impressions of the Gollancz edition, the second being in February 1963, up to (at least) a sixth impression in 1978. Care is therefore needed to make sure that a 'first edition' is in fact a first impression, dated 1962, and that it has the correct dust jacket rather than a later version - the first printing has the code "X22" on the bottom right corner of the rear of the dust jacket. There was also a U.K. book club edition (Science Fiction Book Club, 1964) with a completely different cover.

Some years later there appeared a profusely illustrated, large format edition (Dragon's Dream, 1981) in both hardcover and paperback.

The Drowned World was not published in the U.S. as a hardback, other than the combined edition with The Wind from Nowhere by Doubleday, until W. W. Norton brought out a Fiftieth Anniversary Edition in 2012. 

Berkley p/b, 1962

Gollancz, 1962

Science Fiction Book Club, 1964

Dragons Dream, 1981

Norton, 2012


First published as a U.S. paperback entitled The Burning World (Berkley, 1964), and then as a U.K. hardback, re-titled The Drought (Cape, 1965). The Cape edition, which is split into a greater number of chapters and incorporates considerable changes to the text, is the standard version. Cape re-issued the novel in 1984 with a completely different cover.The Cape edition is subject to some fading of the orange artwork on the spine.

Berkley p/b, 1964

Cape, 1965


Ballard had originally written a short story, The Illuminated Man, which had appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (May 1964), and he utilized this story as the basis for his next novel. An abbreviated version appeared as a two-part serialization in New Worlds (#142-143, May/June & July/Aug 1964) under the title Equinox.

The book length version of The Crystal World first appeared as a U.K. hardback (Cape, 1966) and then as a U.S. hardback (Farrar Straus, 1966). Both editions sported a wrap-around cover with artwork from Max Ernst's painting The Eye of Silence. The spine of the dust jackets of both editions are frequently faded, as seen in the picture of the Cape edition, below. Farrar Straus also published a U.S. Book Club edition, with a very similar cover.

Cape re-issued the novel in 1984 with a completely different cover, and in 1991 Easton Press published The Crystal World with their usual leather binding (without dust jacket), and decorative endpapers.

A related item that is sometimes listed as one of Ballard's publications is By Day Fantastic Birds Flew Through the Petrified Forest. This is in fact a poster by the artist Ivan Tyrrell, which includes a 43 word extract from The Crystal World. It was issued in 1967 by Eosgraphics for Firebird Visions Limited, with 50 copies of the issue being signed by Ballard (the remaining issues were unsigned), and is screenprinted in dayglo orange, yellow, dark blue, and gold.

Cape, 1966

Farrar Straus, 1966

Easton Press, 1991

Poster by Ivan Tyrrell, 1967


The germs of the ideas behind Crash can be found in a number of the short stories that were included in The Atrocity Exhibition (one of which was actually entitled Crash!), although none of these pieces bore any relation to the plot of the later novel. Crash was first published in the U.K. by Cape (1973) and then in the U.S. by Farrar Straus (also 1973). There was a second impression of the Cape edition in 1974.The laminate covering the dust jacket of the Cape edition has a tendency to ripple and to separate from the underlying paper, and the largely white cover of the U.S. edition can suffer from tanning.

A special ‘Collector’s Edition’ was published by Fourth Estate in 2017, edited by Chris Beckett, archivist for Ballard’s papers at the British Library. This expanded edition includes reproductions of pages from Ballard’s original typescript, together with contemporaneous material such as the rarely seen short story Journey Across a Crater and Ballard’s draft script for Harley Cokeliss’s 1971 film ‘Crash!’. A U.S. version of this special edition was published by Rare Bird Books in 2019.

Cape, 1973

Farrar Straus, 1973

Collector’s Edition,

Fourth Estate, 2017

Deluxe Edition, Rare Bird Books, 2019


Having not had a novel published for seven years until Crash in 1973, Ballard was now on a roll with Concrete Island following a year later ...

Cape re-issued the novel in 1984 with a completely different cover.

Cape, 1974

Farrar Straus, 1974


... and the third of the 'urban disaster trilogy' was published in the U.K. in 1975. The U.K. edition from Cape is often seen price-clipped by the publisher with either one or two price stickers, raising the price to £5.95 and then to £6.95.

The first U.S. edition did not occur until two years later, with a change of publisher for Ballard - from Farrar Straus to Holt Rinehart.

Cape, 1975

Holt Rinehart, 1977


Each of the next few novels offer something different from the 'disaster' and 'urban disaster' novels that preceded them; The Unlimited Dream Company contained substantial fantasy elements.

Cape, 1979

Holt Rinehart, 1979


Originally intended as a book for juveniles, Hello America was published by Cape in 1981. The U.S. edition did not appear until 1988, from Carroll & Graf.

Cape, 1981

Carroll & Graf, 1988


The first edition of Empire of the Sun, probably Ballard's most well-known book, was from Gollancz in 1984. The first printing had two dust jacket states, the first state having two reviews on the back, from Graham Greene and Angela Carter, and the second state six reviews. There were a number of subsequent impressions of the Gollancz edition. The red lettering of the title on the spine is particularly prone to fading from the effect of sunlight. There was a book club edition published in 1985 with a very similar cover.

Gollancz also published a special signed and numbered edition of 100 copies, also dated 1984. These came with a slipcase and a fragile glassine dust jacket. 

The first U.S. edition appeared from Simon & Schuster, also in 1984.

Gollancz, 1984

First state jacket with two reviews  

Gollancz, 1984, limited signed edition in slipcase

Simon & Schuster, 1984

The Gollancz edition of Empire of the Sun had two proof copies that are of note. The normal 'uncorrected proof' came with a dust jacket that was larger than the proof (and distinguishable from the first edition jacket by the inclusion of a price of "£8.99 APPX"); this jacket is usually creased where it overhangs the book, and the proof is frequently seen for sale without any jacket. There was also an earlier proof, shot from the author's typescript and including a few (very minor) handwritten corrections; only a small number were issued - some claim as few as thirty, although the total may well have been somewhat more than this. Both proofs are in light blue covers, but the initial proof can be distinguished on the front by the description 'uncorrected typescript'; it is also 524 pages, compared to the normal proof's 278 pages. Inside, the initial proof has a copyright date of 1983, but it is often seen for sale dated 1984, the same year as the eventual publication date of the novel.

There was also a second version of the initial proof, which contained the publication details on the first page as well as the cover. A comparison of the corrections in each version shows that the earlier is that with the publication details on the front cover only (thanks to Jim Goddard for this).

Description on front of initial Gollancz proof

Description on front of later Gollancz proof

Granada, who had paperback rights, published an edition that was described on the copyright page as a "Special overseas edition". This was supposed to be published at the same time as the initial Gollancz hardback, in order to prevent the Gollancz being pirated in Far Eastern markets, but some believe that the Granada "Special" became available for purchase slightly before the Gollancz edition ... making it the 'true first' of Empire of the Sun.

Granada, Special overseas edition, p/b, 1984


Gollancz published the first U.K. edition (1987), and it was back to Farrar Straus for the first U.S. edition (1988). There was a second impression of the Gollancz edition.

Gollancz again published a special signed and numbered edition of 100 copies issued in a slipcase, but I believe that in this case there was no dust jacket. As with Empire of the Sun, there was also an initial proof shot from Ballard's typescript, in a pale blue cover (the final proof, with a white, illustrated cover, is fairly common).

Gollancz, 1987 

Gollancz, 1987, limited signed edition in slipcase

Farrar Straus, 1988


Running Wild (1988) was a novella written for a series of short fiction published by Hutchinson in the U.K.; it was illustrated by Janet Woolley. U.S. publication, without illustrations, was in the following year by Farrar Straus.

Hutchinson, 1988

Farrar Straus, 1989


Harper Collins, 1991, U.K.

Farrar Straus, 1991, U.S.


Harper Collins/Flamingo, 1994, U.K.

Picador, 1995, U.S.


Harper Collins/Flamingo, 1996, U.K.

Counterpoint, 1998, U.S.


Harper Collins/Flamingo, 2000, U.K.

Picador, 2001, U.S.


W. W. Norton eventually published a U.S. edition of Millennium People in June 2011.

Harper Collins/Flamingo, 2003

Norton, 2011


Originally published in the U.K. in 2006, a U.S. edition of Kingdom Come finally appeared in March 2012.

Harper Collins/Fourth Estate, 2006

Norton, 2012