Here's one from Jenny in the comments from a couple weeks back to get us started:
What the heck does it mean when you see a romance that says, "first time in print?" Like, did it have a life as a movie or something before? I've ALWAYS been confused about that. Unless it's meant to differentiate from a re-release of a backlist title? But how often does that happen?I typically see "first time in print" on the covers of books from the big names in the romance industry: Madeline Hunter, Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber, and so on. What do all of these have in common? For one thing, they've been publishing for a while-- long enough that there's a good chance that their earlier works (say, with Harlequin series) are out-of-print.
Every publishing contract has, or should have, language that defines when a book is deemed officially out-of-print, but what's considered OOP varies from publisher to publisher. Moreover, the onus is typically on the author to ask for the rights to be reverted, and even if the author sends the requisite letter to the publisher, the publisher usually has six months to get the book back into print before they have to grant the reversion. So the publisher might re-publish the book to hang on to the rights, or they might let the author have the rights back so she can self-publish the work, or relicense it to another publisher if she chooses.
All this to say, yes, re-releases of backlist titles happen pretty frequently, especially for the "household names" of the romance genre. The "first time in print" is a way to flag to that author's fans that yes, this is indeed a new book you hold in your hands (or are preparing to download to your e-reader).
What else do you want to know?