The year in which a publication came onto the market is also referred to as the year of publication, also the publication year, in the case of printed products. The publication year is usually stated in the imprint, although this information is not always reliable. Above all, works of the early modern period – that is, the transition from the Late Middle Ages to the Renaissance – are characterized by various indications: texts were pre-dated, for example, in the following year. In addition, the title sheets of individual fonts were partly provided with an updated year of appearance, in order to appear at the latest and thus to distribute the old edition. This was especially the case with novels of the 17th and 18th century.
The appearance of a book is, in retrospect, particularly relevant to research and scientific debate. Whoever tries to get an overview of individual essays on any subject is usually arranged in chronological order – from the work with the earliest year to the latest. For example, the current state of research on a topic or the development of the way of looking at it can be examined and assessed.
In doing so, one can sometimes determine the extent to which the individual texts relate to one another and in which historical context they have emerged, which is essential for the overall assessment of the written. Whoever knows when a text has been published can also find out and take note of knowledgeable details about the circumstances of its development.
It is essential, however, that the respective publication state in which edition and at which place of publication it was published. Otherwise the information on the year of appearance is mostly misleading. It is customary to add a new date to a work that appears in a new edition. If the circulation is not indicated here, the publication year may only refer to the present edition, not to the first publication.