I’ve found that 本 and 版 can be used to describe the edition of a published material, but do they have any differences between them? If they have, please give some examples

2 Answers 2


In general, there is no difference in the meaning, but the two characters are not interchangeable, since some publication use one over the other, it is up to the publisher or convention to decide whether to use 本 or 版. However, there are some general rules that apply:

  1. The phrase 版本 means "edition" in general. It can refer to edition "without" specifications (i.e. 3rd. edition, international edition). For example:
    • 我喜欢这个版本。(I like this edition.)(can be shortened to: 我喜欢这版)
    • 我喜欢最新的版本。(I like the newest edition.)

It can refer to edition with numbering. However, this expression is usually used to refer to "drafts" or "versions", not "editions". For example:

  • 我喜欢版本二。(I like the second draft.)(notice the number comes after the phrase.)
  • 我喜欢第三个版本。(I like the third draft(version).)

Note one doesn't (or it's really strange to) say "第三版本". If you want to drop "个", you have to say "第三版", as demonstrated in 2..

  1. 版 is the most common character to refer to editions with specifications. It is used in daily conversation to refer to any kind of edition, not only publication. For example:
    • 第一版 (First edition)
    • 初版 (First edition)
    • 国际版 (International edition)
    • 珍藏版 (Collecter's edition)
    • 复刻版 (Reprint)

If you want to refer to an edition but do not know whether the publisher uses 本 or 版, it's probably 版.

  1. 本 also refer to edition, but it only refers to publications and does not refer to "the number" of edition (with exceptions, shown in example). It is almost always limited to certain expression. Japanese publication use 本 to refer to edition more often. For example:
    • 首发本 (First edition, Premier)(exception to no numbers rule)
    • 第一本 (This expression is not valid)(This expression means "the first book" as in a stack of book, or something like that.)
    • 通行本 (Normal edition)(This expression refers to the normal, non-special edition that is circulating in public.)
    • 精裝本 (Hardcover edition)
    • 单行本 (Standalone edition)(This phrase is from Japanese.)
    • 文库本 (Small-format paperback edition)(This phrase is from Japanese.)

The list above is not exhaustive, but it covers the most common expressions. Note that apart from the two Japanese expression, 首发版, 通行版, and 精裝版 are all valid and common expressions, it is just a choice of style.

  1. 刷 is a common character related to "edition", it refers to "impression" or "print runs". For example:
    • 初版一刷 (First edition, first impression)(the first print run of the first edition)

Obviously, this is for publications only.

Hope this helps.

  • 1
    初版 initial edition
    – xenophōn
    Jul 5, 2019 at 9:27

Let's start from a brief introduction of book and printing.

In the old days, books were either handwritten or printed. Pages are sewn into a book with a thread. A book is 本. There was no copyright control in those days. We can expect that those books are copied again and again. Eventually various versions can be found. Each version is named 本.

It is similar to various versions of the Bible. 思高本 and 和合本 are two common Chinese versions of the Bible.

For the art of printing, each page of a printed book is crafted art on a block of wood. It is 版. Printers soaks it with ink and presses it on a paper to make a page. This is why a page sometimes named 版. One print of a book use the same set of 版. This is why a print called 版. For example, 初版 for first print, 二版 for second print, and 一版再版 means that first print are sold out and then reprint. Sometimes second print might come with some minor corrections and some modifications.

In short, 本 refers to versions of a book with different arrangement or source. 版 refers to a print of book.

With modern printing and typesetting, a publication got it revisions easier and easier, the boundary between 版 and 本 becomes harder and harder to define. People coined the word 版本 from 版 and 本 to refer to all variants of a book. Nowadays, people are lazy to differentiate 版 and 本 and use them interchangeably.

But, if you insist their differences, keep in mind that a version is 本 and a print is 版.

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