A proof copy of a book is a far less version of the original book. These are printed in very low numbers to be able to make people at the publishers to search for errors that can be changed when the actual first edition is released. Proof copy's are also sent to big book shops and dealers as a marketing tool to make them interested in a book soon to be released.
Most of the proof copy's never survives past the release of the first printing of the regular books. These make them highly sought after amongst book collectors.
When I was in London this weekend I went to a dealer at Portobello road that I had done business with before.
Amongst his offerings was a proof copy of John Gardner's first bond novel LICENCE RENEWED from 1981.
As I write above these books are rare but to actually have a dustjacket that also says proof copy is even more rare.
Here we can see the differences with the first edition. On the proof they do not name the publishers and the actual selling price of £6.50 is mentioned on the proof but was removed on the first and changed to a sticker instead. (In my collection I also have a book signed by John Gardner that does not have the price sticker of £6.50.
So what did I pay for this book then? Searching the internet I cant find anything like this currently for sale. I do find some other Proof Copys of John Gardners Bond novels without the dust jacket and they are on sale for £250. I bought my copy with the dust jacket for only £30. It is nice to have some hunting luck sometimes.
Note that someone made an error with the release date on the dust jacket!