The following are a list of book descriptions used:As New
The book is in the same new condition to which it was published. No defects, library stamps and the dust jacket (if it was issued with one) is perfect and without tears.
Fine (F )
Approaches the condition of As New, but without being crisp. If there are any defects or if the jacket has a small tear, or looks worn, these will be noted.
Very Good (VG)
Describes a book that does show some small signs of wear - but no tears - on either binding or paper. Any defects are noted.
Describes the average used worn book that has all pages or leaves present. All defects will be noted. Many used books do have some degree of shading to page edges but these are usually noted.
Worn book that has complete text pages but may lack endpapers, half title page etc. Binding, jacket (if any) may also be worn. All defects noted.
Describes a book that is sufficiently worn to the point that its only merit is as a Reading Copy because it does have the complete text. Any missing maps or plates will be noted. This copy may be soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc. All defects will be noted.
A few of the more commonly used terms:
Advanced Reading Copy - A copy for reviewers and/or booksellers, usually bound in paperwraps and usually with either the finished cover art or possibly trial cover art. Generally, this copy is as it will appear in the stores and differs from the Uncorrected Proof.
Binding - The cover of the book
Board Book - A durable book format that is used for children's books, in which all pages are printed on thick cardboard.
Boards - The stiff binding material for most modern books.
Book Club Edition - A book usually printed especially for a book club such as The Book of the Month Club or The Literary Guild. These copies will usually have the words Book Club Edition (BCE) printed on the bottom right corner of the front flap of the dustwrapper.
Booklet - A small book, often only a few pages long and bound in wrappers.
Bookplate - A pasted-in sign of ownership.
Bowed - A condition of the covers or boards of a hard cover book. Bowed covers may turn inward toward the leaves or outward away from the leaves. The condition generally results from a rapid change in the level of moisture in the air and is caused by different rates of expansion or contraction of the paste-down and the outer material covering the board.
Bumped - Refers to the condition of a book; it refers to worn, bent or rounded corners of the boards of a book.
Chipped - Used to describe where small pieces are missing or where fraying has occurred on a dust jacket or the edge of a paperback.
Cloth - A cloth-bound book. The covering can be linen, buckram or another textile.
Cocked - Refers to the condition of a book; the spine is no longer straight and appears crocked or twisted. Also known as spine lean.
Cracked - Refers to the condition of a book; there is a long narrow opening or break down the spine or in the cover.
Cut - Many modern books are smooth-trimmed after binding so that all edges are even, or flush. This is described as having been "cut".
Dampstained - A light stain on the cover or on the leaves of a book caused by moisture such as a piece of food or perspiration. Generally not as severe as waterstains.
Darkening - When book covers/page edges are exposed to light, the colour darkens or becomes more intense. See also Fading.
Deckle Edges - Another term for uncut or untrimmed edges.
Dents - Damage to the edges of the cover of hardcover books.
Dog-Eared - Book pages which have been folded over in the corners. Some people do this to mark their place in a book.
Dust Jacket - A term synonymous with Dust Wrapper, indicating the usually decorative paper wrapper placed around a book to protect the binding.
Edges - The outer surfaces of the leaves of a book. The top, bottom and un-hinged outer sides of a book.
Edition - All the copies of a book printed from the same plates or typesetting. An edition can have more than one printing. For example, if 300 copies of a book are printed on September 15, and 200 copies are printed from the same plates on November 24, all 500 copies are part of the same edition
Editor - A person who gathers material for a book, oversees text written by others, and/or makes the text more readable.
End Papers - The sheets of paper pasted onto the inner covers, joining the book block to the covers. One side of the sheet is pasted to the inside cover (pastedown) the other is left free.
Ex-Library - A term used to indicate a book was once in a library. They are usually identified with one of more markings of the library such as stampings, card pockets, cataloging numbers, etc. Frequently they are marked as "discarded" or "withdrawn" when sold by a library.
Ex-Libris - A bookplate printed with the owner's name or initials. Latin for "from the library of...."
Facsimile - A copy that looks like the original printing of a book but is not original. Facsimiles can be a source of frustration to collectors and booksellers but are acceptable for some institutional library collections. The term can also refer to one or more pages or illustrations that have been reproduced or copied to replace parts of the book that are missing
Fading - The colour of some book covers fades or becomes less intense when exposed to light. See also Darkening.
First and Second Printing before Publication - This indicates the publisher was successful in promoting the book and had more orders before the actual publication date than the first printing quantity would cover. Therefore a second printing was ordered. Not a first edition.
First Edition - Generally used by book dealers and collectors to mean the first appearance of a work in book or pamphlet form, in its first printing.
Flyleaf - A blank leaf, sometimes more than one, following the front free endpaper, or at the end of a book where there is not sufficient text to fill out the last few pages.
Fore Edge - The trimmed edge of the leaves of a book; the edge of the page opposite the spine, bound or back edge of the book.
Foxed, Foxing - Brown spotting, mottling of the paper caused by a chemical reaction. The brown age spots caused by impurities in paper, eg acid, exposure to humidity, etc.
Frayed - Refers to the condition of a book; the unraveling of the threads or fibres of an edge of a book cover that is caused by excessive rubbing.
Free Endpaper - See End Papers
Frontis, Frontispiece - An illustration at the beginning of a book, usually facing the title page.
Gilt Edges - The page edges have been trimmed smooth and gilt, or gold leaf, has been applied. The abbreviation ge means gilt edges; aeg means all edges gilt; gt means gilt top; teg means top edge gilt.
Glassine - A strong, thin, glazed, semi-transparent paper that used to make protective covers for books because it is, among other durable characteristics, grease and water resistant.
Half Binding - a book in which the spine and corners are bound in a different material (frequently leather) than the rest of the covers.
Half-Title - The page carrying nothing but the title of the book, usually preceding the title page.
Hardcover (hc) - A book with stiff boards that is bound and covered in either cloth, paper or leather.
Highlighting - The use of transparent and brightly coloured markers to draw attention to particular text. Frequently done by students. See also Underlining and Marginalia.
Hinge - The joint (either outer or inner) of the binding of a book - the part that bends when the book is opened.
Illustrated - Decorated with pictures or other graphical material to portray or clarify the text.
Illustrated Boards - Pictorial boards often with no dust jacket issued.
Illustration - A design, picture, plate, plan, diagram, chart, or map printed within the text.
Impression - A set of copies of a work, printed at one time, from one setting of type. There may be several impressions of one edition. Also known as printing, press run, or print run.
Index - An alphabetical listing of names or topics mentioned in the book, with their page numbers. For serials and journals, the index is usually published after the volume is completed and is usually found in the last issue.
Inscribed (by author) - Usually indicates a book signed by the author, either with an inscription to a specific person or bearing some brief notation along with his signature.
Inscription - A written name, note, phrase, or comment made in a book. Unless indicated otherwise, the inscription is not written by the author.
Issue - Synonymous with State, referring to the priority of copies within the first edition.
Jacket - The printed or unprinted cover, usually paper, placed around the bound book. Sometimes called Dust Jacket, Dust Wrapper, Dust Cover or Book Jacket.
Joint - The exterior junction of the covers and spine of a book.
Journal - A periodical or magazine, especially one published for a special group, learned society, or profession.
Label - A square or rectagular piece of paper or leather attached to the spine of a book, containing printed information about the book, such as author, title, and volume number. Also known as backstrip label.
Large Print - A book that is made with large type for the visually impaired.
Leaf - A single sheet in a book; each leaf contains two printed pages, one on each side.
Leatherette - An imitation of grained leather, produced from a strong, machine glazed base paper. Many small prayer books, for example, are leatherette.
Library Binding - Reinforced bindings used by many public libraries.
Limited Edition - Any book whose publication is deliberately restricted to a comparatively small number of copies, usually numbered and often signed by the author and/or illustrator.
Limp Cover - A book that has a flexible cloth, leather, or vellum cover.
Loose - The binding of a new book is very tight; that is, the book will not open easily and generally does not want to remain open to any given page. As the book is used, the binding becomes looser until a well-used book may lay flat and remain open to any page in the book.
Loose-Leaf - The binding of individual sheets of paper in an exchangeable form, for pages to be added, removed, or relocated in the book. Loose-leaf bindings are used wherever records of repeatedly changing information must be kept. Instruction manuals, catalogues, and accounting forms are often loose-leaf bound. Also known as ring-bound.
Margin - The space between the edge of the page and the printed text. Sometimes in binding, the margins are trimmed or cropped.
Marginalia - Notes written in the margins of a page around the text. Frequently used by students and others when studying a text. See also highlighting and underlining.
Mint Copy - An absolutely perfect copy; as perfect as the day it was issued.
No Date - No date of publication mentioned within the book.
Number - An issue of a periodical.
Out-of-Print - A book no longer being printed.
Owner's Bookplate - See Bookplate.
Page - One side of a leaf. The front side of a leaf is called the recto or obverse and the back side of the leaf is called the verso or the reverse.
Pagination - The sequence of the numbered pages in a book.
Pamphlet - A small separate work issued in paperwraps.
Paperback - Books in paperwraps published since the 1930's, although it can describe any book with a paper cover.
Paste-Down - The portion of the end-paper posted to the inner cover of a book.
Pictorial - Describes a book with a picture on the cover.
Plates - Whole-page illustrations printed separately from the text. Illustrations printed in the text are called cuts.
Preface - Author's (or another) introductory statement)
Price Clipped - The price has been clipped from the corner of the dust jacket.
Printing - Another word for Impression. The total number of copies of a book, or another type of publication, printed at one time. For example, an edition of a book can have a first printing of 5,000 copies and a second printing of 2,000. See also edition.
Private Press - A small press, often operated by one person, usually devoted to the production of small quantities of finely printed books.
Privately Printed - This term refers to a book or pamphlet whose printing was paid for by an individual or a group, and which is meant for private circulation, not public sale.
Proofs - Precede the published book. The normal course of events would be gallery proof, uncorrected bound proof and advance reading copy bound in paperwraps.
Publication Date - The date a book is formally placed on sale.
Rag Book - A children's book printed on and bound with cloth fabric.
Rare - Implies the book is extremely scarce, perhaps only turning up once every ten years or so.
Reading Copy - A copy of a book that is worn or used to such a degree that it is not in good enough condition to be considered collectible.
Reinforced Dust Jacket - A dust jacket that has been strengthened with tape by the previous owner.
Re-Issue - A term encompassing all types of a reprinting of a work; it can be a later printing of a book, which is substantially unchanged, or an entirely new edition, such as a cloth edition re-issued as a paperback edition.
Remainder - When a book has ceased to sell, a publisher may get rid of his overstock by "remaindering" the title. Remainder copies are often marked by pen or a cut to the bottom edges.
Remainder Marks - The publisher will mark the bottom edges of books sold as remainders with a stamp, a black marker, or spray paint which speckles the bottom.
Reprint - A new impression from the same type setting, or a new edition of the work.
Review Copy - A copy of a book sent out for review by the publisher to the press, booksellers, and others in order to attract attention to the publication. Frequently review copies will have slips of paper inserted into the book, or have it written on the cover, announcing it as a review copy. Textbook review copies are also known as "desk copies" or "instructor copies" and are given to instructors to review for consideration for adoption of the regular edition. See also advance reading copy.
Rough Cut - Unevenly trimmed page edges (Uncut)
Rubbed - Refers to condition; the spine or cover has visible scuffmarks and may be worn in places.
Scarce - Traditionally, a "scarce" publication isn't as hard to find as a rare publication, but might take a few years to locate.
Scuffed - Refers to condition; the binding or cover has been scraped and might look rough or slightly frayed in places.
Shaken - An adjective describing a book whose pages are beginning to come loose from the binding.
Shelf Wear - The wear that occurs as a book is placed onto and removed from a shelf. It may be to the tail (bottom) edge of the covers as they rub against the shelf, to the dust jacket or exterior of the covers (when no dust jacket is present) as the book rubs against its neighbours, or to the head of the spine which some use to pull the book from the shelf.
Signed - A book which the author has autographed. See inscribed.
Slipcase - A cardboard case covered in paper, cloth or leather which holds a book with only the spine exposed.
Soft Cover - Typically is synonymous with paperback, but it can also describe a book with a limp cover or a flexi-cover.
Spine - The book's backbone, where the signatures are gathered. The spine is covered with the backstrip.
Spine Lean - See cocked.
Spiralbound - An inexpensive type of binding utilizing wire or plastic coils as the spine. It is an increasingly popular way for small publishers to publish a work or for an author to quickly self-publish. Known also as comb or coil bound.
Sprung - Refers to condition; the text block is separate from its binding.
Stapled - A binding method that uses metal staples to secure the pages, typically for binding magazines and pamphlets. Also known as saddle stitching.
Subtitle - A secondary and explanatory title used to explain more about the book.
Sunned - Faded from exposure to light or direct sunlight.
Tanned - Yellowing from age of pages and/or page edges.
Tight - The binding of a new book is very tight; that is, the book will not open easily and generally does not want to remain open to any given page. As the book is used, the binding becomes looser until a well-used book may lay flat and remain open to any page in the book.
Tissue - A thin, protective sheet laid over an illustration.
Title Page - The title page, near the beginning of the book, lists the title and subtitle of the book, the authors, editors, and/or contributors, the publisher or printer, and sometimes the place and date of publication. The title page information should be used for cataloguing (not the half-title page or covers)
Tooling - The decoration of a binding.
Top Edge Gilt - Usually abbreviated teg; it means that the top edges of the pages have been covered with gold leaf or gilt material.
Trade Paperback - A softcover book which is generally large in size and made of better quality materials than a Mass-Market paperback.
Trimmed - An adjective indicating that the pages have been cut down to a size smaller than when originally issued.
Uncorrected Proof - See proofs.
Uncut - The pages of the completed book have not been shaved down to a uniform surface.
Underlining - Using a pencil or pen to underline passages in a book to draw attention to the underlined text. See also Highlighting and Marginalia.
Unopened (Uncut) - The leaves of the book are still joined at the folds, not slit apart.
Uncut - Refers to the untrimmed pages of a book - the edges appear rough and uneven. In early bookbinding, the unbound pages of a book were left uncut until the binder trimmed them flush and smooth as part of the binding process. Today the terms uncut and unopened are often used synonymously. See also deckle edges.
Unpaginated - The pages are not numbered (although each signature may be designated by letter).
Warped - Refers to condition; the boards or paperback covers are bent and twisted.
Waterstain - Stain on a book cover or leaves from water or other liquids. May cause discoloration and perhaps actual shrinking.
Wrappers - The outer covers of a paperbound book or pamphlet. Not to be confused with Dust Wrapper.
With all Faults (w.a.f.) - A description used mostly by auctioneers and booksellers to describe books that are suspected of being imperfect. The term is used to warn the buyer that the item may not be returned for any reason. It is, in other words, sold "as is".
Yellowed - Usually refers to the yellow fore-edges and pages of paperbacks, which is caused either by fading, age and/or acid in the paper.