Glossary of Terms

Looking for help understanding commonly used book collecting terminology, or abbreviations and references used in book sellers' descriptions? Some of the terminology used in book collecting can be arcane, indeed! Hopefully, our glossary will help you unravel some of the jargon used by book collectors and book sellers! Also, for more information, be sure to read our blog post, help with basic book collecting terminology

Alphabetical Index

Numbers

1st Edition, Thus

This indicates that this is not the first appearance of a book in print, but that this is the first appearance in a substantially different format than the true first edition. For example, a first illustrated edition of a book, or even a first paperback release of a book originally published in hardcover.

More Info
1st Thus
See 1st Edition, Thus
4to
See Quarto
8vo
See Octavo

A

A.N.
See As New
AB Bookman's Weekly

A trade publication for the rare and antiquarian book industry that was published between 1948 and 1999. Prior to the emergence of internet marketplaces such as Biblio, AB Bookman's was the primary marketplace by which dealers and collectors located and traded in antiquarian books. To this day, the AB Bookman's guidelines for book condition grading remain industry standard.

More Info
ABA

The usage of this acronym depends entirely on the location of the bookseller.
It can be any of these:

American Booksellers Association (USA)

Or

Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (UK)

Or

Australian Booksellers Association (AU)

More Info
ABAA

Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America

More Info
ABDASC

Antiquarian Book Dealers Association of South Carolina

More Info
Acceptable

A non-traditional book condition description that generally refers to a book in readable condition, although no standard exists for this term, and the word can be used to describe a wide variety of actual book conditions. It is best to assume that an "acceptable" book is in rough shape but still readable.

More Info
Advance Review Copy
See ARC
AEG

All Edges Gilt. Describes a book in which the top, fore edge and bottom of the outside of the pages are decorated with gold gilding.

More Info
Age Tanned

Age tanning, or browning, occurs over time on the pages of books. This process can show up on just the edges of pages, when this occurs it is sometimes referred to as "edge tanning." This kind of deterioration is commonly seen in books printed before the advent of acid-free paper in the 1980s. In 1984, The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) adopted a…

More Info
Age Toned
See Age Tanned
ALA

American Library Association

More Info
ANZAAB

Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers (AU / NZ)

More Info
ARC

Advance Review Copy, a specially printed copy of the book, generally paperback, which has been produced and distributed by the publishers for promotional purposes, given to bookstores, editors, and reviewers. Issued in advance of the official publication date of the trade edition, it is often distributed with other promotional materials, such as a publisher's letter or a photograph of the author. It may…

More Info
As New

The book is pristine and free of any defects, in the same condition as when it was first newly published. The textblock is tight, showing no signs of prior use. The dust jacket, if there is one, is similarly free of any wear, flaws or defects.

More Info
Association Copy

An association copy is a copy of a book which has been signed and inscribed by the author for a personal friend, colleague, or person of historical significance. In addition to the signature, the author will generally address the person to whom they are inscribing the book with a salutation and perhaps a personal note.

It is important to distinguish between an association copy and…

More Info

B

BAL

Bibliography of American Literature (commonly abbreviated as BAL in descriptions) is the quintessential reference work for any student of american literature. BAL was originally published in 9 volumes by the B ibliographical Society of America by Yale University Press between 1955 and 1991 with Jacob Blanck as it's lead editor and later finished by Michael Winthrop and Virginia L. Smyers it provides descriptive bibliographic…

More Info
BCE
See Book Club Edition
Bds
See Boards
Beveled

Beveled edges, or beveled boards, describe a technique of binding in which the edges of book boards have been cut into slanted angles. This is a purely esthetic look created for books.

Crushed or torn beveled edges, as pictured below, can reduce the price of a collectible book.

More Info
Biblio

The Greek root for a variety of words referring to the book, such as bibliography, bibliomania, etc. Also, one of the world's largest internet book search services.

More Info
Binder's Copy
See Binding Copy
Binders Copy
See Binding Copy
Binding Copy

Binding copy refers to a book that desperately needs rebinding. The cover suffers from significant damage, or can be detached or absent completely. The text should still be completely intact, unless otherwise noted. Note that this is quite different from an advanced review copy (ARC), or advanced reading copy.

This kind of book is valued primarily for the information in it. In some cases rare…

More Info
Blindstamp

A blindstamp is a stamped impression, usually an image, logo, words, or design on the cover or spine of a book, without color or other decoration. Sometimes also indicated with the phrase "stamped in blind," "blind" refers to the lack of ink, foil, or other distinguishing coloring. Older books often have quite decorative designs embossed into their covers in this way.

Blindstamps are also used…

More Info
Blurb

The blurb refers to the commentary that appears on the dust jacket flaps or the rear of the dustjacket. In the case of a paperback, this might appear on the rear cover of the book. Although it is less common in modern books, previously publishers have also used the front of the book or jacket for blurbs.

Often a blurb contains a mixture of plot…

More Info
Boards

Common term for the covers of a hardbound book. The term 'boards' refers to the thick cardboard under the paper or cloth covering on the outside of the book. The cardbaord manufactured and used for that specific purpose is called binder's board.

Some of the earliest forms of bound books would have used actual wooden boards, often covered with leather, sewn over the pages of…

More Info
BOMC

Book-of-the-Month Club

These are popular books republished and sold at a discounted price by one of these many clubs, the best-known being the Book-of-the-Month Club aka BOMC.

The books are printed in a smaller text format on cheaper paper, using cheaper boards, and the dust-wrapper is thinner or printed on uncoated paper stock. Book club editions can be identified by a small blind-stamped dot, square, or…

More Info
Book Breaker

An informal name for a dealer who makes a practice of dismantling a book in order to sell individual leaves (typically plates or maps). The practice is controversial in cases where the book that is being pieced-out was complete and whole, but in cases of heavily damaged or incomplete books, it can be seen as a method of preserving what is otherwise beyond repair. While…

More Info
Book Club Edition

A generic term denoting a book which was produced or distributed by one of any number of book club organizations. Usually the overall quality of the book's materials is lower than the same book as printed by a traditional publishing house.

More Info
Bookplate

Highly sought after by some collectors, a book plate is an inscribed or decorative device that identifies the owner, or former owner, of a book. Most often bookplates are affixed to the endpaper of a book. Book plates have a long tradition, and some are collected solely for their artistic or historical value. Others show ownership by famous personages, and can help tell a…

More Info
Brodart

Generally used to refer to a clear plastic cover that is sometimes added to the dustjacket or outside covering of a book. The name refers to the company by the same name which produces many book repair and archival products.

More Info
Broken (spine)

Damage to a book from improper handling or shelving that creates a break in the spine which can cause the cover to be creased, the book to open or stop at a certain section, or the pages become loose and fall out.

More Info
Buckram

A plain weave fabric normally made from cotton or linen which is stiffened with starch or other chemicals to cover the book binding or when rebinding. Buckram covering is strong, moisture resistant and mildew resistant best used when covering repeatedly handled books, such as library books.

A book bound in buckram:

More Info
Bumped
See Bumping
Bumping

Indicates that the affected part of the book has been impacted in such a way so as to cause a flattening, indention, or light bending.

More Info
Bumps
See Bumping

C

Calf

Calf or calf hide is a common form of leather binding. Calf binding is naturally a light brown but there are ways to treat the skin to create different decorative looks.

Calf skin bindings include:

Diced Calf: Decorative diamonds or squares cut or scored into the leather.
Marbled: The leather is stained with diluted acid to produce a swirling effect.
Mottled Calf: The diluted acid from marbling is…

More Info
Case Bound

A hardcover book where the entire textblock is bound separately from the covers by means of either glue or stitching. The pages of the text are bound together and then united to the outside coverings by means of endpapers. The endpapers are attached to the back of the textblock and then glued to the book covers.

More Info
Chapbook

A very short, cheaply produced volume, of a few leaves. Modern chapbooks may be a collection of folded leaves loosely held in a folded cardboard or stiff paper cover, or the pages might be stapled. Historically, chapbooks were introduced in the 16th Century to meet the demands of a growing literate populace by allowing for very cheap books. The term chapbook was introduced in the early…

More Info
Chipped

A defect in which small pieces are missing from the edges; fraying or small pieces of paper missing the edge of a paperback, or a dust jacket.

A chipped dust jacket, or book cover is best preserved in a protective covering.

More Info
Chipping
See Chipped
Chppd
See Chipped
Clamshell Box

A protective box designed for storing and preserving a bound book or loose sheets. A clamshell box is hinged on one side, with the remaining three sides of both the top and bottom of the box extending in such a way that one side neatly fits into the other when closed. Clamshell boxes are used for archival and decorative purposes in library archives and…

More Info
Closed Tear

Closed tear indicates a torn page in which no material has been lost. A closed tear can be pressed back into place or sometimes fixed with archival repair tape.

More Info
Closed Tearing
See Closed Tear
Cloth

"Cloth-bound" generally refers to a hardcover book with cloth covering the outside of the book covers.

The cloth is stretched over the boards, and is mainly to protect and shield the book from any damage. The cloth can then be printed on, embossed, or stamped for decorative purposes or with designs of book information details.

A decorative cloth binding can also consist of embroidery in rare…

More Info
Cocked

Refers to a state where the spine of a book is lightly "twisted" in such a way that the front and rear boards of a book do not align when the book is lying flat. Severity may differ.

More Info
Colophon

The colophon contains information about a book's publisher, the typesetting, printer, and possibly even includes a printer's device.

The term colophon is Latin for top, summit or finishing. In early books, the colophon was usually found at the end of the text, register, or index. Later this became known as the title page.

Modern books still contain the colophon, often located at the end of the…

More Info
Completist

A completist is a book collector who seeks all collectible editions of a particular title, subject, author, or other focus of their collection. Rather than just seeking the first edition of a book or work, a completist may seek all first appearances, including foreign publications, and works and objects ancillary to the book. A completist that collects a particular author seeks to assemble and…

More Info
Copyright Page

The page in a book that describes the lineage of that book, typically including the book's author, publisher, date of publication and generally the printing history of that book. This page is typically within the first few pages of a book on the verso of the title page. It is referred to as the copyright page for the simple reason that it will often…

More Info
Cracked

In reference to a hinge or a book's binding, means that the glue which holds the opposing leaves has allowed them to separate, revealing the stitching or binding underneath.

More Info
Crisp

A term often used to indicate a book's new-like condition. Indicates that the hinges are not loosened. A book described as crisp will not have 'well-read' pages, i.e., where the book will naturally open to certain pages or sections.

More Info

D

Deboss

An imprinted decoration or mark on the outside cover of a book. Publishers will press a design or mark into a book's cover for various reasons, such as the convention of the publisher Alfred A Knopf who presses their logo into the back board, near the hinge on their hardcover editions.

Book club edition publishers would historically mark their editions by placing a small deboss…

More Info
Deckle Edge

Deckle edge is the feathered edge of a page. Traditionally and historically, this was a side effect of the process of making paper. At the semi-liquid stage of paper making, a form called a deckle was used to create the size and shape of the sheet. Some of the paper seeping below the edge of the deckle would form an uneven edge on the…

More Info
Dedication Copy

A copy of a book inscribed by the author and personally presented to the dedicatee mentioned in the book.

More Info
Dentelle

Borders on the inner edge of a book with a lacy pattern, most often gilt. Popular in France during the 18th century on covers of books, used more on the inside of modern books.

More Info
Device

Especially for older books, a printer's device refers to an identifying mark, also sometimes called a printer's mark, on the title page or the colophon. A device can be quite ornate, and stylized. Printing houses relied on this mark as their brand, far more than bindings or book covers, since in previous centuries books could be rebound several times over its life.

The use of…

More Info
Diaper

Aka Diapering

A decorative design of repeated diamonds or geometric shapes on the cover, usually on cloth boards. The design is usually in gilt, raised pressing, or ink print.

More Info
DJ
See Dust Jacket
Doctored

The restoring of a book to the original condition; repairing or mending a book to working order.

More Info
Duodecimo

A duodecimo is a book approximately 7 by 4.5 inches in size, or similar in size to a contemporary mass market paperback. Also called a twelvemo, duodecimo comes from Latin, and refers to the practice of taking a standard printing sheet from a printing press, and folding and refolding it until the pages are at the desired size. More familiar terms include folio…

More Info
Dust Jacket

Also known as book jacket, dust cover, or dust wrapper, a dust jacket is a protective and decorative cover for a book that is usually made with paper and wraps around the binding of a book.

The dust cover has folded flaps to cradle the book, those flaps often contain a summary of the book, a blurb about the author of the book, and something…

More Info
Dustwrapper
See Dust Jacket

E

E-book

A book which is produced and supplied in an electronic form only, rather than a printed edition, known also as a digital book or e-edition.

Ebooks are book publications in digital form which contain text, images, or both. Ebooks can be opened and read on a computer or other e-book formatted electrical devices.

More Info
E.p.
See Endpaper
Edges

The collective of the top, fore and bottom edges of the text block of the book, being that part of the edges of the pages of a book not covered by the spine. Often referred to in combination as all edges, EG: All Edges Gilt (AEG).

More Info
Endband

Endbands, also called headbands or tailbands, are portions of colored material sewn or adhered at the head and tail of a book spine, slightly hidden under the headcaps of the leather covering.

This technique adds strength to the binding head and tail at the joints. Endbands provide a firm grip to the text pages across the spine.

More Info
Endpaper

The double leaves bound into a book at the front and rear after printing. These pages consist of a double-size sheet that is folded, one half is pasted against the inside cover and the other is serving as the first free page in the book. These endpapers are usually left blank and in rare cases printed information is placed here. When seeking an autograph…

More Info
Erasures

Erasures indicates marks where someone has removed bits of text or content from a book.

In Book Arts, erasures can also mean a type of poetry where the contents of a book is narrowed and picked apart to create a poem.

More Info
Errata

Errata: aka Errata Slip

A piece of paper either laid in to the book correcting errors found in the printed text after being printed and intended corrections to book content.

Erratas are commonly placed in the book after the first publishing and later corrected in future editions.

More Info
Ex-library

A former library book, generally containing library acquisition and ownership stamped markings, and other typical indications of the library's use.

Books legitimately released from institutional libraries such as a school library, public library, historical society, university, etc. Also named "ex-lib" will be lower in resale value due to library card pockets, rubber stamp identification information on spine or title pages, catalog numbers inked or stamped…

More Info

F

Facsimile

An exact copy of an original work. In books, it refers to a copy or reproduction, as accurate as possible, of an original source, whether a book, map, manuscript, or other historical item.

More Info
Fair

Is a worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title, etc. (which must be noted). Binding, jacket (if any), etc., may also be worn. All defects must be noted. (defined by AB Bookman's Weekly)

More Info
Ffep

A common abbreviation for Front Free End Paper. Generally, it is the first page of a book and is part of a single sheet that also spans across the inside of the front board (called the front pastedown) via a fold along the gutter with the purpose of connecting the boards to the stitched textblock.

As a result of this purpose, the paper quality…

More Info
FFEP Or Ffep
See Ffep
Fine

A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the crispness of an uncirculated, unopened volume. Any flaws of any kind must be clearly noted as exceptions to fine condition, as in "small crease on FFEP, else fine". Fine condition is abbreviated as "F", or "F/F" when describing a book and dust jacket…

More Info
Fine Binding

An elaborate and decorative binding, example including a leather-bound book with gilt edges, raised blind stamps, raised ribs, or even a cover that is embedded with jewels or embroidered.

More Info
First Edition

In book collecting, the first edition is the earliest published form of a book. A book may have more than one first edition in cases where it has been published in multiple forms, including foreign releases or editions with substantially changed content such as an illustrated or a limited edition. Typically, the earliest version of the book is considered the first edition, with subsequent…

More Info
First State

Used in book collecting to refer to a book from the earliest run of a first edition, generally distinguished by a change in some part of the binding or correction of the text which has been made in later versions of the first edition print run.

More Info
First Thus
See 1st Edition, Thus
Flap(s)

The portion of a book cover or cover jacket that folds into the book from front to back. The flap can contain biographical information about the author, ISBN, a short summary of the book, date of publishing or publisher name, and the cost of the book.

The flap also protects the book edges from wear and spine from shelf wear or other damage.

More Info
Flatsigned

A flatsigned book is signed, and not inscribed, directly on a page of the book, rather than on a bookplate or with an accompanying inscription.

Flatsigned means the same thing as signed, thus, most books that have a standalone signature will simply be described as signed. Any further personalization will make the book inscribed.

More Info
Fly-leaf

The additional blank page or leaf that immediately follows the front or back endpapers.

More Info
Foi

Former owner's intials.

More Info
Folio

A folio usually indicates a large book size of 15" in height or larger when used in the context of a book description.

Further, folio sizes are often sub-divided and described as being one of:
Crown folio (15" - 18")Medium folio (18" - 20")Royal folio (20" - 23")Elephant folio (23" - 25")Atlas folio (25" - 50")Double elephant folio (50" and up)However, folio also has a distinct…

More Info
Fon

Former Owner's Name. Indicates that the previous owner of the book has written their name in the book.

More Info
Fore Edge

The portion of a book that is opposite the spine. That part of a book which faces the wall when shelved in a traditional manner.

Depending on context, may refer to either the text edges, or the board edges. The fore edge of the text block may be decorated in some cases, such as gilding, stain, or deckle edge, or in the most opulent…

More Info
Foxed

Foxing is the age related browning, or brown-yellowish spots, that can occur to book paper over time. When this aging process happens to the paper in a book it is referred to as "foxed".

The term may come from the rust brown color of the paper aging process or from a chemical used to coat paper called ferric oxide. Foxing may also be caused…

More Info
Frayed Or Fraying

Indicates that the cloth, paper, or other outer shell which covers the books boards has been worn to a point that it has exposed the boards beneath, and leaving the outer fringes aroung the exposure jagged or torn.

More Info
Front Free Endpaper
See Ffep
Frontise
See Frontispiece
Frontispiece

A portrait or illustration on the page opposing the title page.

More Info

G

Galleys

A pre-publication state of a book. A galley proof edition has already undergone all basic edits for content and corrections, but is still prior to the final commercial production of a book. The term refers to the historic process of book printing using moveable block letters. The letter blocks would be laid into the galleys to that held the type, and the proof copy…

More Info
Gathering

A term used in bookbinding, where a gathering of sheets is folded at the middle, then bound into the binding together. The gathering can be seen from the top or bottom of the book.

Older books are gathered and sewn together while newer books are glued at the gathering called "perfect binding".

More Info
Gauffered Edges

A decorative pattern pressed into the edges of the text block, typically in combination with gilding.

More Info
Gilt

The decorative application of gold or gold coloring to a portion of a book on the spine, edges of the text block, or an inlay in the front cover of the boards, for example.

It is added by applying gold powder or a thin sheet of gold (Gold Leaf) to a cover, board or pages.

Gilting is not only for decorative reasons it also serves a…

More Info
Glassine Wrapper

A thin, partially transparent or translucent paper covering often used as the protective outer layer for a book dust jacket. The glassine wrapper is sometimes printed on, most the time just a clear covering.

More Info
Goatskin

Goatskin, leather made from goat, is durable and easy to dye. The original and finest examples of Morocco binding are goatskin.

Batiked goatskin binding

More Info
Good

Good describes the average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must be noted. (as defined by AB Bookman's Weekly).

The oft-repeated aphorism in the book collecting world is "good isn't good." However, this can be a little misleading: while generally not considered an acceptable condition for collectors (except in cases of very scare material), a good condition book…

More Info
Good+

A term used to denote a condition a slight grade better than Good.

More Info
Gravure

A type of intaglio printing using plates or cylinders to create a carved or sunken design.

More Info
Gutter

The inside margin of a book, connecting the pages to the joints near the binding.

More Info

H

Half Bound

Aka Half Binding, this indicates a book bound at the spine and corners with one material and the rest in another material.

More Info
Half Title

The blank front page which appears just prior to the title page, and typically contains only the title of the book, although, at times, the author's name and/or other information may appear. A half title can be decorative or just a plain page with typeface of the book title.

More Info
Headband

A strip of colored material attached to the text block at the top of the spine of a hard cover book. The same treatment applied to the bottom of the spine is called the tailband. Both may also be called endbands.

Traditionally these were made of mercerized cotton or silk sometimes wrapped around a leather core. The endbands were then sewn or stitched onto the…

More Info
Heel

The lower most portion of the spine when the book is standing vertically.

More Info
Hinge

The portion of the book closest to the spine that allows the book to be opened and closed.

More Info
Hyper-modern

A very recently published book where the market price has increased quickly due to book collectors speculating on the future value.

More Info

I

IAMA

International Antiquarian Mapsellers's Association

More Info
IBOOKNET

Independent Booksellers' Network (UK)

More Info
ILAB

International League of Antiquarian Booksellers

More Info
Incunabula

Incunabula (incunable or incunabulum) refers to a book printed before 1501 - a pamphlet, a book or document that was not handwritten, but produced with movable type before the start of the 16th century in Europe.

Two types of incunabula in printing are the typographic book, made with individual pieces of cast metal movable type on a printing press. The other type is the "Block…

More Info
Independent Bookseller

A proud, but humble professional practitioner of the venerable tradition of book purveying. The independent bookseller hand selects the finest books, and can provide knowledgeable recommendations for a wide variety of reader or collector.

More Info
Inscribed

When a book is described as being inscribed, it indicates that a short note written by the author or a previous owner has been written in the book (usually on the ffep or front pastedown) and is generally accompanied by a signature.

An inscribed book can be categorized in three ways.

A book that has an inscription that is neither to or from the author (or…

More Info
Instructor's Edition

An edition of a textbook produced for teachers or professors, sometimes containing supplementary material intended for assisting the professor in creating lesson plans.

More Info
International Edition

An international edition textbook has been printed or produced for distribution in markets outside of the United States, usually at a substantially lower cost. An international edition will typically share many of the same characteristics of the original edition, but vary in characteristics such as a difference ISBN, the inclusion of CD ROMs or other supplementary materials.

More information on international editions can be found…

More Info
International Standard Book Number
See ISBN
IOBA

Independent Online Booksellers' Association (IOBA)

More Info
ISBN

International Standard Book Number is a unique identifier for commercial publications.

While it was in sporadic use earlier, it was first standardized in 1970 as a 10-digit number (sometimes X can appear in the last position, which is an algorithmic checksum), it was later expanded to 13-digits in 2007 in order to make it more compatible with common point of sale systems for products other…

More Info

J

Jacket

Sometimes used as another term for dust jacket, a protective and often decorative wrapper, usually made of paper which wraps around the binding of a book

More Info

L

Laid-in

"Laid In" indicates that there is something which is included with, but not attached to the book, such as a sheet of paper.

The paper item can be a letter, picture, press release, map, or postcard which is loose inside the book. In rare book collecting, an autograph from the author can sometimes be laid-in, increasing the value of the book.

More Info
Later State

Used in book collecting to refer to a book from a later run of a first edition, generally distinguished by a change in some part of the binding or correction of the text which has been made during the first edition print run.

More Info
Leaves

Very generally, "leaves" refers to the pages of a book, as in the common phrase, "loose-leaf pages."

A leaf is a single sheet bound in a book, and a leaf has two pages. The first page that you read on a leaf is the recto page, and you turn it over to read the verso page.

Books are classified into sizes based on the height versus…

More Info
Letter Line

A letter line is a convention occasionally used by publishers to denote the printing of a particular book. It is generally located on the copyright page and consists of a sequence of letters, the lowest alphabetically of which generally indicates the number of the printing (for example, "A" indicates a 1st printing, "B" a second printing, "C" a third printing, etc.).

Below is a letter…

More Info
Library Binding

A type of reinforced binding designed for libraries, schools, or other applications where a book might experience high circulation. In some cases a library or institution will replace the original binding of a book or periodical with a strong, utilitarian binding. In other cases, a publisher will offer a library binding edition as an option directly from the publisher or distributor, especially as an option…

More Info
Limp Bound

A book bound in a flexible leather or cloth. The covering material is not affixed to boards, as are traditional hardcover books. Instead, limp bound books rely on the stiff paste-downs to retain their form. The resultant volume is flexible, similar to a paperback, but covered in leather or cloth. Limp bindings are sometimes also pared with yapp edges.

More Info
Little Magazine

Little magazines are periodicals that publish experimental and non-conformist work of relatively unknown writers and artists. They are often noncommercial in their outlook and occasionally irregular in their publication. Little magazines played a significant role for the writers and artists who shaped the avant-garde movements like Modernism and Post-modernism across the world in the twentieth century.

More Info
LOC

Library of Congress

More Info

M

Marbled Boards

A hardcover book with a decorative colored paper that imitates marble using a mottled, veined, or swirling pattern.

More Info
Marbled Paper

Decorative colored paper that imitates marble with a veined, mottled, or swirling pattern. Commonly used as the end papers or covering for the outside of a hardcover book.

More Info
Marginalia

Marginalia, in brief, are notes written in the margins, or beside the text of a book by a previous owner. This is very different from an inscribed book. An inscription is a short signed note written in the front of a book.

At first glance marginalia would seem to detract from a book's value, and this can be true. From a collector's perspective however,…

More Info
MARIAB

Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers

More Info
Mass Market
See Mass Market Paperback
Mass Market Paperback

Mass market paperback books, or MMPBs, are printed for large audiences cheaply. This means that they are smaller, usually 4 inches wide by 7 inches tall, and the text is in a smaller font. These smaller sized books are often called pocket books, and they do fit easily into a purse or a back pocket.

Despite the drawbacks in quality, lower prices mean that this…

More Info
Mildew

Mildew is an all-too-common affliction that plagues books and erodes their collectibility, value and preservation. A fungus caused by an abundance of moisture and lack of proper airflow, it can readily discolor and distort cloth and paper. Left unattended, mildew will progress and further damage a book. In addition, it can pose a health risk to those living around books that suffer from mildew.

While…

More Info
Miniature

A book that is less then 3 inches in width and length. Books created this small were usually adaptations of larger books for easier transport and whimsy. Miniatures can be as small as half an inch with elaborate details such as raised bands and gilt.

More Info
MM
See Mass Market Paperback
Morocco

Morocco is a style of leather book binding that is usually made with goatskin, as it is durable and easy to dye.

(see also Goatskin)

There are several types of bindings for Morocco goatskin:

Crushed Morocco: No noticeable grain, as it has been flattened by pressing, ironing, or rolling the goatskin.

Levant Morocco: Exquisite elegant style of Morocco where the large grain is left and the…

More Info
Movie Tie-in

An edition of a book which is produced in conjunction with a movie which is usually based on the book, often with a cover image taken from the movie.

More Info

N

Nd

No publisher's date given

More Info
Near Mint

A synonym for Near Fine.

More Info
New

A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects, "new" is not actually a description of condition as a new book may possibly display shelf wear from the shop or distributor supplying it or printing errors or defects from publishing that were not detected. The actual specifics of a…

More Info
NF

Near fine condition

More Info
NrFine
See NF
Number Line

A series of numbers appearing on the copyright page of a book, where the lowest number generally indicates the printing of that particular copy (e.g., a "1" would mean a first printing, and a "29" would indicate a 29th printing).

The following example is of a book that is in its 4th printing from Citadel Press. Note that despite the apparent declaration of "First…

More Info

O

O.w.

An abbreviation for otherwise

More Info
O/w
See O.w.
Octavo

Another of the terms referring to page or book size, octavo refers to a standard printer's sheet folded four times, producing eight leaves, or sixteen pages. Other standard sizes include folio which is folded only once, quarto which is folded twice for four leaves, and duodecimo, folded in a specific pattern for twelve leaves or twenty four pages.

Because the practice was so standard, a…

More Info
Offprint

A copy of an article or reference material that once appeared in a larger publication.

More Info
Offset

A technique of printing where the inked image or text is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket, and finally to surface of a page or paper, thus "off-setting" the print.

There were two main kinds of off-set printing - one used in 1875 in England for printing on tin, and in 1904 in the United States for use with printing on paper.…

More Info
OOP
See OP
OP

Out of print. A book which is no longer being printed by the publisher. Generally only used copies of an out of print book are in distribution.

More Info
Or. Cl.

Orginal cloth

More Info

P

Paper-over-boards

A hardcover book designed to be presented without a dust jacket. In modern hardcover publishing, the dust jacket covering the outside of a book was meant as the decorative portion of a book. In paper-over-boards, the covering materials on the front and back covers are typically decorated, eliminating the need for a separate dust jacket.

More Info
Parchment

Pages or book covering made from a prepared animal skin. Parchment describes any animal skin used for books, while vellum is a specific form of parchment made exclusively from calf skin. Parchment is one of the oldest methods of creating book pages, predated, of course, by stone or clay tablets, paprys, tree bark among others. Parchment dates as early as 2000BC, and lasted…

More Info
Paste-down

The paste-down is the portion of the endpaper that is glued to the inner boards of a hardback book. The paste-down forms an essential part of a book's structure, and along with the exterior binding of the book, comprises the hinge of the book's cover. The paste-down keeps the text pages of the book in place, and fixed to the cover.

In addition, the paper…

More Info
Pb

A paperback book. These books can be a mass-market paperback editions, or trade paperback editions.

More Info
PBFA

Provincial Booksellers' Fairs Association

More Info
Pbo

Paper back original. Indicates that the paperback release is the first publication of the book, without a hardcover edition preceding.

More Info
Pc

Partially chipped (dustjacket)

More Info
Pebbled

Pebbled cloth or leather describes the covering of a hardcover book with a decorative texture of repeated small raised bumps, somewhat resembling tiny pebbles one supposes. First introduced around 1860, pebbled decoration on the cloth or leather covering the boards of a book became a common method of adding a decorative texture and is still used in some cases by contemporary publishers, although more…

More Info
Pictorial Wraps

Pictorial wraps are color illustrated covers for paperback books. Preceding mass-market paperbacks, this format brought popular best-selling titles to a wider reading public. The practice of printing low cost books in eye catching colors goes back to the nineteenth century, and Victorian-era readers were long familiar with the practice. Many of these books were reprints, but much like paperbacks today, some works were printed…

More Info
Plate

Full page illustration or photograph. Plates are printed separately from the text of the book, and bound in at production. I.e., they are not sewn as parts of gatherings.

More Info
POD
See Print On Demand
Points Of Issue

Points are physical attributes that are specific to a printing or edition of a book, such as a typo on a specific page that was corrected in later printings of a book. An issue of a book is a specific change in the book during the printing of an edition. A first edition of a book may sometimes have two or more states, which…

More Info
Poor

A book with significant wear and faults. A poor condition book is still a reading copy with the full text still readable. Any missing pages must be specifically noted.

More Info
Price Clipped

When a book is described as price-clipped, it indicates that the portion of the dust jacket flap that has the publisher's suggested retail price has been cut off. This may have been done by the original retail bookseller to avoid customer confusion, or when a person gives the book as a gift, or even by the publisher when remaindering the book. Generally, this is…

More Info
Print On Demand

A book which is printed by special order. Often a paperback printing, reproduced by scanning or photocopying the text from a copy of a book, reproduced with permission.

More Info
Pub

Common abbreviation for 'published'

More Info
Publisher's Cloth

A hardcover book comprised of cloth over hard pasteboard boards. Beginning toward the middle of the 19th Century, publishers began moving toward a tradition where the book had a finished binding as it was offered directly from the publisher. Prior to this change, the binding that a book was first produced with was considered to be a temporary covering awaiting a book binder to finalize with…

More Info
Publisher's Slip

A piece of paper from the publisher included in an advance review copy or an uncorrected proof copy of a book. A publisher's slip usually provides information such as the anticipated publication date, the number of pages, and possibly contains advance marketing information such as publicity tours, or books signings.

More Info
Pulp Magazines

Magazines published primarily in the 20th Century named for the cheaply produced wood pulp paper on which they were printed. The quality of the materials used in production was in keeping with the stories printed in the magazines. Cheap and accessible, but not intended to last very long. These magazines became popular diversions for readers, offering hard working writers a steady income, and…

More Info

Q

Quality Paperback

Quality paperback is simply another term for a trade paperback, describing a paperback generally the approximate size of a hardcover book.

More Info
Quarto

The term quarto is used to describe a page or book size. A printed sheet is made with four pages of text on each side, and the page is folded twice, and cut to fit inside the binding. 4 leaves, or 8 pages of text are created this way. It is one of several standard sizes of books, including folio, octavo, and duodecimo.

Traditionally,…

More Info

R

Raised Band(s)

Raised bands refer to the ridges that protrude slightly from the spine on leather bound books. The bands are created in the binding process, and show the structure of cord-bound books. On modern books bound by machines, these bands are sometimes introduced artificially to heighten the air of dignity on a newer edition.

Interestingly, in the past book binders sometimes tried to eliminate the bands…

More Info
Re-backed

Describes a book that has had the material covering the spine replaced or joints mended.

More Info
Reading Copy

Indicates a book that is perfectly serviceable for reading. It may have a defect or damage.

As such, reading copy is not a collectible book, except perhaps on occasion as a placeholder in a completist's collection until a desirable copy can be acquired. A reading copy should not be confused with an advance review copy or advance reader's copy, both of which can have appeal…

More Info
Rear Free Endpaper

The portion of the endpaper which is left loose after binding. The first loose page upon opening a book from the rear. It may be plain or decorative.

More Info
Rebacked

Having had the material covering the spine replaced. The practice of rebacking is relatively common as the spine of a book often is exposed to the greatest damage and ware, both due to the fact that the spine is typically the portion of the book most exposed to damage from sunlight and dust while on a bookshelf, and as a natural effect of the stresses…

More Info
Rebound

A book in which the pages have been bound into a covering replacing the original covering issued by the publisher.

More Info
Recto

The page on the right side of a book, with the term Verso used to describe the page on the left side.

More Info
Remainder

Book(s) which are sold at a very deep discount to alleviate publisher overstock. Often, though not always, they have a remainder mark.

More Info
Remainder Mark

Usually an ink marking of some sort which indicates that the book was designated a remainder. In most cases, it can be found on the edges of the text block in the form of a marker stripe or a stamp of some sort.

Remainder marks considerably lower the overall collectibility of a title, although, in some cases, they are acceptable to a collector.

More Info
Reprint

Any printing of a book which follows the original edition. By definition, a reprint is not a first edition.

More Info
Review Material

Any number of a variety of possible promotional and publicity information included with copies of a book which has been distributed for reviewers and members of the book trade.

More Info
Rfep
See Rear Free Endpaper
RMABA

Rocky Mountain Antiquarian Booksellers Association

More Info
Rolled

Rolled spine or spine rolled. Damage to a book created by pressure to the spine making it fold or crease in the cover. Damage can be from storing the book incorrectly, folding the book cover back, or during the books fabrication.

More Info
Rubbing

Abrasion or wear to the surface. Usually used in reference to a book's boards or dust-jacket.

More Info

S

Sans Dw Or Sans Dj

Lacking the dustjacket.

More Info
Second State

Used in book collecting to refer to a first edition, but after some change has been made in the printing, such as a correction, or a change in binding color.

More Info
Shaken

A hardcover in which the text block is loose, but still attached to the binding.

More Info
Shelf Wear

Shelf wear (shelfwear) describes damage caused over time to a book by placing and removing a book from a shelf. This damage is caused by the book rubbing against the shelf, causing the edges and cover to become worn down or even torn. The book can also receive damage from neighboring books rubbing against the front and back covers causing warping and other damage.…

More Info
Shelfwear

Minor wear resulting from a book being place on, and taken from a bookshelf, especially along the bottom edge.

More Info
Sl.

Slight

More Info
Slip Case

A protective sleeve, often made of decorative cardboard or leather which houses a book. It is open on one end, so as to allow the book to "slip" in.

More Info
Soiled

Generally refers to minor discoloration or staining.

More Info
Spine

The outer portion of a book which covers the actual binding. The spine usually faces outward when a book is placed on a shelf. Also known as the back.

More Info
Spine Label

The paper or leather descriptive tag attached to the spine of the book, most commonly providing the title and author of the work. With the tradition of fine bindings, the spine label was added after the book was bound so it was not integral to the covering of the book as is typical with modern publishing practices. The title on the spine label may not…

More Info
Spine Strip
See Spinestrip
Spinestrip

The material covering the spine, or the rear portion of the outside of a book.

More Info
Sunned

Damage done to a book cover or dust jacket caused by exposure to direct sunlight. Very strong fluorescent light can cause slight sunning to a book.

Sunning can fade out the design on the cover and it can also sometimes warp or melt the dust jacket.

More Info

T

Tail

The heel of the spine.

More Info
Tailband

A strip of colored material attached to the text block at the bottom of the spine of a hard cover book. See also headband and endband.

More Info
TBA

Texas Booksellers Association

More Info
TEG
See Top Edge Gilt
Text Block

Most simply the inside pages of a book. More precisely, the block of paper formed by the cut and stacked pages of a book. Collectively, the bound pages of a book as distinct from its covers, boards, end papers, dust jacket or other accoutrements.

More Info
Tight

Used to mean that the binding of a book has not been overly loosened by frequent use.

More Info
Tipped In

Tipped In is used to describe something which has been glued into a book.

Tipped-in items can include photos, book plates, author signatures, postcards etc. A corrected or loose page can sometimes be tipped-in, which can change the value of the book.

More Info
Title Page

A page at the front of a book which may contain the title of the book, any subtitles, the authors, contributors, editors, the publisher or publishing house name, the printer, and in some books the date and time the title was printed, colophon, and devices. It is a relatively modern innovation, as early books such as incunabula did not contain a title page.

The title…

More Info
TOC

Table of contents

More Info
Top Edge Gilt

Top edge gilt refers to the practice of applying gold or a gold-like finish to the top of the text block (the edges the pages that are visible when looking directly down at the top of a closed book). This may be done using actual gold leaf, an alloy with other metals, a gold dust, or a synthetic material made to appear like gold…

More Info
Tp
See Title Page
TPB
See Trade Paperback
Trade Paperback

Used to indicate any paperback book that is larger than a mass-market paperback and is often more similar in size to a hardcover edition.

The term "Trade Paperback" derives from the standard practice within the publishing trade of issuing a version of a hardback book in a less expensive form. Trade paperbacks are issued in the same size and format as a hardcover edition of…

More Info
Tray Case

A protective box designed to store books or documents consisting of a closed sided box (tray) with a hinged cover. See also clamshell

More Info

U

Unbound

A book or pamphlet which does not have a covering binding, sometimes by original design, sometimes used to describe a book in which the cover has become removed.

More Info
Uncorrected Proof

An uncorrected proof is a printed copy of a book that needs to be reviewed for errors and corrections. They are released prior to official publication, and generally are very plainly bound, and distributed only for final editing or promotion. This kind of edition is similar to an advance review copy, though technically those copies are supposed to be finished. Often the terms…

More Info
Uncut Pages

'Uncut pages', or simply 'uncut', traditionally refers to a book which has not been trimmed by rebinding. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century publishers often sold books with a paper or cloth binding intended to be temporary. The purchaser of the book would then make arrangements with a binder to have the book cut and suitably bound, typically in leather. Each time a book is…

More Info
Uniform Edition

A collection or series of individual volumes of an author's work bound to match with a uniform size and style. Especially common in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries for successful authors who had attracted a large readership over along period of time. Publisher's advertisements in the rear pages of a book may have advertised other titles from that same author 'uniform with…

More Info
Unopened

A state in which all or some of the pages of a book have not been separated from the adjacent pages, caused by a traditional method for printing and binding books in which a large sheet of paper was printed with several pages, folded, and bound into the book. Sometimes inappropriately called uncut.

More Info

V

Vellum

Vellum is a sheet of specialty prepared skin of lamb, calf, or goat kid used for binding a book or for printing and writing.

Vellum is a translucent material produced from the skin of a young animal. The skin is removed, cleaned with chemicals, drawn over a frame to dry, and then cleaned up to create a paper like surface. Print ink and colors tend…

More Info
Verso

The page bound on the left side of a book, opposite to the recto page.

More Info
Very Good

Very Good condition can describe a used book that does show some small signs of wear - but no tears - on either binding or paper. Should not have markings or highlighting, except names inside the front cover. Any defects must be noted. (definition based on AB Bookman's Weekly)

A book in very good condition is often cited as the minimum condition requirement for most collectors.…

More Info
Vignette

A decorative design or illustration placed at the beginning or end of a book. They can also be located at the beginning or end chapters in a book. It may also specifically refer to an illustration without a border that fades into the background.

In the middle ages, "vignettes" referred to an engraved design that was placed over a printed letter press page.

More Info

W

Worldcat

Worldcat is a collaborative effort produced by OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) and supported and used by 72,000 libraries in countries around the world. It's principal aim is to create a union catalog wherein a user can search and discover books and other holdings from among any of the member libraries.

With over 300 million holdings, the breadth of Worldcat is astounding and usually contains…

More Info
Wrappers
See Wraps
Wraps

The paper covering on the outside of a paperback. Also see the entry for pictorial wraps, color illustrated coverings for paperbacks.

More Info

X

X-library
See Ex-library

Y

Yapp Binding

A limp bound book where fore edges of the front and rear covers extend beyond the front and back of the book to fold over the of the textblock. Named for the 19th Century British book binder William Yapp who introduced the technique for pocket sized Bibles. This form of binding is still quite common for contemporary Bibles and has been adopted for some…

More Info