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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


Terms starting with NUMBERS

1st edition, thus

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 hard cover.

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1st thus

See 1st edition, thus

4to

See quarto

8vo

See octavo

Terms starting with 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.

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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)


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ABAA

Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America

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ABDASC

Antiquarian Book Dealers Association of South Carolina


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acceptable

A non-traditional book condition description that generally refers to a book in Good or Very Good condition, although no standard exists for this term, and the word can be used to describe a wide variety of actual book conditions.

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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.


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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 voluntary...

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age toned

See age tanned

ALA

American Library Association

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ANZAAB

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


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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 also...

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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.

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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 an inscribed...

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Terms starting with 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 Bibliographical 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 reference for more than...

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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.

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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.

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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 books...

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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...

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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 synopsis and promotional pitch...

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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...

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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,...

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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...

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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.

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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...

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Brendan Sherar

The CEO of Biblio.com. A harmless drudge.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Bumps

See bumping

Terms starting with 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...

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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.

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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...

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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.



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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...

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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.


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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...

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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.

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Terms starting with 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...

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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...

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dedication copy

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


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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.


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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...

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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.


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DJ

See dust jacket

doctored

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

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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 or...

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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...

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dustwrapper

See dust jacket

Terms starting with 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.




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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).

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.




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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...

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Terms starting with 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. 


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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)

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ffep

A common abbreviation for Front Free EndPaper. 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 of the ffep is generally...

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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...

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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. 


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First Edition

In 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 releases...

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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.

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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.


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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. The term is generally attributed to Stephen King who appears to have coined it in 2000.

Typically a book that is signed without an accompanying inscription is a more collectible copy than an inscribed book (association copies notwithstanding).

While commonly used to describe...

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fly-leaf

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


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foi

former owner's intials.

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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 meaning when...

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fon

former owner's name. Indicates that the previous owner of the book has written their name in the book.

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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...

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foxed

See also: foxing

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...

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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.

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front free endpaper

See ffep

frontise

See frontispiece

frontispiece

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

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Terms starting with 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...

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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".


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Gauffered Edges

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

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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...

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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.




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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


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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 usually suffices...

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good+

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

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gravure

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




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gutter

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


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Terms starting with 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. 


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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.


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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...

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heel

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

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hinge

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


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hyper-modern

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

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Terms starting with I

IAMA

International Antiquarian Mapsellers's Association


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IBOOKNET

Independent Booksellers' Network (UK)


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ILAB

International League of Antiquarian Booksellers


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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...

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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.

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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 a person of historical...

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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.

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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 in our...

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International Standard Book Number

See ISBN

IOBA

Independent Online Booksellers' Association (IOBA)


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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...

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Terms starting with 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

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Terms starting with 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.



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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.

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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.

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LOC

Library of Congress

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Terms starting with M

Marbled boards

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





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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.



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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,...

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MARIAB

Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers


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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...

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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 the damage caused by...

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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.



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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 goatskin...

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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.

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Terms starting with N

nd

no publisher's date given

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near mint

a synonym for Near Fine.

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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...

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NF

Near fine condition

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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...

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Terms starting with O

o.w.

An abbreviation for otherwise

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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 contemporary standard sized...

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offprint

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

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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.


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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.

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or. cl.

orginal cloth

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Terms starting with 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.

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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 as...

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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...

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pb

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

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PBFA

Provincial Booksellers' Fairs Association


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pbo

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

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pc

Partially chipped (dustjacket)

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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 commonly...

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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...

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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 the top corner of...

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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.

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pub

Common abbreviation for 'published'

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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...

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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.

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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...

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Terms starting with Q

quality paperback

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

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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, books...

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Terms starting with 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 using a technique called...

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re-backed

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

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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 to book...

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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.

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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...

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rebound

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

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recto

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

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remainder

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

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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.

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reprint

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

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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.

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RMABA

Rocky Mountain Antiquarian Booksellers Association


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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.

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rubbing

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

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Terms starting with S

sans dw or sans dj

Lacking the dustjacket.

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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.

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shaken

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

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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....

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shelfwear

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

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sl.

slight

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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.

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soiled

Generally refers to minor discoloration or staining.

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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.

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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...

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spine strip

See spinestrip

spinestrip

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

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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.

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Terms starting with T

tail

The heel of the spine.

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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.

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TBA

Texas Booksellers Association


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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.

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tight

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

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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.


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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...

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TOC

table of contents

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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 leaf.

This...

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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...

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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

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Terms starting with 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.

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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 "proof copy"...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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Terms starting with 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...

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verso

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

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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....

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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.




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Terms starting with 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...

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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.

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Terms starting with X

x-library

See Ex-library

Terms starting with 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...

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