This glossary of terms is compiled by consulting the glossaries
of terms at several ADDALL's affiliate sites. It is for
your reference only. Please use it at your discretion.
Please refer to each site's specific description for a
more accurate understanding when viewing individual books.
The individual links are listed at the bottom of this
page. (September, 2002)
booksellers will describe the condition of a book in some
detail highlighting, where necessary, any marks or defects.
However a few common condition terms may be used, particularly
for books of lower value:
- Mint (M):
As new. Indistinguishable from a new copy bought direct
from a publisher.
- Very Fine
(VF): As new, with crisp pages and tight binding.
Absolutely no imperfections visible under close examination.
- Near Fine
(NF): Markings are minimal, though a minor flaw may
be present. Little usage and no defects present.
- Very Good
(VG): Shows some signs of wear. Not unattractive but
no longer fresh.
- Good (G):
All pages are present, but damage is visible.
Books with cocked spines, loose bindings and torn
dust jackets will fall into this category.
- Fair (FR):
Well-worn but still contains all text pages (endpapers
and title page may be missing.)Markings may be visible
but will not interfere with reading.
- Poor (P):
Reading copies and binding copies fall into this category.
All text is legible but binding may have defects and
pages may be soiled.
general, sellers should apply these condition terms consistently
for all ages of books. However, a somewhat greater degree
of external marking or perhaps sun-fading is generally
considered acceptable in an older book than in, say, a
sought-after modern first edition.
Sizes (English & Metric)
sizes are approximate.
- 4to, Qto.
9" x 12" or 22.9cm x 30.5cm
- 8vo, Oct.
6" x 9" or 15.2cm x 22.9cm
- 12mo 5"
x 7 .5" or 12.7cm x 19.1cm
- 16mo 4.25"
x 6.75" or 10.8cm x 17.2cm
- 24mo 3.5"
x 6" or 8.9cm x 15.2cm
- 32mo 3.25"
x 5" or 8.3cm x 12.7cm
- 64mo 2"
x 3" or 5.1cm x 7.6cm
folio 16" x 25" or 40.6cm x 63.5cm
folio 14" x 25" or 35.6cm x 63.5cm
(Fo., Fol.) 12" x 15" or 30.5cm x 38.1cm
Used Abbreviations, with their Commonly Accepted Definitions
advts., adverts - advertisements.
- all edges gilt. All three outer edges of the pages of
the book have been trimmed smooth and coated with gold
A.L.s - autograph letter, signed.
ARC - advanced reading copy, typically sent out by a publisher
to solicit reviews or to promote sales of a book prior
to its publication. ARC's are sometimes but not always
in the form of bound proofs; a mesage from the publisher
may be laid in or tipped in.
copy -a copy with extraordinary associations, usually
because it demonstrably belonged to a notable person,
or has a presentation inscription by its author.
bce - book club edition. Edition of a book printed especially
for a book club, and usually less valuable.
- binding. Methods of binding include stapling, sewing
or gluing individual pages to the outer cover. The process
of binding keeps the pages of a book in order and prevents
damage to them.
boards. Usually the hard portion of a book's binding,
usually covered, as in "marbled bds."
bplate bookplate. An emblem or illustration
used to indicate ownership, usually found pasted to the
inside of the front cover of a book.
BMC - British Museum or British Museum Catalog.
- dented (usually on edge of boards).
- Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature.
chp chipped. Small tears or excisions along the
edge of pages or dustjacket.
- cloth (covering the boards of a book's binding).
- Refers to the condition of a book where the spine has
become twisted and is no longer straight.
- Refers to the condition of a book where the pages or
boards have become puckered, wrinkled, or started to curl
forward. In paper, this condition is caused by heat or
humidity; if the book cover is damaged this could be caused
by too much adhesive being used.
decor decorated, decoration. Often used to refer
to a binding, as in dec. cl.
DJ, DW - dust jacket or dust wrapper. A removable, paper
wrapper that prevents the book from becoming dirty, and
protects the binding.
- (British) Dictionary of National Biography.
edn - edition. All copies of a book that are printed from
one setting of type or from the same plates. Copies do
not have to be printed on one date; as long as they are
printed from the same plates, they will all be included
in that edition.
- endpapers. Sheets of plain or white decorated paper
that are inserted at the front and end of a book. One
half of each sheet of paper is pasted down to the binding
giving an over all finished effect.
ex-lib, x-lib - book from a library, usually with library
FF, ff, fol - Folio(s); leaves of a book or else a size
of a book.
ffep, f.e.p. - front free endpaper (ie, the blank that
is not pasted down onto the boards).
- foxing - brownish spotting of paper, usually because
of acid content. Can be quite disfiguring.
frontis. - frontispiece (initial illustration, typically
facing title page).
g.e., gilt - indicates the pages of a book have been trimmed
and the outside edges covered in gilt, or gold. See aeg.
- center crease of an opened book: bread crumbs have a
way of gathering here.
- page before title page, usually only with the book's
title printed on it.
hc hardbound, hardcover. A book with stiff boards
that is bound and covered in either cloth, paper, or leather.
band headband. A functional or ornamental band,
made of colored silk or cotton, which is fastened at the
top (and sometimes at the bottom) of the spine of a book.
Originally it was sewn into the boards or leaves of the
book to link the sections together but in today's binding
process, it is often glued-on for decoration. The headbands
of the 12th and early 13th centuries were combined with
a leather tab. The conventional cloth or silk headband
was introduced in the early 16th century and decorative
glued-on headbands were introduced in the early 19th century.
Also known as heads.
half, as in half sheets.
hinge. Where the interior spine and the spine of
the book meet.
- ("Illuminated") usually as in illuminated
manuscript, referring to polychrome illustrations.
- A book printed, with moveable type, during the earliest
period of printing. Commonly refers to books published
before the year 1501.
inscr, inscrbd - inscribed. A book in which a written
inscription has been made by the author, to a specified
in - (sometimes: loosely laid in) a letter or other sheet(s)
inserted but not glued into a book.
ll leaf. A single sheet of paper within a book.
One page is equal to one side of a leaf.
litho lithograph. A lithograophic print. A process
of engraving on a stone or metal surface, usually with
- Library of Congress.
L.p. large paper, large-paper edition.
limited ed. - an edition limited to a specified number
mss - manuscript, manuscripts.
N.d. - no date given for publication.
N.p. - no place, publisher or printer.
Oxford English Dictionary
oop out of print. A publication that is no longer
available through the publisher.
- original (as in original cloth binding).
prc clpd - price clipped. Usually a small triangle cut
from the front inside corner of a dust jacket to remove
the indication of a book's price. Dust jackets with clipped
prices are generally considered inferior to ones that
p, pp page(s).
pls plate(s). A full-page book illustration that
is separate from the text pages. Technically, illustrations
that are printed on text pages are called cuts. However,
the term "plate" is often used to describe both
types of book illustrations.
publisher or published.
rebacked. The book has been repaired with a new
spine and the hinges have been fixed.
rm - remainder. A copy sold by a publisher after withdrawing
the book from publication. Often slightly disfigured,
either with a rubber stamp or with a black line crudely
drawn across one of the edges.
- indicates that the outer layer of the material used
on the binding has been rubbed off.
- soft cover (paperback or similar).
- used of a book that is no longer firm in its covers
(typically, publisher's cloth) because of deteriorating
inner hinges (should not be used of a book that is in
but detached from its covers).
slipcase. Container (made of board covered in paper,
cloth or leather, or a combination of these) into which
a book may be "slipped" for its protection.
spine. The bound outer edge of a book.
T.E.G. - top edge gilt.
- The book has been bound too tightly, meaning that, once
opened, the pages do not lie flat.
typed letter signed.
in - a sheet or sheets which were not part of the original
bound book, but are now. Pages are tipped in by dabbing
minute amounts of glue onto the edge which is to be inserted
into the book.
edition - usually, "first trade edition" (as
distinct from limited edition).
various dates, various years.
with all faults. Term used by auctioneers and booksellers
to describe books that could be imperfect
- Refers to the condition of a book where small tracks
or holes, made by burrowing insects, are visible to the
- as in soft covers. Also known as paperback or wraps,
this term refers to a book with a printed or plain paper
- Where a book is bound with the edges of the paper extending
beyond all three edges of the book itself.
on the specific glossary of terms used by a given seller,
please see the list below of our Used Bookstores, with
a link to each stores glossary of terms where one
(Book Terms Illustrated)
(Rare Book Condition Standards )
to AddALL Used and Rare Book Search