What follows is a glossary of terms and abbreviations that are likely to be encountered in our catalogues, as well as in secondhand and rare book catalogues in general. Terms describing condition are based on antiquarian book trade standards as set forth in the AB Bookman's Weekly. They are the most widely accepted trade definitions of condition and we adhere strictly to these definitions when describing the condition of our books. We strive to describe all our books as accurately as possible, noting all defects and blemishes. In compiling this glossary we referred to "Modern Book Collecting" by Robert A. Wilson, Knopf, 1980 and "ABC for Book Collectors" by John Carter, Oak Knoll, 1992. Both books are excellent guides to book collecting and highly recommended.
- Ads or adv.
- All edges gilt.
- As New
- As New is used to refers to a book only when the book is in the same immaculate condition in which it was published. There can be no defects, no missing pages, no library stamps, etc., and the dust jacket (if it was issued with one) must be perfect, without any tears. (AB Bookman.) Books that are As New are crisp, tight and fresh. The term As New is preferred over the alternative term "mint" which is a corruption that has crept in from other fields of collecting.
- Association Copy
- Any book or publication that belonged to the author at one time. The book must show some evidence of this either in the form of a signed book plate or an inscription by the author. Less frequently used to indicate a book that came from the library of a notable person but that was not written by him or her.
- Binding Copy
- Binding copy describes a book in which the pages or leaves are perfect but the binding is very bad, loose, off, or nonexistent. (AB Bookman.)
- Boards or Bds.
- The stiff material used to manufacture hard cover books. Early published books (c. 1600) often used actual wooden boards for binding. Modern books commonly use cardboard covered in paper or cloth.
- A label placed in a book to indicate ownership. Most book-plates are decorative, often with the intent of portraying some insight into personality of the book's owner. An author's book-plate can add value to a book by making it an association copy though most often the presence of a book-plate reduces a book's value.
- A statement found at the end of a book. A colophon may give information about the typography and printing methods used in the book or may serve as a statement of printing limitation.
- Duodecimo or 12mo
- Small book, roughly the size of a mass market paperback. Term may also be used to describe a book in which the pages are printed "12-up" and the sheet folded in three and then twice (or various similar combinations).
- Dust Jacket, Dustwrapper, or dj
- The dust jacket is a decorative piece of paper wrapped around modern books to protect their cloth binding. The absence of a dust jacket on a book that was originally issued with one lowers its value. This decline in value varies greatly on the basis of the subject matter of the book. Modern firsts are devastated by the loss of a dustjacket while art books may suffer only a slight decline. The dust jacket is also referred to as the "wrapper."
- Edition or Ed.
- Refers to all the copies of a book printed from the one setting of type. There may be more than one printing run of an edition.
- End Paper, Endsheet, Endp., or e.p.
- The piece of paper that, when pasted to the boards, attaches the book to its binding. One side is stuck to the board (the pastedown) and the other is free (the free endpaper). The right left position of pastedown and free end papers are reversed front and back.
- Ex-Library or Ex-libris
- Books that were once part of a library collection. They usually show heavy wear, library stamps, card pockets glued into the front of the book. Generally, ex library copies have little value except as reading copies.
- 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. (AB Bookman.)
- See Folio or Leaves.
- Approaches the condition of "As New", but without being crisp. For the use of the term Fine there must be no defects, etc., and if the jacket has a small tear, or other defect, or looks worn, this should be noted. (AB Bookman.) Often, in older books this standard is relaxed a little and the condition may be judged relative to the average or usual condition of copies encountered; a fine copy is therefore considerably above average.
- First Edition
- The first published appearance of a book. There are many disagreements about the use of the term "first edition" in the antiquarian trade. For a good explanation of the various accepted definitions see John Carter's "ABC for Book Collectors" Oak Knoll, 1992.
- First Trade Edition
- A term used to distinguish between the first (usually limited) appearance of a book from the first commercial or generally released version.
- Folio or Leaves
- Refers to a book in which pages are unnumbered or the pages are printed on one side of the leaves only (usually on the rectos) and the sheet folded once.
- Orange brown spotting caused by a reaction of the decay in the paper with normal moisture. A defect of note in plates especially.
- Frontispiece or Frontis
- A plate or illustration at the front of the book, usually facing the title page. Frontispieces are often of much higher quality than the rest of the illustrations in a book. The absence of a frontispiece sometimes indicates a later printing of the book.
- Full binding
- A book which is covered entirely in the same material.
- Good describes the average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must be noted. (AB Bookman.)
- A page bearing a short title only and preceding the full title page.
- Half or Three-Quarters Binding
- A book in which the spine and corners (or spine and fore-edge) is covered in the specified material, usually cloth, calf, morocco (i.e. goatskin - one of the best book leathers).
- Illust(s) or ills.
- Distinguished from "signed" in that the author has personalized the inscription rather than merely signing his name. Inscribed copies are more valuable than signed ones when the inscription is made out to a notable person or when, for example, the writer's inscription includes original work such as a poem or drawing.
- Limited Edition
- A book whose publication is restricted in number. Limited editions are typically signed and numbered by the author and have a colophon indicating the total number of books printed. Limited editions whose print runs are short (1,000 or less) are considered more desirable and lower numbered volumes of a limited run are generally more desirable than their higher numbered volumes.
- A book smaller than 16mo (32mo, 64mo, etc.) Something between a toy and a showpiece. A phenomenon of the 19th Century and before. A format at that time popular for religious and reference works. Their recent resurgence is associated generally with art and poetry.
- No place of publication indicated.
- No publication date indicated.
- Octavo or 8vo
- A book the size of the average hard cover novel, roughly 9" x 6". Also describes book in which pages are printed "eight-up" and the sheet folded twice. This is the most common format for hardbound books.
- Out-of-Print or Op.
- Books which are no longer printed and which are no longer available from the publisher.
- Original, as issued.
- A page of illustration(s) usually printed on a different paper or by a different printing method from the remainder of the book.
- Poor describes a book that is sufficiently worn that its only merit is as a Reading Copy because it does have the complete text, which must be legible. Any missing maps or plates should still be noted. This copy may be soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc. (AB Bookman).
- Printing or Impression
- Refers to all copies of a book printed in one production run.
- Quarter Binding
- Similar to half binding but only the spine is covered in the specified material. The remaining board or cover is usually of a lesser material such as cloth or paper.
- Quarto or 4to
- An oversized book, beyond 8vo but nearing the size of a folio. Large but still comfortable in the hands. Also refers to a book in which pages are printed "four-up" and the sheet folded twice.
- Reader's Copy
- A book in poor condition. It may be soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted, have loose joints, hinges, pages, but must have a complete, legible text.
- a right hand page only.
- A remainder is a book that is sold in bulk by a publisher once its sales fallen off. Publishers often mark remaindered books by stamping or slashing an edge with a marker. First editions with remainder marks are collectable but of lesser value. Remainders may also be referred to as publisher over runs.
- Wrappers that imitate a dust wrapper with their vestigial flaps.
- Sextodecimo or 16mo
- A small book but still larger than a miniature book. About half to three- quarters the size of a 12mo. Shambala Books is currently publishing a widely distributed series of books in this size. Also refers to a book in which the pages are printed "16-up" and the sheet folded four times.
- Stapled Wraps
- Wrappers without a spine and bound with staples rather than glue.
- Stiff Wraps
- Wrappers of above average thickness.
- Title page
- The page bearing the title of the book, the author, usually the publisher and date.
- Top Edge Gilt or t.e.g
- The top edges of a book's pages have a thin layer of gold leaf. Gilding was originally introduced by publishers to inhibit dust from settling on a book's pages. For decorative purposes some books have been gilded on all the edges. This is referred to by the abbreviation a.e.g.
- A left hand page, the back side of the leaf.
- Very Good
- Very Good can describe a used book that does show some small signs of wear -- but no tears -- on either binding or paper. Any defects must be noted. (AB Bookman.) Above average condition.
- The outer covering of a paperback book, often sewn or stapled in sections. This term should be distinguished from "wrapper" which refers to the dust jacket of a hardcover book.