Have you found a word you thought you'd never find? Search the Glossary of Book Terms to unravel the
puzzling language you may have found in the description of your book. The first half of the glossary contains terms A-Z and is followed
by two book anatomy illustrations, descriptions of the various book sizes, a guide to condition ratings, and the most
common abbreviations used in the world of books. There are photo examples of the terms but
please keep in mind that book characteristics and conditions vary.
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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
advance reading copy - A preview or early review copy of a book that is usually
sent to book buyers, reviewers, booksellers, book clubs, and/or publisher sales representatives before the book is published. It could be
in a different format, uncorrected, not bound, and/or have a different cover design than the publication issue. The typical publishing
process is proof, advance reading copy, and publication. See Example
all edges gilt (aeg) - All three outer edges of the
pages of the book have been trimmed smooth and coated with gold leaf. See Example
Americana - A classification of books and other objects having to do with
American culture, history, or folklore. Considered different from a book written by an American writer, though an American writer can
write an Americana book.
annuals - Books that are published yearly.
armorial binding - A leather binding stamped with a coat-of-arms.
artificial leather - See imitation leather.
as issued - The book is in the original physical state that it was published in and has
all its original components including its binding, text block, illustrations, etc.
as new - Refers to the condition of a book; it is immaculate and without flaws. See
association copy - A book that was either owned by its author, owned by
someone connected to the author, or owned by someone connected to the contents of the book. It can also refer to a book that was
annotated by the author. Proof of the association is usually in the form of some written notes. See
backstrip - The covering of the book spine that has the title and author of
the book printed on it. It is usually made of cloth, leather, or paper, and is sometimes decorated. See also spine.
backstrip label - See label.
bastard title - See half-title.
beveled boards - See beveled edges.
beveled edges - A binding technique in which the edges
of the boards of the book have been cut to a slanted angle. Also known as beveled boards. See Example
binding - The process that secures the pages or sections of a publication to keep
them in order and to protect them. Binding may be stapled or sewn, sewn and enclosed in wrappers, or by gluing
the pages to the outer cover, but most often refers to a hardcover binding. The art of bookbinding has its own
fascinating history; knowing the basic chronology of bookbinding history can be an aid in dating undated material and help in the
detection of fraudulent material. See also perfect bound.
binding copy - A book that is worth re-binding; the book covers are in
serious disrepair, but the text is fine.
blank leaves - See blanks.
blanks - Refers to a blank page that is left intentionally in the book. It can be
located at beginning of the book, at the end of a clearly marked division, and/or at the end of book. Also known as blank leaves
or printer's blanks.
blind stamp - A colorless impression that is embossed on paper or on a cloth or
leather binding. When it is found on a page, it typically signifies the owner's name or the words "Review Copy." When it is found on the
binding, it is typically for decorative purposes. Also known as blind.See Example
board book - A durable book format that is used for children's books, in which all
pages are printed on thick cardboard.See Example
boards (bds) - The front and back covers of a hardbound
book. The term originates from when book covers were made from wood, but they are now typically made a stiff cardboard or paperboard.
See book anatomy section for illustration.
bonded leather - A material consisting of two layers of leather and a lining attached to each other by a chemical
process or adhesive.
book block - See text block.
book club edition (bc, bce) - A book that was printed specially for a book club (e.g. "Book of the Month Club") that
usually utilizes a lesser quality paper and binding materials. These editions are usually available by book club
subscription only and are generally of little interest to collectors due to their low monetary value. See
book jacket - See dust jacket.
bookplate - A simple or elaborately designed label used to indicate ownership,
which is usually found pasted to the inside of the front cover of a book. Bookplates were used as early as 1516, but did not become
popular in England, France, and Germany until the 18th century. In America, they were not used before 1800 but have been fairly common
since about 1840. See Example
bright copy - Refers to the condition of a book; a surprisingly bright or fresh copy
of an older book. It is as new and clean as the day it was published.
broadside - A sheet of paper, usually of a larger size, that is printed on one
side only. Examples include songs, poems, announcements of sales, and political declarations. See
buckram - An inexpensive stiff cotton fabric that is used to bind books. It is often used in library editions because of its strength.
bumped - Refers to the condition of a book; it refers to worn, bent, or rounded
corners of the boards of a book.See Example
calf - Leather made from a calf hide or cattle hide, it is the most common type of
leather used for bookbinding. It may be dyed nearly any color.
cancel - A publisher-authorized content correction that is made after a book has
been printed and bound. Cancels can be as small as a scrap of paper to correct type, or as large as a page or a signature to correct a section. The corrected page or illustration is glued onto the page or inserted into an already
bound book. They are less common today because of advanced computerized printing techniques, but were very common in the 17th and 18th
centuries due to numerous printer errors. Also known as tipped-in card covers - See paperback.
chapbook - A small book or pamphlet, often a collection of poetry or prose.
Previous to the mid-19th century, the term was used to describe small books of popular, sensational, juvenile, moral, or educational
content sold by street merchants, known as "chapmen."
chipped - Refers to the condition of a book; a mark or flaw caused by scuffing,
gouging, or breaking off of a small piece of the dust jacket, pages, or backstrip.
chromolithography - A printing process that is done by
printing in colors from a series of lithographic stones or plates. Noted for its fresh, bright colors, this process was popular during
mid and late 19th century bookmaking.
cloth - A book that is bound and covered in cloth. See also hardcover.
cocked - Refers to the condition of a book; the spine is no
longer straight and appears crooked or twisted. Also known as spine lean. See Example
cockled - Refers to the condition of a book; the wrinkled, puckered, waving, or
curling condition of a page or of the boards of a book, which is caused by non-uniform drying and shrinkage. If the
cockled page is made of vellum, the condition is caused by humidity. In the case of paper or board, the condition is caused by heat and
humidity. In the case of book covers, it can be caused by the use of the wrong type of adhesive or too much adhesive.
collated - The content of the work, including all pages and illustrations, has been examined and verified that it is complete and in the proper order.
colophon - A printer's reference at the end of a book which usually gives the
place of printing, name of the printer, and other details about the book. See also imprint.
compartments - Ruled lines forming a square border or frame on a binding, which is done in gilt
or blind. Also known as panneled.See Example
contemporary - A term used to describe a work that was published within
the last decade or to indicate that all of the components of the book (the binding, the coloring of plates, inscriptions, and side notes) were created at the same time the book was printed.
cracked - Refers to the condition of a book; there is a long narrow opening or
break down the spine or in the cover. See Example
crimped - Refers to the condition of a book; a grooved, indented, or pinched
condition of a cover or page, which is caused by extreme humidity. It can also describe a bookmaking process that bends the hinges of loose-leaf books so that the pages of a book will easily turnover and lie flat.
cropped - The margins of the book have been trimmed by the
binder, usually too close to the text or into the text.
cut - An illustration that is printed on a text page. See also plate.
deckle edges - The natural rough and uneven edges of book
pages when they have not been trimmed flush. The binding of handmade paper can also produce this decorative
effect. Also known as uncut. See Example
dedication copy - A copy of a book specifically inscribed by the author to a particular person.
dedication page - The page of a book that lists the persons and/or
institutions to whom the author has committed the work. It is usually located opposite the copyright page.
de luxe edition - See edition de luxe.
dentelle - A decorative lace-like pattern on the inner edge of a book cover that
is inspired from embroidery and the decorative arts. This binder's technique was used primarily in France in the 18th century.
device - Refers to a printer's mark or imprint that was used primarily in the 16th and 17th centuries, typically found on the title page or at the end of a book.
Today the term can also be used to describe a publisher's trademark or logo. Also known as printer's mark.
disbound - A book, pamphlet, or ephemera that is lacking its binding.
doctored - A book that has been repaired, restored, or
even added to. Also known as made-up.
dummy - A mockup of a book that is created to represent the physical appearance,
including actual arrangement of the printed matter and illustrations, of a forthcoming book-to-book buyers.
Modern trade publishing has replaced the use of dummies with materials such as advance reading copies and
dust jacket (dj) - A removable paper wrapper that encloses a book to protect
it from dirt. Dust jackets date from the early 19th century, but they came into more common use in the early 20th century as a means to
advertise the book to potential buyers. Also known as dust wrapper or book jacket. See
dust wrapper - See dust jacket.
edition - All copies of a book that are printed from the same plates or one
setting of type. An edition can have more than one printing. For example, if 300 copies of a book are printed on September 15, and 200
copies are printed from the same plates on November 24, all 500 copies are part of the same edition.
edition de luxe - An edition of a book that has been
specially printed and bound for its fine appearance. Sometimes refers to limited editions with special leather or
decorated cloth bindings.
edges - The top, bottom, and un-hinged outer sides of a book.
embossed leather - A leather binding that has been printed with a raised design.
endpapers (ep) - The plain white, colored, decorated, or printed paper that is
at the front and end of a book, one half of which is pasted down to the binding. The endpapers are used to give a finished look to the binding. See Example
engraving - An illustration or decoration printed from a metal plate or hardwood block.
ephemera - Objects which, in general, are fragile and not made to last for a
long time. Examples include, but are not limited to, magazines, journals, paper toys, and publisher promotional
errata - A list of errors and misprints in the text of a book. The list might be
printed on a bound page in the book or on a separate piece of paper that is pasted or laid in the book.See
errata slip - See errata.
ex-library (ex-lib; x-lib) - Identifies a book that was once the property of
an institutional or corporate library. Usually there are noticeable marks and stamps on the binding and/or in the text. It may also have
library card pockets, and it often shows considerable wear and/or rebinding. For collectors, it is worth considerably less monetarily
than a book that has not been owned and marked-up by an institutional library. See Example
facsimile - A copy that looks like the original printing of a book but is not original. Facsimiles can be a source of frustration to collectors and booksellers but are
acceptable for some institutional library collections. The term can also refer to one or more pages or illustrations that have been reproduced or copied to replace parts of the book that are missing. Also known as
fading - Refers to the condition of a book; describes the loss of color on the
pages, dust jacket, or the cover of the book, which is usually caused by time or exposure to sunlight. See Example
fair - See condition guide.
fake - See facsimile.
false band - A fake raised band that is attached directly
to the spine of the book or the hollow of the cover. This decorative element is designed to make the book look
sturdier than it actually is.
festschrift - A book containing a number of scholarly essays printed in
honor of an individual.
fine - See condition guide.
fine binding - An elaborately designed book; for example, a book that is bound in
leather with blind stamps and gilt edges.
first American edition - The first
edition published in the U.S. of a book that was previously printed elsewhere.
first British edition - The first edition published in the United Kingdom of a book
that was previously printed elsewhere. Also known as first U.K. edition.
first edition - The first appearance of a work in book form. Every printed book has
a first edition but many never have later editions. When book collectors use the term, they're usually referring to the first printing and if there are different states or issues, the earliest of those. See also edition and high spot.
first edition thus - An edition of a work that postdates
the first edition and contains some modification to the work. The modification might be a new introduction, added illustrations, new supplement, new format, and/or a revision of the text. It can also refer to a first edition of the work by another publisher.
first U.K. edition - See first British edition.
first U.S. edition - See first American edition.
flat-signed - A phrase coined by some booksellers to denote that the copy was autographed in person, or that someone
witnessed the book being signed.
flex-cover - A supple and tractable book cover. Flex covers are often used in
conjunction with spiral bindings.
fly title - See half-title.
flyleaf - The blank page or pages following the front
free-endpaper. See Example
fore-edge - The outside edge of the book where the book opens (opposite of the
spine). Also known as front-edge. See book anatomy section for
fore-edge painting - A watercolor decoration, usually a scene or a geometric
design, painted on the ends of the pages of the fore-edge of a book. Traditionally, the pages are painted so the
decoration disappears when the book is closed and only appears again when the pages are fanned. However, the opposite can also be true of
a fore-edge painting; the decoration can appear only when the book is closed. The tradition of fore-edge painting dates back to the 10th
century and reached its peak of popularity in England in the latter half of the 17th century.
foxed - See foxing.
foxing - Refers to the condition of a book; intrinsic to paper, the patchy
brownish-yellow spots that discolor plates and pages of a book. It is most likely caused by lack of ventilation
and/or chemical reactions between the paper and microorganisms. The spots are generally found in 19th century books and can range from
barely visible to ruinous. Also known as foxed. See Example
frayed - Refers to the condition of a book; the unraveling of the threads or fibers
of an edge of a book cover that is caused by excessive rubbing. See Example
front-edge - See fore-edge.
front free-endpaper - The free or loose half of the pasted-down double
leaf that is found at the very beginning of a book. The other half of the leaf, the pasted down portion, is attached
to the board.
frontispiece - An illustration placed before
the first pages of a book that usually faces the title page. See Example
galley - The earliest printing of a work used by the proofreader and author to check
for errors. Galleys are often printed on long continuous strips of paper. Sometimes the term is used interchangeably, although
incorrectly, with the term advance reading copy. Also known as galley proof. See also proofs.
gilt edges - The edges of the pages of a book after they have been
cut smooth and colored, usually with gold paint. See also all edges gilt. See
glassine - A strong, thin, glazed, semi-transparent paper that used to make
protective covers for books because it is, among other durable characteristics, grease and water resistant.
gnawed - Refers to the condition of a book; chewed-on edges or corners of a
good - See condition guide.
gouge - Refers to the condition of a book; an unintentional nick or hole in the cover
of a book, or on its spine. Or in bookbinding, a single-line finishing tool that is used to create either blind or
gold decoration on the covers but not on the spine of a book.
gutter - The white space formed by the inner margins of two
facing pages (near the spine) in a bound book, journal, or newspaper.
half cloth - A book that with cloth covered spine and paper covered boards.
half-title - The extra page, in front of the title page,
that bears the abbreviated title of the book. In the days when books were sold as unbound leaves, the half-title
served as a "cover" for the protection of the true title page. Also known as fly title or bastard title. See Example
hardbound (hb) - See hardcover.
hardcover (hc) - A book with stiff boards that is bound
and covered in either cloth, paper, or leather.
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. See Example
headpiece - A type ornament or decoration appearing
at the start of a section or chapter of a book.
heads - See headband.
high spot - A term that is used to denote a highly regarded first or important
edition of a book.
highlighting - The bright pen markings where the previous owner marked
the book to highlight words, sentences, and/or passages of text. See Example
hinge - An inside or outside joint of the binding of a book, where the spine meets the covers. It is usually made of cloth and provides
additional strength at the flex point. See book anatomy section for illustration.
holograph - A document or inscription written
entirely in the handwriting of the author.
illuminated - A manuscript or book embellished
with decorative elements that are typically hand-painted in rich colors and are sometimes gilded. The elements may
include initial letters, designs, and/or pictorial scenes.
illustrated wraps - See pictorial paper cover.
illustration - Refers to any picture, diagram, portrait, or non-text
item in a work, which is used to clarify the text or for decoration. See Example
imitation leather - A coated fabric, rubber, or plastic composition, or
absorbent paper, manufactured to resemble genuine leather. Also known as artificial leather.
impression - A set of copies of a work, printed at one time, from one
setting of type. There may be several impressions of one edition. Also known as printing, press run, or
imprint - Refers either to the place of publication or to the publisher. The
imprint information is located either at the base of a title page or in a colophon at the
back of a book. The term can also refer to a printed piece from a certain location or period of time; i.e., the university has a
collection of 18th century Massachusetts imprints.
incunabula - A book printed, with moveable type, during the earliest period
of printing. Commonly refers to books published before the year 1501.
index - An alphabetical listing of names or topics, with the citation of page numbers,
to facilitate quick reference to the contents of the work. The index is located at the back in a book. For series and journals, it is usually published after the volume is completed and is usually found in the last issue.
inscribed copy - A book in which a written inscription has been made by the
author, to a specified person. See Example
inscription by previous owner - A written name, note,
phrase, or comment made in a book. Unless indicated otherwise, the inscription is not written by the author. See Example
insect damage - Refers to the condition of a book; the book's binding or boards show visible hurt from insects. Examples could include paths where worms have
burrowed and spotting caused by silverfish.
international edition - A version of a book that has been
published for distribution outside the U.S. Most international editions have different ISBNs than the U.S. edition. They often have
different covers, usually contain the same content, and sometimes are printed on lower-quality paper.
issue - A portion of the printing of an edition that has a
different format, binding, or paper. An issue, of an edition, is done intentionally by the publisher and can
contain various states.
japon vellum - A smooth, glossy, durable paper that looks and feels a little like
vellum but is made from native fibers and is produced in Japan. Most commonly found in fancy or editions de luxe.
joint - The exterior juncture of the spine and boards of a (usually) case-bound book.
journal - A periodical or magazine, especially one published for a special group,
learned society, or profession.
juvenile - A children's book.
juvenile picture book binding - A sturdy style of binding that is designed for books used by children. The book jacket is usually a case.
label - A square or rectangular piece of paper or leather attached to the spine of a book, containing printed information about the book, such as author, title, and volume number. Also known
as backstrip label. See Example
laid in - Pages or other paper present in the book that are not glued or sewn in.
laminated - A thin layer of plastic that is adhered to another material, such
as cloth or paper.
large paper edition - An edition of a book with pages in a larger format than those of the regular edition. Typically
these are limited or de-luxe editions of a work.
large print edition - Designed for people with poor eyesight, the words are printed in a larger size than in the
leaf (ll) - A single sheet of paper in a book. A page is one side of a leaf.
leather bound - A book that is bound and covered in leather.
leatherette - An imitation of grained leather, produced from a strong,
machine-glazed base paper. Many small prayer books, for example, are leatherette. See also imitation
leaves - The sheets of paper that make up a book. A page is one side of a leaf.
levant - Elegant and highly polished morocco goatskin leather
with a grain-pattern surface.
library binding - A book with a stronger binding than the
customary edition binding, and intended for use in a library.
library edition - Refers to a book supposedly or actually printed on a better
quality of paper and with a stronger binding than the standard edition. It can also refer to an edition, series,
or set of books, produced in a uniform format, but this use of the term is more or less obsolete.
limitation - A statement of number of copies printed in an edition. See also limited edition.
limited edition - An edition that is limited to a certain number of copies, is
usually printed and bound luxuriously, and in some cases, may be signed by the author. The number of copies is given somewhere in the
text of the book. See Example
limp cover - A book that has a flexible cloth, leather, or vellum cover. In the last quarter of the 18th century and the first quarter of the
19th, limp leather covers were commonly used for books to be carried in the pocket. In the 20th century, the primary use was for cheap,
educational, sentimental verse, or devotional books. Also known as limp cloth, limp binding, limp leather, or limp vellum.
lithograph - An illustration printed from stone,
zinc, or other material.
loose - Refers to the condition of a book; the text block is
coming loose from the binding at the hinges.
loose-leaf - The binding of individual sheets of paper in an
exchangeable form, for pages to be added, removed, or relocated in the book. Loose-leaf bindings are used wherever records of repeatedly
changing information must be kept. Instruction manuals, catalogs, and accounting forms are often loose-leaf bound. Also known as
made-up - See doctored.
manuscript (ms, mss) - The original text of an author's work, handwritten or
typed. It can also refer to a book or document written before the invention of printing.
marbled paper - Colored paper with a veined, mottled, or swirling pattern, in
imitation of marble, which is used with paper-covered boards and as end papers in books. The use of marbled
papers was especially popular during the Victorian era. See Example
margin - The space between the edge of the page and the printed text. Sometimes in
binding, the margins are trimmed or cropped.
mint - Refers to the condition of a book; it is either a brand new copy, or in the same
new and unblemished condition as when it was first published. Many booksellers and collectors dislike using this term and prefer to use
"as new" in describing this condition. See also bright copy.
misbound - An illustration, map, or a number of
pages that have been incorrectly folded, bound in the wrong place, or bound in upside down.
modern firsts - First editions of a book published in the 20th
morocco - Leather made from goatskin with a characteristic grain pattern.
Straight-grained morocco was popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
mottled calf - Calf leather that has been sprinkled with copperas acid, a chemical used in tanning, giving it a
mottled or spotted effect.
mounted - Damaged leaves, illustrations, maps, and/or photographs
that have been strengthened by backing with paper or thin cloth. Also describes an illustration that has been mounted, or tipped, onto a blank page.
no date (nd) - No publication date is printed in the book.
no place (np) - No place of publication is printed in the book.
octavo - Refers to the size of the book; the most common book size since the early
17th century, an octavo book averages about 6 x 9 inches. The term originally referred to the number of folds (8) in a standard
book-printing sheet, but it now commonly refers to size.
offprint - An excerpt of a larger publication that has been printed and bound
separately for promotional purposes. For example, publishers will print and bound a chapter of a book to send to booksellers or for the
author to give away before the entire book is published. Scholarly excerpts are another example; a portion of a large journal piece
printed for a professor to distribute. Offprints are highly sought after by collectors because, technically, they can be considered a
first separate edition of the work and will often have a presentation inscription. See Example
offset - The light image of transferred ink or an imprint that comes from an
adjoining text page or illustration, or an inserted paper. This transference is not done on purpose and can be caused by humidity, acid
from the inserted paper, or wet ink when the book was bound. See Example
out of print (op) - A publication that is no longer available through the publisher.
out-of-series - Unnumbered editions from a numbered limited edition series. They are considered "extra
copies" of the edition, are usually not signed, and are not considered part of the limited edition
pagination - The sequence of the numbered pages in a book.
pamphlet - A small work that is less than book-length, has paper wraps, and typically has a staple binding. Also known as brochure.
pannelled - Ruled lines forming a square border or frame on a binding, which
is done in gilt or blind. Also known as compartments.See
paperback - A book with a paper cover. Sir Allen Lane, founder of Penguin
books, was credited with inventing the modern paperback when he published Ariel by Andre Maurois with a paper cover in 1936.
Also known as wrappers.
paper boards - A binding made of stiff cardboard that is covered in
paper wraps - Paper covers of a book. The term is sometimes used
interchangeably with paperback.
parchment - A stiff material made of sheepskin or goatskin that is used for
bindings and for legal documents and manuscripts. Material that is made of paper but looks and feels similar to the skin material can
also be called parchment.
parts - Novels that are published in separate installments, typically in a magazine or
journal. Works of many popular writers of the 19th century, such as Charles Dickens, were published in parts. Also known as part
pastedown - The half of the endpaper that is pasted to the inside cover of a
book. See Example
perfect bound - A binding method that utilizes a plastic glue to bind
the loose leaves to the solid text block of a book. It is used for paperback books.
photogravure - A photographic image produced from an engraving plate,
which gives it an art quality of a lithograph. The process was developed in the 1850s but is rarely used today because of the high
pictorial cloth - A cloth book with a multi-colored picture printed
on the cover.
pictorial paper cover - An Illustration printed on a
paperback cover. This decorative practice began in the early 1850s, with the publication of Letters Left at the Pastry-Cook's by
J.S. Mayhew, and was the precursor of the next trend in publishing-yellowbacks. The sensational pictorial paper
cover novels of the later 19th and 20th centuries are famous for their lurid, colorful covers. Also known as illustrated
wraps. See Example
pigskin - A durable leather binding, usually decorated in blind.
pirated edition - An unauthorized edition that is usually sold abroad without
payment to the author. Also known as pirate edition.
plate - 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. See Example
points - Facts and characteristics of the printing and binding of a book that may
help indicate the priority of issue.
poor - See condition guide.
portfolio - A portable case used to protect loose papers, plates, pamphlets, and the like. It usually consists of two boards with a wide cloth or paper joint
forming the "spine." Can also refer to an artist's body of work.
preliminary pages (prelims) - The first pages of the book that appear before the
presentation copy - A book with an inscription which shows that it was
a gift from the author or publisher. See also inscribed copy.See
printer's blanks - See blanks.
printing - The total number of copies of a book, or another type of publication,
printed at one time. For example, an edition of a book can have a first printing of 5,000 copies and a second printing of 2,000. See
price clipped - The inside front corner of dust jacket has the price cut
pristine condition - A book in its original condition, unchanged in any way.
private press - A small establishment that is not associated with a large
publishing house. Private presses decide which works they will print, frequently do their own press work, and print editions in limited
numbers of copies.
privately printed - A work printed at the expense of the author or some other private
individual or group.
proofs - Traditionally, a printed trial-run of the work, bound or unbound, which is
used for proofreading and to determine if changes need to be made in the text. The typical publishing process is proof, advance reading copy, and publication. However, bound proofs are also used for pre-publication publicity and are often
sent out in place of advance reading copies to booksellers and reviewers. Also known as galley, galley proof, page proof, and
uncorrected proof. See Example
provenance - The history of the previous owners of a book. Bookplates, notes and other writings in the book, and inserted matter, may determine provenance.
quarter-bound - A book with a leather spine and with the sides bound in
paper or cloth.
quality paperback - See trade paperback.
quarto - Refers to the size of a book; the book measures about 9 by 12 inches.
Also known as 4to.
rag book - A children's book printed on and bound with cloth fabric.
raised band - The visibly raised areas on a book spine
where the cords, which attach the cover boards, are passed through. May also refer to fake raised bands on decorative bindings. Also
known as raised cord. See also false band. See Example
raised cord - See raised band.
rare - Traditionally, a publication is "rare" if an active collector or
bookseller expects to see it in the marketplace only once in a great while.
reading copy - Refers to the condition of the book; the text is readable
and complete, but the binding is in poor condition and the text block should probably be rebound. See Example
rebacked - The book has been given a new spine and the hinges have been fixed.
This process mends a book when the hinges are weak and the spine is worn and cracked. See also rebound and recased.
rebound - The original binding of the book has been removed and a new binding has
been attached and re-sewn. See also rebacked and recased.
recased - The text block of the book has been put into a new
binding. The process usually requires new endpapers and gluing but not re-sewing of the binding. See also
rebacked and rebound.
recto - The front of the leaf; the page that lies to the right in
an open book. Rectos are the odd-numbered pages. Also known as recto page. See also verso.
reinforced dust jacket - A dust jacket that has been
strengthened with tape by the previous owner.See Example
reinforced library binding - See library binding.
re-issue - A term encompassing all types of a reprinting of a work; it can be a later printing of a book, which is substantially unchanged, or an entirely new edition, such as a cloth
edition re-issued as a paperback edition.
remainder - Books that are discounted from the publisher because of
over-printing or lack of sales, or because the book has been revised. They are often sold to booksellers in bulk and usually have
remainder marks on the outside edge or binding of the book.
remainder mark - A publisher's written mark on a book indicating it is
a remainder. It is usually done with a permanent pen, stamp, or spray paint on the outside edge or on the binding of the book.See Example
reprint - A new impression from the same type setting,
or a new edition of the work.
re-sized - Usually means that all of the pages in the book have been
"washed" and sizing material, such as gelatin or glue, has been re-applied. The washing may have been done to remove stains,
writing, or acid from the pages. Sizing provides a protective finish and makes flimsy paper stiff.
review copy - A copy of a book sent out for review by the publisher to the
press, booksellers, and others in order to attract attention to the publication. Frequently review copies will have slips of paper
inserted into the book, or have it written on the cover, announcing it as a review copy. Textbook review copies are also known as "desk
copies" or "instructor copies" and are given to instructors to review for consideration for adoption of the regular edition. See
also advance reading copy.See Example
ringbound - See loose-leaf.
roan - A soft, flexible, sheepskin binding. This durable, yet cheap, leather material
came in to use around 1790 as a replacement for the more expensive morocco leather, and is not known for its
rough - Unpolished suede-like leather, which was primarily used for binding of
reference books, music scores, working manuals, and similar books, since the 18th century. Also known as reversed calf.
rubbed - Refers to condition; the spine or cover has visible scuffmarks and may be
worn in places. See Example
rule - A continuous line, thick or thin, that is used in decorative printing. In the
1800s and early 1900s, title pages were often enclosed in plain rule-borders. The term can also apply to a
decorative line on a binding, which may be in blind or gilt.
saddle stitching - The process of securing and binding the pages of a publication through the center fold with wire
staples. The term "saddle" derives from the saddle of the binding machine.
scarce - Traditionally, a "scarce" publication isn't as hard to find as a
rare publication, but might take a few years to locate.
scuffed - Refers to condition; the binding or cover has been scraped and might
look rough or slightly frayed in places.
serialization - A work of fiction that is printed in successive parts
first in a magazine and then in book form, or is printed as a book and then printed in successive parts in a magazine.
series author - An author whose work consists of series titles. Kevin J. Anderson, author of Star Wars; Young Jedi
Knights, is an example.
series title - A collective title for a successive group of publications with a common theme or subject, which are
usually published by the same publisher but not necessarily by the same author. Star Wars, Sweet Valley High, and
Goosebumps are examples of series titles.
set - A group of publications with a common theme that are released, usually at the same
time, by one publisher. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (12 Volume Set) by Charlotte Porter and Helen A. Clarke (eds.)
is an example.
sewn - A pamphlet that has been sewn together and was not originally bound with boards.
Offprints are typically sewn.
shaken - Refers to condition; a cloth or leather bound book
that is loose in its covers but is still attached to its binding.
sheep - A common, inexpensive binding material that was used primarily for children's
books, verse, and other small books.
sheet music - Compositions printed on unbound paper.
shelf worn - Refers to condition; the book shows visible signs of wearing on
the binding and/or edges due to numerous removals and placements on countless shelves.
signature - A group of folded pages that, when bound and trimmed with other
signatures, form a book or pamphlet. Also known as gathering. Also refers to a person's self-handwritten name (autograph
slipcase - A box open on one side so that when a book is slipped into it, the
spine shows.See Example
soft cover - Typically is synonymous with paperback,
but it can also describe a book with a limp cover or a flex-cover.
solander case - A box used to preserve books; the back is hinged so the front falls down and is kept closed by a
latch. It was invented by an assistant librarian, Daniel Charles Solander (1732-1782), for the preservation of botanical specimens in the
spine - The part of the book opposite of the opening, which is visible when the book
is shelved. Also known as back, backstrip, and shelfback. See book anatomy section
spine lean - See cocked.
spiralbound - An inexpensive type of binding utilizing wire or plastic
coils as the spine. It is an increasingly popular way for small publishers to publish a work or for an author to quickly self-publish.
Known also as comb or coil bound.
sprung - Refers to condition; the text block is separate from
stamping - See blind stamp.
stapled - A binding method that uses metal staples to secure the pages, typically
for binding magazines and pamphlets. Also known as saddle stitching.
started - Refers to condition; a portion of the pages are protruding beyond the
fore-edge of the book. The pages are coming loose from the binding but are still attached.
Not as loose as shaken. The most common use is to describe a condition that is "starting" to happen (for
instance, a crack that's beginning to happen to a hinge).
state - Minor changes made to a portion of the edition during
the manufacturing stage and before all of the books were complete and released. The changes can be intentional. For example, a different
state may be caused by a correction in the text or illustrations, an insertion of cancels or advertisements, or a different paper used without the intention of creating a separate issue. The changes can also be accidental; for example, a variation in the text or illustrations might occur during the
printing. The term does not refer to condition.
stitched binding - Sewing, through the center fold by means of thread, was done
to secure the signatures and to bind the publication.
straight grain morocco - Morocco leather with an
artificial straight-line pattern, which is usually used in more expensive bindings.
stub - a narrow strip of paper on the inside margin, between leaves
of a book. Usually evidence that a plate or other matter has been removed or that there is an illustration attached into the binding.
subtitle - A secondary and explanatory title used to explain more about the
sunned - Refers to condition; the pages or dust jacket is
faded from exposure to sunlight.
suppressed - A part of a book that was held back after being published; i.e,
a chapter that existed in the first printing, does not appear in the second. It also can describe an entire
publication withdrawn from circulation, because of various reasons including political, legal, or perhaps the belated regrets of the
text block - The signatures of a book, sewn and trimmed, but
without covers, endpapers, or a binding. Also known as book block.
three-quarters binding - A binding in which the spine and corners are generously covered with leather. The rest of the binding material is different, i.e., cloth, marbled
paper, another type of leather.
tight back - The book that is bound very tight with an inflexible spine, almost to a fault because when it opens, the pages will not lie flat by themselves. However, as the book becomes well
used, the binding will eventually loosen. The use of the tight back declined dramatically after about 1820, except
by fine binders who often used it along with false raised bands. Also known as fast back.
tipped-in - A publisher-authorized content correction that is made after a book
has been printed and bound. It can be as small as a scrap of paper to correct type, or as large as a page or a signature to correct a section. The corrected page or illustration is glued onto the page or inserted into an already
bound book. They are less common today with the advanced printing techniques, but were very common in the 17th and 18th centuries due to
numerous printer errors. Also known as cancels. See Example
tissue - A thin sheet of paper inserted into a book to protect plates from damage and to prevent offsetting onto facing pages.
title page - The page of a book, which contains the name of the author(s), the
title, and usually the publisher's name and the date and place of publication.See Example
tooling - The decoration on a binding.
top edge gilded (t.e.g.) - The top edge of the book is coated with gold
trade cloth - The regular cloth edition of a book, not
a limited edition.
trade edition - The regular edition of a book,
not a limited edition.
trade paperback - A soft cover edition of a
book that generally has a high-quality binding and is in a larger size format than a traditional paperback.
Also known as quality paperback.
typescript - A typewritten copy of a work. It may be the author's original
copy, a typewritten copy of the manuscript, or a typewritten copy done by a professional typist. See also manuscript.
unbound - Refers to a book which has never been bound. Until the 19th century,
books were sold as unbound leaves that were bound to a buyer's specifications. This term might also refer to a book in an advanced state
of publication, such as a galley.
uncorrected proof - See proofs.
uncut - Refers to the untrimmed pages of a book-the edges appear rough and uneven. In
early bookbinding, the unbound pages of a book were left uncut until the binder trimmed them flush and smooth as part of the binding
process. Today the terms uncut and unopened are often used synonymously. See also deckle edges.
underlining - The pen or pencil markings where the previous owner marked
the book to highlight words, sentences, and/or passages of text.
unopened - The folded edges of the signatures have not
been cut open for reading. The book has been left in the beginning stages of its binding process or it was issued in this manner.
unpaginated (unpag) - The pages of the publication are unnumbered.
unsophisticated - Refers to condition; the book is fairly worn and
has not been repaired. It can also refer to an incomplete manuscript that has been completed by using a
different source or by someone besides the author. Unsophisticated can also refer to a book or pamphlet that is manufactured in an
variant - Refers to a minor difference between printings,
usually on the title page or on the endpapers.
vellum - A fine parchment made from calfskin, lambskin, or kidskin, not tanned but
treated with chemicals to make it suitable for writing and printing on and for binding. Can also refer to heavy off-white fine-quality
paper resembling this parchment.
verso - The back of the leaf; the page that lies to the left in an
open book. Versos are the even-numbered pages. Also known as verso page. See also recto.
very good - See condition guide.
volume - A book or periodical that is part of a series or a set. The volume notation
can be a number, letter, or a similar form.
with all faults (w.a.f.) - A description used mostly by auctioneers
and booksellers to describe books that are suspected of being imperfect. The term is used to warn the buyer that the item may not be
returned for any reason. It is, in other words, sold "as is."
warped - Refers to condition; the boards or paperback covers are bent and
washed - When a map, print, or pages of a book are cleaned in a mild chemical
solution to remove stains, writing, or acid from the pages. See also re-sized.
watermark - Translucent letters or a design in a sheet of paper. Usually can
be seen only by holding the sheet to the light.
waterstained - Refers to condition; discoloration, stains, and possible
shrinkage on the pages, binding, and text-block, from water.See Example
wire coil - An inexpensive type of binding material used to make a spine on a spiralbound book. Also known as wire comb.
wire comb - See wire coil.
wood engraving - See woodcut.
woodcut - An illustration made from a highly polished block of wood. Also known
as wood engraving. See also cut.See Example
worming - Refers to condition; small holes or tracks in the paper or bindings, which is made by burrowing insects. Since the worm normally eats directly through the pages, its track is
occasionally useful in detecting doctored copies.
wove paper - A paper that has been made on a fine-mesh mold which, when held to the light, shows no marks or lines.
It has been the typical paper used in bookbinding since the early 19th century.
wrappers - A book with a printed or plain paper binding. Also known as
paperback and wraps.
yapp - A style of binding where the edges of the paper extend beyond all three edges of
a book. It is named after a London bookseller who invented it around 1860, and is mostly used for books of devotion and verse.
yellowed - Usually refers to the yellow fore-edges and
pages of paperbacks, which is caused either by fading, age and/or acid in the paper.
yellowback - An inexpensive mid-1800s English paperback novel usually sold in railway stations. The paper bindings were usually, but not always