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 (indicated
with a camera) but please keep in mind that book characteristics and conditions
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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.
all edges gilt (aeg) - All three outer edges of the pages of the book have been trimmed smooth and coated with gold leaf.
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,
as new - Refers to the condition of a book; it is
immaculate and without flaws. See also mint.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
board book - A durable book format that is used
for children's books, in which all pages are printed on thick cardboard.
(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.
book jacket - See dust
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
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.
buckram - An inexpensive stiff cotton fabric that is used to bind books.
It is often used in library editions because of its
bumped - Refers to the condition of a book; it
refers to worn, bent, or rounded corners of the boards of a book.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 uncorrected
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 fake.
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.
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.
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.
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.
U.S. edition - See first American edition.
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.
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 illustration.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 book.
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,
half cloth - A book that with cloth covered spine and paper covered
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.
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.
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
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
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
illustration - Refers to any picture, diagram,
portrait, or non-text item in a work, which is used to clarify the text or for
leather - A coated fabric, rubber, or plastic composition, or absorbent
paper, manufactured to resemble genuine leather. Also known as artificial
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 print run.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
in - Pages or other paper present in the book that are not glued or
laminated - A thin layer of plastic that is adhered to another material, such as cloth
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.
print edition - Designed for people with poor eyesight, the words are
printed in a larger size than in the regular edition.
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
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 leather.
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.
binding - A book with a stronger binding than
the customary edition binding, and intended for use in a 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
limitation - A statement of number of copies
printed in an edition. See also limited
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.
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 ring-bound.
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.
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
misbound - An illustration, map, or a number of pages
that have been incorrectly folded, bound in the wrong place, or bound in
firsts - First editions of a book published in
the 20th century.
morocco - Leather made from goatskin with a characteristic grain pattern. Straight-grained
morocco was popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
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.
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.
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.
of print (op) - A publication that is no longer available through the
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 series.
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.
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.
boards - A binding made of stiff cardboard that is covered in paper.
wraps - Paper covers of a book. The term is sometimes used interchangeably
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.
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 cost.
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 publishingyellowbacks.
The sensational pictorial paper cover novels of the later 19th and 20th centuries
are famous for their lurid, colorful covers. Also known as illustrated
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
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.
points - Facts and characteristics
of the printing and binding of a book that may help indicate the priority
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 text begins.
presentation copy - A book with an inscription
which shows that it was a gift from the author or publisher. See also inscribed copy.
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 also edition.
price clipped - The inside front corner of
dust jacket has the price cut off.
condition - A book in its original condition, unchanged in any way.
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.
provenance - The history of the previous owners of a book. Bookplates,
notes and other writings in the book, and inserted matter, may determine
quarter-bound - A book with a leather spine and with the sides bound in paper or cloth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 elegance.
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.
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
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.
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 British Museum.
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 for illustration.
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 its binding.
stamping - See blind
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
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 book.
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 author.
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.
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.
tooling - The decoration on a binding.
top edge gilded (t.e.g.) - The top edge of
the book is coated with gold leaf.
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 bookthe
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
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
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 amateurish manner.
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 twisted.
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.
wire coil - An inexpensive type of binding material
used to make a spine on a spiralbound book. Also known as wire comb.
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.
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 yellow.