Glossary of Book Terms

Glossary of Book Terms
Some common abbreviations used in the world of collectible books; thank you to ABAA, ILAB, IOBA.

Useful and informative further reading:
ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter
Encyclopedia of the Book by Geoffrey Glaister

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

A

ABAA - Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (the U.S. equivalent of the U.K. ABA.)

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.

als - Autographed Letter Signed

Americana - a classification of books and other objects having to do with American culture, history, or folklore.

annuals - Books that are published yearly.

Antiquarian bookseller - a term, in today’s usage, that describes a bookseller whose stock in trade is primarily old, rare, and/or collectible books.

armorial binding - a leather binding stamped with a coat-of-arms.

artificial leather – aka imitation leather - A coated fabric, rubber, or plastic composition, or absorbent paper, manufactured to resemble genuine 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.

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.

Author’s edition -  book(s) authorized by author, usually foreign editions, around the turn of the last century when many titles were pirated or “unauthorized”.

return to top

B

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 (or spine) label – the label(s) on the spine stating author/ title/ year published/ publisher most often.

BAL - Bibliography of American Literature, reference work.

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.

bibliography - a reference work detailing known published titles on a given subject or by a given author.

bibliophile - a lover of books.

binding -  the material used as a protective cover for a book (e.g.: leather, cloth, buckram, paper, etc.) Also the process that secures the pages or sections of a publication to keep them in order and to protect them. The pages may be stapled together or sewn together, then enclosed in wrappers, or by gluing the pages to the outer cover.

binding copy - a book that is worth re-binding; the book covers are in serious disrepair, but the text is fine.

blank leaves – pages [leaves] that are intentionally left blank.

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. Aka blind copy.

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.

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 - the signatures [pages] of a book, sewn and trimmed, but without covers, endpapers, or a binding. Also known as book 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 - 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. Aka dustwrapper

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. Aka “Ex Libris” (from the library of …)

bookworm - a worm (in a larval grub state) which harms books by feeding on their binding or leaves. Also a term for a person devoted to books.

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.

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.

return to top

C

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. A book may have one or more pages sliced out of the text block by the publisher after it has been bound.  The new printed matter pasted on to the resulting stub(s) by the publisher is referred to as a “cancel” or “cancellans”. 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.

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.

circa (abbreviated: ca or c.) refers to an approximate date when actual date is unknown.

cloth - a book that is bound and covered in cloth. See also hardcover.

cocked - if, when looking down on the head of a book, the corners are not square it is said to be cocked or rolled. Also known as a spine slant. (Note: cocking ‘can’ also involve a book’s spine being slightly twisted or non-vertical at either end that is not severe enough to cause spine slant.

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.

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.

copyright page - the page that usually normally appears on verso of the title page, containing the artistic property protection, copyright dates, etc..

cracked - refers to the condition of a book; there is a long narrow opening or break down the spine or in the cover.

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.

return to top

D

dampstain -  a stain left on a cover or pages that have been exposed to water.

deckle edges - the natural rough and uneven edges of book pages when they have not been trimmed flush.

dedication copy - a copy of a book specifically inscribed by the author to a particular person. (not to confuse with an author dedicating the book to a person – see below).

dedication page - the page of a book that lists the persons and/or institutions to whom the author has committed the work.

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.

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. The most famous is the image of the dolphin used by Manutius Aldus (1449-1515) in Venice.

disbound - a book, pamphlet, or ephemera that has been removed from its binding.

doctored - a book that has been repaired, restored, or even added to. Also known as made-up.

dog-eared -  worn or ragged, usually referring to the edges of pages and binding. Corners of pages turned down like a dog’s ear.

ds - document signed.

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 proofs.

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.

return to top

E

edition (ed.) - all of the copies of a book printed from the same setting of type, at one time or over a period of time, with no major changes, additions or revisions. Minor changes, such as the correction of some misspelled words, or the addition of a dedication, or similar very minor alterations, may be made and the revised copies are still considered as part of the same edition, simply being described as different states or issues.

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 double leaves added to the book by the binder that become the pastedowns and free endpapers inside the front and rear covers. These pages are an integral part of the construction of a book, holding the text block and case together. The lack of them drastically shortens the value and life of a book.

engraving - an illustration or decoration printed from a metal plate or hardwood block.

ephemera - printed material of passing interest in every day life (e.g.: advertising, ticket stubs, photos, postcards, programs, some booklets and pamphlets, and publisher promotional items).

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 above.

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.

Ex-Libris - From a private library, as opposed to a public library. Could also indicate a bookplate or a stamp.

extra-illustrated - extra illustrations added to the book after publication, often done by the owner of the book, or by the publisher with a few copies, and the extra illustrations are bound in with the rest of the book.

return to top

F

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.

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.

fake – something that is not authentic or genuine, e.g. a title page from a second edition inserted into a first edition; prepare of make something deceptive or fraudulent, e.g. create new “old” endpapers or binding.

false band - a fake raised band that is attached directly to the spine of the book or the hollow of the cover, ie does not have the cord below it.

festschrift - a book containing a number of scholarly essays printed in honor of an individual.

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 published elsewhere.

first English edition - the first edition published in the United Kingdom of a book that was previously printed elsewhere..

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.

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.

fore-edge painting - a painting on the gilded fore edge of a book, which can only be seen by fanning the pages (or slanting the book’s binding quite a lot-not recommended!). Although fore-edge paintings can be found on manuscripts dating back to the 13th century, the art became popular in the 17th century, and is still being widely practiced today by artists working on 18th and 19th century books in the old styles.

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.

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 - (ffep: rfep: Rear Free Endpaper) the free or loose half of the pasted-down double leaf that is found at the very beginning and the very end 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.

return to top

G

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.

gatherings -  the printed sheets, after folding, which are put in order and bound in sequence. Also known as signatures.

gauffered edges -  a pattern tooled on gilt edges of a book.

gilt edges - the edges of the pages of a book after they have been cut smooth and colored, usually with gold paint.

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.

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.

return to top

H

half cloth - a book that has its spine covered with cloth and paper covered boards.

half-title - the page, preceding the title page proper, normally listing only the title of the book and no other information. While almost always present in modern books, it is sometimes lacking in older publications because it was originally designed to be removed before custom binding.

half-tone - a gradation of tone (between light and dark) of an image by minute, closely spaced dots. Used in photography and graphics.

hardbound (hb) - See below.

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.

high spot - a term that is used to denote a highly regarded first or important edition of a book in an area of collecting.

hinge - where the sides of the binding meet the spine (interior) of a book.

holograph - a document or inscription written entirely in the handwriting of the author.

return to top

I

ILAB - International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. Includes 20 national associations representing 30 countries.

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 (il. illus.) - refers to any picture, diagram, portrait, or non-text item in a work, which is used to clarify the text or for decoration.

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 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 - books printed between the invention of moveable type and 1500, coined from the Latin word cunae, meaning “cradle”.

inscribed -  signed by the author or someone associated with the book, but with more wording than simply a signature. However, not to be confused with simply a previous owner’s or donor’s handwritten notations.

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.

IOBA -Independent Online Booksellers Association. A trade association of online booksellers.

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.

issue - a change, textual or otherwise, made after the book has been published. (e.g.: The first issue of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court has an “s”-like ornament between “The” and “King” on page 59. In the case of many of C. S. Forester’s books, sheets were printed but not bound at the same time; when they were bound, sometimes years later, they were bound in differently colored bindings. The color of the binding then became an issue point.)

return to top

J

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.

return to top

K

L

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.

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.

leaf (abbreviated “f” or “ff” for leaves) - a single sheet of paper in a book which has two pages (the verso and the recto)

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 leather.

leaves (ff.) - 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 bound in a stronger binding than the customary edition binding, and intended for use in a library.

limitation - a statement of number of copies printed in an edition. See also limited edition.

limited edition - small number of copies of a book published. Books are usually numbered such as “100/500″ meaning number 100 of an edition of 500.

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.

return to top

M

 

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.

married - when the parts of a book or set are supplied from different copies of a book to form a whole, such as the dust jacket from one copy is “married” with a copy of the same book without a jacket, or Volume One is “married” to Volume Two, purchased separately, to form a complete set.

mull - the cloth that reinforces the hinges and is pasted directly to the body of a book and is hidden by the spine.

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.

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 century.

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.

return to top

N

no date (nd) - no publication date is printed in the book; does not include or refer to any copyright date which may be printed on the copyright page.

no place (np) - no place of publication is printed in the book.

return to top

O

OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) a non-profit cooperative organization of libraries that serves to share data and make cataloging easier. OCLC includes over 43,000 libraries in 86 countries, and provides quick information to booksellers and collectors about which libraries have a copy of a particular title. Access to OCLC is by fee-based subscription service, most commonly available at libraries.

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.

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.

out of print (op., oop.) – a  book no longer available from the publisher. It is no longer being printed and no new copies remain available for sale..

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.

return to top

P

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 (ppb., pb.) - a book bound with flexible paper covers; usually a term reserved for mass-market publications. Also known as wrappers.

paper (covered) boards - a binding made of stiff cardboard that is covered in paper.

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.

parts - novels or articles 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 issues.

pastedown - the half of the endpaper that is pasted to the inside cover of a book.

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 publishing—yellowbacks.

pigskin - a durable leather binding, usually decorated in blind.

pirated edition - an unauthorized [by author and/or publisher] edition that is usually sold abroad without payment to the author.

plate - a full-page book illustration that is separate from the text pages. As opposed to an “in-text” or “cut” illustration.

pbo - paperback original.

points - peculiarities in a published book whose presence or absence helps to determine edition, issue or state.

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.

page(s) (p. pp.) page 4; pages 1-4.

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.

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.

price clipped - the inside front corner of dust jacket has the price cut off.

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.

provenance - evidence of the history of the ownership of a particular book (e.g.: auctions records, booksellers’ records, book plates, etc.) The book may be important because of who owned it–perhaps a president or important bookseller, collector, royalty, or someone who may be related to the book in some way. Important in establishing the ownership of especially rare items.

pseudynom/nom-de-plume/pen-name - (pseud) An assumed name used to protect the anonymity of an author.

pub -  published/publisher.

publisher’s binding - binding provided by the publisher when supplying a book for a bookseller. This practice, while common today, dates from the 1800s.

return to top

Q

quarter-bound - a book with a leather spine or cloth spine, and with the sides bound in paper or cloth (but not the same material as the spine).

quality 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.

quarto (4to)- refers to the size of a book; the book measures about 9 by 12 inches. Origin: from folding the sheet into four leaves.

return to top

R

rag book - a children's book printed on and bound with cloth fabric.

raised band - the visibly raised areas on the spine of a book where the cords, which attach the cover boards, are passed through.

raised cord - See above.

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 - a nice way of describing a book that is complete in text and plates, but so badly worn or soiled that in its current condition it is good only for reading, and cannot be considered “collectible” in this condition. Also tends to suggest that the book has faults that make it not worth rebinding, else it might be described as a “Binding Copy”.

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. Often the original spine strip is preserved and glued to the new spine. See also rebound and recased.

rebound - a repair, where the entire binding has been replaced by a new one.

recased - a repair, where a book is taken apart and put back together using original pages, cloth/leather, and endpapers. Usually done to tighten the sewing or to wash the pages, etc.

recto - the front of the leaf; the page that lies to the right in an open book. Rectos are the odd-numbered pages. See also verso.

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 -  a new book returned to the publisher as unsold, then re-marketed at a much lower price.

remainder mark - a mark (rubber stamp, felt marker stroke, or spray, often on a book’s bottom edge) signifying that the book was returned to publisher as unsold, and then offered for sale again later at a much lower price. Considered to be a defect by collectors.

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.

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.

rubbed - where color has been worn from portions of the binding or dust jacket.

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.

return to top

S

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.

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  for example.

sewn - a pamphlet that has been sewn together and was not originally bound with boards. Offprints are typically sewn.

shaken - the text block is loose in its binding; no longer tight, but not detached.

sheep - a common, inexpensive binding material that was used primarily for children's books, verse, and other small books.

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 printed sheet of paper, folded to size and ready for sewing (i.e.: large paper folded in half, fourths, eighths, sixteenths, or thirty-seconds). Also known as gathering.

signed (sgd., sgnd.) signed with a name only.

slipcase - a box built to house and protect a book, leaving the spine exposed.

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.

sophisticated - books that have had repairs that involve making additions to the original (e.g.: chips filled in and tinted to match the missing portion, replaced page corners, etc.).

spine - the backbone, or back, of the book where the title (if present) is displayed when it is standing upright on a shelf.  Also known as back, backstrip, and shelfback.

spine lean - See cocked.

starting - hinges or joints beginning to show signs of becoming loose, either through wear or defective binding.

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 book.

sunned - refers to condition; the pages or dust jacket is browned, yellowed, or 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.

return to top

T

tail - bottom edge of the text block.

teg - top edges gilt. See also “Gilt”.

text block - the signatures (or gatherings) 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 cloth or leather. The rest of the binding material is different, i.e., cloth, marbled paper, another type of leather.

tipped-in - paper, photograph, or print glued down by only a narrow strip

tissue (tissue guard) - 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.

tls - typed letter signed.

tooling - the decoration of leather bindings.

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.

trade edition - an edition sold through bookstores, as opposed to those meant for private or specialized distribution.

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.

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.

return to top

U

unbound - a book that was never bound into covers, such as “unbound sheets” which were, for whatever reason, never bound by the publisher. Not to be confused with “disbound”.

uncorrected proof - a pre-publication printing intended for editorial use, or occasionally to be sent out for review. Usually issued in plain colored wrappers.

uncut - edges that are rough-cut, rather than being neatly trimmed by the binders.

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.

return to top

V

vanity press/publishers - publishers and presses that publish books at the author’s expense.

variant - refers to a minor difference between printings, usually on the title page or on the endpapers.

vellum - a thin sheet of specially prepared leather used for writing, printing, or as a binding material; considered superior in quality to parchment.

verso - the left page of an open book, when it is open and facing the reader. The back of a leaf. Also called the reverse.

volume (vol., vols.) - 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.

return to top

W

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.

wood engraving - See woodcut.

woodcut - illustrations produced when the original printing plate was engraved on a block of wood. One of the oldest methods of printing, dating back to 8th century China.

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 (wraps) - the printed or unprinted cover of a pamphlet or book bound in paper.

return to top

X

Y

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.

return to top

Z

Online Credit Card Processing