Book Condition

We make every effort to give thorough and accurate descriptions of our books, especially concerning their condition. We grade conservatively and if in doubt, utilize the terms associated with the lesser condition.

We recognize that reading descriptions can be confusing, especially if you’re not familiar with booksellers’ terminology. To help alleviate that confusion, here’s a guide to how we grade the condition of our books along with a listing of some common terms.

Unless otherwise specified, all of our books are hardcover editions.

We describe separately a book’s condition and the condition of it’s dust jacket (DJ, for short), using abbreviations G for Good,VG for Very Good, NF for Near Fine, and F for Fine. We modify these initials with ‘+’ and ‘-‘ in an attempt to give a slightly more rounded sense of the condition.

If we describe a book as “VG/VG”, we mean the book itself is in Very Good condition, and so is the dust jacket; if we say it is “VG-/G+’ we are indicating that there is a bit of wear to the book, while the dust jacket is more noticeable worn or used.

Here is how we view the continuum of conditions:

Fine: Essentially unread and in as close to perfect condition as possible. NO defects. Any imperfections are noted.
Near Fine: A very, very bright and clean copy; nearly indistinguishable from ‘fine’

Very Good: No visible flaws, but some small signs of wear on either binding or paper. Lacks the crispness of an unread volume. Any defects are noted in the description.

Good: Describes the average used book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects are noted in the description

Fair: A worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates), but may lack endpapers, half-title, etc. All defects are noted.

When necessary, we supplement the initials with a more detailed description of damage to a book. For instance, we might note that there is slight foxing, or the cover is stained, or the DJ is worn. This is intended to offer a fuller description of the book, but may not include all the factors of a book’s grading.

In describing a book, we include information about where and when it was published. We usually include the actual publisher only if it seems interesting. Thus, most listings will include a phrase such as:

NY (etc)/1981 ~ 1st ed, or Lndn/(1935) or Bstn/N.D. (1930s-40s) or Privately Printed/1975.

We specify a book is a first edition only when we are sure of this designation. We put the date in parenthesis when it refers to a copyright, and not necessarily the year a book was printed.


In describing our books, we attempt to specify any damage using terms most familiar to book dealers and collectors. Here are some common phrases:

B/W: black and white.

Clr: color.

Cover: the exterior binding of the book.

DJ: the dust jacket (also the name of the store cat).

FFEP: ‘Front Free Endpaper’: typically the very first page of a book, attached to the ‘paste-down’ on the inside of the cover.

Endpapers: the term can include both the pasted-down bit and the freely-turning page.

Extremities: usually used in reference to dust jacket wear, this term indicates the edges and corners.

Ex-lib ~ ex-library: ie, from a lending library. Implies certain damage, such as markings; stamps on the endpapers, perhaps a pocket on the rear endpaper; a number on the spine. We usually try to specify if the markings are less than typical.

Fore-edge: the front edge of the pages, opposite the spine.

Foxing: brown spots or sections of pages cuased usually by the disintigration of certain acids used to make the paper. This can take different forms, from tiny dots to sizeable blotches, and may occur thorughout a volume or be limited to a few pages. Sometimes similar browning results from the glue used, and is therefore most noticeable on the endpapers; other times newspaper clippings will discolor pages they touch.

Frontispiece (or Frontis): an illustration facing the title page. Sometimes it is the only illustration in a book.
Ills (or Illus; or Ill.): illustration or illustrations.

Inscribed (or inscription): when an author writes a brief note to a particular person, or even a simple salutation to someone (as in: ‘To Richard Bacon, ~ I could never do it without you! ~ Will’ or ‘Jim ~ kindest regards ~ Mark’) (see ‘Signed’ below).

Pg: page

Repro or reproductions: (usually refers to artwork as opposed to illustrations made for a book).
Rubbing: indicates surface wear.

Signed (or Signature): may refer to a previous owner; but usually, means a book is signed by the author. Using this word implies it’s not inscribed (see above).

Spine: the rear edge of the cover; opposite the fore-edge.

Tipped-in: describes something glued into the book, rather than printed on a page which is bound in. Usually refers to illustrations, but sometimes errata slips or other bits and pieces.

Title page: the page of a book usually found at the front, featuring the title, author and usually some publishing information.

Wear: usually refers to the typical damage to a dust jacket over time and use, implying perhaps some small tears, or general tiredness.

Wraps: means something is bound in soft covers. Paperbacks, for instance, could be said to be in wraps; pamphlets are generally in wraps, too. usually denotes a flimsy or flexible paper or cardboard, cover.

Book Sizes

4to A book that is up to 12″ tall. See Quarto.
8vo A book that is up to 9 ¾” tall. See Octavo.
12mo A book that is up to 7 ¾” tall. See Duodecimo.
16mo A book that is up to 6 ¾” tall. See Sextodecimo.
24mo A book that is up to 5 ¾” tall.
32mo A book that is up to 5″ tall.
48mo A book that is up to 4″ tall.
64mo A book that is up to 3″ tall.
Folio A book that is up to 15″ tall.
Elephant Folio A book that is up to 23″ tall.
Atlas Folio A book that is up to 25″ tall.
Double Elephant Folio A book that is up to 50″ tall.