Condition Definitions


Boards  = The stiff material  used to manufacture hard cover books. Modern books are commonly bound with cardboard covered in cloth or paper. 

Book-Plate = A label placed in a book to indicate ownership. Most are decorative, portraying the owners taste, period of time or insight into the owner's personality. In an Association Copy the author's book-plate can increase the value; however, most often a book-plate reduces a book's value. 

Bumping or Bumped = Refers to the corners or spine ends of a book that has been damaged by being dropped, or carelessly handled or shelved.

Circa = Refers to an approximate publishing date

Cocked = When looking down at the head of a book, when the boards are not squared (aligned) the book is cocked. Use can be front or rear board. Description may instead - Forward or Backward Lean.

End Paper,  = The double leaves added to the front and back by the binder; the outer leaf of each pasted to the inner board (pastedown), the other is free (the free endpaper or fep)

Ex-Library (Ex-lib) Books from a library collection, usually a government or assocation library, sometimes but not always indicating heavy wear, library stamps, card pockets glued to the front of the book, glue residue. In general an ex library book is not in collectable condition and are basically reading copies.

Ex-Libris = Normally from an individual's personal library collection, often stamped as such by the previous owner

Fly-Leaf = A binder's "Blank" leaf following the free front end paper but before a half-title or title page. Not always present.

Foxing or Spotting= Pale to dark brow or yellowish spotting is a chemical reaction of the decay in the paper with normal moisture. Generally found in older books, especially on or around plates. 

Frontispiece or Frontis = A plate or illustration, usually facing the title page. Generally found in the front or occasionally used as a division. The absence of a frontispiece sometimes indicates a later printing of the book.

Half-title = A page bearing a short title only and preceding the full title page. 

Half or Three-Quarters Binding = When the spine and corners are covered in another specified material, usually cloth, calf, or morocco.

Inscribed = To distinguish from "signed" in that the author personalizes the inscription and sometimes includes a quotation, drawing, etc., which enhances the value. "Signed" would be the author's signature. Inscribed copies are more valuable especially when to a notable person.

Limited Edition = A publication in which the printing has been restricted in number. Typically a Limited Editions is signed and numbered by the author, and have a colophon indicating the total number of books printed. Limited editions with 1,000 or less print runs are considered more desirable. The  lower the number of a volume in a limited run are considered more desirable.

Plate = An illustration(s) generally printed on a different paper, and often by a different printing method

Printing or Impression = Refers to all copies of a book printed in one production run.

Quarter Binding =  Only the spine is covered in the specified material. The remaining board or cover is usually of a lesser material such as cloth or paper.

Remainder (Mark) = A remainder is a book that is sold in bulk by a publisher once its sales fallen off. Publishers often mark remaindered books by stamping, dotting or slashing an edge with a marker. First editions with remainder marks are still considered collectable but of lesser value.

Scrattling =  Small indentations to a jacket (usually) which do not pierce the covering. Often caused by the book being used as a backing to write something like a cheque or a complaint letter. Can also be caused by grit adhering to the jacket which is then slid twixt other books.  As opposed to scratching where the jacket is scored.

Shaken = Used mostly with cloth covered books, indicating the book itself is no longer firm in its covers. Most likely the inside hinges are cracked, binding is not always totally loose.

Stapled Wraps = No spine, bound with staples. 

Tipped In = Usually referring to an illustration; lightly attached, by gum or paste, usually at the inner edge

Top Edge Gilt = A thin layer of gold leaf to the top edges of a book's pages

Wrappers or wraps = The outer covering of a paperback book, sewn or stapled in sections


  • We grade our books according to AB Bookman Industry standards, though we do not use VERY FINE
  • Where Book Condition appears as __/__, eg Very Good/Fine, the order is Book/Jacket. 
    For paperbacks or books without jacket the condition will appear as Very Good/N/a or Very Good/none
  • Note - there is some degree of subjectivity in evaluating condition, please see our policy regarding unsatisfactory books.


Book is as fresh, clean and un-marked as if it were a newly shelved book.


The merest mark or shelfwear is acceptable. May show signs of having been carefully read, but no real defects or faults. Note that even new books can have minor spine bumps, rubbing or jacket creases.


A used book showing some signs of wear or rub on either binding or dustjacket. Any defects/faults must be noted.


The average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must be noted.

FAIR (Fair)

A worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title page, etc. (which must be noted). Binding, dustjacket, etc. may also be worn. All defects/faults must be noted.

POOR [Poor or Reading Copy (RC)]

A book that is sufficiently worn that its only merit is the complete text, which must be legible. Any missing maps or plates will still be noted. May be soiled, scuffed, stained, or spotted, and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc. All major defects will be noted.


Must always be designated as such no matter what the condition of the book.


Must always be noted as such no matter what the condition of the book.


A book in which the text block, including illustrations, is complete but the binding is lacking, or in such poor condition it is beyond realistic restoration efforts.


Must be noted.

If issued with one, the lack of a dustjacket or slipcase must always be noted.