Rare Book Terminology

Everyone has a different meanings for the many words used to describe a book or dustjacket. I want you to understand the intentions behind the words used on this site so below is a short glossary of terms.

Overall Grade:

  • As new – The book is in the same immaculate condition as when it was published. There are no defects, no missing pages, no library stamps, etc., and the dustjacket (if it was issued with one) is perfect, without any tears.
  • Very Excellent – A book or dj with no discernable flaws. Crisp and clean.
  • Excellent – A book or dj that’s just a little used. Still no flaws to mention, just not quite as crisp – perhaps a touch of wear from handling.
    Near Excellent – This book or dj may have a minor flaw or two (which will be noted).
  • Very Good – This denotes a book or dj with some flaws (which will be noted), but still an attractive copy. Dj’s might have a tear and the book might have some bumped corners.
  • Good Plus – This denotes a book or dj which may have multiple flaws (which will be noted). The flaws may be a bit more serious (loose hinges, an interior tear, fold or crease, etc.). Note: The average used book falls into this category.
  • Good – This means that the book or dj is complete and all plates or pictures are present. Serious flaws exist (which will be noted).
  • Fair – The book is, but not a pretty copy. These are usually not offered, but some books are so scarce that even a fair copy is worth having.
  • Incomplete – Something is missing. This could be a fine copy of a book with one page or picture torn out. What is missing with be noted in the description.
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Other Terms Used

  • Wraps – Indicates a softbound book.
  • Ex-Lib or ex libris – Literally “from the library” – Used to describe a book that was in a public library at one time, with envelopes on the flaps and stamps on the spine, etc.

Copyright © 1996 – 2005 Jared Kirby. All Rights Reserved.