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Glossary of Terms

Below is some commonly used book collecting terminology, or abbreviations and references used in book sellers' descriptions. Our glossary will help with some of the jargon used by book collectors and book sellers alike.
In all major Internet browsers (e.g., Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera), pressing Ctrl + F opens the find box that allows you to search for characters, text, and phrases on the current page or use the alphabet links to navigate.


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A trade publication for the rare and antiquarian book industry that was published between 1948 and 1999. Prior to the emergence of internet marketplaces such as Biblio, AB Bookman's was the primary marketplace by which dealers and collectors located and traded in antiquarian books. To this day, the AB Bookman's guidelines for book condition grading remain industry standard.

The usage of this acronym depends entirely on the location of the bookseller. It can be any of these: American Booksellers Association (USA) or Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (UK) or Australian Booksellers Association (AU)

Antiquarian Book Dealers Association of South Carolina

A non-traditional book condition description that generally refers to a book in readable condition, although no standard exists for this term, and the word can be used to describe a wide variety of actual book conditions. It is best to assume that an "acceptable" book is in rough shape but still readable.

All Edges Gilt. Describes a book in which the top, fore edge and bottom of the outside of the pages are decorated with gold gilding.

Age tanning, or browning, occurs over time on the pages of books. This process can show up on just the edges of pages, when this occurs it is sometimes referred to as "edge tanning." This kind of deterioration is commonly seen in books printed before the advent of acid-free paper in the 1980s. In 1984, The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) adopted a voluntary standard under the umbrella of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO), that provides consistency for the production of acid-free paper resistant to tanning and other forms of aging.
NISO was founded in 1939 as a volunteer organization, and in 1983 became a non-profit corporation accredited by ANSI. NISO's membership is composed of organizations that include libraries and archives, as well as prominent publishers and IT groups. In addition to paper standards, this group works to ensure the integrity of information in every form.
Archivists have long dealt with the problem of deteriorating books and papers. While processes developed in the 1930s and standardized in the 1980s make this issue less of a problem for newer volumes, the browning of pages in older books will continue to be both part of the charm and challenge of book collecting.

American Library Association

Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers (AU / NZ)

Advance Review Copy, a specially printed copy of the book, generally paperback, which has been produced and distributed by the publishers for promotional purposes, given to bookstores, editors, and reviewers. Issued in advance of the official publication date of the trade edition, it is often distributed with other promotional materials, such as a publisher's letter or a photograph of the author. It may also be wrapped in the dust jacket that will later accompany the hardcover trade edition. In most cases it will denote "Advance Review Copy" somewhere on the cover, sometimes accompanied by the words "Not for sale". This statement appears because publishers often seek to prevent review copies from entering the market and possibly competing with the later issuance of the trade hardback.
Often the line between advance review copies and uncorrected proofs may be blurred a little. The latter are intended for proof readers, but are often distributed similarly to press and media for review purposes. Both of these kinds of editions sometimes contain a publisher's slip, with additional information about marketing or the book itself.
Advance review copies are typically not as attractive as the trade first, and as such, their desirability for collectors is somewhat ambiguous. On the one hand, collectors often seek primacy of a particular work, which the ARC usually represents. On the other, of course, the advance review copy just isn't as "sexy" as a hardcover. As a result, values on review copies can vary wildly from title to title, from heavily collected to being fodder for a bookshop's free bin.

The book is pristine and free of any defects, in the same condition as when it was first newly published. The textblock is tight, showing no signs of prior use. The dust jacket, if there is one, is similarly free of any wear, flaws or defects.

An association copy is a copy of a book which has been signed and inscribed by the author for a personal friend, colleague, or person of historical significance. In addition to the signature, the author will generally address the person to whom they are inscribing the book with a salutation and perhaps a personal note. It is important to distinguish between an association copy and an inscribed book. While both have signatures and inscriptions accompanying them, the difference remains that an association copy is inscribed to a a person of significance to either the author or society, rather than to "George". Sometimes accompanying materials such as an inlaid letter are necessary to identify and establish the provenance of an association copy claim. Association copies can be highly desirable to serious book collectors, due to both their significance in understanding the broader context of the author's work and surrounding period of history, but also because of their comparative scarcity and uniqueness.


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Bibliography of American Literature (commonly abbreviated as BAL in descriptions) is the quintessential reference work for any student of american literature. BAL was originally published in 9 volumes by the Bibliographical Society of America by Yale University Press between 1955 and 1991 with Jacob Blanck as it's lead editor and later finished by Michael Winthrop and Virginia L. Smyers it provides descriptive bibliographic reference for more than 40,000 works from over 300 authors including physical characteristics of different editions of each work. While not necessarily considered collectible unto itself, BAL is indispensable as a reference to any collector or dealer in american literature and is often cited in descriptive bibliographies. While it is now available online from a variety of sources by subscription, it can also be purchased in print, either in full or by volume. A common bibliographic citation for BAL might appear something like BAL 6934, the number indicating which entry is referenced.

A generic term denoting a book which was produced or distributed by one of any number of book club organizations. Usually the overall quality of the book's materials is lower than the same book as printed by a traditional publishing house.

Common term for the covers of a hardbound book. The term 'boards' refers to the thick cardboard under the paper or cloth covering on the outside of the book. The cardbaord manufactured and used for that specific purpose is called binder's board. Some of the earliest forms of bound books would have used actual wooden boards, often covered with leather, sewn over the pages of the text. Vellum or parchment pages were reactive to changes in humidity, causing the potential for the pages to not lay flat as they reacted to their environment. Heavy wooden coverings on the book would help keep the pages flat. As book binding transitioned to the use of paper instead of animal skin, the need for heavy wooden boards was reduced, so publishers would use a pasteboard or cardboard covered with leather or cloth in place of wood.

Beveled edges, or beveled boards, describe a technique of binding in which the edges of book boards have been cut into slanted angles. This is a purely esthetic look created for books.

Binding copy refers to a book that desperately needs rebinding. The cover suffers from significant damage, or can be detached or absent completely. The text should still be completely intact, unless otherwise noted. Note that this is quite different from an advanced review copy (ARC), or advanced reading copy. This kind of book is valued primarily for the information in it. In some cases rare books are still quite valuable despite exterior damage if the text is in good shape.

A blindstamp is a stamped impression, usually an image, logo, words, or design on the cover or spine of a book, without color or other decoration. Sometimes also indicated with the phrase "stamped in blind," "blind" refers to the lack of ink, foil, or other distinguishing coloring. Older books often have quite decorative designs embossed into their covers in this way. Blindstamps are also used on pages, often on flyleaves, by owners of books. The practice of blindstamping is useful for booksellers because they identify specific publishers or or specific editions. Book club editions are often blindstamped, and are also significantly less valuable than standard hardback editions. Until about 10 years ago, ooh clubs, specifically the Book of the Month Club (BOMC) used blindstamps to identify their editions. Book club editions have largely stopped this practice and today generally only issue the book with a different dustjacket. A book that whose entire exterior cover is "tooled" or significantly embossed or designed is typical of many antique editions, but this should not be confused with blindstamps, despite the similarity in appearance.

The blurb refers to the commentary that appears on the dust jacket flaps or the rear of the dustjacket. In the case of a paperback, this might appear on the rear cover of the book. Although it is less common in modern books, previously publishers have also used the front of the book or jacket for blurbs. Often a blurb contains a mixture of plot synopsis and promotional pitch from the publisher, and a small section about the author (perhaps with a photo). Sometimes the blurb might contain snippets of reviews from external media or other authors.

Common term for the covers of a hardbound book. The term 'boards' refers to the thick cardboard under the paper or cloth covering on the outside of the book. The cardbaord manufactured and used for that specific purpose is called binder's board. Some of the earliest forms of bound books would have used actual wooden boards, often covered with leather, sewn over the pages of the text. Vellum or parchment pages were reactive to changes in humidity, causing the potential for the pages to not lay flat as they reacted to their environment. Heavy wooden coverings on the book would help keep the pages flat. As book binding transitioned to the use of paper instead of animal skin, the need for heavy wooden boards was reduced, so publishers would use a pasteboard or cardboard covered with leather or cloth in place of wood.

These are popular books republished and sold at a discounted price by one of these many clubs, the best-known being the Book-of-the-Month Club aka BOMC. The books are printed in a smaller text format on cheaper paper, using cheaper boards, and the dust-wrapper is thinner or printed on uncoated paper stock. Book club editions can be identified by a small blind-stamped dot, square, or circle at the bottom or near the read board. Most editions do not include the printed price on the jacket flap. An alphanumeric code running vertically up the inner margin of the last page of the text block is also a identifying mark of a BOMC edition book. Only collectible in very rare cases.

n informal name for a dealer who makes a practice of dismantling a book in order to sell individual leaves (typically plates or maps). The practice is controversial in cases where the book that is being pieced-out was complete and whole, but in cases of heavily damaged or incomplete books, it can be seen as a method of preserving what is otherwise beyond repair. While some bookssellers disagree with any practice that is not conserving and preserving rare books, the economics of book breaking make it a fairly common practice. A bookseller may buy an older atlas of moderate value, for example, and sell the individual maps from that atlas for a significant a combined amount significantly more than the book's retail value as a whole.

A generic term denoting a book which was produced or distributed by one of any number of book club organizations. Usually the overall quality of the book's materials is lower than the same book as printed by a traditional publishing house.

Highly sought after by some collectors, a book plate is an inscribed or decorative device that identifies the owner, or former owner, of a book. Most often bookplates are affixed to the endpaper of a book. Book plates have a long tradition, and some are collected solely for their artistic or historical value. Others show ownership by famous personages, and can help tell a book's story. Whether a book has been owned by famous people or not, bookplates provide important information about provenance, which helps collectors to establish a book's value. Different countries have different traditions of how bookplates have been used, and this can demonstrate where a book has travelled. Interest in book plates is high in some circles, and whole societies have been created devoted to their study and collection. Journals, catalogues, and collections from these societies, past and present, help contemporary collectors determine the value of other books and their bookplates.

Generally used to refer to a clear plastic cover that is sometimes added to the dustjacket or outside covering of a book. The name refers to the company by the same name which produces many book repair and archival products.

Damage to a book from improper handling or shelving that creates a break in the spine which can cause the cover to be creased, the book to open or stop at a certain section, or the pages become loose and fall out.

A plain weave fabric normally made from cotton or linen which is stiffened with starch or other chemicals to cover the book binding or when rebinding. Buckram covering is strong, moisture resistant and mildew resistant best used when covering repeatedly handled books, such as library books.

Indicates that the affected part of the book has been impacted in such a way so as to cause a flattening, indention, or light bending.


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Calf or calf hide is a common form of leather binding. Calf binding is naturally a light brown but there are ways to treat the skin to create different decorative looks. Calf skin bindings include: Diced Calf: Decorative diamonds or squares cut or scored into the leather. Marbled: The leather is stained with diluted acid to produce a swirling effect. Mottled Calf: The diluted acid from marbling is applied here to produce splotched designs. Paneled Calf: A rectangular design of framed lines tooled into the leather or expressed with gilt on a cover or spine. Polished Calf: A reflective finish created by polishing the leather. Reversed Calf: The inner side of the calf skin is facing outward. Spanish Calf: Flecks dyed into the calf skin with red and green acid. Speckled Calf: A diluted acid mixture that creates small dark specks, or spots, on the leather Tree Calf: Stained by chemicals to produce a dark pattern on the boards.

A hardcover book where the entire textblock is bound separately from the covers by means of either glue or stitching. The pages of the text are bound together and then united to the outside coverings by means of endpapers. The endpapers are attached to the back of the textblock and then glued to the book covers.

A very short, cheaply produced volume, of a few leaves. Modern chapbooks may be a collection of folded leaves loosely held in a folded cardboard or stiff paper cover, or the pages might be stapled. Historically, chapbooks were introduced in the 16th Century to meet the demands of a growing literate populace by allowing for very cheap books. The term chapbook was introduced in the early 19th Century, referring to chapmen, a term describing street peddlers who were the common salesmen of these cheap volumes.

A defect in which small pieces are missing from the edges; fraying or small pieces of paper missing the edge of a paperback, or a dust jacket. A chipped dust jacket, or book cover is best preserved in a protective covering.

A protective box designed for storing and preserving a bound book or loose sheets. A clamshell box is hinged on one side, with the remaining three sides of both the top and bottom of the box extending in such a way that one side neatly fits into the other when closed. Clamshell boxes are used for archival and decorative purposes in library archives and the rare book trade to protect delicate bindings or to house pages of loose manuscripts and other unbound materials. Often a clamshell box will be custom fit by a binder for a a specific volume, fitting it precisely and decorated to convey the character of the content, sharing many of the same traits as fine book binding. Clamshell boxes can also be prefabricated for archival purposes in libraries and institutions.

Closed tear indicates a torn page in which no material has been lost. A closed tear can be pressed back into place or sometimes fixed with archival repair tape.

"Cloth-bound" generally refers to a hardcover book with cloth covering the outside of the book covers. The cloth is stretched over the boards, and is mainly to protect and shield the book from any damage. The cloth can then be printed on, embossed, or stamped for decorative purposes or with designs of book information details. A decorative cloth binding can also consist of embroidery in rare cases. The terms ‘original cloth’, ‘publishers cloth’, and ‘edition cloth’ all refer to publications using the cloth binding technique for book collectors.

Refers to a state where the spine of a book is lightly "twisted" in such a way that the front and rear boards of a book do not align when the book is lying flat. Severity may differ.

The colophon contains information about a book's publisher, the typesetting, printer, and possibly even includes a printer's device. The term colophon is Latin for top, summit or finishing. In early books, the colophon was usually found at the end of the text, register, or index. Later this became known as the title page. Modern books still contain the colophon, often located at the end of the text or on the verso of the title-leaf. Modern colophon often include data such as printing company, the typefaces used, the ink and paper, if it was printed on recycled paper, etc.

A completist is a book collector who seeks all collectible editions of a particular title, subject, author, or other focus of their collection. Rather than just seeking the first edition of a book or work, a completist may seek all first appearances, including foreign publications, and works and objects ancillary to the book. A completist that collects a particular author seeks to assemble and exhaustive collection of all that author's works, in all states. A completist may also, for example, seek to obtain the manuscript editions, and even the typewriter that was used by the author, as well as the books they produced on it.

The page in a book that describes the lineage of that book, typically including the book's author, publisher, date of publication and generally the printing history of that book. This page is typically within the first few pages of a book on the verso of the title page. It is referred to as the copyright page for the simple reason that it will often make a legal statement of who owns the rights to publication of the material in the book The copyright generally offers a wealth of additional information to readers, collectors and libraries, including the Library of Congress number for US books, the ISBN for recent publications, credits for the author, editor, and other important personnel in the production of the book, and often even typographical details.

In reference to a hinge or a book's binding, means that the glue which holds the opposing leaves has allowed them to separate, revealing the stitching or binding underneath.

A term often used to indicate a book's new-like condition. Indicates that the hinges are not loosened. A book described as crisp will not have 'well-read' pages, i.e., where the book will naturally open to certain pages or sections.


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An imprinted decoration or mark on the outside cover of a book. Publishers will press a design or mark into a book's cover for various reasons, such as the convention of the publisher Alfred A Knopf who presses their logo into the back board, near the hinge on their hardcover editions.
Book club edition publishers would historically mark their editions by placing a small deboss in the back board. This would typically either be a small inked dot or square, or an uncolored deboss. An uncolored deboss is sometimes referred to as a blind stamp. A deboss is the opposite of emboss in which the docorative area is raised from the surrounding surface rather than being pressed into the surface.

Deckle edge is the feathered edge of a page. Traditionally and historically, this was a side effect of the process of making paper. At the semi-liquid stage of paper making, a form called a deckle was used to create the size and shape of the sheet. Some of the paper seeping below the edge of the deckle would form an uneven edge on the outside. When the final sheet was then cut, the outside edges would form the fore edge of the book, leaving a slightly uneven edge. Modern publishers will sometimes use paper that creates that same effect as a decorative device. Contemporary book buyers may at times mistake that uneven page edge for a manufacturing defect, as the page edge looks somewhat like paper that has been ripped, rather than cut, but the effect is intended to be a reference to the history of publishing, and thus is often considered to be esthetically more refined than uniformly machine-cut edges.

A copy of a book inscribed by the author and personally presented to the dedicatee mentioned in the book.

Borders on the inner edge of a book with a lacy pattern, most often gilt. Popular in France during the 18th century on covers of books, used more on the inside of modern books.

Especially for older books, a printer's device refers to an identifying mark, also sometimes called a printer's mark, on the title page or the colophon. A device can be quite ornate, and stylized. Printing houses relied on this mark as their brand, far more than bindings or book covers, since in previous centuries books could be rebound several times over its life.
The use of printer's marks goes back to the fifteenth century, and collectors of antique books seek out these unique trademarks. Bibliographic studies as recently as the nineteenth century often included directories of printer's marks and devices, and today booksellers and collectors rely on printer's devices to help classify and authenticate books.

A decorative design of repeated diamonds or geometric shapes on the cover, usually on cloth boards. The design is usually in gilt, raised pressing, or ink print.

Also known as book jacket, dust cover, or dust wrapper, a dust jacket is a protective and decorative cover for a book that is usually made with paper and wraps around the binding of a book. The dust cover has folded flaps to cradle the book, those flaps often contain a summary of the book, a blurb about the author of the book, and something features illustrations or text excerpts from the book. The dust jacket first appeared in the early 1800's as a way to protect the bindings of a book and to keep it clean from dust or other damage. As most readers threw the plain jackets into the trash, early dust jacket examples are rare and quite collectible. Later in the 1920's, covers became more decorative and highly prized due to the illustrations or book award seals, and more readers kept the dust jackets on their books. Original dust jackets in good condition greatly increases the value of a modern first edition.

The restoring of a book to the original condition; repairing or mending a book to working order.

A duodecimo is a book approximately 7 by 4.5 inches in size, or similar in size to a contemporary mass market paperback. Also called a twelvemo, duodecimo comes from Latin, and refers to the practice of taking a standard printing sheet from a printing press, and folding and refolding it until the pages are at the desired size. More familiar terms include folio or quarto, which (at least originally), referred to pages folded in half, or quarters, respectively. Once the folds were made, the outside edges are trimmed before binding. An octavo, one eighth the size of a standard printed sheet used by book printers is about the size of a contemporary hardback book or trade paperback.
A duodecimo page is one twelfth the size of the original printed paper, and on a standard modern printing generally ends up close to 7 inches in height and about 4 1/2 inches wide after trimming. This is an example of a duodecimo sized printing and binding:


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A book which is produced and supplied in an electronic form only, rather than a printed edition, known also as a digital book or e-edition.
Ebooks are book publications in digital form which contain text, images, or both. Ebooks can be opened and read on a computer or other e-book formatted electrical devices.

The double leaves bound into a book at the front and rear after printing. These pages consist of a double-size sheet that is folded, one half is pasted against the inside cover and the other is serving as the first free page in the book. These endpapers are usually left blank and in rare cases printed information is placed here. When seeking an autograph an author or artist of a book usually sign this space. Bookplates can also be stamped here or glued in to this empty page.

The collective of the top, fore and bottom edges of the text block of the book, being that part of the edges of the pages of a book not covered by the spine. Often referred to in combination as all edges, EG: All Edges Gilt (AEG).

Endbands, also called headbands or tailbands, are portions of colored material sewn or adhered at the head and tail of a book spine, slightly hidden under the headcaps of the leather covering.
This technique adds strength to the binding head and tail at the joints. Endbands provide a firm grip to the text pages across the spine.

Erasures indicates marks where someone has removed bits of text or content from a book.
In Book Arts, erasures can also mean a type of poetry where the contents of a book is narrowed and picked apart to create a poem.

A piece of paper either laid in to the book correcting errors found in the printed text after being printed and intended corrections to book content. Erratas are commonly placed in the book after the first publishing and later corrected in future editions.

A former library book, generally containing library acquisition and ownership stamped markings, and other typical indications of the library's use. Books legitimately released from institutional libraries such as a school library, public library, historical society, university, etc. Also named "ex-lib" will be lower in resale value due to library card pockets, rubber stamp identification information on spine or title pages, catalog numbers inked or stamped on inside or outside of book, call tags, bookplates, and normal to excessive wear and tear to the book itself due to the library lending system. When a listing states ex-library be aware of the condition and reach out to the bookseller for photos or more information concerning the book.


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An exact copy of an original work. In books, it refers to a copy or reproduction, as accurate as possible, of an original source, whether a book, map, manuscript, or other historical item.

A worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title, etc. (which must be noted). Binding, jacket (if any), etc., may also be worn. All defects must be noted. (defined by AB Bookman's Weekly)

A common abbreviation for Front Free EndPaper. Generally, it is the first page of a book and is part of a single sheet that also spans across the inside of the front board (called the front pastedown) via a fold along the gutter with the purpose of connecting the boards to the stitched textblock. As a result of this purpose, the paper quality of the ffep is generally of a heavier weight than those used for the pages of the book, and is often decorative. The front free endpaper (or ffep) is also a common place to encounter signatures or inscriptions. Also, the gutter between the ffep and front pastedown is a very common place to encounter damage to a book, notably a cracked binding. The following shows a book open, exposing its pastedown and endpapers (these are called marbled endpapers). The pastedown is on the left, the gutter is in the center, and the front free endpaper is on the right:

A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the crispness of an uncirculated, unopened volume. Any flaws of any kind must be clearly noted as exceptions to fine condition, as in "small crease on FFEP, else fine". Fine condition is abbreviated as "F", or "F/F" when describing a book and dust jacket that are both in fine condition.

An elaborate and decorative binding, example including a leather-bound book with gilt edges, raised blind stamps, raised ribs, or even a cover that is embedded with jewels or embroidered.

In book collecting, the first edition is the earliest published form of a book. A book may have more than one first edition in cases where it has been published in multiple forms, including foreign releases or editions with substantially changed content such as an illustrated or a limited edition. Typically, the earliest version of the book is considered the first edition, with subsequent releases referred to as 'first edition thus' or 'first thus'. In collecting, first edition refers to the first printing unless a later printing is specifically stated. Identifying first editions can often be a little more complicated than it appears, and just because a publisher states the words "first edition" does not necessarily mean the book is a first edition. To further complicate things, the implication between different points of issue is vital to identification.

Used in book collecting to refer to a book from the earliest run of a first edition, generally distinguished by a change in some part of the binding or correction of the text which has been made in later versions of the first edition print run.

Indicates that this is not the first appearance of a book in print, but that this is the first appearance in a substantially different format than the true first edition. For example, a first illustrated edition of a book, or even a first paperback release of a book originally published in hard cover.

The portion of a book cover or cover jacket that folds into the book from front to back. The flap can contain biographical information about the author, ISBN, a short summary of the book, date of publishing or publisher name, and the cost of the book.
The flap also protects the book edges from wear and spine from shelf wear or other damage.

A flatsigned book is signed, and not inscribed, directly on a page of the book, rather than on a bookplate or with an accompanying inscription.
Flatsigned means the same thing as signed, thus, most books that have a standalone signature will simply be described as signed. Any further personalization will make the book inscribed.

The additional blank page or leaf that immediately follows the front or back endpapers.

former owner's intials.

A folio usually indicates a large book size of 15" in height or larger when used in the context of a book description. Further, folio sizes are often sub-divided and described as being one of:

- Crown folio (15" - 18")
- Medium folio (18" - 20")
- Royal folio (20" - 23")
- Elephant folio (23" - 25")
- Atlas folio (25" - 50")
- Double elephant folio (50" and up)
However, folio also has a distinct meaning when describing a type of binding: a folio is a method of binding sheets of paper into leaves, whereby a single printed sheet of paper is folded once. Several folios are usually laid inside of one another, creating a gathering which is in turn stitched into a book.


Former Owner's Name. Indicates that the previous owner of the book has written their name in the book.

The portion of a book that is opposite the spine. That part of a book which faces the wall when shelved in a traditional manner.
Depending on context, may refer to either the text edges, or the board edges. The fore edge of the text block may be decorated in some cases, such as gilding, stain, or deckle edge, or in the most opulent example of decoration, fore edge painting.

Foxing is the age related browning, or brown-yellowish spots, that can occur to book paper over time. When this aging process happens to the paper in a book it is referred to as "foxed". The term may come from the rust brown color of the paper aging process or from a chemical used to coat paper called ferric oxide. Foxing may also be caused by fungal growth on the paper, chemical reactions, or high humidity.

Indicates that the cloth, paper, or other outer shell which covers the books boards has been worn to a point that it has exposed the boards beneath, and leaving the outer fringes aroung the exposure jagged or torn.

A portrait or illustration on the page opposing the title page.


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A pre-publication state of a book. A galley proof edition has already undergone all basic edits for content and corrections, but is still prior to the final commercial production of a book. The term refers to the historic process of book printing using moveable block letters. The letter blocks would be laid into the galleys to that held the type, and the proof copy would be printed from those galleys. In modern times, the term is often fairly interchageable with uncorrected proof and advanced review copy. Galleys may be sent to reviewers and book stores as pre-relase promotion for upcoming titles. Those galley editions may seep into the used book market. Since the galley edition precedes the initial publication of the book, it may techincally be the first appearance of that book, and as such, could be considered collectible. Typically, the unfinished appearance of the book detracts from its collectiblity, but completists will seek all collectible editions, including galleys, advanced review copies and/or uncorrected proofs.

A term used in bookbinding, where a gathering of sheets is folded at the middle, then bound into the binding together. The gathering can be seen from the top or bottom of the book. Older books are gathered and sewn together while newer books are glued at the gathering called "perfect binding".

A decorative pattern pressed into the edges of the text block, typically in combination with gilding.

The decorative application of gold or gold coloring to a portion of a book on the spine, edges of the text block, or an inlay in the front cover of the boards, for example. It is added by applying gold powder or a thin sheet of gold (Gold Leaf) to a cover, board or pages. Gilting is not only for decorative reasons it also serves a purpose. When applied with glue, gilt helps to protect the page edges from moisture, browning, and dust. Gold paint can also be applied but may scuff or chip.

A thin, partially transparent or translucent paper covering often used as the protective outer layer for a book dust jacket. The glassine wrapper is sometimes printed on, most the time just a clear covering.

Goatskin, leather made from goat, is durable and easy to dye. The original and finest examples of Morocco binding are goatskin.

Good describes the average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must be noted. (as defined by AB Bookman's Weekly). While generally not considered an acceptable condition for collectors (except in cases of very scare material), a good condition book usually suffices as a reading copy.
good+ indicates condition slightly better than good. Good is most often abbreviated in listings as G or Gd.

A type of intaglio printing using plates or cylinders to create a carved or sunken design.

The inside margin of a book, connecting the pages to the joints near the binding.


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Indicates a book bound at the spine and corners with one material and the rest in another material.

The blank front page which appears just prior to the title page, and typically contains only the title of the book, although, at times, the author's name and/or other information may appear. A half title can be decorative or just a plain page with typeface of the book title.

A strip of colored material attached to the text block at the top of the spine of a hard cover book. The same treatment applied to the bottom of the spine is called the tailband. Both may also be called endbands.
Traditionally these were made of mercerized cotton or silk sometimes wrapped around a leather core. The endbands were then sewn or stitched onto the text block and the boards to reinforce the binding. Modern printers use end bands mainly as a decorative feature, and they are glued to the text block.

The lower most portion of the spine when the book is standing vertically.

The portion of the book closest to the spine that allows the book to be opened and closed

A very recently published book where the market price has increased quickly due to book collectors speculating on the future value.


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International Antiquarian Mapsellers's Association

Independent Booksellers' Network (UK)

International League of Antiquarian Booksellers

Incunabula (incunable or incunabulum) refers to a book printed before 1501 - a pamphlet, a book or document that was not handwritten, but produced with movable type before the start of the 16th century in Europe. Two types of incunabula in printing are the typographic book, made with individual pieces of cast metal movable type on a printing press. The other type is the "Block Book" or book created with woodcuts designs created on a single block of carved wood that was pressed on each page, also known as xylographic.

Indicates a short note written by the author or a previous owner has been written in the book (usually on the ffep or front pastedown) and is generally accompanied by a signature. Inscriptions from the author can enhance the value.

An edition of a textbook produced for teachers or lecturers, sometimes containing supplementary material intended for assisting in creating lesson plans.

An international edition textbook has been printed or produced for distribution in markets outside of the originating country's market, usually at a substantially lower cost. An international edition will typically the same characteristics of the original edition, but often with varying characteristics such as a difference ISBN, the inclusion of CD ROMs or other supplementary materials.

Independent Online Booksellers' Association (IOBA)

International Standard Book Number is a unique identifier for commercial publications. Standardized in 1970 as a 10-digit number (sometimes X can appear in the last position, which is an algorithmic checksum), it was later expanded to 13-digits in 2007 in order to make it more compatible with common point of sale systems for products other than books. The ISBN is printed on the copyright page but also generally found in the bar-code label on the rear cover or jacket of a book or jacket flap. Occasionally it might be found on the front cover, especially on older paperbacks.


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See dust jacket above


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If you find any, let us know!


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indicates that there is something which is included with, but not attached to the book, such as a sheet of paper. The paper item can be a letter, picture, press release, map, or postcard which is loose inside the book. In rare book collecting, an autograph from the author can sometimes be laid-in, increasing the value of the book.

used in book collecting to refer to a book from a later run of a first edition, generally distinguished by a change in some part of the binding or correction of the text which has been made during the first edition print run.

Very generally, "leaves" refers to the pages of a book, as in the common phrase, "loose-leaf pages." A leaf is a single sheet bound in a book, and a leaf has two pages. The first page that you read on a leaf is the recto page, and you turn it over to read the verso page. Books are classified into sizes based on the height versus width of their leaves. See "folio," "quarto," "duodecimo," and "octavo" to learn more about book sizes. A folded grouping of leaves is a "gathering."

A letter line is a convention occasionally used by publishers to denote the printing of a particular book. It is generally located on the copyright page and consists of a sequence of letters, the lowest alphabetically of which generally indicates the number of the printing (for example, "A" indicates a 1st printing, "B" a second printing, "C" a third printing, etc.).

A type of reinforced binding designed for libraries, schools, or other applications where a book might experience high circulation. In some cases a library or institution will replace the original binding of a book or periodical with a strong, utilitarian binding. In other cases, a publisher will offer a library binding edition as an option directly from the publisher or distributor, especially as an option for paper back original (pbo). As a result of differing ways that a book may receive a library binding there is not one typical appearance of library bound editions, but a typical version of a library binding produced by a publisher would be similar to a standard high school or college textbook with glossy pictorial paper over stiff cardboard with reinforced hinges.

A book bound in a flexible leather or cloth. The covering material is not affixed to boards, as are traditional hardcover books. Instead, limp bound books rely on the stiff paste-downs to retain their form. The resultant volume is flexible, similar to a paperback, but covered in leather or cloth. Limp bindings are sometimes also pared with yapp edges.

Little magazines are periodicals that publish experimental and non-conformist work of relatively unknown writers and artists. They are often noncommercial in their outlook and occasionally irregular in their publication. Little magazines played a significant role for the writers and artists who shaped the avant-garde movements like Modernism and Post-modernism across the world in the twentieth century.

Library of Congress


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A hardcover book with a decorative colored paper that imitates marble using a mottled, veined, or swirling pattern.

Decorative colored paper that imitates marble with a veined, mottled, or swirling pattern. Commonly used as the end papers or covering for the outside of a hardcover book.

Marginalia are notes written in the margins, or beside the text of a book by a previous owner. This is different from an inscribed book. An inscription is a short signed note written in the front of a book. A book owned by a famous person with notes hand-written by that person can greatly increase the value of a collectible book.

Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers

Mass market paperback books, or MMPBs, are printed for large audiences cheaply. This means that they are smaller, usually 4 inches wide by 7 inches tall, and the text is in a smaller font. These smaller sized books are often called pocket books, and they do fit easily into a purse or a back pocket.
The standardization of this size is thought to come from the duodecimo size of printed books in the early era of printing. Many books are printed only as mass market paperback initially. In this case, they become highly collectible as first edition/first printing editions.

Mildew is an all-too-common affliction that plagues books and erodes their collectibility, value and preservation. A fungus caused by an abundance of moisture and lack of proper airflow, it can readily discolor and distort cloth and paper. Left unattended, mildew will progress and further damage a book. In addition, it can pose a health risk to those living around books that suffer from mildew. While the damage caused by mildew is likely permanent, it is usually possible to arrest further degradation by removing mildew from the book.

A book that is less then 3 inches in width and length. Books created this small were usually adaptations of larger books for easier transport and whimsy. Miniatures can be as small as half an inch with elaborate details such as raised bands and gilt.

Morocco is a style of leather book binding that is usually made with goatskin, as it is durable and easy to dye.
There are several types of bindings for Morocco goatskin: Crushed Morocco: No noticeable grain, as it has been flattened by pressing, ironing, or rolling the goatskin.
Levant Morocco: Exquisite elegant style of Morocco where the large grain is left and the goatskin is highly polished.
Niger Morocco: A rustic look created by rubbing the goatskin, making a subtle grain and flexible leather. The name derived from it's the point of origin in West Africa.
Straight-Grain Morocco: A style created by moistening the skin and creating a artificial parallel grain.

an edition of a book which is produced in conjunction with a movie which is usually based on the book, often with a cover image taken from the movie.


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no publisher's date given

Close to being a book in fine condition which exhibits very few flaws.

A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects, "new" is not actually a description of condition as a new book may possibly display shelf wear from the shop or distributor supplying it or printing errors or defects from publishing that were not detected. The actual specifics of a new book may be hard for a bookseller to state or predict as they may be shipping one of any number of copies of the title to fill the order. This, as opposed to As New which describes a used book that is determined to be free of any faults or wear.

A series of numbers appearing on the copyright page of a book, where the lowest number generally indicates the printing of that particular copy (e.g., a "1" would mean a first printing, and a "29" would indicate a 29th printing).


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Another of the terms referring to page or book size, octavo refers to a standard printer's sheet folded four times, producing eight leaves, or sixteen pages. Other standard sizes include folio which is folded only once, quarto which is folded twice for four leaves, and duodecimo, folded in a specific pattern for twelve leaves or twenty four pages.

A copy of an article or reference material that once appeared in a larger publication.

A technique of printing where the inked image or text is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket, and finally to surface of a page or paper, thus "off-setting" the print.
There were two main kinds of off-set printing - one used in 1875 in England for printing on tin, and in 1904 in the United States for use with printing on paper.

orginal cloth

former owner's intials.


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A hardcover book designed to be presented without a dust jacket. In modern hardcover publishing, the dust jacket covering the outside of a book was meant as the decorative portion of a book. In paper-over-boards, the covering materials on the front and back covers are typically decorated, eliminating the need for a separate dust jacket.

Pages or book covering made from a prepared animal skin. Parchment describes any animal skin used for books, while vellum is a specific form of parchment made exclusively from calf skin.
The popularity of parchment was in part due to the durability. Tough, supple and resistent to decay with age, the main disadvantages to parchment are its susceptibility to humidity that can cause warping in textblocks, and it's cost of production. Another advantage to parchment was its ability to be "erased" for reuse by scraping the surface. A reused parchment is called a palimpsest.

The paste-down is the portion of the endpaper that is glued to the inner boards of a hardback book. The paste-down forms an essential part of a book's structure, and along with the exterior binding of the book, comprises the hinge of the book's cover. The paste-down keeps the text pages of the book in place, and fixed to the cover. In addition, the paper covers the inside edges of the book's binding. A modern paste-down is a single page, and includes the flyleaf. In the past, a fancier version of both the paste-down and flyleaf was called the doublure, and was usually made of two parts, a silk flyleaf and leather board covering. The paste-down and the flyleaf are both common places for inscriptions and signatures. This illustration shows an example of a paste-down with a previous owner's name inscribed, also showing the inside edge of the dustjacket.

A paperback book. These books can be a mass-market paperback editions, or trade paperback editions.

Provincial Booksellers' Fairs Association

paper back original. Indicates that the paperback release is the first publication of the book, without a hardcover edition precedin

Partially chipped (dustjacket)

Pebbled cloth or leather describes the covering of a hardcover book with a decorative texture of repeated small raised bumps, somewhat resembling tiny pebbles one supposes. First introduced around 1860, pebbled decoration on the cloth or leather covering the boards of a book became a common method of adding a decorative texture and is still used in some cases by contemporary publishers, although more commonly now to give an antique appearance to a new book.

Partially chipped (dustjacket)

Pictorial wraps are color illustrated covers for paperback books. Preceding mass-market paperbacks, this format brought popular best-selling titles to a wider reading public. The practice of printing low cost books in eye catching colors goes back to the nineteenth century, and Victorian-era readers were long familiar with the practice. Many of these books were reprints, but much like paperbacks today, some works were printed in this form originally, including books by notable authors such as Mark Twain.

Full page illustration or photograph. Plates are printed separately from the text of the book, and bound in at production. I.e., they are not sewn as parts of gatherings.

Points are physical attributes that are specific to a printing or edition of a book, such as a typo on a specific page that was corrected in later printings of a book. An issue of a book is a specific change in the book during the printing of an edition. A first edition of a book may sometimes have two or more states, which would be defined by a change or correction in the text, binding style, or any other physical feature of the book during the first edition printing. In fact, the difference between a first and second state book can often number several distinctions. Typically, the first state of a first printing would be the most desirable copy for a book collector, although there are several notable exceptions to this rule.

A book with significant wear and faults. A poor condition book is still a reading copy with the full text still readable. Any missing pages must be specifically noted.

When a book is described as price-clipped, it indicates that the portion of the dust jacket flap that has the publisher's suggested retail price has been cut off. This may have been done by the original retail bookseller to avoid customer confusion, or when a person gives the book as a gift, or even by the publisher when remaindering the book. Generally, this is the top corner of the inner front flap of the jacket, but can be located at the bottom of the same flap. The cut is usually a clean 1-2" diagonal cut, but may also be square.
A jacket that has been price-clipped technically should never be described as better than Very Good condition, although it isn't uncommon to see the statement "... in a price-clipped jacket, else fine..."

A book which is printed by special order. Often a paperback printing, reproduced by scanning or photocopying the text from a copy of a book, reproduced with permission.

Common abbreviation for 'published'

A hardcover book comprised of cloth over hard pasteboard boards. Beginning toward the middle of the 19th Century, publishers began moving toward a tradition where the book had a finished binding as it was offered directly from the publisher. Prior to this change, the binding that a book was first produced with was considered to be a temporary covering awaiting a book binder to finalize with a fine leather covering. By the end of the 19th Century, the decorative cover that a publisher applied to a printed book was accepted to be the final binding, and publishers were customarily using the decoration and covering material of the binding as a sales tool and to reflect the content of the book.

A piece of paper from the publisher included in an advance review copy or an uncorrected proof copy of a book. A publisher's slip usually provides information such as the anticipated publication date, the number of pages, and possibly contains advance marketing information such as publicity tours, or books signings.

Magazines published primarily in the 20th Century named for the cheaply produced wood pulp paper on which they were printed. The quality of the materials used in production was in keeping with the stories printed in the magazines. Cheap and accessible, but not intended to last very long. These magazines became popular diversions for readers, offering hard working writers a steady income, and thus introducing the world to many significant writers, especially in the genres of mystery and science fiction.


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Quality paperback is simply another term for a trade paperback, describing a paperback generally the approximate size of a hardcover book.

The term quarto is used to describe a page or book size. A printed sheet is made with four pages of text on each side, and the page is folded twice, and cut to fit inside the binding. 4 leaves, or 8 pages of text are created this way. It is one of several standard sizes of books, including folio, octavo, and duodecimo.


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Raised bands refer to the ridges that protrude slightly from the spine on leather bound books. The bands are created in the binding process, and show the structure of cord-bound books. On modern books bound by machines, these bands are sometimes introduced artificially to heighten the air of dignity on a newer edition.

Describes a book that has had the material covering the spine replaced or joints mended.

Indicates a book that is perfectly serviceable for reading. It may have a defect or damage. Not generally regarded as collectible.

The portion of the endpaper which is left loose after binding. The first loose page upon opening a book from the rear. It may be plain or decorative.

having had the material covering the spine replaced. The practice of rebacking is relatively common as the spine of a book often is exposed to the greatest damage and ware, both due to the fact that the spine is typically the portion of the book most exposed to damage from sunlight and dust while on a bookshelf, and as a natural effect of the stresses on the spine of a book in opening and closing during normal use. Additionally, the headband and head of the spine may be torn when the book is removed from the shelf as a result of careless practices ( a book should never be pulled by the spine) Rebacking preserves the majority of the original binding of a book, helping preserve the collectible value. To further help ensure preservation of as much of the originality of the book as possible, the original spine label may be reused in the process of rebacking.

A book in which the pages have been bound into a covering replacing the original covering issued by the publisher.

The page on the right side of a book, with the term Verso used to describe the page on the left side.

Book(s) which are sold at a very deep discount to alleviate publisher overstock. Often, though not always, they have a remainder mark.

Usually an ink marking of some sort which indicates that the book was designated a remainder. In most cases, it can be found on the edges of the text block in the form of a marker stripe or a stamp of some sort.

Any printing of a book which follows the original edition. By definition, a reprint is not a first edition.

Any number of a variety of possible promotional and publicity information included with copies of a book which has been distributed for reviewers and members of the book trade.

Rocky Mountain Antiquarian Booksellers Association

rolled spine or spine rolled. Damage to a book created by pressure to the spine making it fold or crease in the cover. Damage can be from storing the book incorrectly, folding the book cover back, or during the books fabrication.

Abrasion or wear to the surface. Usually used in reference to a book's boards or dust-jacket.


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Lacking the dustjacket.

used in book collecting to refer to a first edition, but after some change has been made in the printing, such as a correction, or a change in binding color.

A hardcover in which the text block is loose, but still attached to the binding.

Shelf wear (shelfwear) describes damage caused over time to a book by placing and removing a book from a shelf. This damage is caused by the book rubbing against the shelf, causing the edges and cover to become worn down or even torn. The book can also receive damage from neighboring books rubbing against the front and back covers causing warping and other damage. The spine and head of the book can also receive damage from being pulled from the shelf without caution.


A protective sleeve, often made of decorative cardboard or leather which houses a book. It is open on one end, so as to allow the book to "slip" in.

Generally refers to minor discoloration or staining.

The outer portion of a book which covers the actual binding. The spine usually faces outward when a book is placed on a shelf. Also known as the back.

The paper or leather descriptive tag attached to the spine of the book, most commonly providing the title and author of the work. With the tradition of fine bindings, the spine label was added after the book was bound so it was not integral to the covering of the book as is typical with modern publishing practices. The title on the spine label may not always be a completely accurate rendition of the book's title as the spine label was intended to identify the book in a private library, not to be a bibliographic record.

The material covering the spine, or the rear portion of the outside of a book.

Damage done to a book cover or dust jacket caused by exposure to direct sunlight. Very strong fluorescent light can cause slight sunning to a book.
Sunning can fade out the design on the cover and it can also sometimes warp or melt the dust jacket.


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The heel of the spine.

A strip of colored material attached to the text block at the bottom of the spine of a hard cover book. See also headband and endband.

Texas Booksellers Association

Most simply the inside pages of a book. More precisely, the block of paper formed by the cut and stacked pages of a book. Collectively, the bound pages of a book as distinct from its covers, boards, end papers, dust jacket or other accoutrements.

meaning that the binding of a book has not been overly loosened by frequent use.

Tipped In is used to describe something which has been glued into a book. Tipped-in items can include photos, book plates, author signatures, postcards etc. A corrected or loose page can sometimes be tipped-in, which can change the value of the book.

A page at the front of a book which may contain the title of the book, any subtitles, the authors, contributors, editors, the publisher or publishing house name, the printer, and in some books the date and time the title was printed, colophon, and devices. It is a relatively modern innovation, as early books such as incunabula did not contain a title page.

table of contents

Top edge gilt refers to the practice of applying gold or a gold-like finish to the top of the text block (the edges the pages that are visible when looking directly down at the top of a closed book). This may be done using actual gold leaf, an alloy with other metals, a gold dust, or a synthetic material made to appear like gold leaf.
Top edge gilt may be commonly abbreviated as TEG or T.E.G.
All edge gilt (AEG, commonly) refers to this same practice applied to all three edges of a book.

Used to indicate any paperback book that is larger than a mass-market paperback and is often more similar in size to a hardcover edition. The term "Trade Paperback" is also used generically to indicate any paperback book that is larger than a mass-market paperback. Old comics are often collected and reprinted in a trade paper edition, and graphic novels are issued in a larger sized version of a trade paperback.

A protective box designed to store books or documents consisting of a closed sided box (tray) with a hinged cover. See also clamshell


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A book or pamphlet which does not have a covering binding, sometimes by original design, sometimes used to describe a book in which the cover has become removed.

An uncorrected proof is a printed copy of a book that needs to be reviewed for errors and corrections. They are released prior to official publication, and generally are very plainly bound, and distributed only for final editing or promotion. This kind of edition is similar to an advance review copy, though technically those copies are supposed to be finished. Often the terms "proof copy" and "review copy" are used interchangeably. Both of these kinds of editions sometimes contain a publisher's slip, with additional information about marketing or the book itself.

'Uncut pages', or simply 'uncut', traditionally refers to a book which has not been trimmed by rebinding. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century publishers often sold books with a paper or cloth binding intended to be temporary. The purchaser of the book would then make arrangements with a binder to have the book cut and suitably bound, typically in leather. Each time a book is rebound the text block must be trimmed, and multiple rebindings will noticeably reduce the size of the text block and margins of the book.

A collection or series of individual volumes of an author's work bound to match with a uniform size and style. Especially common in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries for successful authors who had attracted a large readership over along period of time. Publisher's advertisements in the rear pages of a book may have advertised other titles from that same author 'uniform with this edition'.

A state in which all or some of the pages of a book have not been separated from the adjacent pages, caused by a traditional method for printing and binding books in which a large sheet of paper was printed with several pages, folded, and bound into the book. Sometimes inappropriately called uncut.


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Vellum is a sheet of specialty prepared skin of lamb, calf, or goat kid used for binding a book or for printing and writing. Vellum is a translucent material produced from the skin of a young animal. The skin is removed, cleaned with chemicals, drawn over a frame to dry, and then cleaned up to create a paper like surface.

The page bound on the left side of a book, opposite to the recto page.

Very Good condition can describe a used book that does show some small signs of wear - but no tears - on either binding or paper. Should not have markings or highlighting, except names inside the front cover. Any defects must be noted. (definition based on AB Bookman's Weekly) A book in very good condition is often cited as the minimum condition requirement for most collectors. Books in grades less than very good, such as good, poor and fair (and the indeterminate acceptable) are not generally accepted as collectible copies, except in the cases of very rare books or manuscripts.

A decorative design or illustration placed at the beginning or end of a book. They can also be located at the beginning or end chapters in a book. It may also specifically refer to an illustration without a border that fades into the background. In the middle ages, "vignettes" referred to an engraved design that was placed over a printed letter press page.


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Worldcat is a collaborative effort produced by OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) and supported and used by 72,000 libraries in countries around the world. It's principal aim is to create a union catalog wherein a user can search and discover books and other holdings from among any of the member libraries.

The paper covering on the outside of a paperback. Also see the entry for pictorial wraps, color illustrated coverings for paperbacks.


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A limp bound book where fore edges of the front and rear covers extend beyond the front and back of the book to fold over the of the textblock. Named for the 19th Century British book binder William Yapp who introduced the technique for pocket sized Bibles. This form of binding is still quite common for contemporary Bibles and has been adopted for some other limp bound volumes. Yapp bindings can be sometimes divided into full yapp and partial yapp. A partial yapp binding has the front and rear material extending partially, but not fully, over the textblock. A full yapp binding would have the extended material covering the textblock edges entirely, possibly overlapping each other.

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