book Terms

Some frequently used terms in the hobby:

Advance Reading Copy (ARC):  A copy of a book that is generally a soft cover and is circulated to reviewers and booksellers prior to the actual publication date of the trade edition.

As New:  A book that is in same condition as the day it was published. "Very fine" or "mint" grades of a book usually mean the same thing.

Association Copy:  A book that has been signed by the author to a recipient, giving the book more value than that of a signature alone. Some examples of this association might be a book signed to a famous personality, a family member, or a close friend.

Autographed:  A book or document that has been hand signed by someone, usually the author. But be careful, a seller may use this term even if a Hemingway first edition has been signed by Mark Hamill.

Bastard Title Page:  The page in a book just after the front free end page and just before the full title page. This page usually contains only the title of the book.

Bibliography:  A list of titles by a specific author and/or publisher, sometimes printed in the back of a book.

Blind Stamp:  An uncolored stamp or embossing on the pages or boards of a book. This is usually used by an owner and is commonly seen on legal documents.

Blurb:  A reviewer's comment about a book and/or author.

Boards:  The covers of a book.

Book Plate:  A printed label generally affixed to the front paste down or fly leaf of a book by a former owner or library.  Book plates are common instruments for autographs as well.

Broadside:  A large sheet of paper with printing on one side.

Bumped:  A bent corner of a book, usually caused by dropping or rough handling in and out of a shelf.  If Greg Snider held your book, it is most certainly going to be bumped J

Calf Leather:  The most common leather used in the binding process of a book bound in leather.

Caption:  A detail or inscription under an illustration.

Chipped:  Small flakes or tears to the edges of a dust jacket, pages or spine of a book.

Cocked:  If the covers of a book are no longer square when the book is laid flat on its back cover, it is said to be cocked.  The term “lean” is also used in these instances.

Colophon:  Publisher information usually located at the rear of a book.  This would include the book's title, author, printer, location of printing, date, paper stock, font etc.

Copyright Page:  The page usually located on the verso, or back, of the title page containing the publisher's information, copyright information and dates.

Cracked:  When the front and/or rear hinge of a book is beginning to break, resulting in a loose cover.  Usually, the inner workings can be seen through the crack.

Deckled Edge:  The rough and irregular edge of hand-made paper. 

Dust Jacket:  A paper cover protecting a book from dirt and wear. It may also be called a dust wrapper.  Generally, a prime source of value to a collector.

Edition:  All copies of a book printed from one typeset. An edition may have multiple printings.

Endpapers: The full-length sheet that attaches to both the inside front and inside boards of the book. Half of the endpaper sheet is the first and last page in a book.  In actual construction of the book terms, the endpapers are the foundation for stability of the product.

Engraving:  An illustration or decoration printed from a wood block or a metal plate.

Ephemera:  Items created for reading and subsequent disposal. Examples of ephemera include letters, magazines, newspapers, movie tickets and advertisements.

Errata:  Errors or misprints discovered after a book has been printed. These were typically corrected by the publisher by including a slip of paper listing the errors. 

Facsimile:  An exact copy of something.

First Edition:  The first appearance of an author's work in book form.  The collector usually means First Edition, First Printing when he says First Edition.  Pay close attention to this detail though.

Fly Leaf:  A binder's blank sheet located at the front and rear of a book.

Front Free End Page (FFEP):  The first page in a book, which is actually half of the front endpaper.

Frontispiece:  A graphic facing the title page of the book, usually an illustration or photograph.

Foxing:  Red or brown stains in aged paper due to rusting or iron in the paper or microorganisms enabled by impurities in the paper.

Half Title Page:  The leaf located just prior to the title page containing only the title of the book.

Impression:  The number of copies of an edition printed from one type setting.  One edition may have more than one impression.  You will see the term “printing” used more often for American books.

Incunabula:  A term used to describe books that were published prior to the year 1500, in the period referred to as the infancy of publishing.

Jacket Flap:  The parts of a dust jacket tucked inside the front and rear endpapers of a book.  This keeps the dust jacket on the book.

Laid-In:  A paper item that is loose inside a book (usually a book plate or a signed card).

Limited Edition:  Any edition limited to a specific number of copies printed.  The art of creating scarcity…

Marbled:  A faux-marble pattern often used for decoration on page edges, gutters and book endpapers.

Paste Down:  See Endpapers.

Parchment:  Special sheepskin used for writing.

Pirate Printing:  A book published and/or distributed without the permission of the author and/or holder of the rights to the book.  Some pirated books have become quite collectible.

Presentation Copy:  A book that is a gift from an author and/or publisher.

Price-Clipped:  The price has been cut off the dust jacket, usually done when the book is being gifted to someone.  Most certainly considered to be one of the major flaws common to books with jackets.

Proof:  A trial print used for proofreading.

Remainder:  Overstock of books from a publisher that is subsequently marked in some fashion and sold at a discounted price on the open market.  This would usually be a stamp or sharpie mark to the gutters of the book.

Review Copy:  A copy of a book sent out for review prior to publication.  Usually found with some sort of publishing prospectus and/or author photo.

Rubbed:  The covers of the book show some wear and/or scuffing.  The resulting covers are dull and considered ‘rubbed’.

Slip Case:  A box made to contain a precious volume, open on one side (where the spine of the book is) to enable viewing of the spine.

Starting:  When an outer hinge is beginning to break. This can also refer to a portion of a book that has come loose and threads are showing.  Please see “cracked” for more on this.

Tipped-In:  A document, page or slip that is attached in the book using paste or glue.

Title Page:  The page after the half title page. The title page generally contains the title of book, the author, the publisher, and occasionally the publication date.

Vellum:  Specially treated calfskin used for bindings, writing or printing. Early documents are known for being printed on vellum.

Verso:  The back of a page.

Wrap, Wrapper or In Wraps:  A paperback book.