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The terminology and subtleties of the book trade can seem rather cryptic, arcane and even stupid. What follows, is a primer of the terms and tactics used among the purveyors and collectors of out-of-print and rare books. Many of these terms have been in use for several hundred years. Unfortunately, the Internet has brought with it a general dumbing-down of any traditional knowledge or nomenclature. Many of these terms are endangered. Read quickly!

64mo., 32mo., 16mo., 12mo., 8vo., 4to., Fo. See sizes.

American Book Prices Current. Either a very poorly formed sentence or an inappropriately named title of a series of books/CDs, published annually, listing the hammer prices of worldwide book and map auctions. The proprietor seems to have lost the proprietary information battle and has illogically priced himself out of the reach of those who might care.

From a collector's point of view, usually implies a reprint, thus not as valuable as an original version. The book does not include the full text (condensed), as opposed to unabridged, which is the complete work.

Advanced (Reading or Uncorrected) Copy.
A copy of a freebie book sent by publishers to reviewers, book store chains, etc., prior to publication, in an effort to build some buzz. Usually soft bound (wrappers). Often found in the wild with no illustrations on the covers. A review (announcement) slip or a confidentiality agreement may be laid in. Ironically, they are the true first editions of many books, but in spite of that, they are collected by only a handful of hardy purists. See proof copy.

All edges gilt. The top, fore-edge and bottom edges are covered with very thin layer of gold foil. Age. The age of a book has very little to do with its value. The value of rare books is determined by demand, condition and edition. Obviously, valuable books may in fact, be old, but age is not the first consideration. There is NO shortage of books from the late 1800s, that have virtually no value, except to the rapacious owner of your local pulp mill. Keep in mind, authors that were popular 100 years ago, for the most part are long forgotten, and probably are not collected unless they are the real deal.

alia. see iana.

ALS. Autographed letter signed. Redundant.

Anchor. see door stop

Annotated. Notes, preferably by the author, offering a brief explanation or description about the subject at hand.

Anthology. A collection of literary works, limited to a specific genre (sci-fi, horror, etc.) or author. Almost never collected, and almost always impossible to sell.

Antiquarian. Antique misspelled. Literal translation: Append price on any given book with a zero.

Apocryphal. A book with spurious authorship.

Appraisals. Dealers solicit appraisals so they can get access to your stuff and buy it — cheap. While this may be a bit of an over-generalization, you get my point. Back in the day, appraisals were very labor intensive and mind-numbingly tedious. Today the appraiser looks the items up on the Internet, jots down some ephemeral price and hopes for the best (meaning you or the IRS don't start asking questions). If you want to learn what your books are worth, you can do most of the heavy lifting yourself (pun intended). Start by looking your books up on bookfinder.com. Prepare to be disappointed! If you need an appraisal for tax or insurance reasons, expect to pay for it. Some of us actually value our knowledge (and time) and charge accordingly. If you are looking for what we affectionately call an "estimate of value", that is another thing! For instance, a dealer may look at your stash and tell you to A) incinerate it B) donate it to a local charity and take the tax deduction, or C) indicate that you have some nice items, worthy of further investigation. At this point, if you express an interest in selling, he may make you an offer. You can 1) say yes 2) say no, or 3) make a counteroffer. If after all this, you decide that you don't want to sell, both of you are left in pretty much in the same lose-lose predicament that you found yourselves in before you met. Don't bother asking the dealer to share with you individual book values, because: A) statistically speaking, he is probably clueless B) if he doesn't want the item, he may merely inflate the value just to make you feel better, or C) if he does want it, there is a good chance what he tells you, may not be cut from whole cloth, whatever that means.

Advance Reading Copy. See proof copy.

Armorial (Binding). A binding which is decorated with a coat of arms that indicates the royal lineage of its (original) owner. A big deal in the U.K. and on the Continent. Here: yawn.

Art Bindings. One of the more creative aspects of book construction. Artists will make books, paper and fasteners from a variety of materials. Quite rare and valuable. Usually one of a kind. Here are some nice examples.

Artifacts. Objects, usually forgotten between two pages, usually as in pressed flowers and not money.

As Issued. There is something wrong with the book, but it doesn't matter, because that's the way it came.

Association Copy. A copy of a book that has been inscribed by the author, to someone intimately close to the author. Considered a quintessential "get" in book collecting, especially if inscribed to someone who has the goods on the author.

Author's First Book. From a collector's standpoint, these are very desirable and among the scarcest items in the book world. Publishers don't want to bet the farm on an unknown author, so they don't print many copies of a first book. If the author gets lucky and sells well, his second book will have a much larger print run and so it goes. By the time his 30th book rolls around, a print run of 500,000 copies will not be unusual. These editions will NEVER be scarce or rare (or readable).

Autobiography. A fictional account of a person's life, written by that person. Often penned (by ghost writers) in an effort to restock diminishing coffers or to resurrect a tattered reputation. Differs from a diary, in that it is meant for public consumption, although the diary would probably make for much better reading.

Back Matter. The written material that follows the text. May take the form of advertisements, notes, appendices or bibliographies. Often numbered using Roman numerals.

Back Strip. See spine.

Beveled Boards. Usually found on older books (often built in the British Isles) with thick boards. The covers of the book have a sloping edge.

Bibles, Old. Still the most printed book in history, ergo, not uncommon. We used to have some drug-addled dork who would try to sell us bibles that he stole from the church across the river. Perhaps the message from on high was lost on him, but I digress. There is virtually no market for old bibles, unless they were published pre-1800. At that point they are not collected because they are bibles, but by whom they were published. There are some exceptions (as always), but they (the reasons) tend to be rather esoteric. The old, monstrous, family bibles are usually of no interest to anyone but the family (or not), the occasional genealogist or interior decorator. Over the years, I have been amazed how casually family members discard these old tomes, throwing away 100+ years of family history. Wait! Upon a moment's reflection, I understand completely!

Bibliobibule. Someone who reads a bunch.

Biblioclasm. The destruction of books.

Biblioclast. A book hater.

Bibliodemon. A serious book freak.

Bibliognoste. A person who really knows books.

Bibliographer. One who catalogs books or creates bibliographies (a chronological list and description of works by an author, or on a particular subject).

Bibliography. The description and identification of editions, issue dates, points and authorship of books or other written material.

Biblioklept. A book thief.

Bibliolater. A book worshiper.

Bibliolestes. A robber of books.

Bibliology. The lore of books.

Bibliolot. See miniature.

Bibliomancer. A person who divines by books.

Bibliomane. A book collector who doesn't have a clue.

Bibliomaniac. A person who REALLY likes books, bordering on the psychotic.

Bibliopegy. The art of binding books. Anthropodermic bibliopegy refers to books bound using human skin.

Bibliophile. Someone who likes or works with books.

Bibliophobe. A crybaby

Bibliopole. Someone deranged enough to attempt to sell books for a living. Booksellers fall into two basic camps, those who in order to eat, must sell books and those that don't. BookSellers, by and large, are a fiercely independent and eclectic breed. Sadly, the pipe smoking, thread-bare corduroy sport coat with leather padded elbows, uber-intellectual, cat-surrounded book seller is all but extinct, supplanted by high-speed broadband for $19.99 a month. The Internet has enabled any moron with a computer to call hizself a bookseller (15,000+ at last count). Some book sellers are under the illusion, that because they can sell a book penned by Einstein, that somehow that makes them smarter than Einstein. Most tend to be rather liberal in their leanings (not that there is anything wrong with that), as evidenced by their incoherent ramblings in the ABE chat rooms. A committed book seller has invested substantial capital in a reference library, time in learning the trade and truly enjoys researching and handling books. The new breed should just be committed.

Biblioripros. An idiot that likes to toss books around (while sober).

Bibliosopher. A well-read sage.

Bibliotaph. A person who likes to hide books. A fetish. And a darn fine one at that!

Bibliothecal. Belonging to a library.

A librarian. Ssshh.

Binding. Most books are described as cloth or boards. It simply indicates a hard back casing. Wrappers refers to books which are not hard bound. It is also a more expensive way of describing a paperback. Leather bound books correctly implies the use a dead animal of some sort. Calf bindings are made from the hides of dead calves (take a deep breathe and work through it). Vellum (a whitish, almost translucent material) is usually derived from goat or lamb entrails. Bibliophiles have been known to spend many a drunken hour deliberating whether or not the unfortunate animal need be unborn or not to qualify as true vellum. As far as we are concerned, only Lambchop should care.

Biography. An account of a person's life, written by someone who usually either resents or idolizes the subject.

Biopredation. The results of what living organisms do to a book, when they get hungry.

Blind Stamp. 1) Small indentation often found on the lower, rear panel, near spine on Book Club Editions 2) Sometimes personal ownership stamps found on pages, imprinted with an embossing stamp. Basically, an imprint with no ink.

Blurb(s). The sales pitch or catalog description of an item for sale. The price of the book increases in direct proportion to the length of the blurb.

Boards. A hard bound book. The term originates from early book covers which were fabricated from slats of wood. The wood was then covered with leather or some type of fabric (ergo cloth). Present day books are constructed using the cheapest, cheesiest type of cardboard that the publisher can muster.

Book Club Editions. Once a publisher has milked a book for all the sales it is worth, he sells the publishing rights off to a book club. They then reprint the thing on cheap paper, slap on a cheap binding, stain the top edge some weird color, blind stamp the bottom-rear corner of the book, slap on a new dust jacket and ship it off to a trailer park, somewhere. Collectors won't touch them. Thrift stores will. There actually are a couple of BC books that are kind of rare and command some serious money, but if I told you what they were I would have to kill you. I know a guy who is a serious modern first collector who buys BC editions of all his favorite books so he has something to read in the bath tub. A visual I would prefer to not have to make. Tip: Try to avoid simultaneous usage of book club editions, toasters and tubs.

Book Collecting. Stimulating, challenging and potentially addicting. Only two things to remember: First edition and condition. That's it!
Before the Internet brought about the demise of nearly all the brick and mortars, collectors would scurry hither and yon, in pursuit of their favorite authors, subjects or whatever blew their skirts up. These days, what is lacking in the thrill of the hunt is more than made up for by the convenience of never having to leave ones cubicle. Book collections are as diverse as the personalities of their collectors. Judicious collectors, I have observed, tend to be intelligent, introspective, solitary and totally whacked out slightly eccentric. Over the years I have assisted innumerable people to fill in the holes in their collections (i.e. an authors' first book, manuscripts, proof copies, etc.). These days most collectors rely on their own wits and Google to attain their swag. If you are new to this game, start by picking something to collect that interests you. Tips: 1) Locate a checklist (or simply look at the list of your favorite author's books listed in the front of one of the books) of your topic or author and get to it. 2) Obtain whatever copies you can at first and then trade up in condition or edition. Sell or trade off your dregs 3) Stay focused. It is easy to become distracted by tangentially related material 4) Pencil in what you think your more valuable books are worth on the last page of each book. That way, when you get hit by that proverbial bus, your neer-do-well kids will at least have a clue as to what the things are worth and they can then act accordingly (ha ha, good luck with that! 5) Ultimately, try to build a collection consisting of the nicest copies you can find. This will ensure pride of ownership and will certainly help your resale potential.

Here are just a few examples of the types of books collectors collect...

Authors' first books.
All books by a particular author (i.e. Harper Lee).
Award winners. Pulitzer, Caldecott, The Edgar, etc.
Books that were made into movies. GWTW, LOTR, etc.
All published versions of a certain title. The Rubaiyat, Wizard of Oz, etc.
Pop-up books.
Specialties. magic, doll making, motorcycles, etc.
Fore-edge painted books.
Biographies. Einstein, Earhart, Edison, etc.
Miniature books.
Travel guides. Baedekers, atlases, gazetteers, etc.
Battles. Little Big Horn, Vicksburg, etc.
Specific illustrators. Dore, Rackham, Dulac, Hague, etc.
Publishers. Grabhorn, Roycrofters, Arkham House, etc.

Let your imagination be your guide! Here is a fairly typical scenario illustrating the normal progression of the disease wonderful world of book collecting. At first, innocently enough, you manage to obtain copies of all the various books that your favorite author has written. Fine. The transformation will be subtle, you may start feeling the need for something a little stronger. Your dealer turns you on to your first first edition. The cravings will require first editions of each title. Warning: it won't be enough. You will then turn to the dreaded dust jackets - preferably, unclipped (price) dust jackets. Inevitably, you will move on to the hard stuff: signed or inscribed copies. Your fate is sealed. All the while, you have been upgrading all of your copies to the finest condition you can afford. Friends and family may futilely try to intervene at this point. Where will it end? You haven't reached bottom yet. Now you are lusting for proof copies. Had enough? Enjoying those night sweats? At long last, you finally posses the authors' personal copy of your favorite book, inscribed to him by his dear, departed Mother! Done? Hardly. You just obtained the fully-annotated, handwritten manuscript of the author's first book, complete with coffee cup stains and the author's DNA (which can be extracted from the dried tears). By this time, you are living in a flop house South of Market, but hey, look on the bright side, your book collection is almost complete. You may have surmised by now, all this may require certain degree of intestinal fortitude. Have no fear, you ARE up to the task! Hell, you are reading this, how much more difficult could anything be?

Collecting certain authors may offer varying degrees of difficulty, depending on how many books they wrote, number of copies printed, whether or not they signed many books, etc. Hint: Don't bother trying to get J.D. Salinger's signature on your Book Club edition of The Catcher in the Rye.

It you are serious about collecting, it helps if you have a professional bookseller looking out for your best interests. Unfortunately, the Internet has made the knowledge and experience of most professional booksellers rather, how can I say this, irrelevant.

Book Fairs. Anachronistic events where a bunch of booksellers stand around for several days, trying to impress themselves and occasionally the public on how erudite they are. Painful experiences — hard on the feet, the pocket book and the soul. Great places for book hunters to spot heretofore unknown titles, only to subsequently scurry home and purchase them on the Internet for a fraction of the cost. Anecdotally, when book fairs were at their prime, the real fun was before the show! Inexperienced and/or uninformed dealers would be off-loading their stock and while they were setting up, the sharpies would descend like vultures, buying up the bargains. It was not uncommon for a book to change hands 5 or 6 times before the show even opened. The price of a really special book could go from ten to several thousand dollars in a matter of moments. Fun times, unless you are the public.

Book Mark. A place holder. More civilized than dog-earing a page. Collectible. Classified into two categories: destructive (leather, paper clips, flowers and beer cans) and non-destructive (acid-free paper).

Book Plate. Usually a picture of a cat that is glued to one of the end papers. Book plates can be useful in offering further proof that the owner of the book is truly anal-retentive.

Books as Investments. Don't bother! Buy books to learn from and enjoy. That said, there is a certain amount of pleasure in putting together a well-thought-out book collection (although your friends, if you have any, will only act as if they are impressed). Pre-Internet, over the long haul, books were a decent inflation hedge. Post-Internet, all bets are off. Due to worldwide accessibility, many books that were once "rare" are now as common as an old shoe. If you think you are smart enough to know which author will be popular 20 years from now, ask yourself, "If I am that smart, shouldn't I also know which S&P stock will be valuable in 20 years?." Can you get lucky with books? Of course you can! A Tamerlane turns up at some duffus' New England antique store for $15 and sells it at auction for $300,000. But what are the odds? You are better off playing the lottery.

Bottom Edge. Say you go on a bender, and somehow you end up sleeping it off next to your favorite book case. Upon opening your hideously swollen eyes, the first thing you might see, perchance, is the bottom edge of a book. If fate is in your corner, it will be the Big Book. Here's to ya!

Breaker. Used as a noun, a breaker is a person who buys illustrated books on the cheap, rips the plates out, mattes them, then sells the results for far more than the actual value of the intact book. Breakers are a parasitic life form that operate on the periphery of the legitimate book trade. They tend to be destructive scavengers, ill-suited for most other professions, having learned at an early age that it is far easier to destroy something, than it is to create something. The results of their activities can be observed hanging on your attorney's conference room wall. This term can also describe a book that is lacking major components, such as a title page, the binding or gatherings of pages and is destined to be cannibalized for what remains.

Broadside. A poster or a single sheet of paper, printed on one side. Collected by individuals with lots of wall space.

Broken Sets. Multiple volume sets of books missing a book or more. Difficult to find the missing book(s) and if you do, they won't match. Sets which are missing books, are even more impossible to sell than complete sets.

Buckram. A heavy cloth, usually coarse in texture, used in covering the boards.

Bumped (corners). Squishing of the book's corners, possibly the result of being thrown in the heat of the moment and missing the intended target.

c. (circa). Approximately. An educated guess at a publishing date, for instance.

Caldecott Medal. An annual award given to the most distinguished illustrated childrens book. Named for Victorian illustrator Randolph Caldecott. More.

Calf. See binding.

Cancel. (An older practice) A publisher may remove an offensive page of a book that has already been bound, but not shipped, and replace the page with a more politically correct version. If it is done well, you will never notice. Most are rather crudely glued in and are obvious to even an untrained eye. All things being equal, collectors will prefer the pre-cancel versions.

Care (of). Keep your books: Out of direct sunlight. Well ventilated. Dry. Standing straight or laying flat. Not packed too tightly on shelf. Unsaraninated. Away from kids with crayons, cats, some dogs, drunks, fools. Yup, that's just about it!

Casing. Technically, what you call a hardbound book without its innards.

One who classifies items by category. Or one of the endless stream of idiots I have managed to hire, who not only don't read, but are incapable of performing the simplest of tasks.

Census. An offshoot of a bibliography. A census tries to account for every copy of a rare book that is extant. Should you come across a rare book that should be in a census, but isn't, call collect.

Chain lines. In days of yore, during the paper manufacturing process, the pulp was squished out all flat, and it was laid on top of parallel, thin wires (chains) strung across a vat, to set up and dry out. As a result, you can see the residual marks from the chains, by holding the paper up to the light. Paper constructed in this manner is called laid or wove. Some rascally paper makers now go so far as to fake the chain lines to make you think they are cooler than they actually are.

Chained Books. Medieval churches often attached heavy chains to their books in an effort to prevent five-finger discounts. Books at the time were very difficult to produce (hand written), hence you didn't want them walking off with the local rabble.

Chapbook. Small pamphlets that were popular in the 1800s, usually beseeching some moralistic viewpoint.

Checklist. This is a chronological list of all of the titles or books etc., published about or by a specific author or subject. They used to be carried around by collectors in well-worn wallets, with all but the first three items crossed off. Nowadays, I suppose you just confer with your PDA.

Chipping (chipped). Small chunks (usually on dust jackets) missing along the edges.

Chrestomathy. An anthology used to demonstrate the evolution of a particular style of communication.

Chromolithograph. Books with color plates produced using the chromolithographic process are highly sought after, due mostly to their vibrant colors. These prints were produced in the late 1800s, for only a decade or two. Engraved lime stones were used as the printing plates, with each color on the page having its corresponding plate. A single image may go through 4 or 5 print phases, depending on how many colors are used. Better quality plates had superior "register" or the edge matching. The color quality has never been surpassed, but the process was very labor intensive and was replaced by the much cheaper photo-offset method.

Clipped (price) Dust Jackets. Prices are cut off the corners of dust jackets for three reasons 1) The book was given as a gift and the giver did not want the givee to know how cheap s/he is 2) A dealer may have cut it off, out of pure stupidity, thinking that if a potential customer knew how much the book originally sold for, it would never sell again. The logic escapes me, but it is none of my business 3) The clipping may be a low-cunning form of dealer subterfuge, leading the hapless consumer to believe that the jacket once had a priced jacket, when in fact it is a book club edition and never had a price to begin with. Collectors (especially of modern first editions) prefer jackets that have not been price-clipped, as it may be construed as a defect. Is an unclipped jacket worth a premium? Whatever!

Closed Tear. A rip in a dust jacket that looks pretty good (no missing pieces).

Cloth. Just another word for a hard bound book. Not leather bound, nor a paperback.

Coated Paper. A very thin material (emulsion) may be added to the surface of the paper during the manufacturing process. It gives the paper a smooth, shiny appearance. It looks nice and allows for better print quality. Makes for heavy books.

Cocked (cocking). If the book looks like it has had one too many, it may be cocked. Usually the result of being poorly shelved or stored. The boards (covers) are skewed, giving the book a sort of hung-over or is it over-hung look. It may take many years to achieve this unfortunate status, and subsequently may be very difficult to correct, short of having the book taken apart and recased.

Codex. A very expensive synonym for a book. Before books were books, they were scrolls. Some genius decided to cut the scroll into pieces and slap the results between two planks of wood. And codex was born!

Collation. If used in a sentence as a verb "this book has been collated", it means the contents are all there and everything is in proper, bibliographic order. If used as an object, as in "I am learning me some collation", it means you conversing with a second year student of Library Science at a prestigious Eastern University. The study of collation is not to be taken lightly. The really tough stuff (as in very early printed books) is frighteningly reminiscent of binomial equations.

Also known as a device. This is a little imprint, usually found on older books, on or near the last page of text. It is put there by the printer, so you will hopefully remember him long after he has died, odds are, from cirrhosis of the liver. A colophon may serve as convenient location for the author / illustrator / publisher to number and / or sign a limited edition.

Condition. Book rating is subjective and depends entirely who is doing the rating. The better the dealer, the more conservative the rating. It is generally agreed (although I am not sure by whom, since no two book sellers have ever agreed on anything) that books are rated as:

Fine. No flaws, near perfect.
Very good. Shows some wear, no major flaws. This is clearly the most over used term in the book trade.
Good. Basically, it's all there, but it might look or smell bad.
Reading copy. It looks or smells bad. Not much pride of ownership here.
Ex-libris. This poor darling has been in a library, personal or public. Usually having been stamped, folded, stapled and generally mutilated. If your path crosses a bookseller selling ex-libris books, it is fair to assume that they were purchased by the dealer at the local annual library sale for 25 cents each, or he moonlights as a dumpster diver.

Consignments. In some cases, placing items for sale on consignment with a reputable dealer can be most advantageous for both parties. The dealer doesn't have to outlay any cash and the seller doesn't have to deal with the public (or handle cataloging, credit cards, packaging, shipping, insurance, returns and all the other joys of mercantilism). Commissions vary and are negotiable. Caution: The book trade is rife with tales of dealers and auction houses that for some reason can't or don't want to pay consignors. Make sure you get a receipt for your items and have the dealer include a statement that you will get paid within 10 days of a sale. ROFLMAO.

Copyright Page.
Found on the back of the title page, it is kind of like the credits following a movie. Nobody cares! However, it is where the search for first editions commences. Publishers may attempt to confuse you on this page, depending on their temperament (see Zemple).

Damp Stain(ing).
Books suck. If a book has been exposed to moisture, either through high humidity or by sitting on a shelf which is moist, the covers and paper will absorb the H2O like a friggin' sponge. Once it dries out, you may be left with a discolored, wrinkled mess on your hands. There isn't much that can be done about it. Tip: keep 'em dry.

Deckled Edge.
This is a rough, untrimmed edge of a books' pages. It may be indicative of hand-made paper. Looks rather sexy, in a crude, manly sort of way, but gathers dust like crazy.

Dedication. A tip o' the hat to friends, family, industry insiders, colleagues, etc., which roughly translates to: "I want to thank everyone I sucked dry while researching this book. You get to see your name in print, but sadly you will not be seeing any of the big bucks".

Demand. Books generally fall into two major categories— fiction and non-fiction. The market for fiction tends to be somewhat fickle. Authors fall in and out of fashion depending on marketing, their writing ability, Hollywood and who knows what. Non-fiction, tends to have better staying power, although with technical advances, much of it becomes dated rather quickly. The demise of books has been predicted for years, with competition from computers, TV, e-books, etc., yet publishers keep cranking them out and you good people keep buying them. Good on ya!

Dentelle. Gilt decorations along the outer edge of the inner side of leather bound books. Got that?

Device. See colophon.

Door Stop. Any book I have had in stock more than five years.

Donate. If you have some books in good condition, that you don't need any longer, don't toss them. Give them to a reputable organization. Your local library probably will take them and re-sell them at a book sale. Contact the Library Book Project for starters. As for charities, we are partial to the Salvation Army, the local SPCA or Goodwill.

Dos-a-dos. Two books bound as one, back to back, occasionally upside down, and different front and back covers, invariably leading to confusion among paste-eaters.

Dust Jacket. Also known as a dust wrapper. This is that annoying, paper thingy that wraps around the book and falls into your lap every time you try to read the book. On highly collectible books, the dust jacket can be worth many times the value of the book it encompasses. Jackets are important to collectors for many reasons: most importantly — completing the package. Many early jackets featured artwork done by future prominent artists. There doesn't seem to be a consensus on when the first dust jacket appeared, however, some have been noted from the late-1800s. Some publishers have used blank paper as jackets. Not very sexy, but it is probably better than no jacket at all. Colorful, market enhancing jackets became commonplace after WWII. Tend to your jackets. You may want to protect them with mylar book covers (after trying them all, we prefer Demco products). Dust jackets will suffer normal shelf wear over the years. Small edge chips and tears at the spine tips are normal, but not value enhancers. A pristine dust jacket compared to a well worn jacket, on a collectible book, may command a higher price by a factor of 10+. As an aside, the latest trend in dust jacket art, is to embellish the jacket with some fluorescent color that doesn't appear in nature. This cheap ploy, an obvious attempt to disguise the author's lack of talent, guarantees sales to all but the color blind.

Edited (edition). An improved, revised or corrected copy.

Else. This one always cracks me up. It means otherwise. It is used in describing a book thusly: Book is missing the title page, rear cover has been gnawed on by a the family gerbil, only several illustrations have been cut out, else fine. Profligate use of this term implies that the bookseller believes that potential buyers are really chumps. I only use it (the term, not the gerbil) once in a while.

End Papers. These are the blank pages in the front and back of most books. Free end papers are loose (also known as preliminaries) and the ones that are glued to the insides of the covers are called front and rear paste downs.

Ephemera. Printed items that are meant to only last a brief time (by definition — a day). Posters, newspapers, calendars, broadsides, advertising and the like. Hard to price. A pain to store and display. Can be worth more than its weight in gold. Not to be overlooked, but if decide to dabble in, you will earn your money.

Errata. Commonly appears as a single sheet either bound in or loose, listing textual mistakes found after the book went to press. A book with an errata slip present may command a premium, not much of one, but one nonetheless.

Estimate of Value.
See appraisal.

Ex-libris. A book from a library (public, private, circulating or non-circulating). See condition. Ex-library books are considered a pariah with most self-respecting book collectors. Understandably, who would want to own a book that is is very overdue? Occasionally an ex-libris book comes along that is truly rare, and thus may justify a trip to the local book bindery for a nip and tuck job. Here is an interesting, albeit lengthy, article on Librarians as Enemies of Books.

Means not destroyed or lost. It refers to copies of books that still exist.

. An exact copy of a previously printed work. Generally produced and marketed as such because the original is difficult to obtain and warrants enough interest to publish as an exact copy. Not to be confused with forgeries which are intended to fake you out.

Fine Press (editions). Sort of a catch-all term for very small printing firms. Press runs tend to be very small, books are usually numbered and or signed. Bindings or the type of paper may be special. Highly sought after by collectors. Most fine press operations are a labor of love, since the economics of it just don't make much sense.

First Editions. Why do book collectors seek first first editions? Beats me! The subject of first editions requires some remedial background. Keep in mind that every title ever printed, was at one time or another, a first edition. This should help to remove some of the mystique. Technically speaking, after the galleys (printing plates) are removed from the printing press and subsequently put back in for another run, that then becomes a new edition (or printing). In the good old days, printers were not at all adverse to literally stopping the presses mid-run, pulling the galleys and making their changes (typographical errors, broken type faces or textual alterations) on the fly. The final outcome would be one press run, but with several "states" or "issues" of the first edition. In the case of Charles Dickens for instance, a first edition, first issue of his "Great Expectations" has hundreds of "mistakes" or issue points. As mentioned earlier, Issue points may be the result of a broken typeface, a spelling error, messed up punctuation, unedited text, incorrect collation, binding changes or a cadre of other potential goof ups. Remember, the more mistakes, the more valuable the book becomes, go figure! In order to identify the issue points, you need what is called a descriptive bibliography, which will painstakingly give each issue point, the color of the binding and other pertinent information. Many dealers and collectors enjoy the discovery of issue points, and it is the mothers milk of bibliographers.

On older books, a primary clue to look for: Does the publishing date on the title page match the date on the copyright page? If so, chances are it is a first edition. Caveats: The copyright page may have multiple dates. If attributed to other publishers, they may be magazine syndicated articles or previously published illustrations that have been used to compile the book. Often on pre-1900 books, there is a year difference from the title page and copyright page dates, sorry, you will need to consult a bibliography to nail it down.

As a rule, any given first edition is more valuable if it is printed in the country of the author's origin. Mark Twain first editions published in the good ole U.S. are worth more than Canadian or U.K. editions. Conversely, works by Dickens are more valued if they are the British editions. You get the idea. There are some exceptions, but you will have to figure them out.

Identifying first editions can be as complex as it is simple. The problem is that each publisher tends to identify their first editions in a different manner. Some publishers make it as easy as stating "first edition", others make it a cryptic as possible. Why? Because they can. The problem compounds itself when over the years, publishers merge, or change their internal operating procedures. On more recent publications, if you look on the copyright page, you may see a list of numbers. Depending on the publisher, the first edition will have all numbers present starting with a 0 or a 1. Subsequent printings will drop the next digit each time the book is republished. The only way to really tell if a book is a first edition is to have access to the proper reference materials. For identifying most of the publishers in the US. and Britain, we recommend First Editions. A Guide to Identification (edited) by Edward Zempel (Spoon River Press). $60. This valuable book lists virtually every English language publisher and their methods of stating first editions through the years. A must for the serious collector. NOTE: If you are pondering spending a weeks' wages on a particular book (especially fiction), ask the dealer if he has verified the book's edition with Zemple. If (s)he says "huh?", go somewhere else. First and Second Printing Before Publication. (found on copyright pages) I have never really understood this one. Isn't this akin to having a rare coin with a date of 200 B.C.? Anyway, these prizes are not true first editions, but evidently some sort of lame, propaganda ploy used by publishers to pimp their sales numbers.

First Thus. After a book runs its commercial course with its original publisher, the rights are often sold to another printing house. The new publisher may want to stimulate the market for the new edition by embellishing the new book with a particularly popular illustrator, a fancy binding or some other feature. This reprint becomes a first thus or the first edition of a new edition (think of "almost pregnant" as far as value goes).

Flesh Side. The side of the leather that faced gutward, prior the the unfortunate demise of said beast. Smoother than the hair side, which is follicated.

Foolscap (F). Limey, for a piece of writing paper. Or loosely, a book size related to the folded (once) sheets of foolscap paper (17 x 13 1⁄2 inches), yielding a book roughly 8.5 x 6.5 inches. TMI.

Fore Edge. The part of the book you can't see while you are gazing at the spine.

Fore Edge Painting. This is an art form which goes largely unnoticed. An old book is clamped into a vice-like affair, exposing the fore edge at an oblique angle and a second rate water-color painting is painted thereon. Once the book returns to its former shape, the painting disappears, only to reappear when the pages are once again fanned. Usually done on a gilt edge and may go for many years undetected. They are rarely signed (for good reason!). To this day, they are still being produced by sweet, little old ladies in British dungeons and being passed off as old treasures (trust, me, I learned this the hard way). Prices being what they are, extreme caution is warranted!

Foxing. The brown discoloration often found on pages and plates of older books. Aptly named, due to its color or the fact that it often appears as a cluster of small blotches resembling a fox paw print. Nobody knows the etymology for sure, and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. Most likely caused by acidification of the paper as a result of sulfuric acid used to bleach the pulp prior to the manufacture of the paper. Some claim it may be the result of microscopic pieces of metal from the printing process, but I'm not buying it. Not too much can be done to alleviate the problem. There is an expensive process to de-acidify the paper, but is generally limited to large, well-endowed institutions (i.e. Dollie Parton University).

Free End Papers. These are the loose, blank pages in the front and rear of the book. They are usually the result of the imbalanced number of pages making up the gatherings when the book is put together. Don't panic! They are very convenient places to hide $100 bills from your wife.

Front (Rear) End Papers. A catch all term which includes the blank, loose and pasted-down sheets in the front or rear of a book.

Frontispiece. The illustration that faces the title page of a book.

Galleys. The trays in which the metal type is laid. The galleys are placed into the press, where ink is put to paper, to run proof copies for review, before the final typesetting.

Gatherings. Confusingly, also known as signatures or quires. As sheet of printed paper come off the press, it is folded to form a group of pages. At this point it is blissfully united with other similar groups which are then sewn or glued together to form the bulk of the book. The edges are trimmed and ready to be cased (bound).

Genre. A style of literature or art. If used by an individual conversationally more than once a year, evidence of snobbery exists.

Gift Inscription. One of several ways to ruin a perfectly good book. Do the book trade a favor and inscribe a $20 bill instead.

Gilt Edged. (t.e.g.) Top edge gilt & (a.e.g.) All edges gilt. Before casing (binding) the book, the edges of the pages are trimmed, smoothed down and gilded by placing a very thin layer of gold foil on the edge. Often confused with gelding, but it doesn't hurt quite as much!

Glassine. A plastic material used to protect bindings. As opposed to mylar covers, glassine may be applied by the publisher with some sort of heat shrink method.

Hagiography. The study of saints or of a "saint like" individual. My name is strangely absent in most hagiographies.

Hair Side. The side of a sheet of vellum that was originally exposed to the real world as opposed to the flesh side. Evidenced by small hair follicle specks and usually darker in color.

Half Title Page. One of the front, free end papers, with only the book title appearing upon it, giving you a heads up of the forth-coming title page. I guess they don't want you to die of surprise when you get to the real thing. Reminiscent of the uvula (another useless appendage).

Half Binding (bound). The spine and a portion of the boards (covers) are usually covered with leather. The rest is covered in cloth.

High Spot(s). Think of the landscape of Booklandia as being littered with pyramids. Each pyramid representing a particular genre, author or subject (science, exploration, etc.). Let's pick on the literature pyramid for example's sake: The rather broad base consists of authors like Jackie ("... and then we did it again") Collins and her ilk. Near the apex of the pyramid you find will authors that are actually capable of writing and cogent thinking. These are high spots and are highly valued by book collectors, as they should be, and it is where the real ($) action is! Each pyramid will have its advocates, who will debate eternally which author should sit, impaled on the highest stone. Ironically, often the wealthier the author, the lower they seem to reside near the bottom of the pyramid. Whoever said life was fair?

Hinge (or gutter). The inside of the front and back covers where the joint is. "Hinges tender" means that the end papers are starting to split at the junction and deserve your sympathy.

Hinges Starting. This term means basically the covers are starting to separate from the pages of the book. The pasted down end paper is a single sheet of paper which also forms the front and rear free end papers. After years of supporting the weight of the binding or the gatherings, the paper might start splitting or give it up all together. This is quite common on heavy and older books, especially with cheap bindings and paper. It is easily remedied (on valuable books, consult with a professional) by running a very small bead of "dries flexible" type glue along the (try to use a little common sense here) split, remove the excess, squish lightly along the seam and carefully close the book. Let the glue set up for a couple of hours. The hinge will now live longer than you will. End papers can be replaced by a reputable book binder (caution, the color of the paper usually won't match the original pages. It's an age thing).

Hollow Back. If the spine is not physically attached to the back of the book, there will be a space that allows the spine to bow when the book is opened. Spines attached (tight backed) to the back are prone to cracking.

Holograph(ic). Handwritten. Generally refers to an original manuscript or an inscription.

Horn Book. Early educational primers. Used from the 15th to the early 18th century. A lesson (the alphabet, a prayer, numbers, etc.) was printed on parchment. For its protection it was covered with very thin horn material which extended down to also serve as a handle. Many had a hole in them so that they could be hung from a belt or girdle. Very rare!

iana. (pronounced iana) This ubiquitous little bugger (and its reprobate cousin — alia) is added as a suffix to enhance virtually any word in the English language. Say you posses the world's largest collection of Charles Bukowski books. Instead of calling it a hoard of drunken ramblings, you call it Bukowskiiana. See how much more respectable that sounds?

Illuminations. In the days of monastic scribes (pre Gutenberg and moveable type), the first letters of text (called initials or versos) were highly decorated, often using 18 carat gold. Most of these prized pages were found in 11th to 15th century Breviaries, Book of Hours and Antiphonies. Most of these books were broken up during the Victorian pillaging and plundering era with the best leaves going into the British Royals collection or well-endowed museums. Many less important leaves have survived and can still be found in unlikely places. A working knowledge of Latin comes in handy if you enjoy reading these puppies.

Illustrations. This subject goes well beyond the scope of this screed. But here is a brief listing of terms you will run into, on your quest for books, in rough chronological order of their usage:

Block Books (c. 1600s). A single carved block of wood for each page (common in the Far East).
(c. 1700s). Pieces of hard wood were hand carved, placed in the printing press, inked and imprinted.
Engravings (c. 17-1800s). Copper, steel and a variety of metals were engraved with various tools, inked and imprinted.
Lithographs (c. 1800s). Printing plates were made of limestone, carved, inked and pressed.
Intaglio or Gravure (c. 1900s). Again, metal plates, more geared towards "high speed" mechanical presses.
Photo Offset / Halftone (c. 1900s). Chemical etching process, cheap, lacks high quality. Think newsprint.

Impression. All of the copies of a book created during a single print run. Synonymous with "issue", i.e. First edition, third impression. This would translate to: The third time the first appearance of the of the book was published, using the original galleys or plates. From a collector's standpoint, not a true first edition. Bummer.

Often found on the title pages of books printed pre 1800. Usually on books with a religious bent. It is Latin for "Allow to be printed." In other words it is a license to publish, issued by some self-important fool.

Incunabula (Incunables). Refers to a book or printed matter that was produced during the "infancy" of of printing, early to mid-15th century. Quite rare and valuable. Here is the Wiki on the subject.

Index. Found in the rear of most non-fiction books. Simply put, an alphabetized list of names, places, and subjects appearing in the book, referencing the page or pages on which each item is mentioned.

ISBN. International Standard Book Number. A number ignored and scorned by most of us in the trade.

Inscribed Copy. Signed by the author with more than just a signature. Usually something like "Tiffany Ashley, you were the best" See association copy.

Issue Point. See edition.

Joint. No, not what used to be our bookstore, but the outer equivalent of the hinge. "Joint cracked" or "joint starting" indicates that the binding is split where the boards meet the back strip. Joints can be repaired, but often pieces of the original material is missing, making it hard to have a complete fix. Amateur book binders will often fill the void with something looking like a low-grade asphalt.

Juvenilia. High priced, collectable kids books. Expect to pay a premium for fine copies, considering most copies have been mauled by Pretty Princess at some point along the way.

Leaf Book. A book that includes a page from the original book or manuscript that it is about. Usually limited editions. Very scarce (limited to the number of original pages). Highly collectible.

Letterpress. A generic term for printing done using typeface (as opposed to plates). Most "fine press" books, almost by definition, are letterpress creations.

Limited Edition. Generally a book published in smaller, numbered print runs. Usually numbered by hand, embellished with a limitation notice and author or illustrator signatures. Will often precede the mass market trade edition. All things being equal, the limited edition will always be worth more than the trade edition, usually by a factor of 3 (I made this number up, but it seems pretty close, especially after a couple of beers).

Laid (Paper). See chain lines.

Laid In. Usually a separate sheet such as an errata slip or promotional material that is included, but not actually bound into the book. Also describes after-market material inserted into the book, such as newsprint articles, gift cards, hundred dollar bills, etc.

Leaf. A single page in a book.

Limp Binding. Found on books that will never stand proudly on a shelf. Usually suede. The word emasculated comes to mind.

Lithography. A printing process, usually for images, as opposed to text, utilizing a carved piece of limestone as the printing plate.

Loose Binding. Means the book is falling apart and in need of some attention. On older books, the threads that were used in the sewing to hold the book together have stretched or broken and need to be replaced. This can be an expensive proposition, since the book needs to be taken apart, trimmed and re-stitched. A major overhaul might be in order, often times costing more than the book is worth. In older books, a narrow inner margin (due to trimming of the sheets) may be a clue that the book does not have its original binding, perhaps making it worth less.

Manuscript. Rough translation: written by hand. Referring to an original work before it has been typeset. Pre-computer, manuscripts were hand-written or typewritten, resulting in only one original copy, making them highly sought after, especially when written by popular authors. These days, most manuscripts are done on a word processor, so it can be easily argued that multiple copies are readily available, making a digital version virtually worthless in terms of collectability. Imagine, if you can, the thrill of coming across the 20 floppy disk manuscript of The Hunt for Red October. Heart be still! Collecting manuscripts can be a very frustrating endeavor and determining values is fraught with peril. Many authors leave their book collections, including manuscripts, to their alma mater or the school they wish they had gone to, hoping you will think they were educated and not just lucky.

Marbled. Marbling is the process of producing the interesting, psychedelic (see joint) patterns that you see on many old books. Often found on the paste-down end papers or the edges of the book. It is a very old process, originating in either (pick your favorite) Persia or Japan. Globs of different colored inks are floated on a gelatinous bath called sizing. The inks are then combed together into original, one of a kind patterns. A sheet of paper is then laid down on top of the pattern, lifted off with the groovy pattern affixed, dried, cut to size and then bound into the book. Looks nice, but was such a common practice at the turn of the century, that it doesn't really add any particular value to an old book. It is now being faked (as in printed) on some of the tony looking books you find stacked like cord wood at Sam's Club. Is nothing sacred?

Marginalia. Annoying owner notes in the margins of a book. If the offending marks extend into the actual text, it magically becomes underscoring. If the notes are scribbled by the author, it becomes expensivealia.

Mildew. See stink. Not too much that can be done about it. It may be an air-borne fungi and can spread to your other books. There are quite a few homeopathic remedies available, none of which work: Baking soda, sunlight, kitty litter, smelly fabric washing machine things, microwave ovens. Ha! I spit in your face!

Misbound. Another word for defective. Occasionally a book escapes the bindery with its cover bound upside down, backwards or with some other malignant malady. Sorry, no value added.

Modern First Editions. Generally books (fiction) published post World War II. Euphemistically refers to books by popular and collectible authors. Be wary of pitfalls. If purchased for speculation, beware of the sudden changes in trends. Pop culture (and the idiots comprising same) may make a book "hot today, worthless tomorrow." Movies, Oprah's Book Club (if that is still going) and other ephemeral whimsies can punch up temporary interest, but it is best to get out while you can. Never invest in modern first editions that have been rebound. You are being taken for a ride! There is a dealer in London who rebinds every book that crosses his path, in full leather, and sells them to clueless collectors for exorbitant prices and laughs all the way to Barclays. Modern first collectors tend to be fanatical about condition (which is fine, unless you are the bookseller). I have had to refund a number of sales through the years, due to over-looked dead bugs, remainder marks, smudged bottom edges, etc. In a perfect world, modern first collectors would only find cheap, unread, unclipped, mint jacketed copies available.

Moroccan (leather). A soft, fine grained material used on higher quality bindings. Also known as levant.

Mylar. Very thin, polyester plastic, used to cover dust jackets or book bindings. Usually folded or trimmed to size. If you must, use 4 mil. thickness, it holds a fold. Any thicker is too thick.

Newbury Medal. Annual award for children's literature. Named for John Newbury (1713-1767). Click for winners.

nd. No date of publication is indicated.

np. No publisher or city of origin is indicated.

Nom de Plume. See pen name.

Obverse. The part of the book facing you when open.

Offsetting. Transference of ink, acidity, glue or foxing to the opposing paper.

O'Henry Award. Annual award for Americans or Canadians for best short stories. More.

Out of Print (OP). This is a book that is no longer being published, nor is it in stock. Books go out of print so that they can be assigned as required reading for college courses.

Pagination. The way that the pages of a book are numbered. Most useful when used in conjunction with a bibliography to identify issue points or editions.

Pain Avoidance. Avoid investing in: National Geographics, Book Club editions, encyclopedias, (except the 11th ed. Britannica), dictionaries, most old text books, old law books (except commentaries and histories of..., computer books, romance novels, ex-libris books, diet books and books that don't sell.

Paleography. The study and analysis of ancient texts, medieval manuscripts and such. Often involves some detective work and speculation. Guessing it doesn't pay well.

Palimpsest. Obscure. A page of parchment (or other durable writing material) that has had its original text scraped off and replaced with new text (also may appear as an overlay). The Archimedes palimpsest is probably the best known of these enigmas. Researchers are using high-tech tools in an attempt to decipher what Archimedes may have written down on leather, only to have it (the text) scraped off and recycled as a prayer book. Keepin' it green, even back then. Here's to you Mr. Scraper Dude - A Real Man of Genius! This is one of those words that the literati tools like to use for naming their unreadable works, knowing full well, that nobody knows what it means.

Paper. Here is a pretty good site on the history of paper and paper making. Once upon a time, paper was made from quality material, high in cellulose fiber. These days, it is made from whatever the paper makin' guy can get his hands on, mostly low rag content, recycled paper.

Paraph. An embellishment or flourish made after or below a signature to prevent forgeries. Mostly found on older documents.

Parchment. Treated animal skinned, used for writing from the 2nd to the 12th centuries. Replaced papyrus, only to be replaced by paper. More.

Parts. In the mid to late 19th century, many popular writers works were serialized. Every once in a while a new "chapter" would come out, only to leave you hanging until the next issue emerged. Obviously a capitalistic plot. In some cases (esp. Charles Dickens) these parts were later bound together to become the "first cloth editions" (bound books). Because the parts were cheap to print, they tended to be fraught with typographical and textual errors. So, many of the earliest copies of these books are wrought with mistakes or issue points. Book purists tend to ignore "parts" even though they are the true first editions, but don't shelve well.

Paste Down(s) End Papers. This are the portions of the end papers that are glued to the inner surfaces of the covers. As opposed to the truly liberated free end papers.

Pen Name. A fake name to protect the identity of the author — for various reasons: Alimony, genre/gender differentiation, witness protection programs, real name is moronic, previous book(s) sucked... Synonym: nom de plume. Online reference.

Perfect Binding
. Perhaps the most inappropriate term of all time, the result of a cruel joke perpetrated by fun-loving publishers. It is of a type of paperback book. Once printed, all the pages are put together, the inner margin edge is trimmed, a miniscule bead of glue is swiped on said edge and the paper wrapper (cover) is stuck on. A perfect binding is designed to last 30 seconds after you leave the checkout counter and not a moment more. At which time the entire contents of the book will fall on the floor, leaving you holding the "perfect" cover. It costs the publisher almost nothing to produce these prizes, yet they don't hesitate to charge you $18.95 for this piece of dross.

Philology. The love of words, or the study of languages.

Pictorial Paste Down. A color printed image that has been glued to the cover of a hard bound book. Typically on older childrens books.

Pirate Edition. Books printed overseas in American hating countries, thus avoiding all copyright, trademark and royalty fees. Karl Tauchnitz (1761-1836) a German publisher, mastered the high art of pirating, with over 5,000 titles to his name, which were sold to tourists on the Continent. Many a collector has failed miserably, trying to collect all of the Tauchnitz titles. Pirated books from the East, come printed on some of the thinnest paper I have ever seen, making them very hard to read. Aaarrgghh!

Points of Issue. See edition.

Pop-Ups (Movables).
A book that has pages that "pop out" when opened. Apparently they have been around since the 13th century, gained popularity in the U.K., mid 1800s, and are still being produced. For some reason, Singapore seems to have cornered the market on production these days. Most are very ingenious, tend to be fragile and in spite of being constructed for children, seem to be found mostly in grown-up collections. I keep threatening to collect these things, but I keep forgetting to keep them.

pps. (pages) that the book has. Usually only counts the numbered pages, to the exclusion of end papers, advertisements, folding plates, etc. Bibliographers care, no one else does. I have always enjoyed 4 character abbreviations for 5 letter words, especially when they don't make any sense.

Refers collectively to the collective front end papers. For example "preliminaries are foxed."

Presentation Copy
. A book given as a gift by the author. Usually signed or inscribed in a more personalized sense. In theory, the inscription should be dated the same year as the publication of the book. Books with inscription dates subsequent to the year of publication are not as highly prized, since they are the result of an afterthought.

Proof Copy. Sometimes referred to as review copies. These are usually soft bound versions of what will ultimately become the real book. They are sent out to book reviewers and editors to get some free proof-reading and test the waters for sales potential. Modern first collectors will argue that these are the "true" first edition, therefore the most sought after. Personally, I have never cared for them, and would caution against investing any time or money in them. Make me an offer on any you might find in my stock.

Prospectus. Propaganda regarding a forthcoming book, sent to publishers in advance, or laid into an advance reading copy.

Provenance. The chain of ownership of a particular book or collection is known as its provenance. Auction galleries are big on trying to convince you that you should pay a premium for their lots, based on an item's provenance, since the item was once manhandled by someone of note. Book plates, signatures and letters of "authenticity" may imply previous ownership. Don't always count on it. The market is rife with fakes, forgeries and mischief. And, so what if the book was owned by someone famous. When it's all said and done, what do you have? If you feel the need to own other people's things, maybe it's time you ask yourself, "why is my life so pathetic?"

Prices. There is no single price for any given book. Like any commodity, a comparable price range can be established based on sales records or other dealer offerings. Scarcity, condition, initial cost of the item, varying dealer overheads, knowledge or lack of same, and a myriad of other subtle factors come into play in pricing any given book. Demand seems to ultimately drive the antiquarian book market. Bottom line: if nobody wants it, it's not worth much! The Internet has made consistent pricing laughable. Prices on any particular book might range literally from $2 to $200. Bottomest line — you are on your own. For your own protection, do your due diligence and try to buy from a knowledgeable dealer.

Pseudobiblia. Books that only exist on paper. Necronomicon comes to mind.

Pulp Fiction. Collectible. Paperback books printed during the '30s and '40s on cheap (hence pulp) paper. Wide-ranging genres include sci-fi, mysteries, pimpin', midgets, Mary Jane, horror, etc. Many popular authors / illustrators cut their teeth writing / drawing for these poor-paying publishers. The cover art work is worth a glance. The books can be spotted fairly easily in the wild by size differentials (usually smaller in format).

Quire. See gatherings.

Raised Bands (ribs). Narrow ridges across the back of the spine, covering the threads used in sewing the book together.

Raisonne. (rhymes with resume) A complete catalog of works by a particular artist.

Rare. An extremely overused term! This is what it used to mean:

Scarce - An item that finds its way to the marketplace once in a year
Rare -
May show up on the market once in a decade
Very rare -
Try once in a lifetime
- Only copy known to exist

The Internet has forever altered the traditional definition of "rare".

Rear End Papers
. Front end papers that are in the rear.

Rebound / Recased. Rebinding a book seldom enhances its value. Collectors tend to want items in fine condition, in their original state. Obviously, a bound book is better than one with an old and busted binding, but most rebinding jobs are done in such a hideous manner, that it defies description. Professional bookbinding is very labor intensive and materials are prohibitively expensive. Professional bookbinders often study and apprentice for years and they are true artisans. A quality job may cost many times the value of the book. People often want their old family Bible rebound. A cost/value analysis may entail more sentiment than economic value. The most common type of rebinding a book is replacing the spine (rebacking), while retaining the original boards. Amateur bookbinders do it as a labor of love, and their enthusiasm may be partially attributed to excessive inhalation of potentially dangerous fumes. Do not trust your valuables with them. If in doubt on whether or not to have a book rebound, consult with a reputable bookseller, if you can find one (most are reputable, "find one" being the operative phrase).

Recto. The page on the right-hand side of an open book.

Reference Books. Each genre of collectible books will have books about those books. They may include bibliographies, biographies, checklists, etc. You may find a book description with a brief notation referring to the title and perhaps the page number where the book can be referenced. For instance (a book from stock): Barler, Miles. Early Days in Llano. ... Fine copy. Howes H-141, Rampaging Herd 206, Six Guns 140. (these references indicate that the book in question is considered important enough to have been listed in several distinguished Western Americana bibliographies). More.

Register. A book mark that is somehow permanently attached to the book. Common in old bibles, keepsakes and Franklin and Easton Press books. Also, in printer parlance, it is how well things line up, such as the individual color edges of an illustration.

Reissue. A reprint, with no changes to the copy.

Remainder. After a book has run its commercial course, the unsold copies are sold off cheaply by the publisher to "remainder houses", where they are then sold through catalogs or discount book stores for a fraction of the original price. Before leaving the publisher's warehouse, the books are often irreparably scarred with an obnoxious, indelible marking pen to prevent them being returned to the publisher for a "trade" refund. If the remainder mark runs along the top or fore edge, it is a sure sign that the employee is a spiteful, misguided soul, who actually hates books and should seek help. Fortunately, most remainder marks are on the bottom edge and are unfortunately not spotted by me until it is too late.

Replevin. A legal action to recover and return property (books, manuscripts, maps, etc.) to its rightful owner.

Reprint. In collecting terms, any copy that is not a first edition. This covers Book Clubs, second... third editions or impressions.

Resizing. Chemical washing of paper to eradicate stains, marks or acid. Something conservators do in their spare time.

Review Copy. See proof copy.

Review Slip. The suckup letter included with a free copy (of an as of yet unpublished book), that is sent to the hack critics, by the publisher, hoping that they won't torpedo the work.

Revised (edition). Improved or brought up to date. By definition, can't be a first edition, but may actually have more practical value.

Ribbed Spine. On older, usually leather bound books, the ribs are those raised areas that are covering up the bundled threads that tie the gatherings together.

Rubrication. Generic term for the painted letter initials on early manuscripts. Example.

Sabin - As in Joseph Sabin (1821 - 1881). Briefly, an oft-cited bibliography, which is an offshoot of Mr. Sabin's (a 19th century bookseller and bibliographer) early catalogs. His extensive bibliography takes into account primarily early American works, and is very helpful for checklists, but please note that listings may lack crucial issue points.

Salesman's Sample or Dummy. Around the turn of the previous century, books were sold door-to-door by guys who spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get into the farmer's daughter's knickers. They carried around thin sample books, that usually had different covers on either side, representing two different books and a sample chapter or two of the forthcoming work. Inside was some lined paper, where subscribers names were listed and later submitted to the publisher. The books were then sent via RFD to the buyer. I have heard there is a person who collects sample books, but I have yet to meet him.

Scholarly. Referring to books that are written on a very specialized subjects, with small audiences. I recall selling a rather substantial collection on the Mites of Moths to various members of some Mites Society. Small! That's what I'm talkin' about.

Scouts, Book. Mentioned here only as an historical footnote. Book scouts were among the first causalities of Internet book selling. These hardy souls toiled full-time, in an effort to avoid any kind of gainful employment, all the while searching out old books and re-selling them to the local book dealers. Their gypsy-like lifestyles, closely held secrets and unadulterated moxie is the stuff that legends are made of. John Dunning captured some of their essence in his Booked to Die. RIP. Addenda: The aforementioned book scouts have been supplanted by a new breed of technorati, who show up at the book sales armed with bar code readers, which can instantly inform them that the book in their hand is not really a book, but a commodity worth somewhere in the vicinity of 39 cents. Sadly, these pickers wouldn't recognize a good book if it whacked them on the arse. I have been told the key to making any money with these gadgets is related to college textbooks (their careers are soon to be cut short due to POD and electronic books). For the most part, these entrepreneurs seem content to make a dollar or two on the postage for each book sale. I hope it works out...

Self Published. Occasionally, an author will put quill to papyrus (or cursor to screen), resulting in a manuscript so abysmal, that no one in their right mind would consider printing the thing. The author, bemused by humanities' inability to recognize his talent, takes it upon himself to publish the work himself. Throughout history, many of these works have become "literary treasures", although I can't think of any. By and large they tend to be small print runs on obscure, egocentric topics. Copies may be purchased in bulk at the author's estate sale. Keep a sharp eye out for the unopened crates.

Self Wrappers. A sort of hybrid book that is one moment a paperback and the next something else.

Selling Your Books. (see Appraisal) Selling your books is becoming an increasingly difficult proposition. Almost all the brick and mortars outlets have closed due to the high cost of doing business vs. the Internet. Unloading your books boils down to five options 1) Wholesaling them to a dealer 2) selling them yourself (i.e. Ebay) 3) donating them 4) hucking them or 5) doing nothing at all (my personal favorite). Some random thoughts: Book dealers will only buy what they think they can sell, in their lifetime. Most book dealers are closet anarchists, with capitalistic tendencies, reluctantly acknowledging that they do need to make a profit in order to stay in business — don't judge them too harshly. Dealers will not pay a premium for sentimental value. Nobody cares if the book belonged to your horse-thieving Grandpappy. Most people tend to overestimate the value of their old books. Different dealers have different specialities, expenses, profit margins and knowledge — the point being: results may vary. The Internet has pretty much deflated prices for common books, so don't expect to get much for them. Take what you can get and move on. On your better books, you should expect to get 1/3 to 1/2 of what ever the dealer thinks is the potential retail value (this number being the key...). If the dealer is willing to pay more, he is either independently wealthy or a Bozo, or worse yet — both. Higher-end dealers will only be paying for your better items, the rest of the stuff becomes "stock", with generally a long shelf life (pun again intended). Most dealers will try to recoup their outlay as quickly as possible. Future sales cover overhead and eventually will become profit (at least that's the theory). The odds are stacked in your favor that you are probably wasting everyone's time, if you try to sell: book club editions, Literary Guild books, magazines, Reader's Digest Condensed, National Geographics, most text books, dictionaries, broken sets, books in poor condition, law books, encyclopedias, most 19th century fiction, Bibles, computer books, books published by Time-Life, The Smithsonian, American Heritage, A.L. Burt and other cheap reprint houses. There are exceptions to all of the aforementioned, but the time you invest trying to figure it out, will far exceed any additional monetary gain you can hope to realize. Don't forget, you can always donate your books to your local library, old folks' home, the military or a worthy charity. Get a receipt and and take a couple-of-bucks-a-book tax deduction. Hey! The Clintons donated their used underwear (insert gagging sound here) and took the deduction! Go for it!

Sets. Hard to sell. Most people don't have the shelf space. Some sets are collectible due to the quality and craftsmanship of the bindings. May be "deluxe" or limited editions. No hard rules here, sets are on a case by case basis. Tip: to determine if you have all the books and they are not individually numbered, check the last volume for an index and work backwards.

Shaken. Whole lot of it has been goin' on. The book is falling apart.

Shape Book. A book that has a binding shaped to reflect the subject matter (for instance: a horse, a train, a doll, etc.). Collectible. Been around a long time. Fairly common among childrens' books. Check this hippie out.

Shelf Wear. Normal wear to a book as a result of being on a shelf, being taken from a shelf and being replaced on a shelf. If this process is repeated numerous times, the result will be more shelf wear. If books are packed too tightly on a shelf, when a book is pulled out by the spine tip, you are apt to tear the tip. Don't.

Signature(s). Also see gatherings. Signed by the author, with preference given to books signed during the year of publication. Signed with anything more than just a name, it becomes an inscription. Signed by anyone other than the author, it becomes a defect.

Signed Bindings. These bindings are very decorative in nature. Usually embossed, or embellished with heavy gilt. The "signature" is printed, usually within or near the artwork. Popular on art nouveau bindings. Several printing houses specialized in these bindings, Decorative Designs being the most prolific. Frederick Goudy and Margaret Armstrong are a couple of names that come to mind as collectible book artists.

Signed Copy. As a rule if the book is signed by the author it is worth more, by anybody else, sorry it doesn't count. Inscribed refers to something more than just a signature (including just a date). Beware of autopen signatures, they are just what they sound like. Author signatures dated subsequent to the year of publication usually indicates that a book dealer, upon hearing that there will be an "author signing", scours the town for all the copies of the particular authors' books, then stands in line at the signing, with a box of books, for an interminable length of time, then annoys the indignant author by asking him to sign all the books. After assuaging the author by telling him that he is his biggest fan, the dealer scurries off and attempts to sell the books on EBay. Some books are so poorly written, that it could be argued that the author's signature may actually decrease the value of the book. There are many instances that the proud author has signed so many copies of his book, that the unsigned copies are the ones commanding a premium. Many author "signatures" are printed on the page by the publisher (some ironically, long after the poor shlub of an author has died). Please don't call and tell me you have a signed set of Grant's Memoirs... you don't.

Size. The size of a book is determined by the size of the original sheet of printed paper and the number of times it is folded. Groupings of these folded sheets (signatures) stitched or glued together will comprise the book. Here is a short list of the abbreviations and their approximate sizes (the numbers refer to the number of leaves, or pages resulting from the folding):

Fo. — Folio. A large sheet folded a single time (or not at all). Huge books that do not fit on any earthly shelf.
4to. — Quarto. The same sheet folded twice. Your typical "coffee table" book.
8vo. — Octavo. The average size book. Your typical novel.
12mo. — Duodecimo. Getting smaller. Single sheet, folded in thirds, then in half. Paperback size.
16mo. — Sextodecimo. Smaller yet.
24mo. — Vegisemo-Quarto. A 12mo., folded one more time for good luck.
32mo. — Trigisimo-secundo or 32mo. A 16mo. on steroids.
64mo. — Sexagesimo-Quarto. For fun, try to fold a single sheet of paper so you end up with 64 leaves.
Miniature. — Miniature. Real small, easily misplaced and hard on the eyes. Also called a bibiolot, when in fact, it should be called a bibioless.

Each of these sizes has several variations within the size. An inexact science at best and hardly worth the discussion. Included in book descriptions, it makes book dealers feel important knowing that they know something you don't. That said, if you see "8vo." in one of our descriptions, please don't call and ask if it is an 8 volume set. It isn't!

Slip Case. These are protective boxes which come in many shapes and varieties to accommodate whatever it is that they are protecting. There is a variation called a clam shell case which resembles, well, a clam shell. Cases are usually found on limited editions, fine press books, art bindings, maps, etc.

Sophisticated (copy). En Garde! On highly valued books, two or more defective copies of a particular book may be taken apart and reassembled to create a flawless, seemingly complete version — a sophisticated copy. Example: A rare folio that has been in a library, with the usual identifying stamps, will be broken up and reconstituted with perhaps a copy that is missing some plates and voila, a new, complete, non-library edition. In theory, accurate collation should expose the item as a fraud. Interestingly, many old books have been discovered to be sophisticated copies, because the worm holes (yes, I said worm holes) didn't line up, or go completely through all the pages. On a more pedestrian level, a high end "modern first" sans jacket (or with a later state jacket), may be be blissfully mated with a stag first edition dust jacket, creating a formidable union. HINT: On many modern first editions, often the only way you can identify the true first issue jacket, is by the price on the jacket flap. An unscrupulous dealer may mix and match priced jackets with first edition books accordingly. On books with some time under their belts, this ruse may be spotted by examining closely any variations of offsetting from the original jacket and sunning discoloration differences. If you are offered one of these over-priced misfits, aim for the nose.

Spine or Back Strip. The part of the book that faces you whilst it sits on a shelf (assuming you are sitting in front of the shelf and not passed out on the floor, in which case you will wake up staring at the bottom edge). All too often the upper tip of a spine has split as a result of someone trying to remove the book from a too-tightly packed shelf, also known as "thumb tears."

STC. Short Title Catalog (A.W. Pollard, 1926). A commonly referenced work listing all titles by a particular author. It has been updated periodically through the years. Sort of a poor-man's bibliography.

Stippled. Colored or tinted edges. Usually indicative of a Book Club edition.

Stiff Wrappers. A paperback book with a cover made from a better grade of paper stock, often found on scholarly, university press books or the like.

Stink. Books reeking of mildew, tobacco smoke or cat pee... throw them overboard. See how easy that was?

Storage (FYI). If you must box up your books, make sure they lay flat, spine to spine (this keeps the front edges of one book from digging into the opposing book). Fill up the empty space between the books with something, anything (crumpled butcher paper, radioactive waste, etc.) to keep the things from shifting and rattling around. Do not store in a damp environment. If you are compelled to stash your boxes in the basement, raise the boxes off the floor. Concrete sweats. Learn to love silverfish (Lespisma sacchrina), because they will love you. Mice (Mus sylvaticus) are attracted to binding glue and will find a way into your boxes to get to it, guaranteed. Never put your books in zip lock bags or wrap them in saran wrap. Moisture will get in and will not be able to find its way out (rather like an osmotic roach motel) and your books will smell like my socks after a hearty workout or two.

Sunning. Fading to the covers and or spine as a result of an overdose of light. Could just as easily be called fading, but admittedly there is a touch of the exotic with a tropical sounding name.

Supralibros. (trans. over or on top of book) An ownership mark (armorial or heraldic) imprinted on the front cover of a book.

Tail. The bottom of the spine. Freudian. Or is it Darwinian?

t.e.g. Top edge gilt.

Three-Decker. During the Victorian era, it was not uncommon to print a single title in three matching volumes. Fiction seems to have predominantly assumed this role, some being first editions, others early reprints.

Three-Quarter Binding (bound). Same as a "half" bound book, except the fore edge corners are also bound in leather.

Thumb Index. Rounded and indented cuts into the fore edge of a book. Usually marked with a letter or subject for quick access.

Tipped-in Plates. Often on higher quality, illustrated books, the color plates are printed separately on a better grade of paper and glued lightly along one edge to a blank page. Often the plates have tissue guards to keep the ink from offsetting to the opposing page. A nice touch.

Tips. Tips are at the top and bottom of the spine. Tip: As in "tips are worn."

Tome. A type of cheese. Also refers to a large or scholarly book. The French consider it a single volume within a set of collected volumes, thus bringing us full-circle back to the cheese.

Tooled. Indicates decorations on the binding. Most often used in describing leather bound books.

Trade Edition. This is the mass marketed edition of a book that you see stacked up at Wal-Mart. As opposed to a limited editions, which seem to be falling out of favor with publishers due to escalating costs and declining markets.

Triple-Decker. See three-decker.

Unabridged. See abridged.

Uncorrected Proof. See proof copy.

Uncut. After the gatherings are sewn or glued together, the publisher may or may not want to trim the fore edge of the pages. If they are left uncut, it leaves a rather ragged, deckled look. If trimmed, it just looks pretty much like any other book.

Unopened. If the pages of your old book can not be read without bending your head at a 90 degree angle and sticking your face into the half-opened pages, the book is unopened. If after this exercise, you are still inclined to read the thing, take a dull knife or 3x5 index card and using a continuous stroke slowly draw the edge outwards, severing the offending pages. If you are the village idiot, feel free to use your thumb or forefinger.


Vade Mecum. Latin: "goes with me." Small reference books. Once carried on medieval belts by astrologers, physicians, tradesmen, etc.

Value. To be or not to be confused with price, but in reality they are pretty much the same thing. Value is sort of a price we put on things, but it doesn't mean anything. What? I guess we will just have to leave it to those brilliant economists to sort out any definitional hairs.

Variant. Refers to variations in the description of a book that do not appear in a descriptive bibliography. Sadly, variants have been known to lead to premature, self-induced deaths of bibliographers, due to the fact that most variants are discovered by amateur book collectors, one or two days after the latest edition of a bibliography goes to press.

Vellum. See binding.

Verso. The page on the left-hand side of an open book.

w.a.f. (with all faults). This is Latin for crap. It means the bookseller is too lazy to list the innumerable problems book in question has. Should you encounter this term in a book description, move on.

Watermark. Some paper builders will include an identifying mark on each sheet of paper they produce. The paper may have to be held up to the light to reveal this translucent little treasure.

Wove (paper). See chain lines.

Wrappers. A softbound or paperback book. Wrappers sounds more important than "paperback", therefore a higher price will be justified.

Wrapper(s), Dust. see dust jacket

Yapp (binding). Limp bindings that have edges that wrap around the sides of the book.

Zowie. You made it! Now, cart your fully-enlightened soul back to the BookMine and start collecting.

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