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Glossary of Common Terms

Many of the terms included herein will be further explored in later blogs.

ACID-FREE CLEAR TAPE: Also known as archival tape, this is ideal for repairing dust jacket tears as it does not discolour in the manner of standard adhesive tapes.

ADVANCE COPY: A book, printed and bound, which is sent before the publication date to select reviewers – often journalists, bloggers, librarians etc.

ANNOTATED: In relation to published books this usually refers to a brief note or title relating to an illustration or plate.

ART GUM ERASER: Ideal for rubbing out unwanted pencil marks, these are softer than normal erasers and more effective on a wide range of papers.

BOWED: Also sometimes referred to as distorted. This is when the board cover of a hardback book has curled in or out, often because of changes in humidity.

BINDING COPY: This refers to a book who’s pages are complete, including any illustrations, but the binding is very poor (loose, detached or missing).

BOOK CLUBS: Book clubs produce books for their members, usually offering discounts on the original published price. In recent times some book club editions have become quite collectable in their own right but they are not generally as valuable as a 1st edition.

BUMPING: Similar to edge-worn but more frequently used to refer to corners. This is often the result of how a book has been stored or handled.

CHIPPED: Usually applies to the cover of a book, whether hardback or paperback, and/or the dust jacket. It shows as small pieces missing from the edges.

DAMPSTAINED: This refers to small stains caused by moisture to the cover of a book or on some pages, but it is not as extensive as water staining.

DARKENING/FADING: Usually caused by light which results in the colours on a book cover or dust jacket becoming more vivid or faded.

DOCUMENT CLEANING PAD: Ideal for cleaning dust, dirt and mould from books and other paper documents. These are lint free fabric pads which contain fine eraser powder.

DUST JACKET OR WRAPPER: Most modern hardback books (1930s onwards) have a dust jacket to protect the cloth binding of the cover boards. For investment collectors, the presence and condition of the jacket is just as important as the book itself - this is particularly so for collectors of modern first edition fiction books.

EDGE-WORN: Light wear along the edges of the book cover.

EDITION: First editions are usually the most collectable, particulalry in the case of fiction. Early books tended to have a date on the title page but the edition was often absent. These invariably need further research. More modern books include a date on the publication history page and this will usually include edition details, which can appear in a number of formats.

ENDPAPERS: The front endpaper is a double folded sheet with one half pasted to the front board and the other forming the blank page (front free endpaper) before a book's titles and content. The back endpaper is the reverse of this, after the book's content.

ENGRAVINGand ETCHING: Forms of book illustrating which were particularly favoured in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

EX-LIBRIS: From the library of ... a previous private owner. This is usually indicated on a printed plate inside the front cover or on one of the front endpapers. The previous owner's name may be hand written or printed.

EX-LIBRARY: A book which has previously been available in a public library. It will likely have stickers, labels and stamps and may have a “withdrawn” stamp accompanied by a handwritten price.

FACSIMILE: A book described as a facsimile is an exact reproduction of an original book. These will usually include credits for the facsimile publisher, and are frequently produced to make rare old books available to collectors who don't have unlimited funds.

FIRST EDITION: Technically, the first edition of a book is the first and subsequent printings of that book (from the same printing plates), before any alterations are made. The altered book may be the second or a subsequent edition. A term frequently used these days is "a true first edition". This will be the absolute first printing (or first impression) and might often require specialist knowledge to validate.

FIRST EDITION FIRST STATE: Sometimes a book might need correction halfway through that first print run. This could be due to a typo error, or the wrong price on the jacket, or something similar, and will result in printing being stopped so that any affected printing plates can be altered. Printing is then recommenced. “First State” is the uncorrected version of the edition.

FOLIO SOCIETY: Wikipedia describes the Folio Society thus: “The Folio Society is a privately owned London-based publisher, founded by Charles Ede in 1947 and incorporated in 1971. It produces illustrated hardback editions of classic fiction and non-fiction books, poetry and children's titles.” FS books are usually produced in slipcases or glassine wraps. They are often of better production quality than the originals, and have a good following in the collectors' market.

FOXED/FOXING: Foxing is the brown spots and patches frequently found in old books. It occurs as the result of a chemical reaction. It may be described as: Heavy, light, moderate, sporadic, profuse etc, and it often most prominent on the endpapers and page extremities.

GILT EDGED: A book with gilded page edges, the gold colouring which can be seen on the page edges when the book is closed. One, two or three edges can be gilded in this way.

IMPRESSION: An impression is a print run of a book where no alterations have been made to the content or print set up. This differs from a new edition or a reprint, which may have alterations. Many older books do not indicate an impression, while the systems used to indicate this in modern books can be quite diverse and complicated.

LIGHTER FLUID (Naphtha): A solvent which is often used for removing labels and gum residue from glossy dust jackets. Great care should be taken with this solvent (research its suitability for your particular needs) and it should never be used on absorbant covers.

LINE DRAWINGS: A line drawing has no blocks or shading and individual lines can be seen. A well known book illustrator, famed for his line drawings, was Edward Ardizzone.

LITHOGRAPHY: A print form which involves producing original art on a stone or metal plate. Some of the most stunning book illustrations of the 19th and 20th centuries were produced using this process.

LOOSE BINDING: This refers to the binding which is often tight on a new book but becomes loose when a book is well read. When you lay a new book open but flat, the pages will often have a mind of their own. When the binding is loose, they will lay flat.

MADE-UP COPY: This refers to the marriage of different parts of the same book, made up and bound from defective copies.

MILDEW or MOULD: Often grows on book covers or pages as a result of dampness. This is frequently due to high humidity levels and can be both very destructive and smelly.

MONOTONE OR MONOCHROME: Refering to illustrations, these two are often confused. A monotone illustration is of one single colour with no shades. A monochrome illustration is one in various shades of a single colour.

MUSTY: A musty smell to books indicates the presence of mildew or mould due to dampness.

NUMBER LINES: Part of the printer's key, these are frequently used by contemporary publishers to indicate the print run of a book and, if used, can be found on the publishing history page. There are various formats and some publishers use the variation of letter lines.

PETROLEUM JELLY: This has multiple uses in general and is frequently used for cleaning and protecting cloth and leather book bindings. You will need to properly research this product and its uses before using it.

PHOTOGRAVURE: Photogravure images are high quality. They are images produced from a negative and transferred onto a metal plate and then etched in.

PLATES: Book plates are usually full page illustrations which are bound with the text of a book during manufacturing.

PRICE CLIPPED: Many post 1930s books have dust jackets which include the published price on the front flap (usually the top or bottom corner). A book which is price clipped has had that corner cut away.

PROOF COPY: Proof copies of a book precede its first edition, but they are not generally as sought after by collectors. Proof copies are normally sent to a select group for correction and comment and as such may differ from the first commercial edition.

READING COPY: Usually in poor condition, possibly disbound or suffering other severe damage, this is a book which is complete but might only be desirable for reading. It would rarely attract the interest of a collector.

RE-BACKED: A book which has had its spine and hinges replaced.

RE-BOUND: This often applies to antiquarian books and refers to the complete replacement of the cover, spine and hinges.

RE-CASED: A book which has previously become detached from its cover and has now been re-gummed in place

RE-JOINTED: A book which has been repaired within its original spine and covers.

REPRINT HOUSE: Reprint houses are self explanatory, but some caution is needed. They frequently buy the original printing plates for a book and use the original print history page. This is a legitimate practise but can lead to confusion: Always check the print history page and the spine of a book. A reprint house edition will normally have a different publisher’s name or initials on the spine whereas the history page will have the original publisher.

REVUE COPY: A book, printed and bound, which is sent after the publication date to select reviewers – often journalists, bloggers etc

RUBBING: Usually manifests as light surface marks on a book cover or dust jacket, caused by rubbing against other books or objects.

RUBBING ALCOHOL: Can be either isopropyl alcohol or ethanol based liquids which are very good for cleaning non-porous surfaces. A popular UK version is surgical spirit. Always research carefully before using such products on your books.

SEALED: Refers to a book which, when published, was enclosed in a sealed covering (usually clear polythene/plastic).

SHAKEN: A book who’s pages are coming loose from the spine but is still intact.

SHELF WEAR or SHELFWEAR: Usually fairly light wear which results from storing a book on a shelf. It frequently affects the bottom edges and corners and is the result of sliding a book into place. Conversely, the top of the spine may be affected from withdrawing a book from a shelf.

SUNNED or SUNNING: Often effects book spines, sometime the covers, and is the result of direct sunlight, which causes fading.

TANNING: This affects the pages of a book when the paper takes on a yellow/brown hue. It is often more apparent on the endpapers and page extremities.

TEARS/TORN: Self explanatory, usually referring to the dust jacket or pages. Sellers will normally give some idea of the length of any tears.

TIGHT: This refers to the binding of a book, usually new, and indicates that the book pages will not lay flat when the book is opened.

TIPPED-IN: Usually refers to a print but can include text pages. The term is used when a page is printed seperately from the main book and then added - usually to a blank page which had been bound in.

TRIMMED: Suggests the pages have been trimmed and are now smaller than when the book was first published.

TRUE 1ST EDITION: The first print run of a first edition: 1st edition 2nd impression, or 2nd printing, is still a 1st edition, but not a true 1st edition.

UNOPENED: The pages are still joined, usually along one edge.

UNTRIMMED: Some older books have one, two or three edges which are uneven. These are untrimmed pages and should be left as they are.

UV RESISTANT COVER: Usually polyester or polypropylene and also known as Archival Covers. These are clear covers which can be used to protect a book cover or jacket.

VANITY PUBLISHING: A service offered by some publishers whereby a book can be published provided the writer pays all costs.

VULCANISED RUBBER SPONGE: Made from natural rubber these are used to clean dust and dirt from books and many other fragile items.

WATER STAINED: Water stains are usually more widespread than damp stains and will likely affect large parts of the cover or pages of a book.

WOODCUTS: A process frequently used to illustrated books. The process requires the artist to carve the image into a wood block from which it is printed.

WORKING COPY: Similar to a reading copy, hence in poor condition. Such a book will normally have been used by a scholar or person working on a project, and will likely have many annotations, underlining etc.

WORMING/WORMHOLES: Bookworms are something of a scourge for collectors. Often caused by the larvae of beetles or insects such as silverfish, wormholes are small holes in the pages or cover of a book.