A Note About Descriptions and Conditions


Dustwrappers is very careful to conservatively describe books, using the system devised by the now-defunct AB Bookman's Weekly. Although AB Bookman standards assume both the book and the jacket are described in a single grade, we grade book and jacket separately (eg VG/G). We prefer to grade hard, and give our customers the best possible service.


In tandem with that, we adjust conditions for the age of the book, particularly for those published pre-1920, pre 1840 and 1800.


We try to note the presence of bookplates, owners' inscriptions and other internal markings.


As New (AN): For a book to earn this very rare grade, it must be immaculate, looking literally like it was just published. It must be unread, and without faults or defects. The dust jacket cannot have scuffs, tears, rub marks or other indications of use. From time to time, we will also describe this book as Mint.


Fine (F): This grade is for books that lack the crispness of AN, but which are still near-perfect. Such a candidate may have been carefully read, but suffers from no faults or defects. The jacket may be slightly rubbed or showing very minor shelving or shipping wear. 


Near Fine (NF): Although Bookman's Weekly did not use this definition, it has become synonymous in the bookselling industry for a book or dust jacket approaching Fine but with a couple of very minor defects or faults.


Very Good (VG): A book in this category can show some small signs of wear. Defects must be noted. Sometimes is combined with a + or - to indicate a slightly better or worse copy.

Good (G): The average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Jacket can show some small defects ad tears, but must be noted.


Fair (Fair):  This book has complete text pages, including those with maps or plates, but may lack endpapers and half-title pages. Binding and jacket (if any)  may also be worn. As with all categories, faults and defects must be noted.


Poor (Poor): This book is a candidate for designation as a reading copy, and its only merit is that it has a complete and legible text. Missing maps, plates and other inserts must be noted. It can be soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted and may have loose joints, hinges, pages.


Ex-library (Ex-Lib):  Denotes, as it suggests, former denizens of public and private lending libraries. We will always note such a designation when it applies. This is not to be confused with "Ex-Libris" bookplates that denote personal or private collections.


Book Club (BCE or BOMC): Denotes a reprint published by a subscription service such ast Book Club Edition and Book-of-the-Month Club. We will always note when a book we have for sale that falls into this category.


Binding Copy: This book may be a candidate for rebinding. It describes a book in which the pages or leaves are perfect but the binding or case is very bad, loose, off, or nonexistent.


Dustjacket: Also known as a dustwrapper. We will note the lack of such for any book issued with one.



ADVANCED READING COPY OR ARC - An early printing designed for reviewers and editors prior to the actual first official printing. Often contains errors and extra material omitted from the formal printing to come. In modern editions, ARCs sometimes don't have International Book Standard Numbers (ISBNs) assigned yet.


ASSOCIATION COPY - When a book has been owned or passed through the hands of a notable person, whose “association” with that book makes it worth noting and collecting.


BINDING - The cover and stitching that connect the book.


BOARDS - Literally, the stiff cover material on the outside of the book. Like sandwich boards.


BOOKPLATE - A sheet, plate, card or anything that indicates ownership. Sometimes can represent a “prize” or “presentation” given to the recipient by a school, church or other organization.


CHIPPED Small knicks or tears on the edge of the dustwrapper or dustjacket.


COCKED SPINE - When a book becomes slanted because of uneven pressure, it is referred to as having a “cocked spine.”


COLOPHON - A printer's emblem or identifying inscription at the end of a book.


DAMP-STAINED - A light moisture stain on the cover or pages. Not the same as water-stained, which indicates more severe contact with water, often resulting in rippling or other damage.


ENDPAPER (EP, FFEP, RFEP) The sheet of paper pasted to inner covers, joining the book to the covers. The side left free, forming the first page, is called the “front free endpaper” or FFEP. On the back, it is called the RFEP, or “rear end freepaper”.


FOXING - The brown spotting on paper in older books, caused by oxidation of chemicals used in the making of the paper.


FRONTISPIECE (FRONTIS) - An illustration - photograph, woodcut or other illustration facing the title page or half-title page.


INSCRIBED - A message written by to the original owner of the book by the author. Not the same as “Signed”. Not the same as an “owner's inscription”.


LAID IN - When a letter, illustration, note, photograph or other item is placed loosely into the book. Not the same as “tipped in”.


OWNER'S INSCRIPTION - Also known as “gift inscription”. A message placed in the book by a previous owner or the giver of the book as a gift. Generally devalues a book if it is not considered an association worth noting, ie, the author's friend, historical figure, etc.


SIGNED - When the author (or illustrator) has placed his signature -without reference to the owner - in the book, usually on the title page, half-title page or front free endpaper (FFEP).


SUNNED - The fading and discoloration of pages or covers when exposed to sunlight.


TIPPED IN - When a letter, illustration, note, photograph or other item is glued into the book on one edge, it is “tipped in”. Not the same as “laid in” which denotes the item being placed in the book without glue.