Used Book Condition

Buying used books online is not like buying new books; it can be a risky proposition, especially when you don’t have the luxury of actually seeing the book before you plunk down your hard-earned greenbacks. Well, we here at Iliad strive to make your used book purchases as risk-free as possible. We accomplish this by following four basic rules:
1) We grade our books conservatively;
2) We describe our books as extensively and accurately as possible;
3) We pack our books tightly and securely for shipping.
4) If you feel a book does not match our description, it is fully returnable.

Now, a few explanations about bookselling terminology:

We abide by the terms of condition set up by AB Bookman’s Weekly, formerly the standard trade journal for the used book business. The set of terms was first created in 1949, to serve as a standard in catalogue and mail-order transactions.

1. As New is to be used only when the book is in the same immaculate condition in which it was published. There can be no defects, no missing pages, no library stamps. etc., and the dustjacket (if it was issued with one) must be perfect, without any tears. (The term “As New” is preferred over the alternative term “Mint” To describe a copy that is perfect in every respect, including jacket).

2. Fine approaches the condition of As New, but without being crisp. For the use of the term Fine there must also be no defects, etc., and if the jacket has a small tear, or other defect, or looks worn, this should be noted.

3. Very Good can describe a used book that does show some small signs of wear – but no tears – on either binding or paper. Any defects must be noted.

4. Good describes the average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must be noted.

5 Fair is a worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title, etc. (which must be noted). Binding, jacket (if any), etc., may also be worn. All defects must be noted.

6. Poor describes a book that is sufficiently worn that its only merit is as a Reading Copy because it does have the complete text, which must be legible. Any missing maps or plates should still be noted. This copy may be soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc.

7. Ex-library copies must always be designated as such no matter what the condition of the book.

8. Book Club editions must always be noted as such no matter what the condition of the book.

9. Binding Copy describes a book in which the pages or leaves are perfect but the binding is very bad, loose, off, or nonexistent.

A Few Other Terms…

First off, if there is no description of the dust jacket (which is the paper cover that wraps around a hardback, and occasionally a paperback), then the book is lacking a jacket.

ARC means “Advance Reading Copy”. These are usually oversized paperback books given out by publishers prior to a book’s actual release (they thus technically precede the first edition).

Backstrip is another word for a book’s spine.

BCE is a Book Club edition (see above).

Blank is a page with nothing on it, usually bound near the endpapers in a book.

Boards are the stiff covers of a hardback.

Cocked (or “spine slant”) means a book’s spine bends slightly in one direction, so the covers don’t line up perfectly at the fore-edge. This usually happens if books are stacked horizontally on top of each other.

Ex-lib. is an Ex-Library copy (see above).

F.E. and FFE stand for Front Endpaper and Front Free Endpaper. Endpapers are the papers (usually different from the paper used for the actual book pages) which are immediately inside the covers. The Free Endpaper is the loose one; the other is often called the Pastedown.

Fore-edge refers to the outer page edges. The bottom page edges are the foot, and the top edges are the head.

Foxing is the process whereby old paper with a high acidic content develops small brown spots.

Half Bound is a book in which the spine and corners are covered in leather; Quarter Bound is a book in which only the spine is covered in leather.

Hinges are the fold in the endpapers which holds the binding in place. A broken hinge means this fold is cracked, and is a serious defect which is always noted.

Laid-in refers to anything that has been loosely placed inside a book; Tipped-in means the object has been (at least partially) attached somewhere inside the book.

Re-Cased is a book which has been removed from its original covers and re-settled in them, usually with new glue and new endpapers. Re-backed is a book which has had a new backstrip placed on it.

Verso is the left-hand page of an open book; Recto is the right-hand page.

Wraps are the paper covers around a paperback.

That’s about it. If you have any other questions, please feel free to call us at (818)509-2665, or drop us an e-mail – we love to talk about books!