Book Terminology

Book Terminology*:

ADVANCE REVIEW (or READER’S or READING) COPY (ARC) A special pre-publication copy mainly for review purposes – sent to reviewers and others prior to publication date. It is often referred to as an ARC. It is usually softbound in wrappers, which may be similar to dust jacket art of the first trade edition, and occasionally there are textual differences between an advance review copy and a first edition.

-AEG All Edges Gilt. (Covered with a thin layer of gold leaf).

ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLER A term, in today’s usage, that describes a bookseller whose stock in trade is primarily old, rare, and/or collectible books.

-ASSOCIATION COPY A book once belonging to the author, or signed or annotated by the author to someone closely associated with the author of the book or the book itself in some way. Also, a book inscribed by its author to a famous person, or owned by someone of interest.

-BIBLIOGRAPHY A reference work detailing known published titles on a given subject or by a given author.

-BINDING Material used as a protective cover for a book (e.g.:leather, cloth, buckram, paper, etc.)

-BOOK CLUB EDITION (BCE, BOMC, etc.) Editions published by book clubs (i.e.: The Book-of-the-Month Club, Fireside Book Club, History Book Club, The Literary Guild, etc.). They are usually of little monetary value.

-BOARDS The front and back covers of a hardcover book.

-BROADSIDE or BROADSHEET Large sheet of paper printed on one side only.

-CHIPPED Small pieces broken off of a dust jacket or binding.

-COPYRIGHT PAGE (c., cp) The page that usually normally appears on verso of the title page, containing the artistic property protection.

-DECKLE EDGE Uneven and uncut edges, often found on books printed on hand-made paper and not trimmed by the binder.

-EDITION All of the copies of a book printed from the same setting of type, at one time or over a period of time, with no major changes, additions or revisions. Minor changes, such as the correction of some misspelled words, or the addition of a dedication, or similar very minor alterations, may be made and the revised copies are still considered as part of the same edition, simply being described as different states or issues.

-ENDPAPERS (EP) The double leaves added to the book by the binder that become the pastedowns and free endpapers inside the front and rear covers. These pages are an integral part of the construction of a book, holding the text block and case together. The lack of them drastically shortens the value and life of a book.

-EPHEMERA Printed material of passing interest in every day life (e.g.: advertising, ticket stubs, photos, postcards, programs, some booklets and pamphlets, etc.).

-FIRST EDITION The first printing of a book, done from the original setting of type. The collectibility of the first printing of the first edition was established in the early days of printing, when the lead type used in the presses would quickly wear away, compromising the readability of the book being printed. In the world of literature and Modern Firsts, the term is used differently, and means the very first printing of those copies, done at the same time. A second print run, though it is technically still the “First Edition”, is not what is meant by the phrase in the world of collectible Modern Firsts.

-FRONTISPIECE (Frontis) The illustration facing title page.

-LIMITED EDITION Small number of copies of a book published. Books are usually numbered such as “100/500” meaning number 100 of an edition of 500.

-PLATE A special page containing an illustration or other extra information.

-POINTS Peculiarities in a published book whose presence or absence helps to determine edition, issue or state.

-REMAINDER MARK A mark (rubber stamp, felt marker stroke, or spray, often on a book’s bottom edge) signifying that the book was returned to publisher as unsold, and then offered for sale again later at a much lower price. Considered to be a defect by collectors.

-SIGNATURE A printed sheet of paper, folded to size and ready for sewing (i.e.: large paper folded in half, fourths, eighths, sixteenths, or thirty-seconds). Signatures are “gathered,” sewn, and bound together into the finished book.

-STATE Variations within an edition, which are made prior to publication. This term applies only in connection with the printed pages, and not variations in binding, and can include:

  • alterations due to stop-press insertions, damaged type, etc.
  • the addition of errata leaves, advertisements.
  • textual changes affecting page lay-out.
  • some special-paper copies.

-WRAPPERS or WRAPS The printed or unprinted cover of a pamphlet or book bound in paper.

[* Adapted from the website of the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA). ]

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