The following terms are generic and are likely to be more important to book collectors than readers.
At Beyond Q we encourage you to check our book descriptions and will happily provide you with additional information or more images.
Often there will be comments added by us to an overall description i.e. fine but previous owners name neatly in biro. Our price will reflect the books overall condition, taking into account the disfiguring previous owner’s signature.
Mint / As New: A great find. This book is smiling brightly. Its condition is as published, maybe still in shrink-wrap, with no bumped corners or scratches. When sniffed closely you might even smell the printer’s ink.
Fine: Another great find. This orphan is very much like Mint but has been opened and read. There may be dust on the top of pages but little or no other indications of wear.
Very Good: Describes a book that has been read by a very careful reader, it may show some small signs of wear – but no tears – on either binding or paper.
Good: Describes the average used book that has obviously been read and has all the pages or leaves in tact. It will be a book that sits comfortably among the others in a collection but not one you would necessarily display. Will often carry additional comments.
Fair: Worn book that has complete text pages including fold outs, maps or plates but may have a cut ffep, missing endpapers, half-title, and so on. It Is unlikely to have a dust jacket. All the defects should be noted.
Poor: This orphan book is probably soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, there will be additional comments added. It may look good externally but have been read in the bath causing moisture damp.
Binding Copy: describes a book in which the block (pages or leaves) are very good but the binding is very bad, loose, off, or nonexistent. We don’t list these often on the internet except if their intrinsic value makes the book worthy of restoration, or to be kept in unrestored condition.
Reading Copy: All the pages are there, they may be in the right order but this little orphan doesn’t have much to smile about. The copy is fine to read but nothing more. Unlikely to be posted on the internet by Beyond Q.
To be Graded: This item has not been graded yet, please ask us for details on the condition of this item.
Common Expressions used to Describe Our Books
Bowed: This usually applies to hard cover books. Either front or back covers can be bowed (often both). If you dissected a book cover you would find it made of three things; a leather or cloth (Buckram) top: a cardboard middle and a paper bottom gluing the board to the pages (block). When the book is exposed to humidity these three things can absorb water at different rates causing the cover(s) to bow.
Chipped: Used to describe where small pieces are missing from the edges of the boards, dust jacket or the edges of a paperback.
Dampstained: A stain on or in a book caused by moisture such as a piece of food or perspiration. Its big brother, water stains are much more conspicuous.
Foxing and browning are similar but caused by different things.
Darkening or Fading: Mainly applies to spines but book covers can also be exposed to light, causing the color to darken or fade. Red and orange covers are particularly susceptible
Edgeworn: Wear along the edges of hardback book covers.
Ex-library: the book was once owned by a public library and will be well used. Librarians often love books but their jobs requires them to know where a book is, and ensure its safe return. Frequently they will put rubber stamps and other types of insignia all over a book to ensure the borrower is too embarrassed to keep it on their shelves passed the loan by date. Ex/lib books are usually badly defaced and mended cheaply. Sort of like killing flies with napalm rather than aerosol spray.
FFEP: Front free end paper Term applies to that sheet of paper glued to the underside of the front cover (Known as fixed front end paper) and floats free over the bulk of the book
Foxed / Foxing: Brown spotting of the paper caused by a chemical reaction, generally found in books from 1800 to 1920. Frequently appears on steel engravings of the same period.
Loose: As a Book ages it becomes somewhat looser. When new a book can resist being opened and often wont lie flat of a level surface. As it becomes looser it will open at any point and lie flat. Eventually it will break and need to be re-stitched or re-cased.
Price Clipped: The price has been clipped from the corner of the dust jacket.
Re-backed: A book that has been repaired by replacing the spine and mending the hinges.
Re-cased: A book that has been glued back into its covers after having been shaken loose.
Re-jointed: Means the book has been repaired preserving the original covers, including the spine.
Shelf Wear: The wear that occurs as a book is placed onto and removed from a shelf. It may be to the tail (bottom) edge of the covers as they rub against the shelf, to the dust jacket or exterior of the covers (when no dust jacket is present) as the book rubs against its neighbors, or to the head of the spine which some use to pull the book from the shelf.
Sunned: Faded from exposure to light or direct sunlight.
Tight: The binding of a new book is very tight; that is, the book will not open easily and generally does not want to remain open to any given page. As the book is used, the binding becomes looser until a well-used book may lay flat and remain open to any page in the book.
Trimmed: An adjective indicating that the pages have been cut down to a size smaller than when originally issued.
Unopened: The leaves of the book are still joined at the folds, not slit apart.
Working copy: Even more damaged than a reading copy, the working copy will have multiple defects and may even need repair.
Worming, Wormholes: Small holes resulting from bookworms (the larvae of various beetles.)