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Glossary & Book Grading Terms

Here's a helpful guide through the maze of book grading. We are strict when it comes to grading and do not allow rips, tears, creasing of any kind in our Fine or Near Fine books.  We grade older books using the same standards as modern/contemporary books. i.e. we do not upgrade an older book's "grade" just because it's older.


When it comes to grading, the book itself is indicated first, then the dustjacket. For example, VG/VG+ is a very good book in a very good plus dust jacket.


Very Fine
We use the term as new only when the book is in the same immaculate condition in which it was published. There can be no defects, and the dustjacket is perfect.


F - Fine
As free from defects as possible.
Virtually new books also, but perhaps have been opened or on a shelf.  

NF - Near Fine
All flaws must be disclosed. Minor defects, light wear, no tears, rips, holes or creasing  to dust jacket.   

A Near Fine book can have other types of flaws.   For example, a bookplate or a previous owner’s name written in the book are flaws, but in an otherwise Fine book, may downgrade the item to Near Fine.

VG - Very Good
A very good book is an average used, read book that shows some signs of wear. DJ may have closed tears or creasing. Book may have some foxing or soiling. All flaws are indicated. We use variations on the VG grading such as VG+ and VG-.

G - Good
A book in Good condition contains all text, but is heavily worn. Generally books in Good, Fair, and Poor condition are used as Reading Copies only--not a collector copy. Contains flaws like rips and stains.   Heavily thumbed, well worn. Typical used book that has been passed around and not protected properly. 

We use variations such as Good+


A very worn book that may lack endpapers, half-title, etc. Binding, jacket (if any), etc. may also be worn, spine can be canted. Major defects are noted. Defects may include:

Rough appearance, scuffs and creases.
Discoloration, fading and/or soiling.
Some pieces may be missing.
Cover may be detached.
Split or damaged spine.
Pages may be brittle/discolored around the edges.
Tape or other forms of repair.


A Reading Copy only book. Contains complete text, which must be legible. This copy may be soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc. Defects may include:

Front cover may be gone or coverless.
Extreme wear
Moderate to extreme brittleness.
Much soiling
Chunks missing from DJ or wraps
Much creasing, folding, etc

Other Terms 

ARC - Advance Reading Copy (Uncorrected Proof as well)
An ARC is a special, usually softbound pre-hardcover 1st edition of a new book sent to bookstores and reviewers by publishers. They can be quite collectible, but if you are selling them, make sure the selling venue allows their sale.

BCE - Book Club Edition
Book Club Editions are published and sold through a book club in usually cheaper than trade/retail formats. Book club dust jackets usually feel lighter and different. They typically do not have a price on the interior flap. The text is usually poor, and book often has a dot, circle or square impressed on the rear board. Some publishers actually released book club editions that state "first edition" and that resemble the trade first very closely. Always lift the dustjacket and look at the rear of the book to check for the small, usually square or circular stamp to the lower right.If it's there, the book is a BCE.

 An ex-library book is generally not considered collectable and MUST be designated as ex-library prior to sale. These books usually have their dust jackets and Brodarts taped or glued to the book, contain stamps on the end papers to indicate the library's ownership, and may or may not contain a card pocket and other, related detritus. 


Yellow/brown stain or spots on a book's pages, which is apparently caused by a micro-organism reacting chemically with the paper.

A book that has not only been signed by the author (or illustrator), but that has an inscription, sometimes personalized, as well. For example, "To Joe-Bob, Merry Christmas 1982, Tony Hillerman."

Remainder Mark
An ink marking made by the publisher or book dealer on the top, side or bottom of the leaves.   This generally indicates that the book was overstock or not sold at retail price. 



(Sherry Bruning)