Book Terminology

A Glossary of Terms.

Book Terms When ordering books or looking at booksellers catalogues many terms may at first seem difficult to understand . The best book on the subject remains the classic.

ABC Of Book Collecting by John Carter

This post hopefully will explain a few of the most common terms you will encounter on our site.

Common abbreviations used;

pp. Printed pages. followed by those with and without numbers so pp.viii + 115 , = printed pages 8 pages before the main text + 115 pages main text.

Dust wrapper or dust cover or dust jacket.

The printer wrap around cover separate from the book, it contains the blurb and is very desirable as it completes the book especially with Modern First Edition when the lack of the dust wrapper can make an enormous difference.

The condition is variously described.

Price clipped when the price has been cut off the wrapper.

Nicked, chipped, usually means there is some edge wear.

Torn means a larger damage.

Rear foxing to dust wrapper means there is no damage to the printed face of the dust wrapper but some spotting to the rear.

Facsimile dust wrapper - We have only a had few of these ever, we do not produce them, they are photocopied and used to make a book more appealing when lacking the original dust wrapper. They are usually easy to spot but we always declare them. Now protected means it has a dust wrapper clear plastic cover.

Hardcover, Softcover, in Original Card.

A hardcover is cloth or hard paper bound and can have decoration or gilt so can be described as Very Good hardcover Decorated in Gilt.

Pictorial hardcover means the Edwardian or Victorian bindings with elaborate illustration.

Original laminated is the glossy pictorial modern binding.

Softcover is a paperback but a lot are either trade paperbacks which are the large format.

Mass paperbacks which are the small format. Large quality paperback can be a 4to in a quality form.

In original card is a pamphlet or thin card ephemeric binding, often very beautiful.

Book Sizes

The names of book sizes are based on the old system, still widely used, of considering the size of a page as a fraction of the large sheet of paper on which it was printed. This system is illustrated in Table I below. In printing books, an even number (as 4, 8, 16, 32, 64) of pages is printed on each side of a single large sheet, which is then folded so that the pages are in proper sequence and the outside edges are cut so that the book will open. Except for the largest size, the folio, the name of the size indicates the fractional part of the sheet one page occupies (as octavo “eighth”). In this system, since the fractional name alone cannot denote an exact size, the name of the sheet size precedes the fractional name. Thus royal octavo is understood to designate a page one-eighth the size of a royal sheet, medium octavo a page one-eighth the size of a medium sheet, and crown octavo a page one-eighth the size of a crown sheet. But paper is cut into many sheet sizes and even the terms crown, medium, and royal do not always designate sheets of the same dimensions. Three of the more common sheet sizes have been selected: royal 20 x 25 inches, medium 18 x 23 inches, and crown 15 x 19 inches. Actual page sizes run a little smaller than calculations, since the sheets, when folded to page size, are trimmed at top, outside and bottom, the inside edge becoming part of the binding. British sheet size sometimes differs slightly from American. Table II illustrates the size names as they are used by the American Library Association, with only the octavo sizes including the name of a sheet size. The dimensional limits given in the table remain standard for this system. Table III gives equivalent terms and symbols for the size names.

©Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1966)

Binding Terminology.


Links From The World of Books

These are links to interesting and beautiful articles from in and around the book world.


Biblio A community of online booksellers.

Books and Collectibles A community of booksellers and antiques dealers run by Paul Anderson.

The Antiquarian Booksellers Association. The British community of antiquarian booksellers. We are no longer members however the ABA still holds a place in our hearts.

The Australian and New Zealand Booksellers Association We are no longer members of this association however we know many of the people involved and should be of interest to book collectors new and old.

The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America We have never been members of this association however their site is very interesting and links to a great many of the top booksellers in the United States.

General Links

This is where we share some of the things we like online, the types of writers we follow and the sort of stuff we listen to while we work.

Good Reads A very popular site that recommends books to people that read books, take a look then definatly come back and buy said book from us.

Library Thing A community site where people rate books.

Bookstr Books and events and book stuff.

Riffle A sort of book discovery platform.

Book Likes Appears to be a community driven platform with people blogging about books, you sign up and start a profile.

Book Trib News and Reviews.


Q - Do you buy books? A - Yes!

Q - Do you repair books? A - We do not repair books however, we can arrange or broker repairs or binding.

Q - Will you accept significantly less than the price specified? A - No!

Q - Will you accept any less than the price specified? A - No!

Q - You don't have any rare books in your shop? A - We have some, mainly in the locked cabinets, however most of our best stock is stored off-site for security reasons. It is a good idea to ask in advance of visiting us if you are interested in anything specific so we can ensure the right titles are ready for you.

Q - We don't really read books. A - That is not a question.

Q - I have never read a book in my life! A - You are in the wrong place as that is literally all we sell.

Q - Geez you've got a lot of books don't you? A - ...Yes.

Q - Can we leave our children/child unattended in your shop while we go to the bank/leave for Africa. A – No, please do not leave unattended children in our shop.

Q - We have parked in one of your spaces hope you don't mind. A - These spaces are reserved for our customers & clients so we do mind if you are not a customer, or are parked for excessive periods of time.

Considering Selling?

We are always looking to buy interesting books from single volumes to houses full.

These are the sorts of books we are really interested in buying.

- First Editions, Modern First Editions.

- Books on unusual subjects.

- Leather Bound Volumes.

- Fine Sets.

- Fine Ephemera.

- Childrens Books.

- Books in very good and fine condition.

- Books of intrinsic interest.

- If you are uncertain about selling please feel free to contact us our contact details are to the right of this page.


Address: Shop 8/61 Burnett St Buderim Queensland Australia

Phone: 07 54771306


Our Guarantee



Book Terminology

Returns and Refunds

Privacy Policy

Blind Date With a Book

Considering Selling ?

Customer Testimonials