Glossary of Book Terminology produced by the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA). Please click on the link and take the time to have a look through. I guarantee it will be worth the time and effort.
If you'd rather purchase a hard
copy reference on book terminology and book collecting in general, my
recommendation for those just starting out is the ABC for Book Collectors by
John Carter. This classic has long been a must have for beginner and
experienced book collectors alike. Whilst a newer edition of the book is
preferable, any edition would be useful as a start-off point. All
entries are listed alphabetically making it super easy to use. I still
use my copy quite frequently, so it will definitely be a good long-term
What I will cover just briefly here is some book
terminology standards in relation to book condition and book sizes.
Please note that the book condition and sizing definitions listed here
have been referenced from the ABE website.
4to - up to 12 inches tall. Also referred to as a Quarto book.
8vo - up to 9.75 inches tall. Also referred to as an Octavo book. Most large softcovers fit into this book size category.
- up to 7.75 inches tall. Also referred to as a Duodecimo book. Most
small mass market paperbacks fit into this book size category.
16mo - up to 6.75 inches tall. Also referred to as a Sextodecimo book.
24mo - up to 5.75 inches tall.
32mo - up to 5 inches tall.
48mo - up to 4 inches tall.
64mo - up to 3 inches tall.
Folio - up to 15 inches tall.
Elephant Folio - up to 23 inches tall.
Atlas Folio - up to 25 inches tall.
Double Elephant Folio - up to 50 inches tall.
book dealers list the condition of a book it is usually in the form of
VG/VG, Fine/Good, VG/--, etc. The first part is the condition of the
book, the second is the condition of the dust jacket. If a "/--" is
present, it usually means that the dust jacket is missing or unavailable.
If there is no second part at all this normally indicates the book was
not issued with a dust jacket. As a guide, most book dealers use the
following condition terms. The book condition definitions are meant as a
guide only and buyers should be aware that all sellers will have
slightly different interpretations. Good book descriptions should always
include specific details on defects rather than just generic statements
like "may show general wear and tear". The use of this kind of phrase
with specific details is fine, but is bad practice when used in
isolation. If you are ever unsure what a seller means by a term they are
using to describe a book, we encourage you to ask them directly for
clarification, or request that images of the book be sent.
New - A new book is unread, in print and in perfect condition with no missing or damaged pages.
- A book that is in the same immaculate condition to which it was
published with no defects, no missing pages, no library stamps, etc.,
and the dust jacket must be perfect without any tears.
Fine (F or FN)
- Approaches the condition of As New, but without being crisp. There
must also be no defects and if the jacket has a small tear, or other
defect, or looks worn, this should be noted.
Very Good (VG) - A book that does show some small signs of wear, but no tears, on either binding or paper.
Good (G) - Describes the average used worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Defects must be noted.
- 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. Defects must be noted.
- A book that is sufficiently worn to the point that its only merit is
as a reading copy. It should still have the complete text. 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.
This article is Part 2 of a series titled Book Collecting 101. Click on the following link for Part 1 of the series - Choosing What Books to Collect. Part 3 of the series - Sourcing Second Hand Books - will be coming soon.
Thursday, 30 September 2010
Friday, 17 September 2010
To enter our book giveaway just leave a comment that includes who you want Katniss to end up with - Peter or Gale? Read the following information to see how you can earn bonus entries.
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Entries are open until 5pm EST on Friday 1st October. The competition is open to residents of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA and the UK. The winner of the competition will be announced on Tuesday 5th October. Good luck to everyone!!
Monday, 6 September 2010
At the last meeting of my local book club, one of our members suggested that we read The Room by Emma Donoghue. After perusing the back of the book, we unanimously voted it in. However, it was the story behind the purchase of this book that has stayed with me since. Rhonda, the woman who bought the book, was appalled at the behaviour of the local bookstore owner who sold it to her. Turns out that the bookstore owner actually told her how the book ended as she was buying it. Call me crazy, but I thought this was bookseller 101 stuff - never tell the customer how the book ends unless they actually ask you to. Apparently not! Rhonda still read the book, and still enjoyed it for that matter, but it got me thinking - how often does this happen? Personally, I can't think of anything more frustrating, but I'd love to hear about any similar experiences you might have had.
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint is the ramblings of Alexander Portnoy to his psychoanalyst Dr Speilvogel. Portnoy is afflicted with a condition that results in uncontrollable and often perverse sexual impulses. Over the course of the book Portnoy details his compulsion to masturbate as a teenager and various lewd sexual encounters as an adult in an attempt to discover what has caused his affliction. We learn that he feels trapped between his need to delve deeper into degradation in search of sexual enjoyment and his overiding sense of shame at his actions. Portnoy begs of Spielvogel: Is my condition the result of the orthodoxy of growing up in Jewish America? Can I attribute it to my obsessive relationship with my overbearing and repressive mother? Does my bowel-challenged father have something to do with it? Or, am I just a symptom of society - the American male of the times?
Written in the late 1960s, the books' heavy sexual content made it something of a scandal and in some parts of the world it was actually banned. With chapters titled 'Whacking Off', Roth makes no attempt to hide the main theme of his book. Though times have changed, I'd venture to say that some readers would still find the contents confronting and a little too sexually explicit. You've been warned!!
So, what is Portnoy's monologue all in aid of? As I said before, I'm still a little uncertain. Roth is obviously passing comment on society at the time, but Portnoy's Complaint is not so much a social commentary as it is one man's exploration of his own condition - an attempt at self-diagnosis, if you like. One criticism I have of the book is its' length. I think Roth could have achieved the same result in under 200 pages as he has in 300, but it's a minor flaw. The books strength for me is Roth's wit. I don't find many books laugh-out-loud funny, but this one had me roaring. (3.5 Stars)
Portnoy's Complaint is listed in the book 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. For your chance to win a copy of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die please see our Giveaway in our recent post.
Portnoy's Complaint was also recently the subject of discussion on the First Tuesday Book Club on ABC TV. To download what the experts had to say, or see a transcript of the show, just click here.