Terms for Describing Condition
AB Bookman's Weekly
AB Bookman's Weekly (aka Antiquarian Bookman), one of the most well-respected journals in the book-selling trade, listed the following categories for judging the condition of used books. The criteria for each category have become the industry standard:
- As New is to be used only when the book
is in the same immaculate condition in which it was published.
There can be no defects, no missing pages, no library stamps,
etc., and the dust jacket (if it was issued with one) must be
perfect without any tears. (The term As New
is preferred over the alternative term Mint
to describe a copy that is perfect in every respect, including
- Fine approaches the condition of As New,
but without being crisp. For the use of the term Fine
there must also be no defects, etc., and if the jacket has a
small tear, or other defect, or looks worn, those should be noted.
- Very Good can describe a used book that
does show some small signs of wear - but no tears - on either
binding or paper. Any defects must be noted.
- Good describes the average used and worn
book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must bo
- Fair is a 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. All defects must be noted.
- Poor describes a book that is sufficiently
worn that its only merit is as a Reading Copy
because it does have the complete text, which must be legible.
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.
- Ex-library copies must always be noted as
such no matter what the condition of the book.
- Book Club editions must always be noted
as such no matter what the condition of the book.
- Binding Copy describes a book in which the
pages or leaves are perfect but the binding is very bad, loose,
off, or nonexistent.
In all cases, the lack of a dustjacket should be noted if the
book was issued with one.
When in doubt, describe the book exactly as it is, as to physical
condition, textual reading, and edition.
List © 1998 by AB Bookman's Publications, Inc.
Used by permission
Also see Judging the condition
of a book (my own criteria of what is and is not acceptable).
Questions? E-mail me!