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There is a basic condition vocabulary and rating system amongst book dealers for describing books, so we can communicate with each other. It works pretty well. The condition grades that I use are adapted from the esteemed  AB Bookman standards. I do not use supercilious grades like "mint" (books are not coins) or "Near Fine" (it either is or it isn't). I do use plus and minus signs (+/-) though, just like in high school. I tend to overdescribe flaws and undervalue the condition grade so that the book looks better than you expected it would.

These are used books though, and everything is subjective. On out-of-print book searches I am often relying on someone else's description of the book, and they may or may not be as serious about these condition grades as I am. Usually they are. If, however, you receive a book from me (whether it's a book search or not) and you think the book is not as it was described you may return it to me for a full refund, less shipping. You must return the book within ten days, and advance notice of your intent is appreciated.

Questions about the paricular condition of a book that I quote for sale are always welcomed.


Condition Grades

As New. As New describes a book that is in immaculate, crisp condition with a perfect dust jacket. I generally use this term only to describe new books (and, frankly, some new books are no longer in As New condition by the time they get shipped out) or to describe books so pristine that the spine hasn't even been cracked. I basically don't believe this term can be used to describe a book older than 15 years because the very feel of the book will tell you it's old, even if it's in perfect condition and no one has ever opened it.

F. Fine describes a book that approaches being As New, without the crispness. There can be no visible defects, and the book is clean and bright, and its dustjacket without any rips or stains.

VG. Very Good describes a book that is clean and bright but which may show subtle signs of its age, such as very minor knicks or scratches. Any defects are noted.

G. Good describes an average used book that shows some wear and perhaps small tears, but whose interior is clean. Any other defects are noted.

P. Poor describes a book that has all its pages intact but which was obviously well loved and well read in its past life. I try not to have any of these, but occassionally hard-to-find out-of-print books are hard to come by in any other form (at least at a reasonable cost). I sometimes refer to books in this condition as Reading Copies.

XL. Ex-Library (Ex-Lib, XLib) describes a book that once belonged to a public or institutional library (and has been deaccessioned). Usually these books show some markings on the title and copyright page, as well as the endpapers. I spend a lot of time cleaning up ex-library books to remove the worst of these sins: rear pockets, stickers, dirty dust jacket covers, etc. If I state that the book shows "usual marks" then several marks are present, but you'd be surprised how clean some library books can be (at least after I work on them some), and I'll likewise remark on that. All ex-library books are so noted, along with a condition grade. There is no such thing as an ex-library book in As New condition, but many are Very Good, and sometimes the dust jackets (in new plastic protectors) are beautiful.

I grade the condition of the book and its dust jacket separately;
the first grade refers to the book, the second to the dust jacket (DJ).

For example:
F/F refers to a book in Fine condition with Fine DJ
VG/G- refers to a book in Very Good conditon with a less than Good DJ
VG+ refers to a book in better than Very Good condition but with no DJ
 


 

for more information on the used and rare book trade, terminology, grading conditions, and first edition identifications, please visit the newly revived AB Bookman website.