FREE Shipping for Deliveries to UK Addresses on Orders of £50 or More !!

FREE Shipping for Deliveries to UK Addresses on Orders of £50 or More !!


Glossary of TermsJust in case you are unfamiliar with general book terminology we have provided the following glossary of some of the more common terms. We hope it's of some use, and of some interest. On the subject of terminology please be aware that if any of our books is described as a first edition then this should be taken to mean first UK edition, unless otherwise stated.

 Blind Tooled: Decorative impression on book covers made without gilt, gold or colour.

Boards: The front and back covers of a hardcover book.

Book Plate: An ownership label usually placed inside the front cover. May increase or decrease the value of a book depending on who the owner actually was.

Browning: Brown patches caused by damp reacting with acid in the paper (see also Foxing and Spotting).

Bumped / Bumping: With some faults or damage to the corners or spine ends frequently caused by shelf wear.

Chip / Chipped: With small pieces broken (or chipped) off a dustjacket or binding.

Closed Tear: A tear with no material missing (see also Open Tear).

Cloth: Referring to the binding, usually linen (buckram), silk or cotton, used from the 1820s.

Cocked: When looking down on the head of a book, the corners are not square.

Colophon: A note giving details of printing, place, date, etcetera.

Dustjacket/Dustwrapper: Protective cover on modern books, used from the 1830s.

Edition: The number of copies of a book printed from a single setting of type but not necessarily at the same time (see also Impression).

Endpaper: The double leaves attached to the inside of the binding at the beginning and end. That pasted inside the cover is known as the paste-down and the other as the free endpaper.

Ex Library: Originally from a public library, usually with all the attendant library stamps.

Ex Libris: From a private rather than a public library or collection, usually with attendant bookplate.

Extremities: Collective term for the spine, joints, corners and edges of a binding.

Format: The size, shape and binding of a book.

Font: A set of type created to one common design.

Foxing: Brown spots or stains in paper caused by metallic or chemical impurities (see also Browning and Spotting).

Frontispiece: Illustration facing the Title Page.

Half-Title: The leaf before the Title Page, usually printed with only the book title.

Hinge: The inside junction of the board with the back of the book (the spine).

Impression: The number of copies of a book printed at one time from a single setting of type. A further impression could be printed from the same setting at a later date and these would then be the first and second impressions of the same edition (see also Edition).

ISBN: The International Standard Book Number. A unique identification number that identifies any edition of any book unmistakeably. However, as with many technologies the system is not perfect; very occasionally one will find two or more titles with the same ISBN. The ISBN was originally made up of 10 numbers but is now a 13 digit number in order to accommodate the large number of titles being published.

Joint: The outside junction of the board with the back of the book (the spine).

Leaf / Leaves: The single piece of paper consisting of two pages, one the front and one the back.

Limited Edition: An edition limited to a stated number of copies.

Marble: Of paper, decorated with a marble effect created by inserting the paper into a bath of water on the surface of which are colours combed into a pattern.

Morocco: Tanned goatskin used for binding.

Open Tear: A tear with some material missing (see also Closed Tear).

Original: As published, for example, original dustjacket.

Plate: A full-page illustration printed separately from the body of the text.

Points: Peculiarities in a published book whose presence or absence help to determine its edition and impression.

Price-Clipped: Having had the price (usually on the inner flap of a dust jacket) cut off. Some people do this when buying a book as a gift to prevent the recipient knowing how much was spent. Can adversely affect any subsequent re-sale value.

Proof: Advance or trial impression of text or illustration.

Recto: The front of a leaf, that is the right-hand side of an open book (see also Verso).

Rounding / Rounded: Indicates that the normally square outside corners of the front and rear boards are worn and rounded. Usually only seen in old books that have been subject to a lot of handling.

Rubbed:  Indicating wear to a binding, particularly the spine, joints, corners and edges.

Separation: Of pages, separated from the spine or coming loose from the spine.

Shelf Wear: Rubbing and bumping to the edges of spine, boards and dustjacket that can occur when a book has been stored on a shelf for any length of time.

Spine: The back of a book joining the front and back covers.

Spotting: Brown spots in paper caused by impurities (see also Browning and Foxing).

Sprung: A book with a weak spine and pages that are coming loose.

Tipped-In: Lightly attached at the inside or top edge, usually of a plate.

Title Page: The preliminary page supplying such details as title, author, publisher and date.

Uncut: With page edges that are rough-cut, rather than being neatly trimmed by the binder.

Verso: The back of a leaf, that is the left-hand side of an open book (see also Recto).

Volume: The physical object. One book can consist of several volumes.

Yapped: With turned-in edges. Found on some leather bindings and named after a London bookseller named Yapp who invented them around 1860.


Photo courtesy of Samantha Hurley