puzzles you, you're welcome to use the links at the top of this page
query. The great thing about email is you can display your ignorance
brazenly in the full confidence that your friends never get to find
awkward from the
non-collector's point of view is the use of jargon. Most terms are
self-explanatory once you get used to them, but one or two of these
phrases sometimes puzzle people:
on a hardback book. These are usually some form of hardboard, covered
pasted-down cloth, paper, or various kinds of leather. Sometimes they
illustrations or decorations printed on them, in which case they're
to as "printed boards". "Laminated boards" have that sort of shiny
coating and are usually washable (with a moist cloth only please; not
suitable for underwater use).
--- library boards Back in the 60s and 70s it was common for public libraries to remove a book's board covers and replace the with slightly more sturdy boards, usually patterned like really bad wallpaper, and covered with wipeable plastic. It sounds a bit odd now, but in fact it made them wear a bit longer before they had to be replaced, and made them slightly easier to clean. The pages would often be trimmed on all three sides, so that such books are frequently a bit smaller than copies from private collections. The dustjacket would usually be discarded, but sometimes it would be wrapped around the new boards and sealed under the plastic covering. This didn't just apply to hardbacks, by the way - you can still find books in library boards that were originally sold as paperbacks, with the original paper covers sealed under the plastic. Not strictly legal - if you've ever wondered about the warning on the copyright page that says a book must be resold in its original covers, this is the sort of thing they were trying to prevent...
usually refers to the boards. It's the process used for adding type and
decorations when the boards aren't printed. It most usually take the
form of gold blocking on the spine only, which means that the book's
author and title appears on the spine with a gold leaf appearance. It
doesn't have to be gold: other (cheaper) colours are becoming more
common in recent books, though it doesn't have to be any colour at all.
It might also be used on the front and back boards.
Pretty much what it sounds like. Usually caused when the book is
it basically indicates a heavy wrinkling in the area that was the point
of impact: the extent of the damage usually depends on how high the
fell from, what fell on top of it, or, let's be frank, the amount of
with which you threw it at the wall in the first place.
These were originally just plain wrappers issued to protect a book's
and would be discarded once the purchaser shelved the book in his
As time went on, they became more decorative, and were more frequently
kept with and regarded as part of the book itself. More expensive or
items are sometimes issued with a clip case instead (or more rarely, as
hardbacks are issued
with one, and most paperbacks without, so in medievalbookshop's
a note will be made alongside the book's format if it is known that a
was issued without, or a paperback with. However, if the matter
is doubtful (a first edition might be issued with, and subsequent
without, for instance), the words "no dustjacket" will appear either
the format description (if there probably never was one to start with),
or in the assessment of the book's condition toward the end of the
(if there might have been one at some point). If the words "dust jacket
missing" appear, then that should speak for itself. As the jackets can
be tattier than their books, they will often receive a separate
as to their condition.
attractive brown speckly effect you get on old books. It usually comes
from the book having been stored where there's a lot of moisture in the
atmosphere, or bad air circulation, usually combined with the book
printed on low-quality paper. It sometimes makes the book smell more
That sort of flimsy tracing paper stuff (occasionally textured) that
sometimes find used on hardbacks instead of a printed dustjacket.
book should be available from the publisher or any full-price bookshop. These
prices are listed wherever possible so that you can compare the
price against the recommended full retail price. Please note, these
prices are not checked regularly, so any such details given may be out
this should mean that the title concerned is a really rare title and no
longer available for love or money. In practice, it often means no more
than it's not currently listed by a particular publisher. The market
still be flooded with cheap remaindered copies, or secondhand book club
reprints; quite often it will be reissued by another publisher, as like
as not in a budget price edition. These days, many previously "rare"
can be tracked down cheaply and in occasionally daunting quantity by
a little time searching the web. Once in a while, of course, "out of
could also mean it's a really rare title and you can't get hold of it
love or money.
With perfect binding, the backs of the pages are sawn off and glued
the covers. Stitched binding means that the pages are grouped into
'booklets' which are sewn separately before being grouped together and
glued into the covers. If you look at the back of the pages where
attached to the spine you'll soon learn to tell the difference in most
cases (though sometimes there's a little sort of bootlace affair glued
on to make it look more elegant and disguise just how shoddy the
really is; also, perfect binding can sometimes look stitched when the
off process leaves some of the backs intact). In a very general kind of
way, stitching makes for a more durable book than perfect binding,
there are a number of other factors that will affect durability
the quality of paper used for the pages and the glue used for the
also, perfect-binding techniques have improved in recent years
to often equal or better their stitch-bound equivalents.
sources Basically primary sources are texts written during the
ages, or by medieval writers; secondary sources are generally
later, or about medieval things. This is only a rough
of course: it's quite possible to have secondary sources written by
authors, and there's plenty of scope for further ambiguity. The
is used on this website, because that's the way most bibliographies are
organised, so it's something that you're either already used to or
going to get used to.
context of a dustjacket, it means that patches of ink have been rubbed
away revealing the colour of the paper beneath (usually white). If used
of the boards, it generally means slightly (not heavily) frayed at the
corners or edges.
case A sturdy
made-to-measure box into which the book fits snugly. Generally only
with more expensive or collectable items such as art books or
books. Their great advantage is that a well-made slipcase can look
battered to hell and back while the book inside might still be in
publisher has not printed page numbers: the cataloguer has counted them
manually and probably missed a few due to being interrupted by the
phone or the cat jumping on the keyboard.