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Do you speak BOOK??

If yes, then we have an OP OS HB in bright, but edgeworn DJ, inscript. ffep, foxed yet clean & tight for you!

Or an art book, perfect, complete 24 color plates, OSSC w/wrappers, signed 1st/1st, but in fair / poor condition, bowed and foxed endpapers/covers, ext wear. "as is"


Over the last few centuries* a system of description was developed by the booksellers to give the bookbuyers a sense of the physical book and what it was like, as well as describing any flaws that it may have acquired during its journey as a used book.

This is a list of the most commonly used terms & acronyms used by Bluestocking Books for the physical condition of our books. There are variations from bookseller to bookseller but we hope this will serve as generally useful in your book hunting adventure :)

*yes, booksellers have been shipping books worldwide since the 1600s.


"Like New / Fine" indicates that the book is as close to original condition=brand new in every way; any difference will be clearly indicated.

"Very Good" indicates that the book is in great shape but may have slight wear. Most of our books are Very Good or VG. This means - very light wear - gift condition. No writing or highlighting, no broken hinges or cracks in spines unless noted. We strive to mention wear, inscriptions, bookplates or anything added or missing. That include the dust jacket - the paper wrapper around the book's covers (if originally issued) or anything else that stands out from the way the book was when it was new. 

"Good" this means some wear. May have highlighting, underlining, wear to edges/corners or tanned pages. We try to mention every aspect!

"Fair" indicates the book is in bad shape but still complete and readable.

"AS IS" / "Reading Copy" / "Poor Condition" all rather interchangeable in our humble opinion. Indicates that the book is in bad shape but still complete and has (at least!) one last read left in it.



HB or HC = Hardback or Hardcover.  A hard cover book. Typically about 9"x6". The covers of the hardback are sometimes referred to as "boards".

 An external separate paper/plastic wrapper protecting the book may be described as a "jacket". More likely you will see the acronym: DJ or DW = Dust Jacket or Dust Wrapper and a description of its condition.

Softcover - not a particular size, simply indicates: not a hardback. Covers are bendy!

  Wrappers - This slippery term technically means a larger sized softcover book, which may or may not have an additional paper jacket on it. Usually used for describing art books or import softcovers.

  PB - not a particular size, simply indicates: not a hardback. Covers are bendy!

  Trade or Trade PB = Trade is a paperback / softcover book; a bit larger than the mass market paperback or "pocketbook" but usually not as big as the usual hardback. A more luxurious size / feel, but not necessarily large(r) typeface. 

  MMPB - Mass Market Paperback, pocketbook. Typically 7"x4", though often taller in the last few years

Spiral Binding - usually plastic, like on cookbooks so they stay open for you. HB or softcover will be indicated.

The term "Endpapers" refers to the first pages inside the book in the front and back - one side is pasted-down on the inside board, and the other moves freely, though is not considered the first page. These two pages, referred to as the "Paste-Down" or the "FFEP - free front endpaper" are used often in our descriptions because there may be a signature or gift inscription on one or the other.

Larger books in general may be referred to Oversize, or the acronym OS. If softcover, may be described as OSSC (Oversized softcover)

Larger books in ye olden days would be called "FOLIO" referring to how many times the original piece of printed paper was folded before the book was bound. Nowadays we tend to say "Oversized" to let you know it's BIGGER than usual - an art or photography book, or an atlas.  We may use an acronym; OS meaning oversized or occasionally OSHB meaning Oversized Hard Back or OSSC: OverSized SoftCover.


Yellowed / tanned means the exterior and/or interior pages are turning a darker color due to oxidation. This is pretty common in older paperbacks.

Foxing/Foxed - Kinda mysterious what foxing is, and there are a few theories. It is an old term for a phenomenon in older books and it's rust colored spotting that occurs to the paper inside the book on the pages. Sometimes it is on the external page edges or the paper of the dust jacket. Foxing is not mold or any other kind of stain. It's harmless "ye olde book" aging.

Cocked - Spine of book leans from being read many times or poorly stored.

Bumped corners - means corner or corners (we will specify) are bent. Usually the book has been dropped, resulting in this flaw.

Bowed, bent or warped - bowed covers are exactly what they  sound like - usually from intense climate/humidity changes.

Edgewear - Wear to any/all external edges. Other distinct external flaws are usually specifically described (i.e. "spot on the front cover")

When describing the Dust Jacket or Dust Wrapper we like to tell you if it's less than perfect by using words like rubbed (lots of handling, less glossy, maybe a little scratched up from wear), chipped (little chips and/or tears along the edges) or edgewear (see above) Most dust jackets at Bluestocking Books are preserved in a plastic wrapper to save the DJ, which in turn saves the books underneath from wear.

We try to always mention if there is a previous owner name ("PO name") or gift inscription inside the front endpapers. Inscription implies a dedication to someone from somebody (sometimes the Author, which we will specify...but more often it's more like: "to Little Harold from your loving Aunt Eunice.") Sometimes a signature or inscription will fall on the 1/2 title, which is the page before the main title page with a smaller title or just the main part of the title on it. Not all books have a 1/2 title page.

Underlining / Highlighting - We normally do not accept books that are written in but we make an exception for required academic texts. Underlining, highlighting and margin notes (marginalia) will always be mentioned. 


Stated First Ed. w/numbers - Each publisher has a way of noting on the copyright page whether the volume is a first printing or a later reprint. For those that collect first editions, we try to notate any evidence we find and "w/numbers" refers to the way a printer has a series of numbers ending in 1 or 0 indicating a first edition.

Signed or Inscribed by Author = A signature is simply that - a signature. An inscription implies that the author signed the book "To Somebody" and may or may not include a comment or a doodle as well.

Because of the changing status of books going in and out of print, the following terms are used less and less by us, but you may see the following included to indicate how we arrived at the price:

I.P. "In Print" usually refers to the current price or status of the books.

Reprint is often used to let you know it's not a first edition or anything too fancy but simply a reprint.

OP / OOP both refer to Out of Print

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