Definitions of Condition

For Out-of-Print (Antiquarian) Books


In an effort to prevent misunderstandings, we have listed below the definitions of condition of books as was listed in the AB Bookman years ago.  There are so many misunderstandings as to what is “very good” or “fine” a list of definitions comes in very handy.  Please have this list at hand when describing condition of a book; having to return books is time consuming for the buyer and an unpleasant surprise for the seller.  Thanks!


Before we give you a list of conditions we want to make sure that the following MUST ALWAYS be noted no matter if a book is Fine or a Binding Copy. 

 (a)  Any ex-library markings such as stamps, perforations, blind stamps, lettering on binding, labels, card pockets etc. 

(b)  Book plates, names in ink or otherwise, blind stamps from private libraries must be noted in all cases. 

(c)   Any limitations numbers of limited edition books that are not within the limitation range must be noted.  Also unusual limitation numbers such as letters and then numbers must be noted. 

(d)  Book Club   editions must always be noted as such no matter what the condition of the book.

1.  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 and without any tears.  (The term AS NEW is preferred over the alternative term MINT but it means the same.)

2. Fine approaches the condition of AS NEW, but without being crisp.  For the use of the term FINE there must be no defects at all such as tears, smudges, dents, any markings, nor foxing (the “browning” or acidification of pages or plates) etc. If a jacket is present but has defects or looks worn, this should be noted.

3. Very Good describes a used book that does show some small signs of wear—but no tears—on binding, pages.  Any defects must be noted.  Book must NOT be soiled, scuffed, stained, or spotted and may NOT have loose joints, hinges, pages, and may have some very light foxing.  (Dust jacket may have some small tears, but NO pieces missing).

4. Good describes the average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present.  Book may have SOME soiling, scuffing, stains and spots and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, and small tears, and might have foxing, etc.  Book may NOT have missing pages, maps, plates, or photos.

5. Fair describes 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.

6. Poor describes a book that is so 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.

7. Binding Copy describes a book in which the pages or leaves are perfect but the binding is very bad, loose, off, or nonexistent.