Here are some terms and the explanations that book sellers use when describing their books.
New – A new book is unread, in print and in perfect condition with no missing or damaged pages.
As New – To be used only when the book is in the same immaculate condition to 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, without any tears.
Fine(F or FN) – Approaches the condition of As New, but without being crisp. For the use of the term Fine, there must also be no defects, etc., and if the jacket has a small tear, or other defect, or looks worn, this should be noted.
Very Good (VG) – Describes a book that does show some small signs of wear – but no tears – on either binding or paper. Any defects must be noted.
Good (G) – Describes the average used worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must be noted.
Fair – 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.
Poor – Describes a book that is sufficiently worn, to the point 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.
The above terms may be arbitrary, but whatever terms are employed, they may be useless or misleading unless both buyer and seller agree on what they mean in actually describing the book.
Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) – A copy for reviewers and/or booksellers, usually bound in paper wraps and usually with either the finished cover art or possibly trial cover art. Generally, this copy is as it will appear in the stores and differs from the Uncorrected Proof.
Book Club Edition – A book usually printed especially for a book club such as “The Book of the Month Club” or “The Literary Guild.” These copies will usually have the words “Book Club Edition” printed on the bottom right corner of the front flap of the dust wrapper. Occasionally, if the book club does not wish to do a separate edition they will have a publisher stamp or sticker on the rear board and print a supply of dust wrappers without a price on the front flap and now without the bar code data on the rear panel. Book Clubs are not solely an American phenomenon as there have been numerous British Book Clubs over the years.
Bookplate – A piece of decorated card signed by the author and placed usually on the first blank page in the book, as opposed to “flat signed” where the actual book is signed and not a bookplate.
Corners – The right angles on the unbound edges of the front and back covers of a hardcover book.
Covers – The binding of the book, most particularly the front and back panels of the book.
Cut – Many modern books are smooth-trimmed after binding so that all edges are even, or flush. This is described as having been “cut.” For example a 1st Edition Hells Angels hard cover is uncut, the leading edges of the pages are uneven and rough to the touch.
Dog-Eared – Book pages which have been folded over in the corners. Some people do this to mark their place in a book.
Dust Jacket – (D.J) A term, indicating the usually decorative paper wrapper placed around a book to protect the binding.
End Papers- The sheets of paper pasted onto the inner covers, joining the book block to the covers. One side of the sheet is pasted to the inside cover, the other is left free.
Ex-Library- A term used to indicate a book was once in a library. They are usually identified with one or more markings of the library such as stampings, card pockets, cataloging numbers, etc. Frequently they are marked as “discarded” or “withdrawn” when sold by a library.
Ex-Libris – A bookplate printed with the owner’s name or initials. Latin for “From the library of…”
Inscribed – Usually indicates a book signed by the author, either with an inscription to a specific person or bearing some brief notation along with his signature. BE CAREFUL HERE SOME PEOPLE INSCRIBE BOOK WHEN GIVING THEM AS A GIFT, IF NOT STATED BY THE SELLER, ASK.
Mass-Market Paperback – The most common paperback book, about four inches wide and seven inches high. Seen most often as mystery, science fiction and romance books.
Shelf Wear – The wear that occurs as a book is placed onto and removed from a shelf. It may be to the tail (bottom) edge of the covers as they rub against the shelf, to the dust jacket or exterior of the covers (when no dust jacket is present) as the book rubs against its neighbours, or to the head of the spine which some use to pull the book from the shelf.
Number lines will help you to determine if the book is a 1st edition 1st print or 2nd print etc.
The following is a link to a site explaining number lines and identifying first editions.
Some tips on buying Hells Angels.A lot of people get confused when trying to tell the difference between a Random House 1st edition, 1st – 7th print of Hells Angels, and a book club edition. Someone can get stung badly by buying one of these from a dishonest seller, or buying it from someone and thinking you are getting a bargain. I hope to clear up some issues about this.Random House did 7 printings of Hells Angels. All the regular Hells Angels have a statement of printed edition on the copyright page. It will say First printing, Second Printing or Third Printing or Fourth Printing etc.All of the above prints will have a SILVER MOTORCYCLE on the front cover (not on the dust jacket) of the book. They will also have a BLACK STAIN on the top closed edge of the book. On the front inside flap of the dust jacket on the top there will be a price (maybe it will be clipped) mine is priced $4.95, and on the bottom there will be 1/67. If the book has no dust jacket it will be no where near as valuable a one with a dust jacket, as a general rule having no dust jacket can cut the value in half but bare in mind there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to this, although it does apply a lot of the time.
All the Random House Hells Angels are slightly larger and thicker than the book club editions.The book club editions or BCE. The very early BCE will have the silver motorcycle on the front cover but will not have the black stain on the top closed edge, but it will have a RED stain on the top closed edge. And the later BCE will have a RED motorcycle on the front cover. The easy way to tell the difference without opening the book is this if there is no black stain on the top closed edge of the book it is a BCE. All of the BCE have no specific statement of a printed edition on copyright page. They say “copyright 1966/67”. Nothing else, no first printing etc. The dust jacket on the BCE has “Book Club Edition” on the front inside lower part of the flap.I hope this is a help and no one gets fleeced when on the hunt for this holy grail of books. The pictures below are of my copy of Hells Angels 2nd print, just so you can physically see what i am talking about.
Here is a Book Club Edition I found for sale on the web. The seller does not say that it is a Book Club Edition, maybe he or she does not know, but it shows you have to be careful. Note on the copyright page the absence of the 1st edition etc