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This abbreviated glossary covers only the most commonly encountered terms. There may be exceptions to some of our definitions - our main concern is to provide you with general concepts relative to commonly used book jargon. Abbreviations appear alphabetized at the beginning of each respective letter; only the most common abbreviations are included.
For a more extensive list the following books are very useful:
ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter
Encyclopedia of the Book by Geoffrey Glaister

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z View A-Z

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All edges gilt, gilt applied to top edge, bottom edge & foreedge of the volume (see also g.t. and a.e. m.).


All edges marbled, marbling applied to top edge, bottom edge& foreedge of volume (see also a.e.g. and g.t.).


Antiquarian Bookseller's Association (U.K. antiquarian booksellers assoc.); also the American Booksellers Association (primarily independent booksellers offering new books for sale).


Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America.


Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of Canada.


American Book Prices Current, an annual compilation of book, autograph & manuscript auction records.


Autograph document signed ( see also ALS, ANS, LS, TLS).

Advance copy

A copy of a book usually sent to reviewers prior to publication, may be in a different format and may or may not be bound.

Advance sheets

The unbound sheets of a new book, often galleys, distributed prior to publication.


Many books & pamphlets, especially of the 19th century contained ads, especially ones advertising others books by the same publisher,often located at the back of the volume, following the text pages.


Associazionne Librai Antiquari d'Italia (Italian antiquarian booksellers' association).

All published

The book or set is complete as is, and any additional parts or volumes were never published.


Autograph letter signed, letter handwritten by the person signing the letter as opposed to LS, which is a manuscript letter written by someone other than the signer (see also ADS, ANS, LS. TLS).


Autograph note signed.


Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers.


Bibliography of American Literature.


The method of holding pages or sheets together; may be simply stapled or sewn, or sewn and enclosed in wrappers, but most often refers to a "hard" binding or covers. This type of binding may be covered with cloth, various leathers, or paper over boards or other more exotic materials. The binding can be done by hand or by machine as in a publisher's "trade binding". The following terms relate primarily to leather bindings:

Binding copy

A book lacking the original binding or with a binding in poor condition, i.e. a book in need of a new binding - can also be referred to as a reading copy.

Boards (bds.)

The covers of a hard bound book; the boards are the stiff cardboard or paperboard which is usually covered with cloth or leather; and when covered with paper, the covers are properly referred to as "boards". Many pre-1850 books were issued by the publishers bound in boards (paper covered), allowing for an inexpensive binding which could later be replaced with leather by a hand book binder. Early (medieval) manuscript volumes were often bound between two oak boards, hence the probable origin of this term.

Book club edition (bce.)

Usually an inexpensive reprint utilizing poor quality paper and binding and sold by subscription to members of a book club; in general, of little interest to book collectors and of low monetary value.

Book formats

The traditional terms in use for describing book formats are derived from early printing methodology and the size of early handmade sheets of paper. When two leaves (four pages when printed on both sides) were printed on a sheet so that it could be folded once, collated with other folded sheets and bound, the format of the volume was a "folio". When four leaves (eight pages) were printed on the same size sheet, which would later be folded twice, the format of the resultant volume was a "quarto" (four leaves). The term "octavo" relates to the sheet having eight leaves printed on it. Today some booksellers are providing the height of a book in inches or centimeters rather than using these early terms which do not relate directly to the sheet size or process used for printing today. The following is offered as a guide to convert book formats to approximate book sizes:; Folio: more than 13 inches tall; Quarto (4to): approx. 10 to 13 inches tall, average 12 inches; Octavo (8vo): approx. 8 to 10 inches tall, average 9 inches; Duodecimo (12mo): approx. 7 to 8 inches tall, average 7.5 inches; Sextodecimo (16mo): approx. 6 to 7 inches tall, average 6.5 inches. There are smaller and larger books, i.e. many miniatures are 64mo, and most hard bound books are either octavo or duodecimo in size.

Book jacket

The paper, often with illustrations and information about the book and author, used as a protective covering over the book; usually referred to as a "dust jacket" or "dj", sometimes called a "dust wrapper". Dust jacket art work is used to promote and sell the book.

Book sizes

See Book formats.


Any of a number of moth or fly larvae which tunnel through the pages of books leaving behind small channels, holes in individual leaves. Very early books often have some evidence of bookworm damage.


A printing which occurs on both sides of a single leaf (see also broadside).


A printing, often an official announcement or poem or music, which occurs on a single sheet of paper and only on one side; the verso (other side) is blank. When printed on both sides, the sheet becomes a "broadsheet".


Bibliographic Society of America.


A stiff, coarsely woven, filled cloth used for less expensive, but stronger wearing, cloth book binding material; often used for library books.


Book binding leather from a calf hide or cattle hide; a commonly used material for leather binding (see also morocco, sheep, and vellum).

Cancel leaf

A new leaf, often the title page, to which changes have been made, which is glued onto the narrow stub left by the removed leaf which has been excised.

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