Advance Copies: These are early versions of a new book shared with the publishing industry before the main release. These advanced copies may show slight variations from the final edition and offer a glimpse of the book’s early stage. They can have simple covers or be fully bound. Sometimes, these copies might include unique features not found in the public release, though the public one is still considered the true first edition.

Annotations: These are handwritten notes in the margins or on blank pages of a book, providing extra insights into the text.

Aquatint: An artistic technique involving copper plates and acid. Acid exposure creates different shades of gray on the plate, resembling watercolor washes. Despite the term “tint,” it’s a black-and-white process, often hand-colored.

Armorial: Refers to bindings featuring the original owner’s coat of arms or bookplates with their arms.

As Issued: This term highlights the original condition of a book, even if it might seem unusual. For instance, “with 19 pages of advertisements, as issued.”

As Usual: Used to explain common imperfections present in multiple copies of a book, almost expected due to their prevalence.

Association Copy: A book owned by someone connected to the author or the book’s content.

Autograph: (adj.) Describes a letter, document, or manuscript written by the author themselves.

Autograph Letter Signed: (ALS) A completely handwritten letter signed by the author.

Blind: This term is used when there’s decoration or writing on a book cover that’s been pressed into the material (like leather) and left without any additional color, such as gold. For example, you might hear “a binding with blind-stamped decoration.”

Boards: These are the sturdy front and back covers of a bound book. They can be covered in various materials like cloth, leather, or paper. “Original boards” specifically refers to the cardboard-like covers used from around 1700 to 1840, which protected books before they were permanently bound. Collectors value these as a glimpse into the very early state of a book.

Book-Plate: This is a label usually stuck onto the inside cover of a book, helping to identify who owns the book.

Broadside: A large sheet of paper printed on one side, often meant for public display. It’s usually bigger than the standard folio size, which is a sheet printed on both sides and then folded once to make four pages.

Calf: This is a kind of material used to cover book bindings, made from cowhide. It’s tough and versatile, often tan or brown in color, and has a smooth texture with little or no visible grain. Calf bindings can be marbled, mottled, colored, tooled with designs in gold or without color (blind), or even scented (“russia”). Sometimes, you might come across “reverse calf,” which has a suede-like texture.

Cancel: When a mistake is found in a printed book, a leaf (page) might be taken out and replaced with another corrected one. The page that’s removed is called the “cancelland.” This can also refer to a slip of paper pasted over the changed part, which is often called a “cancel slip.”

Catchword: In older books, especially those from the 17th century and earlier, you might see the first word of the next page placed just below the last line of the current page. These were helpful for binders, not so much for readers, to ensure that the pages were put in the right order during binding. You’d just need to match the catchword with the first word on the next page.

Chromolithograph: This is a kind of print made using lithography, a method of printing from a flat stone or metal plate. Chromolithographs are printed in multiple colors, usually three or more.

Collation: This means checking a book to make sure it’s complete and matches its description. This involves looking at the table of contents, any illustrations or plates, and comparing the book’s structure (how the pages are arranged) with what’s expected.

Colophon: This is a printed note at the end of a book that gives details about how the book was printed.

Contemporary: This word is used to describe something from the same time period. For example, a book’s binding might be called “contemporary” if it’s from around the same time the book was published. It can also describe marks, notes, or any changes made to the book around the time it was published. It’s different from “modern,” which means recent times.

Dedication Copy: This is a special copy of a book that the author gives to the person the book is dedicated to.

Doublure: Instead of using paper, sometimes the inside covers of a book are covered in leather for decoration.

Duodecimo: (12MO) This refers to a book that’s smaller than an octavo and is usually less than six inches tall. Formats like 24mo and 32mo, which are even smaller, are not very common.

Edition: An edition is a set of copies of a book that are all printed from the same setting of type, without significant changes. Depending on how many copies are printed, there can be multiple printings from the same type setting. For example, the first printing might be 1000 copies, followed by a second printing of 2500 copies. This would result in a “first edition, first printing” of 1000 copies and a “first edition, second printing” of 2500 copies.

Endpapers: These are extra leaves that a bookbinder uses to cover the inside covers of a book. They aren’t part of the main text. The part that’s pasted to the inside of the front cover is the “front pastedown,” and the other part that forms the first page of the book is the “front free endpaper.” The same goes for the back covers with the “rear pastedown” and “rear free endpaper.”

Engraving: This is an illustration made by carving lines into a metal plate. It’s a process where ink is poured over the plate and then wiped off the surface, leaving ink only in the carved lines. The image is transferred by pressing dampened paper onto the plate with a lot of force. Engravings are often printed separately from the text, on a different type of paper and press.

Ephemera: This refers to printed materials that are not in the form of books and aren’t meant to last. They include things like pamphlets, posters, tickets, and other temporary printed items.

Errata: A list of mistakes and corrections that are noted after a book has been printed. This list is often printed on a separate sheet or slip and inserted into the book.

Ex-Library Markings: These are marks left behind when a book was once part of a library’s collection. They can include things like bookplates (labels indicating ownership), stamps, shelf numbers, or other signs that the book was in a library.

Extra-Illustrated: This is a process of adding extra illustrations, letters, or autographs to a book, on top of the ones that were already there. These additional elements might be provided by the collector or the publisher to create a more luxurious edition. This process is sometimes called “grangerized,” named after an English publisher named James Granger.

Flyleaves: These are extra blank pages that come just before or after the endpapers of a book.

Folio: This is a kind of book made of sheets that are folded once and printed on both sides, creating four pages. It’s usually larger than 14 inches tall. “Oblong folios” are made the same way but are bound on the short edge, making a book that’s more than 14 inches deep.

Fore-Edge: This is the edge of the book that’s farthest from the spine. Sometimes, the pages of a book are painted with a scene or landscape that’s hidden when the book is closed, but visible when you fan the pages—this is known as a “fore-edge painting.”

Foxing: These are light brown spots that can naturally appear on paper as it ages due to oxidation.

Frontispiece: This is an illustration that faces the title page of a book. It’s like a picture that introduces you to the book.

Gathering: A gathering is a single sheet of paper that’s been printed and then folded to create the pages needed for the book’s format. For example, a single gathering in a quarto book would be a sheet that’s been folded twice, resulting in four leaves or eight pages of text. Gatherings are often marked with a letter, symbol, or number in the lower margin of the first page (called the “signature”). This helps the printer arrange them in the correct order for sewing.

Gilt Edges: This refers to the three sides of a book’s pages that are smoothed and coated with gold.

Half Title: This is a page that comes before the title page and shows the book’s title. Originally, it was used to identify the unbound text block. When the book gets bound, the binder might remove and discard the half title. If it remains, it’s interesting for collectors.

Hand-Colored: This refers to an illustration that’s been colored by hand, often using watercolors. This was commonly done around the time of publication, especially before color printing became widely available. Hand coloring could range from detailed paintings with rich colors to simpler touches of color. Sometimes, a clear varnish might be applied to enhance the colors.

Hinge: This is the point inside a book where the covers are attached to the main text block. It’s like the joining point of the book’s cover and its pages. The space between the pastedown and the front free endpaper creates a kind of gutter, or “hinge.”

Illuminated: This means that something, often early printed books and manuscripts, has been decorated by hand. This decoration could include things like intricate designs and illustrations.

Imprint: This is the information on a book’s title page that tells you where it was published, who published it, and the date it was published.

Incunable: This refers to a book that was printed before the year 1501. It’s a term used to describe books from the very early days of printing.

Inscribed: If something in a book is inscribed, it means the author wrote more than just their signature. It could be a personal note, a dedication, or even just the date of signing.

Issue: This can refer to a group of books that a publisher releases as a distinct batch. It might also refer to the timing of when different versions of a book are offered to the public. For example, the “first issue” might be available to the public before the “second issue.” Additionally, “issue” can indicate different batches planned by the publisher, like the widely available “trade issue” versus a limited “signed limited issue” which is not widely available and is different from the trade version in some way.

Japanese Vellum: Expensive handmade paper often used in deluxe editions.

Laid In: This term is used to describe paper or other materials that are loosely inserted into a book. They aren’t permanently attached but are simply placed within the pages.

Letter Signed: Abbreviated as (LS), this refers to a letter that has been written by someone in a secretarial hand and then signed by the author themselves.

Lithograph: This is an illustration created by transferring an image drawn on a specially prepared stone onto paper. The process allows the illustrations to closely resemble the original drawings, paintings, or sketches. Unlike earlier methods, lithography offers more freedom in line and detail. It doesn’t require as much pressure as engraving, but still needs a separate printing process from the text.

Livre D’Artiste: This term, also known as an “Artist’s Book,” refers to books that feature original hand-printed plates for illustrations. These books are often produced in small editions on high-quality paper and are sometimes signed by both the artist and the author.

Marginalia: These are handwritten notes that someone wrote in the margins of a book. They’re usually made by a previous owner of the book.

Mispaginated: This is a mistake made by the printer in the page numbers. It might involve skipping or repeating page numbers, or mixing up their order. This kind of error isn’t uncommon in older, larger books. While it’s not seen as a defect as long as all the pages are there, it can sometimes cause confusion.

Modern: This term is used to describe something that has been recently done. In the context of books, if a book’s binding isn’t the original one and has been done recently, it’s referred to as “modern” binding. Some modern bindings are made to mimic the style and techniques of the book’s original time period. When this is done well, it’s called a “period-style binding,” which implies both modern craftsmanship and a historical connection.

Morocco: This is a type of material used for book bindings. It’s made from goatskin and is known for being versatile and durable. It has a distinctive texture with visible grain. Depending on how it’s treated, it can have a pebbled texture, be flattened smooth, or be tooled with designs in gold or without color (blind). The term “morocco” originates from the fact that a lot of the material came from North African tanneries. Other types of goatskin bindings have names like levant, turkey, and niger, which denote different regions of origin.

Octavo: (8vo) This refers to a book made up of sheets that are printed on both sides and then folded three times, resulting in eight leaves or 16 pages. Octavo books are usually between six and nine inches tall and have a more rectangular shape than a square. This size is quite common for most printed books nowadays.

Offset: Offset occurs when ink from a printed page transfers unintentionally to an adjacent page. This can happen when the pages come into contact with each other before the ink has fully dried.

Period-Style: binding executed with materials, tools and techniques to approximate the look of a contemporary binding from the period of the book’s publication. The term implies that the binding is modern, or recent, unless otherwise specified.

Plate: Full-page illustration printed separately from but bound with the text.

Point: Variation in text, illustration, design or format that allows a bibliographer to distinguish between different editions and different printings of the same edition, or between different states or issues of the same printing.

Presentation Copy: Book given as a gift by its author, illustrator or publisher. Sometimes refers to a volume given by a notable donor.

Proofs: provided by the printer for the author and the publisher to correct and amend as needed prior to the printing of the first edition.

Provenance: History of a particular copy of a book.

Quarto: (4to) Book composed of sheets printed on both sides and folded twice, making four leaves and eight pages. Typically between nine and 14 inches tall, more square than rectangular.

Raised Bands: These are horizontal strips that stick out from the spine of a book. They’re often seen in traditional bookbinding.

Reback: This refers to adding a new spine to a worn-out book binding. The new spine is typically made from the same material as the rest of the binding and is decorated to match. Sometimes, the original spine is preserved and attached to the new material, which is described as “rebacked with the original spine laid down.”

Recase: When the pages of a book have come loose from the cover, recasing is the process of reattaching the text block (the pages) to its binding.

Recto: This is the front side of a leaf or page in a book. The back side is known as the “verso.”

Signature: This refers to a letter, symbol, or number that’s placed in the lower margin of the first page of a gathering. Gatherings are groups of sheets folded and bound together to make up a book. Binders use these signatures to keep the sheets in the right order. People sometimes also use the term “signature” to refer to the gathering itself.

State: A “state” refers to a variation in a book’s text, illustrations, binding, or dust jacket that happens during the manufacturing process. These variations create different “states” of the book. Sometimes, a bibliographer can figure out which state was made first, but often the different states exist without any clear determination. For example, if a letter accidentally drops from a page during printing, causing a typo, copies with the correct text would be considered first-state, and copies with the typo would be second-state.

Tipped In: Leaf, plate or other paper neatly glued or otherwise attached to the text block.

Trade Edition: Printing or printings of a book made available for purchase by the general public on publication day (as opposed to a limited edition, often available only by subscription).

Uncut: This term describes the edges of the pages in a book that haven’t been trimmed to a uniform size. Instead, they have a ragged or deckle edge. A book can be uncut but still “opened” using a paper knife. However, all “unopened” books are also “uncut.”

Unopened: When the folds of the paper sheets that make up the text block haven’t been trimmed away or opened with a paper knife. This means that not all of the pages can be read. However, it also suggests that the text block likely hasn’t been altered since leaving the printer.

Vellum: Vellum is a type of binding material made from specially treated calfskin. It’s known for being durable and has a distinct ivory color and smooth texture. Vellum can also be decorated with designs using gold tooling or without color (blind). There’s also something called “Japan vellum” or “Japon,” which is a kind of thick paper that’s been smoothed and given a glossy finish to mimic the appearance of vellum.

Verso: This is the term for the back or reverse side of a leaf or page in a book. It’s the counterpart to the “recto,” which is the front side.

Woodcut: A woodcut is an illustration or decoration created by cutting away from the surface of a wooden block until the reverse image is left in relief. This carved block is then inked and pressed onto paper to produce the image. Woodcuts allow both text and illustrations to be printed in the same run on the same page. They were an early form of printing technology that predates moveable type.

Wood-Engraving: Wood-engraving involves carving an image with a graver or burin into the cross-section of a piece of boxwood. This technique allows for delicate and finely detailed images. Wood-engravings can be set alongside text and printed on the same paper stock. While this technique has an older history, it experienced a resurgence in the late eighteenth century through artists like Thomas Bewick and remained popular into the nineteenth century.

Wormhole: A wormhole is a small pinhole-sized trail left by bookworms as they eat through the pages of a book. This is more common in older books printed on handmade papers with a high rag content, as opposed to books printed on newer manufactured papers made from wood pulp.

Wrappers: Wrappers refer to paper coverings, which can be plain, marbled, or printed. They are attached to a text block using stitches, staples, or glue. While they offer some protection, they are more fragile than traditional bindings with cloth or leather-covered boards. Wrappers are commonly used for slim or inexpensive volumes like pamphlets. “Self wrappers” are integral leaves within the text block, while “original wrappers” are those attached at the time of issue and are highly sought after by collectors.

Feel free to ask any other questions you might have.