FIELD GUIDE - Identification manual, with illustrations or photos assisting field identification. Text may include complete natural history, or may be concise and cover only identification details. Distribution maps often included. Formats vary.

BIRDER'S GUIDE / BIRDWATCHER'S GUIDE / FINDING GUIDE - Lists specific locations known to have good birdwatching potential. These usually include details about each site, maps, directions, bird lists and all the information you will need to get the best out of each location.

CHECKLIST - This one can cause some confusion. Small, pocket FIELD CHECKLISTS include only names and locations, to be checked off by birders in the field. ANNOTATED CHECKLISTS include brief details on records, abundance, seasonality, and habitats. Larger handbooks or SYSTEMATIC LISTS (e.g. The A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds or B.O.U. Checklists) include detailed notes on taxonomy and nomenclature, habitat, and distribution.

BREEDING BIRD ATLAS - Employ data from years of surveys to describe life history, abundance, and distribution of the species which breed in that state or region. They usually include distribution maps, preferred habitats, abundance, breeding status, and a historical perspective on all the preceding factors.

AVIFAUNA - A description of the bird life found in a particular region. Each bird usually has an entire page to itself with complete natural history and identification information, along with status, distribution, and local historical data.

HANDBOOK - An oversized tome with comprehensive natural history information for a particular region, usually also including identification information.


The following terms primarily refer to out-of-print, antiquarian books:


  • New - A new book is unread, in print and in perfect condition.
  • As New - Though this book may be out of print, it is in the same perfect condition as when it was published.
  • Fine (F) - Approaches the condition of As New, but not as 'fresh off the press', with no defects. Equivalent to 'Mint'
  • Near Fine (F) - Similar to Fine but without being as crisp.
  • Very Good (VG) - Describes a book that does show some small signs of wear - but no major defects. Any defects will be noted.
  • Good (G) - Describes the average used worn book. Any defects will be noted.
  • Fair - A very worn book that is complete, but may have some serious defects. Still in readable condition. All defects will be noted.
  • Poor - Describes a book that is sufficiently worn, to the point that its only merit is as a Reading Copy because it may be soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc.


ASSOCIATION COPY - Books once belonging to the author, signed or annotated by the author, or someone associated with the author or book in some way. Book inscribed by author to famous person, or owned by someone of interest, or someone connected to the book or author.

B&W - Black and White.

BACKSTRIP - A strip used by binder to reinforce the back of folded sheets in the binding of the spine. Sometimes used to mean the spine.

BIBLIOGRAPHY - A list of works, occasionally in great detail, on a given subject or by a given author.

BLIND STAMPED or BLIND TOOLED - Impressed into paper or binding with no color, leaving a raised impression.

BOARDS - The front and back covers of a hardcover book.

BOOK CLUB EDITION - Editions published by book clubs (e.g. The Book-of-the-Month Club, History Book Club, Literary Guild).

BOOK PLATE - An ownership label, usually placed inside front cover by the previous owner.

BUCKRAM - A heavy weave of binding cloth, often used in sturdy library bindings.

BUMPED - The corners of a book that have been damaged by being dropped or banged.

CHIPPED - Small pieces broken off of a dust jacket.

CLOSED TEAR - A tear with no material missing.

COCKED - If, when looking down on the head of a book, the corners are not square it is said to be cocked or rolled. Also known as a spine slant.

COPYRIGHT PAGE - The page that appears on the verso of the title page, containing the artistic property protection and publication details.

DAMPSTAIN - A stain left on a cover or pages that have been exposed to water.

DUST JACKET (DJ) or DUSTWRAPPER (DW) - The separate paper covering for a book. While originally intended for protection, these have become an important part of modern books, often including information about a book not found elsewhere.

EDGES - The three outer sides of the text block when book is closed: fore edge, top edge or head, and bottom edge or foot.

EDITION - All of the copies of a book printed at the same time from the same setting of type. Also see PRINTING

ENDPAPERS / ENDSHEETS - The double leaves added to the book by the binder that become the pastedowns and free endpapers inside the front and rear covers. These pages are an integral part of the binding of a book, holding the text block and case together. Also called FLY LEAVES.

ERRATA/ERRATUM - A list of errors and corrections found after a book has been printed, usually on separate sheet or slip of paper.

EX-LIBRARY - Deaccessioned from a public library collection.

EX-LIBRIS - Usually found on bookplate referring to "from the books" of John Doe, etc. From a private library, as opposed to a public library. Could also be a stamp.

FIRST EDITION - The first edition of a book, before any changes were made. Later editions often have adjustments like spelling corrections or updates.

FIRST PRINTING - The first printing of a book, done from the original setting of type. When the first printing of the first edition is sold out, the publisher may publish a second printing of the current edition - no changes are made, it is simply a reprint.

FLY-LEAVES - Plain papers at front and rear of book after endpapers. Also called ENDPAPERS or ENDSHEETS.

FORE EDGE - The right edge opposite the spine.

FOXING - The brown age spots thought to be caused by impurities in paper(e.g.: acid, exposure to humidity, etc.)

FREE ENDPAPER - Front and rear blank pages added by the binder.

FRONTISPIECE (abbreviated FRONTIS) - The illustration facing title page.

GILT EDGES - Page edges cut smooth and gilded (covered with a thin layer of gold leaf).

GLASSINE - Transparent paper sometimes used as a dust jacket to protect a book.

HALF CLOTH - Cloth spine and paper covered sides.

HALF-TITLE (fly title) - Immediately preceding the title page, this page lists only the title of the book and no other information. The full title page usually lists the book title, author, publisher, and any other relevant information.

HARDCOVER - A book whose binding is made of stiff boards, as opposed to wrappers/paperback.

HEAD - Top edge of the text block.

HINGES - Where the sides of the binding meet the spine. Can be referred to as inner hinges and outer hinges or joints.

INSCRIBED - Signed by the author or someone associated with book, but with more writing than simply a signature.

JOINTS - Refers to outer hinge where spine joins the sides of the book. Sometimes referred to as the "gutter".

LAID IN - Paper, photograph, print or other standalone sheet is placed in and not glued down.

LIMITED EDITION - Small number of copies of book published. Books are usually numbered such as "100/500" meaning number 100 of an edition of 500.

LOOSE - When a book has been read carelessly or too often, and has become loose and sloppy in its binding.

MARBLING - A process of decorating paper, in which the result resembles the veins of stone marble.

OPEN TEAR - A tear which may have some material missing.

OUT-OF-PRINT - A book no longer available from the publisher. It is no longer being printed and no new copies remain available for sale.

PAGINATION - The numbering of the pages.

PAPERBACK - A book bound with flexible paper covers. In older books they are often referred to as Wrappers or Wraps.

PASTEDOWN - The part of the endpapers that is pasted to the inside of the front and rear covers.

PLATE - An illustration or photograph bound into a book. A plate can be a reproduction of a painting or drawing, or it could be hand-colored, usually produced by lithography, etching, or other printmaking method. Not to be confused with "book plate."

PRESENTATION COPY - A book inscribed by the author to someone else of importance to the author, the book, or society in general.

PRICE CLIPPED - The price on the inner flap of a dust jacket has been cut off.

QUARTER LEATHER - A book with its spine bound in leather with cloth- or paper-covered boards.

READING COPY - Worn or used to a point that it is not in good enough condition to be considered collectible. Functional, not pretty.

REBACKED - A repair, where the original spine or backstrip has been removed, the spine replaced, and when possible, the original replaced.

REBOUND - A repair, where the entire binding has been replaced by a new one.

REMAINDER - A new book returned to the publisher as unsold, then re-marketed at a much lower price.

REMAINDER MARK - A mark (rubber stamp, felt marker stroke, or spray, often on a book's bottom edge) signifying that the book was returned to publisher as unsold, and then sold at a much lower price.

REVIEW COPY - A copy of new book sent free-of-charge for purposes of review. Often includes a laid in review slip with publishing information; not necessarily a first edition.

RUBBED - Where color has been worn from portions of the binding or dust jacket.

SHAKEN - The text block is loose in its binding; no longer tight, but not detached.

SIGNATURE - A printed sheet of paper, folded to size and ready for sewing (i.e.: large paper folded in half, fourths, eighths, sixteenths, or thirty-seconds).

SIGNED - Signed with a name only, and no other text included.

SLIPCASE - A box built to house and protect a book, leaving the spine exposed.

SPINE - The backbone, or back, of the book where the title (if present) is displayed when it is standing upright on a shelf.

STARTING - Hinges or joints beginning to show signs of becoming loose.

SUNNED / FADED - Browning, yellowing, or fading of paper or binding as a result of sun exposure.

TAIL - Bottom edge of the text block.

TAPE RESIDUE - Complications of cellophane tape which remains on the paper or a book's cover, resulting in brown stains or bits of tape adhering to paper.

TEXT BLOCK - Pages containing the content of a book (text, illustrations, etc.) bound together; does not include endpapers.

TIPPED IN - Paper, photograph, or print glued down by only a narrow strip.

TITLE PAGE - The page which gives important information about the book (i.e.: title, author, publisher, date, etc.)

TOOLING - The decoration of leather bindings.

UNCUT - Edges of pages were not cut by the printer before binding, so the original folio page folds are visible;

UNOPENED - When folded edges of the pages of the bound text block remain joined together and have not been sliced open. Unread.

WRAPPERS or WRAPS - The printed or unprinted cover of a pamphlet or book bound in paper.


BOOK SIZES (These are approximate only)
Quarto (4to) - A book that is up to 12" tall.
Octavo (8vo) - A book that is up to 9 ¾" tall.
12mo (Duodecimo) - A book that is up to 7 ¾" tall.
16mo (Sextodecimo) - A book that is up to 6 ¾" tall.
24mo - A book that is up to 5 ¾" tall.
32mo - A book that is up to 5" tall.
48mo - A book that is up to 4" tall.
64mo - A book that is up to 3" tall.
Folio - A book that is up to 15" tall.
Elephant Folio - A book that is up to 23" tall.
Atlas Folio - A book that is up to 25" tall.
Double Elephant Folio - A book that is up to 50" tall. Example: Audubon's Double Elephant Folio.



AEG - All Edges Gilt.

DJ - Dust Jacket, the paper wrapper encasing a hardcover book. (also DW for Dustwrapper)

FFEP - Front Free End Paper.

FRONTIS - see frontispiece

ND - No Date. No publication date printed in the book.

OP - Out of Print

TEG - Top Edge Gilt. The top page edges cut smooth and gilded (covered with a thin layer of gold leaf).

WRS - Wrappers.


See the Antiquarian page for further information.