What book dealers really mean. Click on thumbnails for larger images.


Bibliography of American Literature, compiled by Jacob Blanck, a scholarly and bibliographically exhaustive work in nine volumes describing the works of many American authors, mostly concentrated on authors who were active during the 19th Century. Booksellers also refer to it as Blanck, giving the mistaken impression that they were dear friends with the bibliographer, and that he often consulted them over the finer points.


As in "near fine or better" - means we can't quite see our way clear to calling the condition fine. Maybe another dealer would, but we can't. However, if you ply us with alcohol in a dark room then anything goes. (see Alcohol, plying us with in dark room). We described this copy of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery (sold in 2005) as having a "very good or better dustwrapper" - since it was the Dedication Copy getting hot and bothered about the condition really didn't make much sense.

Beveled Edges

When the edges of the boards are noticeably tapered, such as with the limited edition of Julia Peterkin and Doris Ulmann's Roll, Jordan, Roll, this copy offered in our Catalog 138.

Binder's Glue

The glue used by binders to attach cloth, leather, and pastedowns to the boards, and for whatever else binders need glue for. It turns up in our descriptions mostly when it has been either over applied, or has otherwise interacted with the paper to cause some sort of darkening to some component part of the book, usually the endpapers. Copies of Eudora Welty's first book, A Curtain of Green, (such as this copy, inscribed to her friend, author Edna Frederickson and offered in our Catalog 83) always have some darkening to the endpapers because of over-application of the binder's glue.


Meaning that a substance has caused a stain that shows through the paper, such as tape that has been used to repair the inside of a jacket, but which has darkened and now shows on the outside of the jacket. What does this tell us? That booksellers and collectors should have their tape dispensers confiscated. This copy of Irving Shulman's The Amboy Dukes (offered in our List 24) shows the aforementioned bleed-through in the upper left corner of the front panel, but was otherwise such a nice example of the book that it sold very quickly to a very intelligent buyer.


A key reference work of genre fiction: The Guide to Supernatural Fiction: A full description of 1,775 books from 1750 to 1960, including ghost stories, weird fiction, stories of supernatural horror, fantasy, Gothic novels, occult fiction, and similar literature by Everett F. Bleiler.

Blind stamp

Decoration, picture, or lettering that has been impressed into the binding with a metal stamp prepared for the purpose, resulting in a "blind" (meaning uncolored) decoration, picture or lettering. Book owners sometimes use a blindstamp with their name to mark their copies - Western author Zane Grey did so, as with his own copy of his classic Riders of the Purple Sage offered in our Catalog 89. Not all blind stamps are bad, but the most notorious blind stamps for modern first edition collectors are those of the Book of the Month Club. That book you saw on your uncle's bookshelf that looks just like the one on our website with the big asking price - peak under the jacket and take a look at the bottom right corner of the rear board. Odds are there is a blind stamp mark indicating that what you have in your hands is a book club edition and fit for reading or kindling, but not for collecting. Sorry.

Blockson 101

Referring to a book referenced in A Commented Bibliography of One Hundred and One Influential Books By and About People of African Descent (1556-1982) A Collector's Choice by Charles L. Blockson, which like it sounds, is a listing of important and mostly uncommon books. Dr. Blockson was one of the first serious collectors and bibliographers of African-Americana and his monumental collection, which he continues to oversee, is now at Temple University in Philadelphia. See also Catalog of the Blockson Collection.


Often confused with Recommendation, which is the promotional text written by one author about another author's work. In publishing, the blurb is the publisher's text (called the publisher's copy) on the flap of a dustwrapper (or the rear of a paperback) describing the book. On this publisher's file copy (meaning the actual physical example of the book they kept for their records) of the first edition of the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone mystery The Judas Window by Carter Dickson that we offered in our Catalog 143, the publisher has made pencil notations to the blurb on the front flap of the dustwrapper, indicating changes to be made for the next printing.


The hard covers of a book, usually a form of cardboard covered with cloth, decorated paper, or leather (you didn't think leather-bound books were made from solid leather, did you)? In days of yore, boards were often made from wooden boards, and we'll go out on a limb and speculate that this is why they call them boards. Before dustjackets became popular, boards were often elaborately illustrated, such as this first American edition of Jules Verne's classic From the Earth to the Moon offered in our Catalog 116.


A cheaper leather substitute made from grinding up and "bonding" all the old leather shoes and pocket books you've thrown away, much as some fast food restaurants make bonded "roast beef" from cow lips and tails. Bonded leather can range in quality from really cheesy (and we don't mean "bonded" cheese) to reasonably attractive. Here is one of the more attractive examples, a limited edition wine book from the Bacchus Press, which just coincidentally we happen to have in stock.

Book club edition

A book issued, usually at a discounted price, by one of the many clubs, the best-known being the Book-of-the-Month Club (sometimes abbreviated as BOMC), which would re-publish popular books. Usually the club would economize in any number of ways including using a smaller format for the book, printing the text on cheaper paper, using cheaper boards (often covered in paper rather than cloth), printing the dustwrapper on thinner or uncoated paper stock, etc. Books club editions usually don't have a printed price on the jacket flap, and sometimes might have a small blindstamped dot, circle, or square at the bottom of the rear board. Some book clubs, in particular, the BOMC during a certain, long period of their existence tried to look exactly like the publishers' editions. In those cases, lack of a price, a blindstamped dot, or occasionally an alphanumeric code running vertically up the inner margin of the last page of the text block can be the only way(s) to identify the book club editions. Most book club editions are not collectible, but that's another topic altogether. This copy of We Seven offered in 2005 was a mere a book club edition, but it was also signed by all seven Mercury astronauts, proving that at least one inspired collector was able to turn lemons into lemonade.


A label usually made of paper or leather that is affixed to the front pastedown to denote ownership by an individual or a library. These can range from tasteful and elegantly designed, occasionally by well-known artists, to mass-market examples that employ a picture of a hobbit, mushroom, or a kitty cat - guess which ones we like best? Leather bookplates look better, until the acid that they are loaded with begins to stain the facing pages. Bookplates aren't universally a bad thing - this copy of Ellen Glasgow's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel In This Our Life (offered in our Catalog 80) was her own copy, with her bookplate on the front pastedown.

Bookseller label

Also called a ticket. In days of yore (that would be, before now) new bookstores would often have a small, usually discreet label that they would affix to one of the endpapers in the new books that they were selling. In some instances they are collectible, in some instances they are a nuisance, and in any case they indicate where a certain copy of a book originally sold at retail. We don't consider these to be a significant flaw, but usually note their presence without prejudice, unless they are unusually annoying. This discreet label could be found on the bottom of the rear pastedown of a copy of Dawn Powell's first book, Whither, offered in 2006. The bookseller label from the legendary New York bookstore Brentano's lends provenance to this copy, which also bore the ownership signature of a family friend (of Powell's, not ours). The label on this copy would be acceptable regardless, since it was the only copy in the last several decades to be offered in the original dustwrapper.

Bottom edge

The bottom edge of the text block or pages of a book. The place where remainder marks are most likely to lurk. The bottom edge of this copy of Leo Africanus (book #1 in the Blockson 101, this copy offered in Catalog 119) is marked "Africa. Jo: Leo" on the bottom edge in a contemporary hand.


Warping to the boards of a book, ranging from very slight to a reasonable imitation of the shape of a gibbous moon. This is generally adjudged a flaw, in direct proportion to its severity, although it should be noted that some titles warp because of poor manufacturing. Ernest Hemingway's second book, in our time (this copy offered in our third Classic Book Cards set) often bows because the adhesive holding the paper decoration over the boards shrinks over time.


Bound using (usually brass) brads threaded through punched holes, most often seen in use to bind screenplays that have been secreted away from studios by the office boy, and sold to unscrupulous booksellers like us. Note the thick brads used for this original screenplay for Gone With the Wind, offered in our Catalog 101.


African-Americana reference work by Russell C. Brignano, Black Americans in Autobiography: An Annotated Bibliography of Autobiographies and Autobiographical Books Written Since the Civil War. Ever wonder how we know so much about African-Americana? Having a quality reference library helps.


A good reference book for Civil War books: Civil War Books: A Priced Checklist with Advice by Tom Broadfoot.


A message or pamphlet printed on a single folded sheet of paper, often on both sides, unlike its step-brother the broadside. Shown here is one of four known copies of a broadsheet from 1859 announcing the first intercollegiate baseball game, offered in our Catalog 106. (In case you were curious, Amherst trounced Williams 73 to 32 in 26 innings.)


A message or announcement printed on one side of a single sheet of paper. Because these were usually posted or hung, they tend to be ephemeral, often discarded, and subsequently uncommon. This broadside from Ruth's Cafe, the bar Babe Ruth bought for his father in 1915, is the only known surviving copy and was offered in our Catalog 74.


A company which makes protective clear plastic liners for book dustjackets. The jacket on this copy of Edith Wharton's 1905 title, Italian Backgrounds, offered in our List 28, was so fragile we left the mylar on when taking the photograph - if you look closely you can see the reflections on the plastic and where it extends over the top front flap.


Either one of a pair of married English poets, or what happens to wood pulp paper when the acids start to burn through it. This usually results in the paper becoming both darker and increasingly brittle. Also referred to as yellowing, depending on which glasses we are wearing. James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific was printed on cheap war-time paper and the edges of the text brown over time, as shown on this copy from our Catalog 90 (browning exaggerated by us, of course).


Matthew Bruccoli, a professor at the University of South Carolina, and the author of, or contributor to, many bibliographies. When we invoke his name, we are usually referring to his bibliography F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Descriptive Bibliography.


A binding made of sturdier than usual cloth, often used in the binding or rebinding of books that will be repeatedly handled, such as library books. This complete set of the first periodical devoted completely to baseball (The Ball Players' Chronicle), one of only four known and offered in our Catalog 78, was bound in buckram.

Burgess 99

A personal selection of ninety-nine English language novels published between 1939 and 1983, chosen with commentary by author Anthony Burgess and originally published as a book in 1984. An interesting and prolific author, Burgess is best known for A Clockwork Orange, about which he once wryly observed with studied disinterest: "It seems likely to survive, while other works of mine that I value more bite the dust."