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

Half leather

When a book's binding is covered in approximately one-half leather (with the remainder often being cloth, or marbled paper over boards). This usually means that the spine and the corners of the book are covered in leather. Interpretations vary from dealer to dealer, and even country to country. If you're confused, don't be alarmed, so are we.

Half title

A page that precedes the title page, and usually just prints the title (as opposed to all that other extraneous information like the author, publisher, date, etc.). The presence of the half-title can indicate an issue point or state, especially in older books. Also called a bastard-title. Dealers who sell you 18th or 19th century books without revealing that they are lacking the half-titles, are called bastard-dealers.


Fiction, usually detective fiction, marked by a gritty, pessimistic, and tough-as-nails world view. Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, such as this copy offered in our Catalog 108, would be the cornerstone of any hard-boiled mystery collection.


The junction that indicates the boundary between the boards and the spine on the inside of the book, or the inside part of the joint. The hinge can be a point of weakness on the book.


Written by hand (no, it has nothing to do with laser beams). A fancy way to say autograph.


An excellent and exhaustive reference to detective fiction by Allen J. Hubin, Crime Fiction III: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1749-1995, available in either book or CD form. A must-have for any serious collector of (or dealer in) mysteries.