The following is a guide to our grading for hardback and paperback books. We used to use "Very Fine" and "Fine" but to fit in with other sites grading categories we now use "Fine" and "Near Fine" as the descriptive terms.
See further down the page for our Comic Grading
See even further down the page for a Glossary of Terms Used
The book is in the same perfect condition as it was published. No defects. Our critical eye means that we rarely use this level of grading.
Paperbacks - are only graded As New if they are truly new.
Fine (F or FN)
A perfect looking book, without being quite as sharp as an As New book. The book will be very tight, and feel nice in the hand. There maybe the most minimal evidence of shelf wear. A book of the highest collectable quality. (Please note that we used to call this grading Very Fine)
Paperbacks - are graded Fine if they are as fresh as they can be, maybe the lightst evidence of previous reading.
Near Fine (NRF or NF)
There may be a light mark on the text block edge, or for older near fine copies very light tanning. There may be a neat bookseller's pencil price on the front free endpaper. The boards will be very clean and sharp with no signs of wear. Dust jackets may have light shelf wear that may have taken the edge off the gloss. There may be a very light creasing to the bottom or top jacket edge or spine ends where it has been on or off the shelf. If the book is price clipped or inscribed by a previous owner this will be noted. Any defects are generaly minor and do not detract from its very bright appearance. You can be assured that a Near Fine book is great one for your collection. (Please note that we used to call this grading Fine)
Paperbacks - may have a lightly bumped corner or very slight edge wear, there may be a single very light reading crease on the spine. The cover will be nice and sharp.
Very Good (VG)
Describes a book that has been read and shows the beginning of wear, the book itself will be reasonably tight, and may have a turned page or two. There could be some marking to the text block edge, or a remainder mark. The boards will be in good condition, but may have some bumped corners or a small amount rubbing. There could be some minor foxing, or moderate tanning. There may be very small closed tears to the jacket edge, some shelf wear to the edges or more noticeable loss of gloss to the jacket finish, there could be a few chips or tiny loss to the spine. There may be some evidence of minor sunning to the jacket spine. Our grading of very good is applied to those books that are still in very nice condition for a collector, but have a defect or two too many to be classed as Near Fine.
Paperbacks - will be in average read condition, may have gently bumped corners, moderate reading creases to the spine, or minor creasing to the covers. The text block could be moderately tanned. The book will still be in good collectable reading condition.
Describes the usual used worn book that has all pages or leaves present. The book may have some slight lean, spine ends may be worn. The boards could be marked or lightly stained, and there may be writing or inscriptions on the free end papers. The pages may be creased, and have sustained some noticeable spotting. The book may also be less tight than a better copy. The jacket may have some loss, marks, or some more substantial tears. One for reading perhaps rather than collecting.
Paperbacks - a very average paperback with some life left in it. Generous creasing to cover and spine would normally be present.
A well worn book in all respects not falling apart but one that has seen better days. It has been read, and has a complete text pages but may lack endpapers, half title page etc. Heavy foxing and tanning could also be present. Binding, jacket (if any) may also be heavily worn with loss. All defects will be noted in the book description.
Paperbacks - Heavily read book still complete but quite loose, perhaps a small tear to the cover, and likely to be very creased.
Describes a book that is very worn to the point that its only good as a Reading Copy. This copy may be dirty , heavy rubbed, stained or spotted. It may have heavy lean or loose joints, hinges or pages. All defects will be noted in the book description.
Paperbacks – on its last legs, may have loose pages, a torn or partial cover.
If you have any questions regarding our grading policies or the condition of a particular item then please contact us for more details.
I have collected comics for over thirty years and and at various times sold a lot of comics, I know a nice comic when I see one. Comic Grading is (and always will be) subjective, so I recommend you view the comic's picture and assess our grading against your expectations. I'm confident you'll find my grading both fair and accurate
Comic Book is in mint condition.
Cover has full luster, with edges sharp and pages like new.
There are no signs of wear or aging.
It is not imperfectly printed or off center.
Comic Book is near mint condition.
Nearly perfect comic book.
Cover shows barely perceptible signs of wear. Spine is tight.
Cover has lost a little luster and minor printing defects.
Comic Book is in very fine condition.
Nice comic with beginning signs of wear.
Slight creases and wrinkles at the staples but it lays flat.
Clean issue with definite signs of being read a few times.
Some loss of original gloss, but is still an attractive comic book.
Comic Book is in fine condition.
The cover may be worn a little but flat and clean with no defacement.
There may be some stress to the spine and pages may be a little rounded.
A good looking issue at first glance.
Comic Book is in very good condition.
Most of the gloss is gone from this well read issue.
There are minor markings, discoloration, and/or heavy stress around staples and spine.
Spine may have a roll with some chipping around edges of pages.
Still a nice copy.
Comic Book is in good condition.
A worn comic book with nothing missing.
Some creases, rolled spine, and cover flaking are permissible.
Still can be an attractive book.
Comic Book is in fair condition.
This book will still have everything intact but has some serious wear and discoloration.
Comic Book is in poor condition.
Pages may be missing and cover or back detached or missing.
Still might be a good read but unsuitable for collecting.
Any questions regarding our grading policies or the condition of a particular comic then please contact us for more details.
(I cannot remember where I got this, please let me know if it is yours and I’ll either credit you, or remove at your discretion)
A few of the more commonly used terms:
Advanced Reading Copy/ Review Copy - A copy for reviewers and/or booksellers, usually bound in paperwraps and usually with either the finished cover art or possibly trial cover art. Generally, this copy is as it will appear in the stores and differs from the Uncorrected Proof.
Binding - The cover of the book
Boards - The stiff binding material for most modern books.
Book Club Edition - A book usually printed especially for a book club such as The Book of the Month Club or The Literary Guild. These copies will usually have the words Book Club Edition (BCE) printed on the bottom right corner of the front flap of the dustwrapper.
Booklet - A small book, often only a few pages long and bound in wrappers.
Bookplate - A pasted-in sign of ownership.
Bowed - A condition of the covers or boards of a hard cover book. Bowed covers may turn inward toward the leaves or outward away from the leaves. The condition generally results from a rapid change in the level of moisture in the air and is caused by different rates of expansion or contraction of the paste-down and the outer material covering the board.
Bumped - Refers to the condition of a book; it refers to worn, bent or rounded corners of the boards of a book.
Chipped - Used to describe where small pieces are missing or where fraying has occurred on a dust jacket or the edge of a paperback.
Cloth - A cloth-bound book. The covering can be linen, buckram or another textile.
Cocked - Refers to the condition of a book; the spine is no longer straight and appears crocked or twisted. Also known as spine lean.
Cracked - Refers to the condition of a book; there is a long narrow opening or break down the spine or in the cover.
Cut - Many modern books are smooth-trimmed after binding so that all edges are even, or flush. This is described as having been "cut".
Dampstained - A light stain on the cover or on the leaves of a book caused by moisture such as a piece of food or perspiration. Generally not as severe as waterstains.
Darkening - When book covers/page edges are exposed to light, the colour darkens or becomes more intense. See also Fading.
Deckle Edges - Another term for uncut or untrimmed edges.
Dents - Damage to the edges of the cover of hardcover books.
Dog-Eared - Book pages which have been folded over in the corners. Some people do this to mark their place in a book.
Dust Jacket - A term synonymous with Dust Wrapper, indicating the usually decorative paper wrapper placed around a book to protect the binding.
Edges - The outer surfaces of the leaves of a book. The top, bottom and un-hinged outer sides of a book.
Edition - All the copies of a book printed from the same plates or typesetting. An edition can have more than one printing. For example, if 300 copies of a book are printed on September 15, and 200 copies are printed from the same plates on November 24, all 500 copies are part of the same edition
Editor - A person who gathers material for a book, oversees text written by others, and/or makes the text more readable.
End Papers - The sheets of paper pasted onto the inner covers, joining the book block to the covers. One side of the sheet is pasted to the inside cover (pastedown) the other is left free.
Ex-Library - A term used to indicate a book was once in a library. They are usually identified with one of more markings of the library such as stampings, card pockets, cataloging numbers, etc. Frequently they are marked as "discarded" or "withdrawn" when sold by a library.
Ex-Libris - A bookplate printed with the owner's name or initials. Latin for "from the library of...."
Facsimile - A copy that looks like the original printing of a book but is not original. Facsimiles can be a source of frustration to collectors and booksellers but are acceptable for some institutional library collections. The term can also refer to one or more pages or illustrations that have been reproduced or copied to replace parts of the book that are missing
Fading - The colour of some book covers fades or becomes less intense when exposed to light. See also Darkening.
First and Second Printing before Publication - This indicates the publisher was successful in promoting the book and had more orders before the actual publication date than the first printing quantity would cover. Therefore a second printing was ordered. Not a first edition.
First Edition - Generally used by book dealers and collectors to mean the first appearance of a work in book or pamphlet form, in its first printing.
Flyleaf - A blank leaf, sometimes more than one, following the front free endpaper, or at the end of a book where there is not sufficient text to fill out the last few pages.
Fore Edge - The trimmed edge of the leaves of a book; the edge of the page opposite the spine, bound or back edge of the book.
Foxed, Foxing - Brown spotting, mottling of the paper caused by a chemical reaction. The brown age spots caused by impurities in paper, eg acid, exposure to humidity, etc.
Frayed - Refers to the condition of a book; the unraveling of the threads or fibres of an edge of a book cover that is caused by excessive rubbing.
Free Endpaper - See End Papers
Frontis, Frontispiece - An illustration at the beginning of a book, usually facing the title page.
Gilt Edges - The page edges have been trimmed smooth and gilt, or gold leaf, has been applied. The abbreviation ge means gilt edges; aeg means all edges gilt; gt means gilt top; teg means top edge gilt.
Glassine - A strong, thin, glazed, semi-transparent paper that used to make protective covers for books because it is, among other durable characteristics, grease and water resistant.
Half Binding - a book in which the spine and corners are bound in a different material (frequently leather) than the rest of the covers.
Half-Title - The page carrying nothing but the title of the book, usually preceding the title page.
Hardcover (hc) - A book with stiff boards that is bound and covered in either cloth, paper or leather.
Highlighting - The use of transparent and brightly coloured markers to draw attention to particular text. Frequently done by students. See also Underlining and Marginalia.
Hinge - The joint (either outer or inner) of the binding of a book - the part that bends when the book is opened.
Illustrated - Decorated with pictures or other graphical material to portray or clarify the text.
Illustrated Boards - Pictorial boards often with no dust jacket issued.
Illustration - A design, picture, plate, plan, diagram, chart, or map printed within the text.
Impression - A set of copies of a work, printed at one time, from one setting of type. There may be several impressions of one edition. Also known as printing, press run, or print run.
Index - An alphabetical listing of names or topics mentioned in the book, with their page numbers. For serials and journals, the index is usually published after the volume is completed and is usually found in the last issue.
Inscribed (by author) - Usually indicates a book signed by the author, either with an inscription to a specific person or bearing some brief notation along with his signature.
Inscription - A written name, note, phrase, or comment made in a book. Unless indicated otherwise, the inscription is not written by the author.
Issue - Synonymous with State, referring to the priority of copies within the first edition.
Jacket - The printed or unprinted cover, usually paper, placed around the bound book. Sometimes called Dust Jacket, Dust Wrapper, Dust Cover or Book Jacket.
Joint - The exterior junction of the covers and spine of a book.
Journal - A periodical or magazine, especially one published for a special group, learned society, or profession.
Label - A square or rectagular piece of paper or leather attached to the spine of a book, containing printed information about the book, such as author, title, and volume number. Also known as backstrip label.
Large Print - A book that is made with large type for the visually impaired.
Leaf - A single sheet in a book; each leaf contains two printed pages, one on each side.
Leatherette - An imitation of grained leather, produced from a strong, machine glazed base paper. Many small prayer books, for example, are leatherette.
Library Binding - Reinforced bindings used by many public libraries.
Limited Edition - Any book whose publication is deliberately restricted to a comparatively small number of copies, usually numbered and often signed by the author and/or illustrator.
Limp Cover - A book that has a flexible cloth, leather, or vellum cover.
Loose - The binding of a new book is very tight; that is, the book will not open easily and generally does not want to remain open to any given page. As the book is used, the binding becomes looser until a well-used book may lay flat and remain open to any page in the book.
Loose-Leaf - The binding of individual sheets of paper in an exchangeable form, for pages to be added, removed, or relocated in the book. Loose-leaf bindings are used wherever records of repeatedly changing information must be kept. Instruction manuals, catalogues, and accounting forms are often loose-leaf bound. Also known as ring-bound.
Margin - The space between the edge of the page and the printed text. Sometimes in binding, the margins are trimmed or cropped.
Marginalia - Notes written in the margins of a page around the text. Frequently used by students and others when studying a text. See also highlighting and underlining.
Mint Copy - An absolutely perfect copy; as perfect as the day it was issued.
No Date - No date of publication mentioned within the book.
Number - An issue of a periodical.
Out-of-Print - A book no longer being printed.
Owner's Bookplate - See Bookplate.
Page - One side of a leaf. The front side of a leaf is called the recto or obverse and the back side of the leaf is called the verso or the reverse.
Pagination - The sequence of the numbered pages in a book.
Pamphlet - A small separate work issued in paperwraps.
Paperback - Books in paperwraps published since the 1930's, although it can describe any book with a paper cover.
Paste-Down - The portion of the end-paper posted to the inner cover of a book.
Pictorial - Describes a book with a picture on the cover.
Plates - Whole-page illustrations printed separately from the text. Illustrations printed in the text are called cuts.
Preface - Author's (or another) introductory statement)
Price Clipped - The price has been clipped from the corner of the dust jacket.
Printing - Another word for Impression. The total number of copies of a book, or another type of publication, printed at one time. For example, an edition of a book can have a first printing of 5,000 copies and a second printing of 2,000. See also edition.
Private Press - A small press, often operated by one person, usually devoted to the production of small quantities of finely printed books.
Privately Printed - This term refers to a book or pamphlet whose printing was paid for by an individual or a group, and which is meant for private circulation, not public sale.
Proofs - Precede the published book. The normal course of events would be gallery proof, uncorrected bound proof and advance reading copy bound in paperwraps.
Publication Date - The date a book is formally placed on sale.
Rag Book - A children's book printed on and bound with cloth fabric.
Rare - Implies the book is extremely scarce, perhaps only turning up once every ten years or so.
Reading Copy - A copy of a book that is worn or used to such a degree that it is not in good enough condition to be considered collectible.
Reinforced Dust Jacket - A dust jacket that has been strengthened with tape by the previous owner.
Re-Issue - A term encompassing all types of a reprinting of a work; it can be a later printing of a book, which is substantially unchanged, or an entirely new edition, such as a cloth edition re-issued as a paperback edition.
Remainder - When a book has ceased to sell, a publisher may get rid of his overstock by "remaindering" the title. Remainder copies are often marked by pen or a cut to the bottom edges.
Remainder Marks - The publisher will mark the bottom edges of books sold as remainders with a stamp, a black marker, or spray paint which speckles the bottom.
Reprint - A new impression from the same type setting, or a new edition of the work.
Review Copy - A copy of a book sent out for review by the publisher to the press, booksellers, and others in order to attract attention to the publication. Frequently review copies will have slips of paper inserted into the book, or have it written on the cover, announcing it as a review copy. Textbook review copies are also known as "desk copies" or "instructor copies" and are given to instructors to review for consideration for adoption of the regular edition. See also advance reading copy.
Rough Cut - Unevenly trimmed page edges (Uncut)
Rubbed - Refers to condition; the spine or cover has visible scuffmarks and may be worn in places.
Scarce - Traditionally, a "scarce" publication isn't as hard to find as a rare publication, but might take a few years to locate.
Scuffed - Refers to condition; the binding or cover has been scraped and might look rough or slightly frayed in places.
Shaken - An adjective describing a book whose pages are beginning to come loose from the binding.
Shelf Wear - The wear that occurs as a book is placed onto and removed from a shelf. It may be to the tail (bottom) edge of the covers as they rub against the shelf, to the dust jacket or exterior of the covers (when no dust jacket is present) as the book rubs against its neighbours, or to the head of the spine which some use to pull the book from the shelf.
Signed - A book which the author has autographed. See inscribed.
Slipcase - A cardboard case covered in paper, cloth or leather which holds a book with only the spine exposed.
Soft Cover - Typically is synonymous with paperback, but it can also describe a book with a limp cover or a flexi-cover.
Spine - The book's backbone, where the signatures are gathered. The spine is covered with the backstrip.
Spine Lean - See cocked.
Spiralbound - An inexpensive type of binding utilizing wire or plastic coils as the spine. It is an increasingly popular way for small publishers to publish a work or for an author to quickly self-publish. Known also as comb or coil bound.
Sprung - Refers to condition; the text block is separate from its binding.
Stapled - A binding method that uses metal staples to secure the pages, typically for binding magazines and pamphlets. Also known as saddle stitching.
Subtitle - A secondary and explanatory title used to explain more about the book.
Sunned - Faded from exposure to light or direct sunlight.
Tanned - Yellowing from age of pages and/or page edges.
Tight - The binding of a new book is very tight; that is, the book will not open easily and generally does not want to remain open to any given page. As the book is used, the binding becomes looser until a well-used book may lay flat and remain open to any page in the book.
Tissue - A thin, protective sheet laid over an illustration.
Title Page - The title page, near the beginning of the book, lists the title and subtitle of the book, the authors, editors, and/or contributors, the publisher or printer, and sometimes the place and date of publication. The title page information should be used for cataloguing (not the half-title page or covers)
Tooling - The decoration of a binding.
Top Edge Gilt - Usually abbreviated teg; it means that the top edges of the pages have been covered with gold leaf or gilt material.
Trade Paperback - A softcover book which is generally large in size and made of better quality materials than a Mass-Market paperback.
Trimmed - An adjective indicating that the pages have been cut down to a size smaller than when originally issued.
Uncorrected Proof - See proofs.
Uncut - The pages of the completed book have not been shaved down to a uniform surface.
Underlining - Using a pencil or pen to underline passages in a book to draw attention to the underlined text. See also Highlighting and Marginalia.
Unopened (Uncut) - The leaves of the book are still joined at the folds, not slit apart.
Uncut - Refers to the untrimmed pages of a book - the edges appear rough and uneven. In early bookbinding, the unbound pages of a book were left uncut until the binder trimmed them flush and smooth as part of the binding process. Today the terms uncut and unopened are often used synonymously. See also deckle edges.
Unpaginated - The pages are not numbered (although each signature may be designated by letter).
Warped - Refers to condition; the boards or paperback covers are bent and twisted.
Waterstain - Stain on a book cover or leaves from water or other liquids. May cause discoloration and perhaps actual shrinking.
Wrappers - The outer covers of a paperbound book or pamphlet. Not to be confused with Dust Wrapper.
With all Faults (w.a.f.) - A description used mostly by auctioneers and booksellers to describe books that are suspected of being imperfect. The term is used to warn the buyer that the item may not be returned for any reason. It is, in other words, sold "as is".
Yellowed - Usually refers to the yellow fore-edges and pages of paperbacks, which is caused either by fading, age and/or acid in the paper.
(Hope this is useful - Cheers! Ian)