DENNIS WHEATLEY Tribute Site  back to Contents 


Words seem to have conflicting meanings within the printing, publishing and bookselling trades. As I have been confronted with many ‘definitive’ meanings throughout my research, I thought the following may be useful as a general guide to printing, publisher and bookseller terms as well as the various ‘technical’ terms used by me and the definitions I have intended by their use (!)

My thanks are due to the following web sites from where I have freely cribbed!

The Desktop Publishing Company Ltd at (link no longer valid)
BookSplendour at at

If you still find a word in this tribute site that you don’t understand, please e-mail me and I will do my best to let you know my intended meaning.

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Term Description
1st edition the first published edition of a book.
2°, (see book sizes – folio)
4to, (see book sizes – quarto)
8vo, (see book sizes – octavo)
12mo, 12° (see book sizes – duodecimo)
16mo, 16° (see book sizes – sextodecimo)
24mo, 24° (see book sizes – vigesimoquarto)
32mo, 32° (see book sizes)
64mo, 64° (see book sizes)
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addendum supplementary material additional to the main body of a book and printed separately at the start or end of the text.
advance reading copy a preview or early review copy of a book that is usually sent to book buyers, reviewers, booksellers, book clubs, and/or publisher sales representatives before the book is published. It could be in a different format, uncorrected, not bound, and/or have a different cover design than the publication issue. The typical publishing process is proof, advance reading copy, and publication.
a.e.g. "all edges gilt" – all the exposed edges of the book's pages have been trimmed smooth and coated with gold leaf.
Same as g.e.; see also t.e.g.
antique refers usually to binding executed in style of some earlier period. Genuine antique binding would more likely be described as original, contemporary, early or as just old.
appendix additional or supplementary material generally found at the end of a book.
armorial binding a leather binding stamped with a coat-of-arms.
art paper a smooth coated paper obtained by adding a coating of china clay compound on one or both sides of the paper.
artificial leather also known as imitation leather. A coated fabric, rubber, or plastic composition, or absorbent paper, manufactured to resemble genuine leather.
as issued the book is in the original physical state that it was published in and has all its original components including its binding, text block, illustrations, etc.
as new refers to the condition of a book; it is immaculate and without flaws. Sometime also described as in mint condition. Many dealers would avoid this term altogether, not without good reasons preferring to describe even the best books in their inventory only as "fine".
association copy a book that was either owned by its author, owned by someone connected to the author, or owned by someone connected to the contents of the book. It can also refer to a book that was annotated by the author. Proof of the association is usually in the form of some written notes.
author's corrections changes made to the copy by the author after typesetting but not including those made as a result of errors in keying in the copy.
autographed (signed) copy copy with signature of either author or the illustrator, often accompanied by an inscription.
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backstrip The covering of the book spine that has the title and author of the book printed on it. It is usually made of cloth, leather, or paper, and is sometimes decorated. See also spine.
bastard title (see half-title)
bevelled boards (edges) a binding technique in which the edges of the boards of the book have been cut to a slanted angle
bibliography a reading list, a guide for further study, or list of works that have been consulted by the author. In another meaning of this word, bibliography is also the study of books as physical objects.
binding the process that secures the pages or sections of a publication to keep them in order and to protect them. Binding may be stapled or sewn, sewn and enclosed in wrappers, or by gluing the pages to the outer cover, but most often refers to a hardcover binding.
binding copy a book whose covers are in serious state of disrepair, but the text block is fine and worth re-binding.
blank an unprinted page, usually included as part of a signature to make an even count. Also known as blank leaves or printer's blanks.
bleed layout, type or pictures that extend beyond the trim marks on a page. Illustrations that spread to the edge of the paper without margins are referred to as 'bled off'.
blind tooling or blind emboss decoration of a binding by embossed impressions without ink or foil.
blurb the words on the fold-over part of a jacket or flap of the boards inside the end-papers; also refers to the words on the back of the jacket or boards
boards the front and rear surface of a binding, as opposed to the spine. These may be composed of card, wood, or other materials, covered by cloth, paper, or leather. Synonymous with covers
bonded leather a material consisting of two layers of leather and a lining attached to each other by a chemical process or adhesive
book club edition (bc, bce) a book that was printed specially for a book club (e.g. Hutchinson's Book Club) that often utilizes a lesser quality paper and binding materials. These editions are usually available by book club subscription only and are usually of little interest to collectors.
bookplate or Ex Libris a simple or elaborately designed label used to indicate ownership, which is usually found pasted to the inside of the front cover of a book. Bookplates were used as early as 1516, but did not become popular in England, France, and Germany until the 18th century. In America, they were not used before 1800 but have been fairly common since about 1840. Bookplates might be of artistic interest, or they may help to establish book's provenance, the history of the previous owners.
book sizes:   (approx. sizes)
suR Super Royal 20"x27"
suR 4to Super Royal quarto 10"x13½"
suR 8vo Super Royal octavo 6¾"x10"
R Royal 20"x25"
R 4to Royal quarto 10"x12½"
R 8vo Royal octavo 6¼"x10"
Cr Crown 15"x20"
Cr Fol Crown Folio 10"x15"
Cr 4to Crown quarto 7½"x10"
Cr 8vo Crown octavo 5"x7½"
Cr 16mo Crown sextodecimo 3¾"x5"
M Medium 18"x23"
M 4to Medium quarto 9"x11½"
8vo (Medium) octavo 5¾"x9"
Demy Demy 17½"x22½"
Demy 4to Demy quarto 8¾"x11¼"
Demy 8vo Demy octavo 8¾"x5 5/8"
sq 4to square quarto 10"x10"
folio (2°) a sheet folded in half. Commonly used to indicate an oversized volume, usually > 15" tall.
quarto (4to, 4°) a sheet folded into four. Often used loosely by booksellers to indicate a height between approximately 10" and 14".
octavo (8vo, 8°) a sheet folded into eight. In bookselling terminology, a book measuring from about 7" to 10" in height.
duodecimo (12mo, 12°) a sheet folded into twelve
sextodecimo (16mo, 16°) a sheet folded into sixteen
vigesimoquarto (24mo, 24°) a sheet folded into 24
32mo, 32° a sheet folded into 32
64mo, 64° a sheet folded into 64 (max)
box a section of text marked off by rules or white space and presented separately from the main text and illustrations. Longer boxed sections in magazines are sometimes referred to as sidebars.
bronzing an effect produced by dusting wet ink after printing with a metallic powder
browned usually refers to the brownish colour of fore-edges and pages of hardbacks or paperbacks, age tan which is caused either by fading or acid present in the paper
buckram an inexpensive stiff cotton fabric that is used to bind books. It is often used in library editions because of its strength
bump, bumped refers to the condition of a book; it refers to worn, bent, or rounded corners of the boards of a book
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calendered finish produced by passing paper through a series of metal rollers to give a very smooth surface
calf leather made from a calf hide or cattle hide, it is the most common type of leather used for bookbinding. It may be dyed nearly any colour.
case bound a hardback book made with stiff outer covers. Cases are usually covered with cloth, vinyl or leather.
cases or boxes usually made to measure for preservation of books (see also slipcase)
chemise a sleeve wrapping around the spine and boards of a binding to protect it from wear when inserted into the slipcase.
chip, chipped refers to the condition of a book; a mark or flaw caused by scuffing, gouging, or breaking off of a small piece of the jacket, pages, or backstrip
clipped refers to condition of jacket, where the corner that once born the publisher's recommended price was cut off
cloth the commonest material used for binding of books in England and America, since about 1850 (see also hardback)
colophon the symbol or emblem that is printed on a book and represents a publisher or publisher’s imprint. Also the details of the title, printer, publisher, and publication date given at the end of a book
compartment on the spine of a book, the areas between the raised bands. These are considered from top to bottom; the title label is usually in the second compartment.
contemporary a term used to describe a work that was published within the last decade or to indicate that all of the components of the book (the binding, the colouring of plates, inscriptions, and side notes) were created at the same time the book was printed
cornerpiece in a binding, the decorative elements in the corners of the boards in the angles of the fillets.
corners the right angles on the unbound edges of the front and back covers of a hardback
covers See boards   (see also jacket)
crown the head of the spine (of the binding).
Crown (see book sizes)
cut flush a method of trimming a book after the cover has been attached to the pages
cutout a halftone where the background has been removed to produce a silhouette
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damp stained 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 water stains.
dedication copy a copy of a book specifically inscribed by the author to a particular person
dedication page the page of a book that lists the persons and/or institutions to whom the author has committed the work. It is usually located opposite the copyright page.
de luxe edition also known as edition de luxe. An edition of a book that has been specially printed and bound for its fine appearance. Sometimes refers to limited editions with special leather or decorated cloth bindings.
Demy (see book sizes)
dentelle a decorative lace- like pattern on the inner edge of a book cover that is inspired from embroidery and the decorative arts. This binder's technique was used primarily in France in the 18th century.
dents damage to the edges of the cover of hardbacks
device refers to a printer's mark or imprint that was used primarily in the 16th and 17th centuries, typically found on the title page or at the end of a book. Today the term can also be used to describe a publisher's trademark or logo. Also known as printer's mark.
dog-eared book pages which have been folded over in the corners
drawn on a method of binding a paper cover to a book by drawing the cover on and gluing to the back of the book.
dummy a mockup of a book that is created to represent the physical appearance, including actual arrangement of the printed matter and illustrations, of a forthcoming book to book buyers. Modern trade publishing has replaced the use of dummies with materials such as advance reading copies and uncorrected proofs.
duodecimo (see book sizes)
dust-jacket (see jacket)
dust-wrapper (see jacket)
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edges the top, bottom, and un-hinged outer sides of a book
edition all copies of a book that are printed from the same plates or one setting of type. An edition can have more than one printing. For example, if 400 copies of a book are printed on 12th August, and 600 copies are printed from the same plates on 16th November, all 1,000 copies are part of the same edition.
embossing relief images formed by using a recessed die.
end-papers the page or pages attached to the text block and the binding. The free end-paper is the extension of the paste-down
ephemera objects which, in general, are fragile and not made to last for a long time. Examples include, but are not limited to, magazines, journals, paper toys, and publisher promotional items.
errata a list of errors and misprints in the text of a book. The list might be printed on a bound page in the book or on a separate piece of paper that is pasted or laid in the book.
ex-library (ex-lib; x-lib) a bookplate printed with the owner's name or initials, often of an elaborate design. Latin for "From the library of..."
ex-libris identifies a book that was once the property of an institutional or corporate library. Usually there are noticeable marks and stamps on the binding and/or in the text. It may also have library card pockets, and it often shows considerable wear and/or rebinding. For collectors, it is worth considerably less monetarily than a book that has not been owned and marked-up by an institutional library.
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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. Also known as fake.
fading refers to the condition of a book; describes the loss of colour on the pages, dust jacket, or the cover of the book, which is usually caused by time or exposure to sunlight
fair condition obviously well worn and handled copy, but no text pages are missing, however, it may be without endpapers or a title page. There might be markings, but they do not interfere with readability.
false band a fake raised band that is attached directly to the spine of the book or the hollow of the cover. This decorative element is designed to make the book look sturdier than it actually is.
filler extra material used to complete a column or page, usually of little importance.
fillet a rule in gilt or blind on the boards of a book, usually around the circumference of the front board.
fine condition book has no defects, it has had little usage. Older books may show minor flaws.
fine binding an elaborately designed book; for example, a book that is bound in leather with blind stamps and gilt edges
first American/English edition the first edition published in the U.S.A./England of a book that was previously printed elsewhere
first edition the first appearance of a work in book form. Every printed book has a first edition but many never have later editions. When book collectors use the term, they're usually referring to the first printing and if there are different states or issues, the earliest of those. See also edition and high spot.
first edition thus (first thus) an edition of a work that postdates the first edition and contains some modification to the work. The modification might be a new introduction, added illustrations, new supplement, new format, and/or a revision of the text. It can also refer to a first edition of the work by another publisher.
flag the designed title of a newspaper as it appears at the top of page one
flap a fold-over part of the outer covering of a paper-back containing blurb
flyer an inexpensively produced circular used for promotional distribution
flyleaf the blank page or pages following the front free-endpaper
fly title (see half-title)
foil blocking a process for stamping a design on a book cover without ink by using a coloured foil with pressure from a heated die or block.
folio (see book sizes)
foxed, foxing refers to the condition of a book; intrinsic to paper, the patchy brownish-yellow spots that discolour plates and pages of a book. It is most likely caused by lack of ventilation and/or chemical reactions between the paper and micro-organisms. The spots are generally found in 19th century books and can range from barely visible to ruinous.
frayed refers to the condition of a book; the unravelling of the threads or fibres of an edge of a book cover that is caused by excessive rubbing
free end-paper (see end-papers)
frontispiece an illustration placed before the first pages of a book that usually faces the title-page
full binding a binding in which boards and spine are uniformly covered with the same material.
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galley proof proofs taken from the galleys before being made up into pages.
galleys the printing term for long metal trays used to hold type after it had been set and before the press run.
gatefold an oversize page where both sides fold into the gutter in overlapping layers. Used to accommodate maps into books.
gathering the operation of inserting the printed pages, sections or signatures of a book in the correct order for binding.
g.e. "gilt edges" – having the exposed page edges trimmed smooth and coated with gold leaf
Same as a.e.g., see also t.e.g.
gnawed refers to the condition of a book; chewed on edges or corners of a book
good condition a majority of second hand books would probably belong to this category. The average used book with all pages present. Books with loose bindings, highlighting or annotations, cocked spine, torn or edgeworn dust jackets, can fall into this category.
gouge refers to the condition of a book; an unintentional nick or hole in the cover of a book, or on its spine. Or in bookbinding, a single- line finishing tool that is used to create either blind or gold decoration on the covers but not on the spine of a book.
gutter the central blank area between left and right pages
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half cloth a book with cloth covered spine and paper covered boards
half-title a page bearing the title of a work usually found before the title-page. In the days when books were sold as unbound leaves, the half-title served as a "cover" for the protection of the true title page. Also known as fly title or bastard title.
halftone an illustration reproduced by breaking down the original tone into a pattern of dots of varying size. Light areas have small dots and darker areas or shadows have larger dots.
hard-back, hardcover (hc), hardbound (hb) a book with an outer covering of card that is either covered with a decorative cloth, leather or other material or printed with a decorative design. Usually (since the early 20th century) protected with a jacket. Modern hard-backs may have a laminated covering and no jacket. 1st editions are generally published as hard-backs.
head the margin at the top of a page.
headband a functional or ornamental band, made of coloured silk or cotton, which is fastened at the top (and sometimes at the bottom) of the spine of a book. Originally it was sewn into the boards or leaves of the book to link the sections together but in today's binding process, it is often glued-on for decoration. The headbands of the 12th and early 13th centuries were combined with a leather tab. The conventional cloth or silk headband was introduced in the early 16th century and decorative glued-on headbands were introduced in the early 19th century. Also known as heads.
headpiece a type ornament or decoration appearing at the start of a section or chapter of a book
high spot a term that is used to denote a highly regarded first or important edition of a book
hinge an inside or outside joint of the binding of a book, where the spine meets the covers. It is usually made of cloth and provides additional strength at the flex point.
holograph a document or inscription written entirely in the handwriting of the person whose has signed it
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illustrated wraps an illustration printed on a paperback cover. This decorative practice began in the early 1850s, with the publication of Letters Left at the Pastry-Cook's by J.S. Mayhew, and was the precursor of the next trend in publishing—yellowbacks. The sensational pictorial paper cover novels of the later 19th and 20th centuries are famous for their lurid, colourful covers. Also known as pictorial paper cover.
illustration refers to any picture, diagram, portrait, or non- text item in a work, which is used to clarify the text or for decoration
impression all copies of a book printed at one time from the same set of type or plates. An edition may have several impressions. Synonymous with printing, press run, and print run.
imprint refers either to the place of publication or to the publisher. The imprint information is located either at the base of a title page or in a colophon at the back of a book. The term can also refer to a printed piece from a certain location or period of time; i.e., the university has a collection of 18th century Massachusetts imprints.
inscribed copy a book in which a written inscription has been made by the author, to a specified person
inscription by previous owner a written name, note, phrase, or comment made in a book. Unless indicated otherwise, the inscription is not written by the author.
issue a portion of the printing of an edition that has a different format, binding, or paper. An issue, of an edition, is done intentionally by the publisher and can contain various states.
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jacket (aka dust-wrapper, cover or dust-jacket) – the loose paper covering, usually decorative, on a hard-back, sometimes soft-back (and rarely, paper-back) book.
joint the exterior juncture of the spine and boards of a (usually) case-bound book
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key book supposedly the most important or earliest significant work in its particular field
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label a square or rectangular 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 back strip label.
laid in pages or other paper present in the book that are not glued or sewn in
laminated a thin layer of plastic that is adhered to another material, such as cloth or paper
leaf (ll) a single sheet of paper in a book. A page is one side of a leaf.
limited edition issued in a stated, usually small, number of copies.
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Medium (see book sizes)
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new edition a publication of a book that differs from its previous publication by more than a new printing date or other bibliographical data.
I have, controversially, used this expression in the paperback section to denote a cover with new artwork.
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octavo (see book sizes)
onlaid (usually) describing a picture attached to a front board so that it stands out in relief
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p., pp. page, pages.
paper-back a book with boards of paper or thin card. Usually smaller than a hard-back and very rarely with a jacket. In the majority of cases a paper-back edition will be published some time after the first hard-back or soft-back edition.
paste-down that portion of the end-paper of a book that is glued to the inside of the boards.
printing see impression
private press a privately established though not necessarily non-commercial printing office.
proof traditionally, a printed trial-run of the work, bound or unbound, which is used for proofreading and to determine if changes need to be made in the text. The typical publishing process is proof, advance reading copy, and publication. However, bound proofs are also used for pre-publication publicity and are often sent out in place of advance reading copies to booksellers and reviewers. Also known as galley, galley proof, page proof, and uncorrected proof.
publication the process of producing a book in its printed form to its intended reading audience
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quarto (see book sizes)
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raised band on a binding, the raised areas on the spine through which the cords that attach to the cover-boards are passed.
recto the right-hand page (as viewed when looking at an open book) (see also verso)
re-print a publication of a book that is identical to its previous publication with the exception of a new printing date or other bibliographical data.
Royal (see book sizes)
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sidebar a vertical bar positioned usually on the right hand side of the screen, (but see also box).
sextodecimo (see book sizes)
signature the basic structural unit of the text block. Most books are constructed of signatures or gatherings, sewn or otherwise joined together.
slipcase an open-ended box, sometimes leather-covered, made to protect a book
soft-back a book, usually the size of a hard-back, with a thin card or paper boards. Sometimes protected with a jacket. Soft-backs are generally published shortly after, or at the same time as, the first hard-back edition and before any paper-back edition.
spine the part of the book opposite of the opening, which is visible when the book is shelved. Also known as back, backstrip, and shelfback.
state Minor changes made to a portion of the edition during the manufacturing stage and before all of the books were complete and released. The changes can be intentional. For example, a different state may be caused by a correction in the text or illustrations, an insertion of cancels or advertisements, or a different paper used without the intention of creating a separate issue. The changes can also be accidental; for example, a variation in the text or illustrations might occur during the printing. The term does not refer to condition.
Super Royal (see book sizes)
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t.e.g. "top edge gilt" – the top edges of the book's pages have been trimmed smooth and coated with gold leaf.
see also a.e.g. or g.e.
text block the textual matter of the book – everything that lies between endpaper and endpaper i.e. non-inserted blank pages, half-titles, title-pages, illustrations, advertisements, etc.
tipped-in "glued in". For example, the clues in a crime dossier are tipped-in.
title-page the page containing the title, author, publishing, printing and other information
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uncorrected proof a printed trial-run of the work, bound or unbound, which is used for proofreading and to determine if changes need to be made in the text. Also known as galley, galley proof, page proof (see proof).
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verso the left-hand page (as viewed when looking at an open book) (see also recto)
vigesimoquarto (see book sizes)
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wrappers a flexible paper binding. (see also jacket)

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