AMBROSIA BOOKS Australia : Antiquarian and out of print books.
In my experience, booksellers use a diversity of terms to describe their books and personally I found it difficult to find a standard. Someone then put me in touch with the classic ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter which has a pleasantly relaxed approach to terminology as well as giving an interesting history of terms. I have also borrowed lists and terms from other catalogues and dealers. I will use a fairly simple set myself for ordinary books with fuller descriptions for special ones. I must emphasise that you are likely to find other booksellers with their own standard terms.
Mint : As new.
Fine : As new.
Near Fine : Very minor blemishes only.
VG : Very Good.
Good : Sound copy.
Fair : Blemishes but holding together
Poor : Many defects
w.a.f. : with all faults. The book is bought on the understanding that it is mainly intact unless otherwise stated.
This refers to the shape and size of a book. To paraphrase Carter, the format description indicates the size of a volume in terms of the number of times the original printed sheet has been folded to form its constituent pages. In a folio each sheet has been folded once, in a quarto twice, in octavo three times; the size being thus respectively a half (folio), a quarter (4vo) and an eighth (8vo) of the original sheet. Very small books could be classed as duodecimo (12mo - pronounced twelve mo), Sextodecimo (16mo), Vicesimo-quarto (24mo) and Tricesimo- secundo (32mo). 12mo is about the size of small Penguin.
However because the size of the original sheet varied it would not have been accurate to give a size in inches or centimetres so that 4vo, for example, is more a shape than a size. There is a further division of format - royal (roy), demy, crown (cr), and foolscap (f,cap) - which ranges from square down to oblong. This however is used only for very detailed descriptions. A set of descriptions with sizes is given for your information.
Now that foolscap size paper has disappeared from most offices and quarto (A4) has become the norm, many booksellers seem to be using 4vo to mean roughly quarto in size (30x21cms), with 8vo as being half that. Small 4vo, large 4vo, small 8vo and large 8vo are then used for variations. Others are giving the size in inches or centimetres and thus avoid the problem. You may also see 4vo given as 4to.
For those who use the Imperial measure: 1" = 2.54 centimetres or 1 centimetre = .3939 "
Most Common Terms
Octavo: 8vo: 15 x 21 cms approx
Quarto: 4vo 21 x 30 cms approx
Folio: folio 28 x 40 approx
Less Common Terms
|Cr4 : 25 x 19 cms.||fcap folio : 34 x 21 cms.|
|Cr8/Cr8vo : 19 x 12 cms.||Imp4 : 38 x 28 cms|
|Cr folio : 38 x 25 cms.||Med8 : 24 x 15 cms.|
|D4 : 28 x 22 cms||Post8 : 20 x 12 cms|
|D8 : 22 x 14 cms||Roy4 : 32 x 25 cms|
|demy folio : 44 x 28 cms||Roy 8 : 25 x 16 cms.|
|fcap 4 : 21 x 17 cms.||super roy 4 : 35 x 26 cms|
|fcap8 : 17 x 11 cms||super roy 8 : 26 x 17 cms|
Other descriptive terms
|ills/illust : illustrations/illustrated|
|adverts : advertisements||imp. : Impression|
|a.e.g. : all edges gilt||n.d. : no date (of publication)|
|biblio : bibliography||n.p. : no place (of publication)|
|bind. : binding||or./orig. : original|
|Blind stamped : stamped pattern on cover||o/w : otherwise|
|brds. : boards (ie hardback covers)||p./pp. : page/pages|
|b/w : black and white||pastedowns : endpapers glued to board cover|
|cl. : cloth||PB : paper back|
|col. : colour/ed||prelims. : preliminary pages|
|dec. : decorated||prot. : protected (usually with plastic jacket)|
|dec cloth : cloth cover with colour/gilt decoration||pub. : published/publication|
|DJ or DW : dust jacket/wrapper||ref. : reference|
|ed. : edition, editor, edited||rev. : revised/revision|
|e.p. (s) : endpaper (s)||sig. : signed/signature|
|ex. lib. : ex library||sl. : slight|
|(f.) f.e.p : (front) free endpaper/flyleaf||sml. : small|
|frontis. : Frontispiece||soft cover : paper back|
|glazed boards : glazed illustrated board cover||t.e.g. : top edge gilt|
|HB or HC : hard back or hard cover||wrapps. : wrappers/soft covers|
|AMBROSIA BOOKS, 457 DARLING ST, BALMAIN, NSW, 2041, AUSTRALIA. (Proprietor : Jan Aitkin)|
|PHONE/FAX International-(612) or Australian area code-(02) 9810 5130, BACK-UP PHONE 9810 1862.|
|Email firstname.lastname@example.org World Wide Web http://www.ambrosiabooks.com|