With books their CONDITION matters. It matters a lot. When buying books in a bookstore, in an antiquarian bookshop, you can pick up the book, look at the condition of the binding, check for any marks or stains, etc. Remember that condition is to books as location is to real estate property.

ArchBooks provides a description of condition. When buying online you need to understand our bookseller terminology (shorthand).   As a collector you always want to buy the best condition that you can afford.

Here are the definitions of condition used to describe books and dust jackets.

  • As New (AN): describes a book that is in the same perfect condition as when it was issued by the printer. There are no flaws. None at all. This book or dust jacket is in pristine condition, just as it came from the publisher. The book is tight. It has not been read or its pages turned. AN is the highest grade possible for a book or dust jacket.
  • Fine (F):¬†describes a book or dust jacket that is not quite as crisp as an AN book. (Many new books sold in large bookshops are in Fine condition and not As New because the books have been out on the shelves and have been picked up and handled by prospective buyers. In fact, some books sold in mega stores may have dust jackets only in VG condition.)
  • Very Good (VG): describes a book that does show some small signs of wear – but no tears – on either binding or paper.
  • Good (G): describes the average used book that has all pages or leaves present.
  • Fair:¬†describes a worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title page, etc.
  • Poor:¬†describes a book that is sufficiently worn, to the point that its only merit is as a Reading Copy because it HAS the complete text. A book or dust jacket listed as Poor (P) may be soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted and the book may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc.

The goal of book collecting is to show your love of books.