My rating system for used books

• I rate books conservatively, but please remember that ratings are a matter of opinion, not objective fact. If you want clarification regarding a particular book please post a question on its auction page.

• Please, please, please look at the provided picture(s) of the book.

• Sometimes I’ll put a + or – after a rating, e.g. ‘Good+’. Or I may put ‘Good-Very Good’.

• These ratings are designed for the general public, not collectors.

• I do check every book but I may miss slight defects. It’s also easy to miss minor pen or pencil markings, especially if there’s only a few in a book: the same goes for tears. The brevity of the human life span makes a close check of every page impractical :).

Technical terms used in my auctions…

book with cracked spine spine cracking cracked book

Spine cracking: click on the photo to enlarge it

Cracked: describes a book has spine cracking and/or hinge cracking. ‘Spine cracking’ means that, although there’s no detached pages, there’s a visible gap between pages along the spine (the gap may be tiny or large). ‘Hinge cracking’ is the same thing happening where the cover meets the spine inside the book. A cracked book is readable.

book with foxing foxed book

Foxing: click on the photo to enlarge it

Foxed: foxing is brown spotting caused by oxidation of chemicals in the paper and it’s very common in cheaper editions, but only a cosmetic issue. Most foxing occurs on the first few and last few pages of a book, as well as in the margins of the main body of the book. You may get some foxing on the text in the main body of the book, but the book will still be readable.

Gnawed: the edges of the cover and/or pages look as if they’ve been nibbled. Obviously I won’t sell the book if internal text is missing, and a gnawed book will always be rated as Acceptable. If I would personally find the gnawing to be a pain when reading I won’t sell the book.

Gutters: the ‘hinges’ that lie where the front and back covers meet the spine on the outside of the book (you can’t call them hinges because that’s the name for another part of a book). Also known as joints.

Text block: click here to view an illustration. Also known as a book block.

Let’s move on to the ratings…

Ex-library – Obviously this book will have library stamps, stickers, etc.. A book described as ‘Ex-library, very good’ will have library markings but I have been unable to find any borrower markings.

Excellent – A book that may have been handled several times or used slightly, but doesn’t have any defects of note. The jacket or cover may be slightly rubbed or showing very minor shelving or shipping wear.

Very Good – A book that may have minor signs of wear or aging. This book will free of foxing and cracking and the pages will be undamaged. I cannot find any markings or highlighting (ex-library books are an exception, see above).

Good – A book that shows more general signs of wear. This book may have the following flaws:

  • yellowed pages (very common in cheaper editions)
  • minor to moderate creasing, curving and corner damage on the cover and/or dust jacket (very common with paperbacks)
  • cracking
  • foxing
  • markings and highlightings

I’ll tell you if there’s foxing, cracking, marking or highlighting: please be aware that it’s easy for me to miss minor pen or pencil markings, especially if there’s only a few in a book.

Acceptable – A book that is readable, with all pages attached, but showing signs of heavy wear. This book may have the following flaws:

  • yellowed pages (very common in cheaper editions)
  • cracking
  • foxing
  • markings and highlightings
  • damage to its spine or cover
  • damage to pages that does not affect readability, including up to about ten tears through text. The latter are OK by me if you can simply lay the page flat and read as normal (no missing text), but if I would personally find the tears to be a pain when reading I won’t sell the book. Good quality invisible tape can be useful in this situation: I use the Sellotape brand.

baby reading book in bath source nhcgov.comBuy a book rated Acceptable if you don’t care about its looks, if you want a book that you won’t mind losing when you’re away from home, or if you like to read in the bath.

Click here to view my current listings on TradeMe.

These ratings are based on the ones used by Barnes & Noble.

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