Used Book Condition Guide

One thing you should always remember in reading someone else’s rating of a particular book, it is subjective. You will not be able to know the true condition of a book until you see it. Book dealers are notorious for upgrading slightly every book that they list, especially on the web. Make sure to either check the book yourself before purchase, or buy from someone you trust who will honor the agreement you will have to make before purchase to return books that don’t match the advertised condition.

Condition of a book is usually in the form of New/New, VG/VG, Fine/Good, VG/–, etc. The first part is the condition of the book, the second is the condition of the dust jacket. If a “/–” is present, it usually means that the dustjacket is not present or that the book didn’t come with a dusk jacket, though the ad may say “W/O dust jacket, as issued.”

Plus (+) and minus (-) may be used to signify a better description. Note that any defects such as missing pages, loose pages, markings, etc. should be noted in the description.

New – This is a new book, in print and generally available from most general booksellers. Prices are based on suggested retail price. This is the same as “Mint Condition” to coin collectors. Some dealers will insist on individual wrapping if that is how the book was issued.

As New – This is a book that is in immaculate condition similar to how it was published. This book had no defects, no missing pages, no library stamps, etc., and the dustjacket (if it was issued with one) imperfect, without any tears. Some dealers will insist on individual wrapping if that is how the book was issued.

Fine (F/f or FN/fn) – This book is close to being as new, but it lacks the crispness of a new book. There must also be no defects and if the jacket has a small tear, or other defect, or looks worn, this should be noted. I have seen the designation of “Near Fine,” but I don’t think that there is any difference between this and Fine.

Very Good (VG/vg) – This describes a book that show some small signs of wear – but no tears of the binding or paper. Any defects should be noted. For many collectors this is the minimum acceptable condition for all but the rarest items. There may be some small stains.

Good (G/g) – Good traditionally means, to a book collector, not very good. This book is in average worn condition. It has all pages or leaves present.

Fair – This is a worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, binding, jacket, etc.

Poor – This book is sufficiently worn, to the point that its only merit is Reading Copy because it does have the complete text, which must be legible. All missing maps or plates should still be noted. This copy may be soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc. Any defects should be noted. There is no standard term for books in a condition below poor. Their normal fate is to be discarded or to be broken into individual pages if these have any value, unless they are ex-library books, or are very very hard to find otherwise.

X-Lib: Indicates book came from a library, normally a public or school library. This includes library stamps, markings to identify the book and probably pockets glued in. Additional information will be added for a better description. Example (X-Lib, in VG + condition).


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.