• Japon vellum – A smooth cream paper, similar in appearance to vellum. Used in the printing of luxury editions. Also known as Japanese Vellum.
  • Joint – The outside junction of the board with the spine; this at the front is the “upper joint”, this at the back is the “lower joint”. See Hinge.



  • Laid in – Any loose paper matter which is inserted in the book, not sewn in or permanently glued.
  • Laid paper – Paper, usually hand-made, which when held up to the light shows a pattern of lines.
  • Large paper edition – Special edition, often limited or de-luxe, which has been printed in a larger format than this of the trade edition.
  • Leaf – A single sheet of paper in a book. A page is one side of a leaf; each leaf has two pages. See Recto; Verso.
  • Letterpress – A relief printing method. A term used for all book printing done from raised type. Obsolete since the invention of offset lithography in the 1970s.
  • Limited edition – An edition that is printed in a small number of copies only. It is often carries a limitation, i.e. a statement of the number of copies printed.
  • Limp cover – A binding without boards, made of cloth, leather, vellum. Also known as Limp Binding (limp cloth, limp leather, limp vellum).
  • Line block – A relief photomechanical printing process. The term is used both for the process and the resulting print.
  • Lithograph – A planographic printing process using stone or zinc plates. This method is based on the fact that grease repels water.
  • Loose – Leaves or plates are detached, or the complete text block is coming loose from the binding.



  • Made-up – A book that has been restored or rebuilt. Also known as Doctored.
  • Marbled paper – Coloured paper with a pattern reminiscent of marble, made by inserting the paper into a bath of water, on the surface of which are oily dyes combed into a pattern. It is used on boards and as endpaper.
  • Margin – The margins of a page are called the head, tail (or foot), outer (or fore-edge), and inner (or gutter) margins.
  • Marginalia – Notes written in the margins of a page.
  • Morocco – Fine leather, made from tanned goatskin, used for binding.
  • Mottled calf – Calf leather sprinkled or stained with acid, giving it a mottled effect.



  • No date (n.d.) – No publication date is printed anywhere in the book.
  • No place (n.p.) – No place of publication is printed anywhere in the book.
  • No imprint – No publishing details (publisher, date, place) are printed anywhere in the book.
  • Not subject to return – Refers to an item, often unique or vulnerable, for which the right of cancellation of the sale does not apply. See With All Faults.



  • Offprint – An excerpt of a larger publication that has been printed separately. Issued in small numbers, not offered for sale, and rather vulnerable, offprints are often highly sought after by collectors.
  • Offset – The transference of ink pattern from a page of text or illustration onto the facing page, common in old books. This transference results in a light ghost image on the adjoining page.
  • out of print – A book that is no longer available through the publisher.



  • Panelled – A border or a frame, on the spine or on the sides of the binding, which is formed by decorative ruled lines in gilt or blind. See also Compartments.
  • Parchment – Material made of animal skin (sheep or goat) for bindings or for writing of manuscripts. Fine parchment is called Vellum.
  • Paste-down – See Endpapers.
  • Perfect bound – The binding method that is used for paperback books.
  • Photogravure – An intaglio printing process using photography. Produced on a traditional hand press. Known as Heliogravure. See Gravure.
  • Pictorial cloth – A cloth-bound book with a rich, colourful picture printed on the cover.
  • Planographic – Any method of printing from a flat surface, constituted by lithography. See also Intaglio; Relief.
  • Plate – A full-page illustration by any technique, printed separately from the text pages, very often on a different paper, bound- or tipped-in.
  • Pochoir – A technique of hand-colouring illustrations through stencils.
  • Preliminary pages (prelims) – All the leaves, printed or blank, before the main body of the text begins. Include the Half-title, Frontispiece, Title page.
  • Presentation copy – A book in which an inscription suggests that it was presented by the author to someone else.
  • Privilige – An early copyright protection in the form of an authorization to print the book for a limited period. Common until the 18th century, it was often signalised by the Latin “Cum Privilegio” printed on a separate leaf at the beginning of the book. See Imprimatur.
  • Provenance – The history of a book’s ownership. Bookplates, autograph signatures, notes, inscriptions, and such may determine provenance.



  • Quarter cloth – A book in which the spine is covered with cloth, the sides with paper.
  • Quarter leather – A book in which the spine is covered with leather (calf, morocco, sheep), the sides with cloth or paper.
  • Quire – See Gathering.



  • Raised bands – Raised ridges on the spine of a book formed by the binding cords, the bands, which pass under the leather. When not recessed in grooves, the cords will protrude, adding charm to the exterior of the book.
  • Reading copy – A book whose binding is poor, though the text block is complete and in a reasonably good condition. Meant to be read, not to be collected. In a better condition than a Working Copy.
  • Rebacked – The book has been restored with a new spine, sometimes with the old spine retained. See Rebound; Recased.
  • Rebound – The complete original binding of the book has been replaced. See Rebacked; Recased.
  • Recased – The text block has been taken from the binding and then fixed back, often with new endpapers. See Rebacked; Rebound.
  • Relief – The oldest of the three printing methods, in which the printing surface stands up from the surface, as in woodcut and wood engraving. See also Intaglio; Planographic.
  • Recto – The front of a leaf (the right-hand page of an open book. See Verso.
  • Reversed calf – Suede-like leather used for binding.
  • Review copy – A copy of a book sent out by the publisher to the press upon publication for review in the media.
  • Rule – A decorative line, blind or gilt, on a binding, mostly leather.
  • Running title – The book title, or this of a chapter, printed at the head of each page.



  • Shaken – A cloth-bound book that is somewhat less firm in its covers, though apart from wobbling when handled is still in tact.
  • Sides – The binding of a book consists of two boards, upper and lower, which are known as “sides”. They are joined by a backstrip, known as Spine. See Boards.
  • Signature – Properly speaking, a gathering, i.e. a group of leaves formed by folding a single sheet of paper. See Gathering.
  • Spine – The backstrip which joins the two covers of the book. This is the part which is visible when the book is shelved.
  • Started – A fault that is just "starting" to happen, i.e. some leaves are coming loose from the binding but are still attached, or a hinge is "starting" to crack.
  • Stub – A strip of paper, stitched-in with the gathering, to which a frontispiece, a plate, or a map is tipped-in separately from the text.
  • Sunned – The binding or the dust-jacket is faded from exposure to sunlight.

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