Glossary of Rare Book Terms

What is a rare book? What is signed versus inscribed? What is a first edition? What does 8vo stand for?
Find some of the common jargon booksellers and book collectors often use.

Would you like to see a glossary term added? A term you heard but don't know what it means? Suggest a Term

Be invited to download your free copy of The Antiquarian Book Glossary.

Deckle Edges
The rough, untrimmed edges of a sheet of hand-made paper; the deckle being the frame or band which confines it in manufacture.
In a dos-à-dos binding (from the French for "back-to-back"), two books are bound back-to-back so that the share one lower board as back cover of both and open in opposite directions. This binding form was popular from the 17th century on. An example is Irvin S. Cobb's 1920 publication of Oh! Well! You Know How Women Are! bound dos-à-dos with Mary Roberts Rinehart's Isn't That Just Like a Man!
A separate, often ornamental inside lining of a board. It is seen made of fabric (often silk or moiré silk), vellum, leather or decorated paper, usually surrounded with gold tooled turn-ins. Popular particularly in France from the mid 18th century. Also called double.
Dummy Editions or Salesman's Dummy
A dummy edition is similar to an ARC in that it is designed for advance distribution. However, the dummy edition generally contains only a portion of the book, such as a single chapter. Intended to convince booksellers to carry an upcoming release, a dummy edition may also be referred to as salesman’s edition or publishers dummy.
Dust-Jacket, Dust-Wrapper
The paper or cloth jacket which is wrapped round most modern books to protect the cloth covers in transit between the publisher and the reader. The earliest recorded publisher's dust-jacket dates from 1819.