Book Collecting


The condition of collectible books is of great importance. Generally speaking, the object of the exercise is to obtain copies which are as close to the exact condition of the first copy of the first edition printed as it left for market.

Hardy Books is a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA) and generally follows the IOBA Book Condition Definitions in summarizing the condition of our books, as follows:

AS NEW (AN) or VERY FINE (VF): Without faults or defects, unread, in the same immaculate condition in which it was published (Note: very few "new" books qualify for this grade, as many times there will be rubs/scuffs to the dust jackets from shipping, or bumped lower spine ends/corners from shelving). (Note: Though some use has been made of the term “Mint” it is: “A term borrowed, via philately, from the numismatists (who now prefer 'fleur de coin'), meaning as good as new, and extended to such uses as 'mint copy', 'dust-jacket defective, otherwise mint'. Not to be encouraged.” [Carter, ABC For Book Collectors, 7th Ed., 1995, p. 142.].)

FINE (F): Approaches the above, but not crisp. The book may show signs of having been carefully read, but no real defects or faults.  (NOTE: From here on, there may be "+" and "-" in a grade, which will mean that it is above the grade noted but not quite to the next higher grade for "+", and that it is below the grade noted but not quite to the next lower grade for "-".)

NEAR FINE (NF): Also used, although not contained in Bookman's Weekly definitions, meaning a book or dustjacket approaching FINE but with a couple of very minor defects or faults, which should be noted.

VERY GOOD (VG): A used book showing some small signs of wear on either binding or dust jacket. Any defects/faults must be noted. Barring some other unique qualities or pricing, VG is the lower limit of collectibility.

GOOD (G): The average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must be noted.

FAIR (F): A worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title page, etc. (which must be noted). Binding, dust jacket, etc. may also be worn. All defects/faults must be noted.

POOR or READING COPY: A book that is sufficiently worn that its only merit is the complete text, which must be legible. Any missing maps or plates should still be noted. May be soiled, scuffed, stained, or otherwise unsuitable as a collectible book, yet still fit and complete for reading.