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A reference for Used and Rare Books, Periodicals, and Paper Ephemera courtesy of an International Co-Op of Independent Dealers.
Book Glossary
Terminology used by book publishers, dealers, and collectors.
Information about book conditions, the various parts of books, sizes and formats, and various terms used in the book world.
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Glossary L
Label: A small, simply-shaped piece of paper, or other material, applied to the spine or cover of a book on which is printed at least the book's title and author. While occasionally a label may have a very simple decorative design, they should not be confused with Paste-Down Illustrations which serve a different function.
Laid-in: Printed material inserted among the leaves of a book, but not sewn, glued or otherwise attached. The material may have been laid-in when the book was issued, accompanied the book separately and laid-in or not at the option of the buyer, or not originally issued in or with the book and placed in the book later because of its special relevance to the book. The latter is a catch-all for items whose inclusion could arguably give the book more value or interest, but would certainly not include incidental insertions such as make-do page markers, pressed flowers, or even money.
Laid Paper: A handmade paper used in some books which shows marks (called chain lines) cause by the wire ribs supporting the paper in framed molds. The resulting sheets of paper have parallel wire marks about an inch apart (always parallel to the short side of the sheet) and Deckled Edges. The chain lines are easily seen when laid paper is held to the light. While laid paper was the only paper available to the early hand-press printers, it is still made today for special edition books and other purposes. The pattern can also be imitated on machine-made papers, so seeing apparent chain lines is not necessarily an indicator of handmade paper or the age of the book.
Lamination: The application of a transparent plastic film, usually with a high gloss finish, to the surface of paper-based book covers to enhance its appearance and durability. Lamination has often been applied to the covers of modern Paperbacks, and more recently widely used in books bound in both Wraps of all sizes and books in paper-covered boards. Common defects in laminated covers are peeling, lifting and bubbles.
Leaf or Leaves: The entirety of the single piece of paper both sides of which are a page in a book, i.e. each side of a leaf contains one page. Leaves can be printed or blank.
Library Binding: A book bound for, or upon the request of, a library in a binding material with greater strength and durability than the binding used by the publisher for general retail distribution (called Publisher's Binding). Library bindings are characterized by the use of a strong Buckram, strengthen endpapers, muslin-reinforced end signatures, use of 4-cord thread in the sewing, and reinforcement (backlining) of the spine with fabric. Some books are issued in both a publisher's binding and a library binding when the publisher anticipates a book will be heavily purchased by libraries. Other books are Rebound by a library before circulation due to their fragility, or in an effort to restore or preserve a valuable book not easily replaced. Library bindings are also found on bound periodical, pamphlets, and other printed material in need of preservation.
Limited Edition: A book whose publication is, in whole or part, deliberately restricted to a comparatively small number of copies. Some limited editions are the only editions or printings of the book while others are an special edition released prior to the less artful copies of the book intended for the general retail market. True limited editions should give at least the total number publishers printed, are usually numbered (e.g. "Number 552 of 1,000"), and may be signed by the author and/or illustrator. Limited editions are not necessarily valuable; and the so-called limited editions, which some unscrupulous produce in large numbers or in whatever quantity can be sold, are rarely of any value. A true stamped) are called limited edition book which is not numbered (despite having an obvious place for the number to be written or Out of Series. These are extra copies printed to replace defective or lost copies prior to their release, and are considered of less value by collectors being, as it were, the understudies of the limited edition.
Limp: A flexible binding which allows the covers of a book to be easily bent. The flexibility of the covers is achieved by the use of naturally limber material and the absence of supporting Boards. The term does not apply to paperbacks or other paper bindings, but is reserved for non-paper binding materials, particularly soft leather or imitations thereof.
Lithography: See Chromolithography and Photolithographic.
Loose: A term indicating that the subject in not completely detached, but is either only partially attached or no longer firmly attached. See Shaken and Started.
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