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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 S
Salesman Sample: A sample book designed by the publisher for use by door-to-door salespeople. These abbreviated books attempted to capture the most appealing features of a book and included at least the title page, several text pages, and some of the illustrations (if any). If the book was available in a choice of bindings, samples were often included in the book. Many also included a few pages in the back designed as a sales record for the salesperson. Door-to-door book sales were an important marketing tool for many publishers in rural and small town area which lacked ready access to bookstores. Books which were "Sold By Subscription Only" were also marketed in this way by smaller publishers who attempted to print no more books than those necessary to fill a known demand.
Self-Published: See Privately Printed.
Self-Wraps/Self-Wrapper: A paperback book whose Covers imitate a Dustjacket (wrapper) by having a flap which folds under the front and back cover.
Self-Wrappers: A pamphlet whose front & back paper covers are printed on the same paper stock used for the text, i.e. the covers are the first leaf of the first signature and the final leaf of the last signature. Most almanacs and other cheaply produced pamphlets use self-wrappers. Not to be confused with Wraps.
Sexagesimo-quarto (64mo): A book size designating a book up to 3" tall. Abbreviation 64mo. Designating a book up to 4" tall. See Book Sizes and Formats Figure 2.
Shaken: A defect which indicates that the Textblock is becoming loose in its binding, but remains attached. The term suffers from a lack of specificity as to exactly what is causing the defect or its severity. A lightly shaken book will probably have its spine cover pulled away from the back of the textblock leaving the textblock and its Signatures still being held fairly well by the Hinges alone. Heavily shaken implies the textblock is wobbling between the covers because it has lost all but the most tenuous connection to the binding. The usual cause of the defect is rough use of the book after the binding glue has dried & disintegrated.
Sheets:The large sheets of paper with which a printer begins the process of printing a book and which are folded into Gathering after both sides are printed.
Signature: Refers to the small identifying marks (usually lower case letters) printed and so placed on the printer's Sheets as to appear at the beginning of each folded Gathering, thus aiding the binder to assemble the gatherings in the correct order.
Signed: Having the autograph of a notable person. As related to books, this is usually the author(s) and/or the subject of the book.
Significant Defect: See Book Conditions.
Slipcase: A protective box with one open side into which one or a set of volumes is "slipped" with the spine(s) facing outward.
Small Quarto (sm4to): A book size designating a book up to 8" tall. Abbreviation sm4to. See Book Sizes and Formats Figure 2.
Text Block Spine: Used ambiguously to refer either to:
  1. the part of a book's cover which wraps over the back of the book (also called the Backstrip or Spine Cover); or
  2. the back portions of the attached Gatherings which form the rear edge of the Textblock (also called the Backbone).
Fortunately, the context in which the term is used rarely causes confusion. See Figure 22.
Spine Lining: In a case bound book, the strip of cloth or cardboard which, along with the hinges, attaches the Textblock to the case. In case books using this construction (many today do not), the spine lining also functions to reinforce the Hinges. The cloth is glued to the back of the textblock (the spine) and to the inside of both boards. As is shown in the yellow strip in Figure 5, the spine lining is concealed by the spine cover and by the Paste-down Endpapers. An actual spine lining is shown in Figure 22.
Started/Starting: Announces the presence in a book of early signs that some loosening defect is emerging, but has not yet flowered. Used to indicate that some Leaves or Signatures comprising the Textblock are "becoming" (but are not yet) Loose, or that a Joint or Hinge is weakening, but has not yet decided to Crack.
State: A portion of a Printing where the presses are stopped to correct one or more problems such as typesetting errors, battered or broken type, or other accidental matters publisher or printer considers too minor to justify abandoning the partial run and starting which the over. The insertion of Cancels, advertisements, use of a different paper without the intention of creating a separate The insertion of Issue, are among other alterations which create States. It is worth noting that because the issue of Priority turns on when the sheets for a book were printed, and not when the sheets were folded into gatherings or the gatherings were bound, a different state of a first printing can be created even by the insertion of a cancel leaf after the book is bound provided that a portion of the first printing retained the original leaf. The portion with the original leaf would have priority. If the entire first printing has a cancel leaf, or all the books retaining the the original leaf were destroyed, then no States were created during the first printing. The most common errors are those in the type settings due to the earlier practice of some printing houses to continuing the press run while the first proof sheet for a book was examined by a proofreader. While this kept the press operators from being idle, it was not uncommon for both the corrected and uncorrected Sheets to be used thereby creating two States during the printing. See also First Edition.
Sunned: The discoloration by Fading of a book's binding or dustjacket by exposure to strong light over time. Ultraviolet frequencies, which are the most damaging, are found in both natural and some artificial light.
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