Condition Definitions

IOBA members should guard against using language in their book descriptions which might conceal material defects, overstate a book’s condition, or mislead buyers in any other respect.

IOBA Book Condition Definitions are here for two reasons:

  1. to inform buyers of the various terms used as the condition of Hardcovers, Dust Jackets, Softcovers and Paperbacks listed by IOBA Bookdealers. In this manner, IOBA members will further the mutual trust andrespect between booksellers and customers; and,
  2. to inform Booksellers of the standardization of definitions of book descriptions, as used by the IOBA Booksellers. Booksellers are individuals and as such may have what they think is the best book description definitions. The IOBA Book Condition Definitions standards codify these condition definitions so that IOBA Booksellers have a guideline for describing their books. If IOBA booksellers do not use these guidelines they will prominently display their own definitions.

These IOBA Book Condition Definitions are used to describe both the book and the dust jacket, if applicable. Thus the word “book” may be replaced by “dust jacket” in the following definitions:

AS NEW; FINE: Without faults or defects.

NEAR FINE: a book approaching FINE (or AS NEW) but with a couple of very minor defects or faults, which must be noted.

[NOTE: From here on, there may be “+ (Plus)” or “- (Minus)” 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 “-“, i.e., Very Good + (or Plus)/Very Good – (or Minus). Which means the book is better than Very Good and the dust jacket grade is less than Very Good.]

VERY GOOD: A book showing some signs of wear. Any defects or faults must be noted.

GOOD: The average used book that is totally complete (as issued) and intact. Any defects must be noted.

FAIR: A worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title page, etc. Any defects or 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 must be noted. May be soiled, scuffed, stained, or spotted, and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc.

EX-LIBRARY: Must always be designated as such no matter what the condition of the book.

BOOK CLUB: Must always be noted as such no matter what the condition of the book.

BINDING COPY: A book in which the text block, including illustrations, is complete but the binding is lacking, or in such poor condition it is beyond realistic restoration efforts.

REMAINDER MARKS, BOOKPLATES, PREVIOUS OWNER’S NAME: These are faults and must always be noted, if they apply.

Find books on IOBA