Inside KruegerBooks Rare and Fine Books.

Book Terms - Definitions

  • Frontpiece. An illustration, usually a full page, opposite the title page.

  • Gutter. The inner margin of a page (near the spine) of a book .

  • Half-title. The extra page of a book sometimes found preceding the title page, and bearing the title of the book. The half-title originated as a "cover" for the protection of the true title page in the time when books were sold as unbound leaves which were then bound to the buyer's specifications.

  • Holographic. A document or inscription written in the hand of the person who signed it.

  • Incunabula (incunabulum, incunable). Books printed before the year 1501.

  • Leaf. A piece of paper that makes up one page of a book on the recto, and one page on the verso.

  • Marbled Paper. Decorative paper made by dipping the paper into a bath of multi-colored paint, leaving swirled marble-like designs on the paint, which are often then manipulated with a comb or other instrument into a variety of patterns. Used today primarily as covers or endpapers in luxurious books issued by fine presses.  

  • On Approval. Reputable booksellers often sell antiquarian books "on approval," allowing the purchaser to return a book for a refund within a specified period if the purchaser finds condition to be unacceptable. Thus, "on approval" is simply another version of the familiar phrase "satisfaction guaranteed" used by most mail order vendors. KruegerBooks offers its books on approval.

  • Parchment. The split skin of a sheep or goat specially treated and used like paper for calligraphy and printing.

  • Pastedown. The half of an endpaper that is pasted to the inside cover of a book.

  • Provenance. The record of a book's previous ownership.

  • Raised Bands. On a cord-bound book, the horizontal raised bands on the spine, usually of a leather binding. Not often used in books published today, except for quality leather-bound editions.

  • Rebacked. A book that has had the backstrip (part of a cover that covers the spine) replaced.

  • Recto. The front side of a leaf, which becomes the page on the right side of an open book.

  • Size. Because the format of a book is only a general indication of size, those concerned about the size of a book should seek an exact measurement, which is usually given in centimeters.

  • Slip case. A protective box that holds a book or set of books. Slip cases can be made from any material, but today are most often cloth or paper covered cardboard. Slip cases add significant protection to books by absorbing wear and damage that would otherwise be suffered by the book itself.

  • Vellum. Specially treated calfskin, kidskin, or lambskin used like paper for printing and calligraphy, and sometimes used for binding. The most common material used in medieval manuscripts, it is generally seen today only in a very few luxurious books published by fine presses. 

  • Verso. The back side of a leaf, which becomes the page on the left side of an open book.

  • Worming. Small hole in the page of a book left by a book worm.

  • Wrappers (wraps). The cover of a paperback book.

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