A FontLife Publication, LLC uses the AB Bookman Grading Scale proposed in 1949 by AB Bookman’s Weekly as standard terms to describe the condition of the used books we sell.¹,²
- As New means that the book is in the state that it should have been in when it left the publisher. This is the equivalent of Mint condition in numismatics.
- Fine (F or FN) is As New but allowing for the normal effects of time on an unused book that has been protected. A fine book shows no damage.
- Very Good (VG) describes a book that is worn but untorn. For many collectors this is the minimum acceptable condition for all but the rarest items. Any defects must be noted.
- Good (G) is not very good. It is used to describe the condition of an average used worn book that is complete. Any defects must be noted.
- Fair shows wear and tear but all the text pages and illustrations or maps are present. It may lack endpapers, half-title, and even the title page. All defects must be noted.
- Poor describes a book that has the complete text but is so damaged that it is only of interest to a buyer who seeks a reading copy. If the damage renders the text illegible then the book is not even poor.
- Ex-library copies must always be designated as such no matter what the condition of the book.
- Book Club copies must always be designated as such no matter what the condition of the book.
- Binding Copy describes a book in which the pages or leaves are perfect, but the binding is very bad, loose, off, or non-existent.
In all cases, the lack of a dust jacket is noted if the book was issued with one. There is no standard term for books in a condition below poor. Their normal fate is to be discarded or to be broken into individual pages if these have any value.
¹Chernofsky, Jacob L., editor. Bookman’s Yearbook 1990-1991. Clifton, NJ: Bookman’s Weekly, 1991.
²Hollowell, Hugh. “The Original AB Bookman Grading Scale 1949”. Retrieved 28 October 2010.