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WHITE UNICORN: BOOK CONDITION DEFINITIONS

For many years, the grading system defined by AB Bookman was the standard in the antiquarian book trade. Our standards, listed below, do not fundamentally differ from those standards though they have been expanded upon, and defined a bit more specifically.

(Condition normally shown as __/__, i.e., F/F, denoting first book & then dustjacket condition). White Unicorn shows the condition by spelling out the words as: Fine/Fine. Book/Dustjacket. In the case of a softcover the condition is spelled out as: Fine condition.

NOTE: Book Condition is sometimes a subjective "call" by the book seller. We try to be objective, but might (in your opinion) fail. If so, you can return the book for any reason. Please see
Store Policies

  • FINE (F)
    Our highest grade. Without faults or defects, in the same condition in which it was published. May show signs of having been carefully read, but no real defects or faults.

    [Note: Few "new" books qualify for this grade, as many times there will be rubs/scuffs to the dustjackets from shipping, or bumped lower spine ends/corners from shelving. Our "new" books are generally described as New - with any defects noted. But the condition is shown as defined here.]

  • NEAR FINE (NF)
    Also used, although not contained in Bookman's Weekly definitions, meaning a book or dustjacket approaching FINE but with a couple of very minor defects or faults, which will be noted.


    [NOTE: From here on, there may be "+" (Plus) or "-" (Minus) sign in a grade. This will mean it is above or below the grade noted, but not quite to the next higher or lower grade.]

  • VERY GOOD (VG)
    A used book showing some signs of wear, for example some minor wear or rub on the binding. Any defects/faults must be noted.

  • GOOD (G)
    The average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must be noted.

  • FAIR (Fair)
    A worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title page, etc. (which must be noted). Binding, dustjacket, etc. may also be worn. All defects/faults must be noted.

  • POOR [Poor or Reading Copy (RC)]
    A book that is sufficiently worn that its only merit is the complete text, which must be legible. Any missing maps or plates will still be noted. May be soiled, scuffed, stained, or spotted, and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc. All defects will be noted.

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: will be noted.

ODORS/SOILING : It is the bookseller's responsibility to either describe such conditions in book descriptions.

If issued with one, the lack of a dustjacket or slipcase must always be noted.
This set of definitions is basically the same as the IOBA definitions tweaked slightly since the highest grade we use is Fine, whereas the IOBAs highest grade is AS NEW (AN) or VERY FINE (VF) which we don't use.
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Updated Oct 16, 2005
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