Rail Books - Free UK Postage on Orders Above £27.50!
Rail Books - Free UK Postage on Orders Above £27.50!
Cart 0

Guide to the grading of our books

We grade our books in a similar fashion to all booksellers. This is a summary of the grading system we use when listing books on our website. For secondhand books, we welcome engagement with prospective customers who would like a more detailed description of a book.

New: The book is in the same condition as when it was dispatched from the publisher’s warehouse or their distribution agents.

Reduced: This describes a new book that is being sold below cover price for a variety of reasons including

  • a book that has sustained minor damage such a bump to the corner(s) or a tear to its dust jacket before being sold by ourselves.
  • publishers’ or seller discounts.
  • remaindered stock (i.e. end of print run).

The categories below relate to Secondhand, pre-owned, books -

Very Good (VG): Describes a secondhand book that is in excellent condition with minimal small signs of wear on either binding or paper. Books in the category will have either been rarely handled or handled with care. Any defects will be noted.
Good (G): Describes the average used & worn secondhand book that has all pages or leaves present. Dust jackets/wrappers may exhibit signs of wear such as minor chips/tears. Major defects are noted.
Fair: Worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title, etc. Binding, jacket (if any), etc., may also be worn. All defects should be noted.
Binding Copy: describes a book in which the pages or leaves are perfect, but the binding is very bad, loose, off, or non-existent.
Reading Copy: A copy usually in poor to fair condition that includes all text presented in a legible fashion. The copy is fine to read but nothing more.
We may use a combination of these descriptors (e.g. Good/Very Good) where a book falls between two categories

Common abbreviations used our descriptions.
DJ – Dust Jacket (or dust wrapper)
EP – End Paper
IFC – Inside Front Cover
Signed – Book has been signed by author(s)
TP – Title Page

Other common descriptors used in conjunction with the gradings set out above
Chipped - Used to describe where small pieces are missing from the edges of the boards or where fraying has occurred on a dust jacket or the edge of a paperback.
Dampstained - A light stain on the cover or on the leaves of a book caused by moisture such as a piece of food or perspiration. Generally not as severe as waterstains.
Darkening or Fading - When book covers are exposed to light, the colour darkens or becomes more intense. See also tape shadow.
Edgeworn -Wear along the edges of hardback book covers.
Ex-Library/Ex Public Library/Ex Lending Library – the book will have once been owned by, and circulated in a public library. Such books are classified to the above general categories but very rarely will be better than “Good”. Will usually have library stickers, stamps and/or markings and often appear to have been "well read".  (Books from private/personal libraries will be classified according to condition).
Foxed / Foxing - Brown spotting or marking of the paper caused by a chemical reaction, generally found in older books or those that may have been kept in a damp atmosphere. Pages may be “foxed” or more commonly, exposed edges.
Shelf Wear - The wear that occurs as a book is placed onto and removed from a shelf. It may be to the tail (bottom) edge of the covers as they rub against the shelf, to the dust jacket or exterior of the covers (when no dust jacket is present) as the book rubs against its neighbours, or to the head of the spine which some use to pull the book from the shelf.
Sunned/Sun-faded - Faded from exposure to light or direct sunlight. Certain inks, notably orange, yellow and red are susceptible to fading.