Condition is one of the most important things when collecting. It stands to reason that a 1937 first edition version of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is going to be worth more if it's clean, with only a few small tears in the dust jacket than a version which is heavily water damaged and was half-chewed by the dog (or cat). I do my best to give a very thorough description of each book we sell. First I start off with the overall quality and then for most books, especially older ones, I'll describe in as much detail as I can any small or large defect. I'll talk about types of defects and what they mean later, for now I want to introduce you to a basic overview of condition terms. That way when you see a book you like in our catalogue, you'll know what kind of condition to expect it in!
Reading Copy - A copy that's only good for reading. Often times a collector may want too copies of a book, one for display and one for the more practical use of reading. These copies are usually damaged in some way as to no longer have collecting value outside of reading, hence the name!
Binding Copy - A copy in good condition, with the text block in tact, but the binding has come largely loose or completely detached. Taken to a book binder and repaired, it will make a nice copy with some value.
Fair - A worn book in better shape than a reading copy, but may still be missing end pages or title pages, maps or plates, or other components. We try not to sell these, and usually only use the term if the book is old, rare, or otherwise hard to find.
Good (Minus) - A complete book, but may have a long tear or some damaged pages.
Good - A book with average wear, It may have a limited number of any defect such as small open and closed tears, writing over the pages, dog-eared pages, faded text, but it is generally considered to have some collectable interest, if a better copy is not readily available.
Good (Plus) - A book in better condition than the average good book, but may have one or two small tears that prevent, in the judgement of the seller, it from being listed as Very Good (minus)
Very Good (Minus) - Generally has the initial appearance of being a fine or near fine book, but on closer inspection may have a 3 to 5 small defects, such as small tears to dust jacket or bumped corners.
Very Good - A book that would almost pass muster in a new book store. For antique books before the 1900s it is a book that is well preserved without any defects such as foxing, etc. In either case there should be only a couple of minor defects. These have good collectable value.
Very Good (Plus) A book that would be near fine, but may have light shelf-wear that prevents it from being considered Near-Fine.
Near Fine - A book in this condition and better are what tried and true collectors are usually after. There may be minimal shelf wear to the dust jacket, but this book would easily be found in a used bookstore.
Fine - This book could readily pass as new with no real defects. usually it's listed as fine when the seller is not entirely sure of the provenance of the book (i.e. it was not picked up by the seller themselves fresh from a new bookstore or did not have
Like -New/New - This book looks exactly as you would find it first leaving the printing press. It doesn't get in any better condition. Usually only used if we can know with reasonable certainty they came fresh from a new bookstore. Items we cannot confirm came fresh from a new bookstore are most always listed as being in Fine condition.
So now you know a bit more about how we list our conditions here at Castle Books! Please feel free to comment with any questions or thoughts below.
A view of Nymphenburg Palace in Munich, Germany. It is considered one of the premier royal palaces of Europe.