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Book Collecting 101: Parts of a Book

Your book collection appreciates in value. It's important to know the different parts of a book, for grading purposes and understanding book descriptions. In this video you will learn how to identify the different parts of a book and what to look for when adding a book to your collection.

Episode Transcript (Also available as a PDF)

"Hello, again. This is John from VJ Books, and we're talking books.

Today we're going to talk about the parts of the book. The first thing you see is the dust jacket, or the dust cover. Early books had dust covers, and they were exactly that, covers that protected the book from dirt or dust and they were really kind of plain. Today's dust cover, or dust jacket, is a piece of art, glossy, attractive, and informative. Starting with the front, it'll have the title, the author, and maybe his last book, or his or her last book, or a quote from somebody who's endorsing the book. The end has the title, and the author's name, of course the publisher, clearly printed on the edge so that when it's sitting on the shelf in bookstore, it'll be easy to find.

On the back of the dust jacket you'll usually find endorsements by other authors or by book reviewers, or other information that the publisher finds interesting. You'll also find a bar code. Our world is driven by bar codes, and all modern books, of course, have them. The back cover was not always used. It was first used by author Clive Cussler. He was an ad exec, and he knew the value of that real estate, so on the back of all of Clive's books you'll either find his picture or his picture with one of the cars that's a part of the story. Moving back to the other jacket, inside the jacket you will find the front fly-leaf. The front fly-leaf will have a price in the corner, and it'll have a description of the story or detail about it. The rear flap of the dust jacket will have a picture of the author, a short bio, and some publisher information. That's the jacket.

Let's consider the book. The parts of the books are varied. These are the boards, there's a front board and a rear board. In trade paperbacks, or in paperback books, they're made out of soft cardboard. This is a hard stock, covered by cloths. Paperback books, they're called wraps, or wrappers. As you move from the boards, you move to the spine printed with the author again, and the title of the book. This is the bottom of the spine and the top of the spine. As you move in to collecting, you want to pay close attention to the parts of the book because problems with these, or damage to these, should be noted by a reputable book dealer. If this is bumped, it will devalue the book, either top or bottom. As with the corners of the boards, you have your front corners and of course your rear corners, and any description where these are damaged, that should be noted.

This is the dedication page, where the author makes his dedication. In this book it happens to be placed here. In most books it's a little further back, following the copyright page. As you move further in, this is the title page. It will have the title of the book and the author, the publisher. This one happens to be signed by the author. On the back of the title page, you'll find the copyright page, a very important part of the book. It will include information about the publisher, where they're located, disclosures or limitations, licenses that may be involved. Further down you will find information on what edition this particular copy of the book is. Very important for a collector, we'll talk about this later in other videos and how to determine what a 1st edition is.

As you move in a little further, these are the page blocks. Today's books are printed in signatures, which is usually about 16 pages on master sheets of paper. They're folded, cut, and then sewn into the book into the page block. Page edges are important. This is the bottom edge, front edge, top edge of the book. Any damage or marks on these edges will devalue a book. You may find a remainder mark on there, and we'll discuss some remainder marks in a later video. What they are is when books have been recycled back to the publisher, they put a stamp on one of the edges or a Sharpie mark that indicates that the book has been out and has been returned. Those marks will devalue a book as well.

So, those are the parts of the book. This is John from VJ Books, and we're talking books."