02 September 2009

70 Idiotic Used-Book Descriptions found on Amazon and Other Portals

. . . I sell used books online through several separate websites. Sometimes customers find me via Amazon, where I function as one of their "third-party" vendors. Amazon's encouragement to amateurs to become used books sellers may sound noble but some of the used books being offered online are truly horrific, to put it politely. Most of these descriptive gems were found on Amazon, but a few are from eBay or other venues.

One should be aware: Most professional used book dealers employ standard grading terms and definitions. In order from best to worst, and with an equivalent number grade on a scale of 10 to 1, these terms are:

  • 10. As New
  • 9. Fine
  • 8. Near Fine
  • 7. Very Good
  • 6. Good
  • 5. Fair or "reading copy"
  • 4. Poor
  • 3. (anything lower than a 4, just get rid of it)

Any book that is so damaged that it cannot be graded as at least "Poor" should be tossed or its parts recycled. Such books include: books with missing text pages, moldy or encrusted books, books with stains that make pages unreadable, books with pages stuck together due to water damage, etc.

Amateur sellers, in most cases, do not bother to learn these terms and so make up their own. For example, they often use "Fine" on a book with so many flaws it should be graded as "Poor." Makes me wonder how they could even read a book without having any brains.

An assortment from my never-to-be-complete collection of these creative names for condition grades, in approximate order of quality, will be given here soon.

Thanks to bookdealers Norman Riger, Joseph Oprisch, Andy Gutterman, and probably others, for collecting and sharing some of these outlandish terms and descriptions.

[My comments are in brackets.]

Turns a Flaw into a Feature

1. "This book would be trash if it weren't for all the interesting pictures."

2. "90% of pages are clean and unmarked."
[Meaning 10% of the book is completely ruined.]

3. "Book has underlining & comments in pencil for quicker & more interesting read."

4. "A good reading copy with critical areas already noted by previous owner."

5. "Jacket a little grubby but easily removed!!"
[Seller a little stupid but easily ignored!]

6. "The paper has that lovely yellowing color of old books."

7. "Dust jacket is made from pieces of dust jacket pasted to color stock -- looks good."

8. "The book contains soft easily handled paper."
[Translation: book was dropped in a puddle.]

9. "The boards and spine are well-preserved, and there is a light, musty odor."

10. "Somebody else read this book. If you need it, it will be there for you."

Completely Contradictory Conditions

11. "Very Good+; New. A bit shop worn. Gift quality."
[Four different condition grades in one book. It's magic!]

12. "Highlighting and notes in the margin make this very clean book YOUR bargain!"

13. "Extensive marking in the first part of the book. Prior owner's address label on front fly page. Otherwise LIKE NEW."

14. "Very good condition WONDERFUL CONDITION. A few 'excellent notes & important highlights' inside (for those of you pressed for time while doing research....) Book is in SUPERB condition//book was babied--looks like a 'brand new paperback.'"

15. "1978 First Edition Hard Cover Book Club Edition."

16. "Unknown Binding. Clean ex-library in reinforced binding. Trade paperback."
[The seller thus invokes all three of Amazon's binding types: hardcover, paperback, and "unknown"]

17. "Textbook is in mint condition with mild highlighting"

18. "Might have damage to the cover/binding but goodness Certainly intact."
[Goodness certainly you've never touched or examined this book.]

19. "Excellent Condition! Small bite in corner! (from my puppy)"

20. "Fine. Smudges & scuff marks. Some outside wear. Been in smoking environment."

21. "Penguin Putnam, children’s HC Paperback, Used - Good, Grosset, 1972, Hardcover."

22. "MINT condition with absolutely NO flaws except some pages loose from binding -- SUPER FAST shipper!"

23. "A couple of Kool-Aid stains and lite ware otherwise Very Fine++. I can't find the dustjacket."

Scrupulously Honest or Just Unintentionally Humorous?

24. "Not pretty but totally functional."

25. "Horrible copy strictly for the desperate."

26. "An extremely worn-out copy that has seen its last gasp."

27. "Book cover has issues, wants to separate from book."
[Book psychology 101]

28. "Book in very poor condition. There is no cover, and there are tears on the front and back pages. The binding still holds the book together, but does not look good cosmetically. Find this book a home at just 75 cents!"

29. "Not a perfect copy but indubitably a signed first edition."

30. "The finest copy in the world. Must have belonged to some kid that hated to read and never did."

31. "A bit doggy, but acceptable."

32. "Good minus, almost poor, guaranteed to be complete. Very weak at hinges, covers very stained. Pages wavy. Appears to be cloth covers but may be boards. Paste-on title. Wavy pages. If you can find another copy get it."

What the Heck Is It?

33. "Assume book is in good or better condition unless otherwise stated."

34. "Nth printing F/- uvo."

35. "Used-Like New Hardcover ART - CH-904--2029 Picture shown may not match actual book."

36. "Book is slightly whoppered."

37. "Clean with light shelf wear, top front & back descretely closed shelf wear tear and pressure point."

38. "Pretty good condition for the condition it's in."

39. "Good condition. It is a paperback!!!!!!!!!!"
[Translation: book has already been purchased and returned twice by two different buyers who expected a hardcover]

40. "I have been collecting books and music for over 35 years and have amassed an enormous collection. I do not subscribe to 'grading' as it is so subjective and most of the 'graders' truly have no clue! Therefore I'll simply describe things in normal English!"

41. "Other vendors charge $15.00 and up, but our copy is only $6.99! That's less than half price!"

42. "V.G. or better - email for details. Binding is 191."

43. "Book in condition, dust jacket."

44. "The hardcover is near LIKE NEAR."

[No comment.]

46. "This is a romance novel. Fourteen years ago which Hubert Silvis first novel last winter brought raclette appeared Allison Ginsburg said it exploded like a rusty hellish bombshell over America. Sell these new novel goes even further and the gutwrenching story of two young man and a beautiful woman is desperate dreams take on a horrifying dimension. Copyrighted his paperback book in fair to good condition's 1978."

47. "Back of DJ was hevily scravished at edges."
[I kind of like this new word, scravished. Lewis Carroll must be selling this one.]

Just an Overpriced Wreck

48. "About like new except it's mildewed for about an inch in from the edge of every page and also for an inch or two in from the edge on the front and rear."

49. "Bottom half of the book looks like it sat in coffee on the edge of the book but really is in new condition never read!"

50. "Whart a scarce find! I found one, and cut the price. The corners are bumped. But there is no writings, names, marring, etc. Stored very well. You won’t be sorry, I guarantee you that."

51. "Slight mold infestation but overall a great reading copy."

Seller is Insane

52. "Pages 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 17-38, 42-44, 48-52, 56-58, 70-72 are missing, but everything else is perfect."
[Plonk! The sound of my jaw hitting the floor.]

53. "Hello! This book is in very good condition. There are minor scuff marks and creases on the cover. There is some writing in the book. Thanks for looking!"
[Hello! This is not a chat room!]

54. "You will not be disappointed in this book. It is a FIRST EDITION! Originally published in 1988 by (name deleted), working in cooperation with the Air Force Historical Foundation. This special Reprint Edition was published in March 2000 by (name deleted)."
[I could post a hundred examples of sellers who are clueless about first edition identification.]

55. [List of keywords found on a description of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea]: "childrens junvenile fiction non-fiction sports military sex science math cooking classics rare"

56. "VG slight dj wear, fast I am not sure if this is the correct file format. I just got started on (website name deleted) yesterday. Thanks."

[Hey, all my books have Very Good+++ karma, so there!]

It's All in the Details

58. "Printed in Germany: NY: Locust Valley."

59. "May have a small tear and remember mark."

60. "No sun no damp no ink."

61. "No dust marks throughout."

62. "Dustjacket has a small sip on one corner."

63. [Found on description of book supposedly printed in 1539]: "The book is considered one which was printed before actual printing was invented."

64. Published by "Charles Scrinber And Sons"

65. Published by "Charles Scibner’s Sons"

66. Published by "Batman Books"
[Bantam Books, presumably. It's sad to see booksellers who can't type or spell or construct complete sentences or use correct syntax or link two words together.]

67. "We Ship Anywhere! Absolutely no shipping to prisons!!"

68. Seller located in "Louisvile" Kentucky

69. Seller "has severed thousands of customers accross the world."

70. "dippy book plate"

[I had a mighty struggle with myself to not order this one just to see how dippy the bookplate was]


Please visit my bookstore http://www.gwenfoss.com/

Or search the inventories of my reputable colleagues at http://www.tomfolio.com/



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