Illustrated Guide to Book Anatomy
This guide is intended to be a brief overview for the layperson, and is by no means comprehensive.
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The first thing you see on most hardback books is the dustjacket - DJ for short.
Some people call it a dustwrapper. Either way it's that sometimes annoying
paper slipcover that never wants to stay on and that many people throw away as
soon as they get the book. Just know that in the case of collectors, that
annoying piece of paper can easily double the value of the book.
The DJ consists
of the front and back panels on the outside of the book, and the flaps
which fold over and tuck inside the covers.
After the DJ is removed, you can see the hardcovers of the book,
called boards. The front and back boards meet at the spine,
that part you see when the book is on the shelf. This book happens to be
quarter bound, which means the spine and the boards are covered in
different material. The top end of the spine is called the head, and
the bottom is the tail.
The covers of paperback books are called wraps, or wrappers.
The pages of the book are known (collectively) as the text block. When
the book is closed (like here), the exposed edges of the text block are called
edges. The edge opposite the spine, where you open the book, is the
fore edge. The top edge is at the top, and the bottom edge
is at the bottom. This book has a deckled fore edge. In this photo you
can see the top corners of the boards, which are called, of course, corners.
Not all of this is complicated.
When we open the book, the first thing inside the covers are the endpapers.
One part is glued to the inside cover of the book, that is the pastedown.
Opposite the pastedown is the free endpaper. This is the front of the book,
so these are the front pastedown and front free endpaper (or FFEP). The ones in
the back are the rear pastedown, etc. The place where the pastedown and FEP meet
is called the gutter, and is the point of highest stress in the book, and
where it is most likely to crack.
Typically, the first page that has printing on it is the half title. This
simply has the title of the book, without the author. This is a throwback to when
books were sold without covers (collectors would have them bound themselves), and
for whatever reason this is still with us.
The half title is sometimes called the bastard title.
The title page is where the good stuff starts to happen. The author gets
credit here, and often the publisher's name shows up along the bottom.
If you are a collector, the copyright page is where it is at. This is on the back (or verso)
of the title page, and gives the copyright and publishing information. Here is
where you look to see if a book is a first edition, first printing, or a later copy.
Edition refers to the content of the text, the words, illustrations, etc. The
printing is the quantity of books that are physically printed at the same time, or the print run.
A first edition may not necessarily be a first printing; many print runs can take place without
changing the edition.
Different publishers show the edition and printing in different ways. This book
states it is a first edition. The number line is the series of numbers,
usually 1-10, toward the bottom of the copyright page. The last number listed is
the printing number. In this case it is a '1', indicating a first printing.
Sometimes the number line uses letters instead, and some publishers may not use a
number line at all.
Content by KnC Books, 2006