Thank you for the interesting question, the answer to your question is
boundless : ) It sounds as though your question pertains to the
meaning of booksellers' descriptions (rather than how to describe a
book that you have in-hand), and you really must be careful - there
are booksellers and then there are booksellers. The internet is a
great place for both professional and weekend sellers alike to offer
their stock for sale, but when it comes to descriptions, weekenders
just aren't going to have the knowledge, experience, expertise or time
to accurately describe all those fine points that are often needed.
Book terminology is vast, when in doubt - ask.
>>> Your specific questions
1. For example, is a "mass market" binding format always mean that the
book is a paperback?
If a bookseller states "mass market", you'll have to ask them what
they mean. The correct term is "mass market paperback" which is
always softcover (pocket size). I've never seen "mass market" used to
describe a hardcover.
"A new work or reprint of a title previously published in
hardcover or trade paperback, produced and distributed in paperback
for sale at newsstands and in supermarkets, drugstores, chain stores,
etc., rather than trade bookstores. Copies are usually of standard
rack size (4 x 7 inches), printed on poor-quality paper, bound with
hot-melt adhesive in covers designed for sales appeal, and priced to
sell to the widest possible audience. The format is used extensively
for popular fiction and genre fiction. Libraries prefer them for
books-by-mail programs to keep mailing costs down. In some public
libraries, mass-market paperbacks received as gifts are circulated on
the honor system. See also: pulp fiction."
2. If the book's binding format is "perfect; trade paper" then does
that mean it is a hardcover book?
No. It's a softcover ("trade paper") which has been perfect bound.
A quick and comparatively inexpensive method of adhesive binding
in which the binding edge of the text block is milled to produce a
block of leaves and then roughened. Fast-drying adhesive is applied to
the uneven surface and the case or cover attached without sewing and
backing. Nearly all books published in paperback are bound by this
method, which is also used for some hardcover special editions, for
example, book club editions. Durability depends on the strength of the
adhesive and its capacity to remain flexible over time, usually not as
long-lasting as a sewn or stitched binding. Compare with Otabind. See
also: double-fan adhesive binding, hot-melt, and notched binding.
"A softcover edition published by a university press or trade
publisher in larger format and better-quality binding than a
mass-market paperback, for retail sale in college and trade
bookstores. Most trade editions are published first in hardcover, then
reprinted in paperback from the same plates after sales potential in
hardcover has been realized. In some instances, paperback rights are
sold by the original publisher to a trade paperback publisher.
Synonymous with quality paperback. Compare with mass-market
Photo: perfect bound:
3. Is the binding format for a textbook different?
They are usually more economically produced, for example, with cheaper
paper, and often the bindings are heavy duty to be able to withstand
the rigors of everyday school life. The workbook supplement is
usually softcover but the textbook could be either hard or soft cover.
Making a list of bindings with descriptions for you would be quite the
undertaking, better that you use the databases to look up any terms
that you are unsure of. For example, here is just one list of binding
types (each type is clickable on the website):
"The sewing and outside covering on a volume of printed or blank
leaves. Books published in hardcover are bound in boards covered in
cloth or some other durable material. Leather was used to bind
manuscripts and incunabula but is now used mainly in hand-binding.
Books bound in paper covers are called paperbacks. Also refers to the
process of fastening the leaves or sections of a publication together
by sewing or stitching, or by applying adhesive to the back, and then
attaching a cover by hand or by machine under the supervision of a
skilled binder. In large libraries, binding may be done in-house.
Smaller libraries usually send materials to a commercial bindery. In
any case, most libraries follow an established binding policy.
Abbreviated bdg. See also: finishing and forwarding.
See also: adhesive binding, antique binding, architectural binding,
armorial binding, Cambridge style, case binding, cathedral binding,
chemise binding, cloisonné, conservation binding, Coptic binding,
Cosway binding, cottage binding, custom binding, deluxe binding,
dentelle binding, designer binding, desktop binding, easel binding,
economy binding, embroidered binding, Etruscan binding, extended
binding, fan binding, fanfare binding, fine binding, flap binding,
flexible binding, flush binding, Greek style, Grolier binding,
herringbone, imitation binding, in quaternis, jansenist binding,
jeweled binding, lacquered binding, landscape binding, library
binding, limp binding, mechanical binding, metal binding, mosaic
binding, novelty binding, padded binding, painted binding, papier
mâché binding, paste paper binding, Payne style, peasant binding,
prelibrary binding, presentation binding, prize binding, publisher's
binding, rebinding, reinforced binding, relievo binding, retrospective
binding, rocaille, shaped binding, stationery binding, suede binding,
temporary binding, treasure binding, vellum binding, and wheel
That said, here are some often used terms gleaned from the SUNY website.
SUNY Morrisville State College
Library Lingo: Glossary of Library Terms
A book of exceptionally small size, usually valuable for the
rarity of its format. Also known as a thumb book.
The art of bookbinding.
The outside cover of a volume of printed pages. Books with
softcover bindings are called paperbacks. Those in hardcover are bound
in boards covered in cloth or leather. Also refers to the process of
applying a cover to the pages of an unbound publication. See also:
library binding, reinforced binding, and custom binding.
board [always hardcover]
A general term for the sheet, usually of strawboard or millboard,
which gives rigidity to one of the sides of the cover of a book. The
plural boards refers to both sides of a book cover.
A nonserial publication consisting of a few leaves of printed
material, stitched or fastened together, but not bound. From the
French word brocher (to stitch). Synonymous with booklet or pamphlet.
buckram [always on hardcovers]
A filled book cloth with a heavy woven base, used in binding books
which will be heavily used.
case binding [always hardcover]
Binding in which a hard cover is made separately from the book and
subsequently attached to it, usually consisting of two boards and an
inlay covered with cloth, leather, or paper. The process of attaching
the case by pasting the endpapers to the boards is known as casing-in.
casing-in [always hardcover]
See : case binding.
chap book [always paperback]
A small inexpensive paperbound book containing a popular tale,
legend, poem, or ballad, sold in the street by hawkers or chap men
during the 17th and 18th centuries.
deluxe edition [always hardcover]
An edition printed on expensive paper and bound in leather or some
other material of fine quality, and which reflects a high standard of
workmanship. Usually published in limited edition.
doublure [always on hardcovers]
An ornamental lining of silk, vellum, leather, or other material
affixed to the inside cover of a book, found especially in
leatherbound deluxe editions. In older books, the doublure may be
dust jacket [usually on hardcovers but I've seen paperbacks with djs]
The loose paper cover on the outside of a hardcover book, usually
printed in color on glossy paper. Also called a book jacket or dust
cover. Dust jacket design is a form of graphic art. See also: sleeve.
On the inside flap of the dust jacket there is usually a
promotional blurb written by the publisher. The back flap may provide
biographical information about the author and illustrator. The ISBN is
almost always printed on the back of the dust jacket, usually in the
lower right-hand corner, often accompanied by brief excerpts from
positive reviews of the book.
In printing and binding, a design or lettering which is raised in
relief above the surface of the page or cover.
fillet [always on hardcovers]
In binding, a decorative line or band impressed on the sides of a book cover.
A book bound and cased in an inflexible cardboard cover, as
opposed to a paperback. Synonymous with hardback, hard bound, and
clothbound. See also: softcover.
A publication of two to four pages, not stitched or bound, but
usually folded or stapled together. A small, thin pamphlet.
mass-market paperback [always softcover]
A type of paperback book produced and distributed for sale in
newsstands, supermarkets, and discount stores rather than in trade
bookstores. The copies are usually of small size and printed on poor
quality paper. Mass-market paperbacks are often works of fiction
published in series in a specific genre and aimed at a specific gender
or age group. See also: trade paperback.
The binding applied to a copy of a book at the time it is
originally issued. See also: rebinding.
A non-serial publication consisting of at least five but not more
than 48 pages, fastened together but not bound, usually enclosed in a
paper cover. Synonymous with booklet and brochure.
A book published in paper covers, rather than hardcover. Paperback
editions are normally published after the hardcover edition of the
same title, and usually sold at a lower price. Synonymous with
paperbound and softcover. See also: trade paperback and mass-market
perfect binding [hard and soft covers]
A rapid and relatively inexpensive method of adhesive binding in
which the back of a volume is trimmed to produce a block of leaves,
the back edge of which is roughened. Adhesive is then applied (usually
hot-melt) and the case attached. Durability depends on the ability of
the adhesive to secure each leaf and remain flexible over time. Used
mainly in binding special editions, such as book club editions.
pocket part [softcover]
A separately published supplement bound in limp covers which is
intended to be inserted in a pocket inside the back cover of a book.
Commonly used in music scores and to update law books.
A case for holding loose prints, drawings, illustrations,
diagrams, and other papers consisting of two rigid boards joined at
the spine by a wide band of cloth, and with ties on the fore-edge, and
sometimes on the top and bottom edges, to prevent sheets from falling
A form of loose-leaf binding in which posts made of metal,
plastic, or some other rigid material are inserted through prepunched
holes in the leaves, to allow individual leaves to be added and/or
removed. See also: ring binding.
The binding of a book or other publication as it is originally
issued by the publisher, intended for sale in quality bookstores,
usually in hardcover, cloth, case binding. Synonymous with trade
A complete rehabilitation of a worn-out book which usually
includes resewing the pages and applying a new cover. See also:
A binding which the publisher has strengthened, usually by pasting
a strip of cloth to each hinge, and by using stronger thread in sewing
A loose-leaf binding consisting of a number of metal rings fixed
in a metal spine. The rings open, usually at the center, and sometimes
by means of metal tabs at the top and bottom of the spine, to allow
prepunched leaves to be added and/or removed. See also: post binding.
In bookbinding, the process that gives a hardcover book a convex
spine and a concave fore-edge.
An edition published specifically for the use of students enrolled
in a course of study, or who are preparing for an examination in the
subject covered, as distinct from the trade edition of the same title.
See also: workbook.
trade binding [usually hardcover]
See: publisher's binding.
trade edition [soft or hard covers]
An edition produced by the publisher for sale to bookstores at
wholesale rates and intended for retail sale to the general public.
Compare with textbook edition and mass-market paperback.
trade paperback [always softcover]
A type of paperback book published by a university press or trade
publisher, as opposed to a popular press, and sold primarily in higher
quality general and college bookstores. Compare with mass-market
Refers to issues of a periodical, or parts of a serial, which will
eventually be bound to form a volume. Also refers to a printed
publication issued without a binding or cover, or with its cover
A separately published learning guide containing, execises,
problems, practice materials, blank space for recording answers, and
sometimes a means of evaluating the work accomplished. When a workbook
is a supplement to a textbook, it is usually published in paperback.
>>> Book trade associations (non-commercial) lists of terminology
1. IOBA - Independent Online Booksellers' Association
2. ABBA - Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America
3. ILAB/LILA - International League of Antiquarian Booksellers
>>> Booksellers' websites (commercial)
This one is good -
An Illustrated Glossary of Book Terms
>>> Databases to search for terms
1. Database of Bookbinding
This database is a finding aid to the British Library's bookbinding
collections. It includes information and images for selected items
from the Library's rich collection of fine bindings of books printed
in western Europe from the fifteenth century to date. There is also a
selection from the valuable bookbindings collections of the Library's
partner, the National Library of the Netherlands. The database is a
work in progress and its scope will be widened as resources allow.
? view a random selection of bindings images in the picture gallery;
? perform a keyword search;
? browse and select bindings from descriptive categories in a simple search;
? carry out a more advanced search by combining search terms from
the descriptive categories;
? follow up your search using the bibliography.
2. ODLIS ? Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science
A book published in paper covers, rather than in hardcover,
usually adhesive bound. The modern paperback first appeared in the
1930s when Sir Allen Lane, founder of Penguin books, published Ariel
by Andre Maurois in paper covers. Paperback editions are normally
published after the hardcover edition of the same title and sold at a
lower price, which has made them a staple of the retail market for
fiction and nonfiction. Synonymous with paperbound and softcover.
Abbreviated pb, pbk, and ppr. Compare with paper boards. See also:
mass-market paperback, paperback original, and trade
Also refers to a form of bookbinding in which hot-melt adhesive is
applied to the flat binding edge of the unsewn sections, securing them
directly to a heavy paper cover cut flush. Durability depends on the
capacity of the adhesive to remain flexible over time. See also:
A human-readable copy on card or paper of a document or record in
machine-readable format (digital, microform, etc.) or in a form not
easily readable. Also used in a more general sense to refer to printed
matter, as opposed to its nonprint equivalent. Compare with printout.
A book bound in an inflexible board case or cover, usually covered
in cloth, paper, plastic, leather, or some other durable material, as
distinct from a book bound in a cover made of flexible material. In
modern publishing, a new trade title is usually issued first in
hardcover, then in a paperback edition after sales in hardcover
decline. Synonymous with cloth bound, hardback, and hard bound.
Compare with softcover.
Browse by description, for example, Cover Material
3. Bookbinding and the Conservation of books: A Dictionary of
Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology
I enjoyed working on this for you and brushing up on my own
vocabulary. If you have any questions, please post a clarification
request and wait for me to respond before closing/rating my answer.
Google Search Terms Used: bookbinding hardcover softcover terminology glossary
I used my own knowledge and bookmarks to try to find the best websites for you.