Thank you for the interesting questions. I think you will find that
for every book question answered, there will be two new questions that
follow (they multiply like rabbits!). The subject is vast and never
>> WHEN PURCHASING HARDCOVER BOOKS ON BOOK SELLERS WEB SIGHTS, HOW CAN
I DETERMINE IF THE BOOK IS A NORMAL SIZE BOOK VS BOOK CLUB EDITION?
My Wings Books
IDENTIFYING BOOK CLUB EDITIONS
"Some book club editions look like first editions, but they seldom
are. This page provides images for some of the tell-tale signs of the
book club edition"
IOBA Standard, The Newsletter of the Independent Online Booksellers Association
Q. Is there anyway to find out if a book is from a book club, such as:
Mystery Guild, or Book of the Month Club?
"Lynn DeWeese-Parkinson - submitted on behalf of members of
Bibliophile, a great online subscription list for book lovers.
A. There is no one way to identify book club editions, and for every
"rule" there are exceptions. Here are the main rules for books
published in the U.S.:
1. NO PRICE on dust jacket when the book is published by a major
U.S. trade publisher, i.e., Random House, Houghton Mifflin, Dutton,
Exceptions: Some Book-of-the-Month-Club (BOMC) editions DO have a
price on the dj. Family Bookshelf book club editions almost always
have a price. (usually stated as such on the rear flap). Conversely,
some small publishers and university presses sometimes do not have
prices on the dj. It's uncommon, but some trade publishers such as St.
Martins, who also publish academic/scholarly books, might not have a
price on the dj on these academic books.
2. Cheaper, lighter weight and/or smaller format. This is
generally true of books published by the Doubleday book clubs,
including science fiction and mystery, the Literary Guild, The Family
Bookshelf editions, etc.
Exceptions (many): Book-of-the-Month-Club Editions are often identical
or almost identical to the trade editions, including stating 1st
edition, etc. Older Literary Guild editions are well produced. The
Junior Literary Guild (children's books) are identical except for the
price on the dj, and the 'guild' on the spine of the book instead of
publisher's name. Many newer book club editions are much closer to the
original format, often the same size, and not obviously cheaper.
3. Lacks the publisher's usual method of identifying first
editions, whether it is stating first edition, or a number line, etc.
Exceptions: Frequently BOMC states 1st edition, but has blind embossed
dot on the back cover. Family Bookshelf sometimes state 'first
printing' but these editions are cheaper and lighter in weight so you
can tell even if you don't have a dj. Usually "Family Bookshelf" is
stated on rear flap of dj. Many newer mystery and other generic book
club editions will have a statement or a number line, but usually no
price on dj. These are the books most commonly misidentified as
4. Blind embossed dot on the lower edge of back cover near spine.
NO exceptions. If a book has this dot, even if dj has price, and the
books says first edition, and is in every other way identical to a
first edition, it is a BOMC EDITION. This would be an infallible way
of identifying book club editions, except that only one book club in
the U.S. used this dot, the BOMC, and then only for part of its
existence. Even the BOMC did not use this on all of its books, so the
vast majority of BCE (book club editions) do not have this dot.
Note: The Borzoi Hound used by Simon & Schuster, and the big colored
dots on some of James Michener's books, etc., are not the BOMC blind
5. No bar code for a book that would normally have one - or a
generic book club bar code. The opposite is not true; many book club
djs have the identical bar code, with ISBN, as the trade editions.
6. Laid-in material indicating that it is a book club selection;
for some small non-fiction book clubs, which basically distribute
trade editions, this is the only way to tell.
7. For large trade paperbacks published by the Quality paperback
Book Club, a division of BOMC, that might appear like ARCs, i.e., no
price, 1st edition stated, there will usually be a code hidden in the
Note: Some book club editions are the "original," produced only by the
book club, especially Guild editions, Nelson Doubleday for science
fiction, etc. For some science fiction and mysteries, the book club
edition might be the first hardcover edition. (Sometimes there are
multiple book club editions of the same title. The Doubleday clubs
used a code in the gutter towards the back of the book that can
A common scenario might be to describe a mystery published by Simon &
Schuster as a "First Edition " even though there is no price on the
dj. The bookseller will say "it has a number line with a "1" and
states first printing. "it is not a cheaply made book" "it isn't a
small size" "it has a headband" or "there is no blind dot". None of
this matters. In this case, the book met Rule #1 (no price on the dj,
major US publisher), and it only needs to meet ONE rule.
A couple of last points: It is not accurate to describe all book club
copies as BOMC editions. There is often a difference between BOMC
books and those by other clubs. The generic terms are 'book club'
'bc', or 'bce.'
If the only way to tell if a book is a bce is by the price or lack
thereof on the dj, and you do not have a dj, then you cannot call the
book a 'first edition' (unless you personally threw away the priced
dj). Book club editions are almost always much more common than trade
editions; so in the absence of evidence that the book is a trade
edition, you cannot just call it a first (if, for example, you know
that it was also a BOMC edition) The same applies if the corner has
been clipped. Unless you personally clipped the price off, you cannot
assume that a price had been there."
Publishers Info: Identifying Book Club Editions
"The five-digit code (frequently black numbers in a white block) is a
code for books released through the Doubleday Book Clubs (the major
ones being Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Mystery Guild, and
Science Fiction Book Club). These books used to state "Book Club
Edition" on the bottom corner of the front flap, but Doubleday
discontinued this practice several years ago. Generally these books
are smaller in size, have thinner paper and cheaper bindings and use a
smaller, less legible typeface than the publisher's edition. BCE
copies frequently lack the bar code on the back panel of the dust
"The other major book club group is the Book-of-the-Month Club,
located in Camp Hill, PA. Their books are released through the BOMC,
the History Book Club, the Quality Paperback Book Club and the Money
Book Club (and perhaps a few others as well). Their books are often
identical to those released through normal retail outlets, with a few
1. There is no price on the dust jacket.
2. The endpapers may be a different color, frequently white,
whereas the publisher's edition often has colored endpapers.
3. The bar code on the back panel of the dust jacket (or on the
back board if there is no dj) frequently is blank on the top right of
the bars. Publishers sometimes but not always use the digits normally
found in this location to indicate the book's price.
4. Until several years ago, BOMC used to put a "blind stamp" on the
back panel of the book (sometimes just an impression, round or square,
sometimes with a color). BOMC dust jackets sometimes also have a "dot"
on the bottom right corner of the rear panel.
5. Sometimes BOMC copies will have a statement on the bottom of the
copyright page indicating a book club release.
6. A 'Book-of-the-Month Club' notation on the book's front flap is
not necessarily an indication that the copy in hand is a book club
release. Occasionally the publisher will include the fact that the
book has been selected by the BOMC as a means of advertising the
popularity or importance of the title (a badge of honor of sorts)."
Even without a dust jacket or a blind stamp on the back cover, it is
frequently possible to identify a BOMC release. Unlike the BCE
volumes, which put a code on the back panel of the dust jacket, BOMC
volumes have a code printed sideways, top to bottom, at the bottom of
the very last page inside the endpaper. This code is sometimes printed
so close to the edge of the page that the glue covers it up. The only
way to see it is to look at the other side of the page and read it
through the page itself. Sometimes peeling the last page away from the
endpaper will make this code a little more obvious.
The lack of a price is a significant clue on most books released by
the major trade publishers (university press books frequently have no
price, as do many books by major publishers who release identical
titles in the U.S. and in England -- Oxford University Press is one
that comes immediately to mind).
Another clue for 'Book Club Edition' books is that there frequently is
no "bar code" on the back panel of the dust jacket. The publisher's
edition will have the bar code. 'BOMC' editions generally have the bar
code, but the number row on the top right of the bars is frequently
>> HOWEVER THAT INFORMATION IS NOT AVAILABLE WHILE SEARHING THE WEB.
That is why it is important to buy from reputable booksellers, those
who are knowledgeable and have experience on how to describe their
books accurately. Full-time booksellers (versus weekend sellers)
will *always* list in their description whether a book is a book club
edition (*if it isn't mentioned, then it isn't a book club*). If they
make a mistake and neglect to mention that a book is a book club
edition, it will be returnable at their expense. As you know, there
are many book websites to search but they are not all the same. Try to
buy from websites where the booksellers must adhere to a Code of
Ethics, where they must have a return policy, and where you are buying
direct from the bookseller who owns the book. If you have any doubts
or questions, just get in touch with the bookseller and ask. Here are
three examples of book websites with a link to their Code of Ethics.
On all three sites you will be able to email the bookseller with any
questions you may have about a book.
Antiquarian Booksellers' Association
>> ADDITIONALLY WHAT DOES "8vo-over 7" 9" tall" REPRESENT?
8vo = 8mo = 8° = "Octavo" = about 8"-10" tall
Octavo refers to a sheet of paper that has been folded 3 times,
resulting in 8 leaves in a book (16 pages because each leaf is
printed on both sides).
ODLIS - Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science
"A book approximately 7 x 10 inches in size, made by folding a
full sheet of book paper in three right-angle folds, producing
signatures of eight leaves (16 pages). If a 32-page section is
desired, as in most children's picture books, double-size sheets are
folded four times. The precise size of each leaf in an octavo edition
depends on the size of the original sheet. In modern printing, octavo
is the most commonly used size for books published in hardcover."
ODLIS - Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science
"The crease formed when two edges of a sheet of paper, parchment, or
vellum are brought together along a line and pressed together. A
bifolium is created by a single fold down the center of a sheet. Early
manuscript books consisted of gatherings of bifolia nested one within
another. When paper replaced parchment and vellum in book production,
a full sheet could be printed and folded more than once to make a
quire of a given number of pages, depending on how the printed matter
Folio. One fold: 2 leaves, 4 pages
Quarto (4to). Two folds: 4 leaves, 8 pages
Octavo (8vo). Three folds: 8 leaves, 16 pages
Sextodecimo (16mo). Four folds: 16 leaves, 32 pages"
Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology
"The dimensions of books, as measured, in inches, centimeters, or
millimeters, from head to tail and from spine to fore edges of the
cover. The descriptions given to book sizes are based on a still
currently used system that involves using the size of a leaf as a
fraction of the folded sheet on which it was printed. With reference
to the printing of books, an even number of leaves always results when
a sheet is folded, i.e., 2, 4, 8, 16, etc., resulting in printed pages
on each side of the leaf, i.e., 4, 8, 16, 32, etc. Except for the
largest size, the FOLIO (1) , the name of the size indicates the
fractional part of the sheet one leaf occupies, e.g., quarto (2 folds,
4 leaves, 8 pages), 1/4 Of the sheet; octavo (3 folds, 8 leaves, 16
pages), 1/8 of the sheet, etc..."
Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America
G L O S S A R Y O F T E R M S
"Book formats: the traditional terms in use for describing book
formats are derived from early printing methodology and the size of
early handmade sheets of paper. When two leaves (four pages when
printed on both sides) were printed on a sheet so that it could be
folded once, collated with other folded sheets and bound, the format
of the volume was a "folio". When four leaves (eight pages) were
printed on the same size sheet, which would later be folded twice, the
format of the resultant volume was a "quarto" (four leaves). The term
"octavo" relates to the sheet having eight leaves printed on it. Today
some booksellers are providing the height of a book in inches or
centimeters rather than using these early terms which do not relate
directly to the sheet size or process used for printing today. The
following is offered as a guide to convert book formats to approximate
* Folio: more than 13 inches tall
* Quarto (4to): approx. 10 to 13 inches tall, average 12 inches
* Octavo (8vo): approx. 8 to 10 inches tall, average 9 inches
* Duodecimo (12mo): approx. 7 to 8 inches tall, average 7.5 inches
* Sextodecimo (16mo): approx. 6 to 7 inches tall, average 6.5 inches"
Paper and Book sizes
Counting Paper sheets
If the ODLIS is alittle bit overwhelming for you, IOBA has a shortened
version of definitions and terminology.
IOBA BOOK TERMINOLOGY
IOBA BOOK CONDITION DEFINITIONS
BookFinder is a great site for comparison shopping, but it includes
all kinds of websites, just be careful.
(choose "Classic search display")
I was glad to work on this for you. If you have any questions, please
post a clarification request and wait for me to respond before
closing/rating my answer.
No search required, I know the subject well and have lots of bookmarks.