VJ Books Blog

Book Collecting – A Literary Adventure, Part 3

John Hutchinson, VJ Books
December 20, 2015
John Hutchinson VJ Books
Part 3– Anatomy of a Book

All hobbies come with their own vernacular – definitions that assist the collector in identifying the component parts of that item that you may be planning to acquire. Whether it is coins, stamps, art, wine, or any other collectible, knowing the applicable terms is critical to moving forward in establishing a collection.

Books too have their own definitions. I am not addressing genres, or any specific type of book – that will be covered in another article. VJ Books specializes in collector grade hardcover books, and believe that the information in this article will assist you in conversing with any seller about the attributes of any book you are considering for your personal collection.

The following is an overview of the parts of a hardcover book, or a book with cloth binding:

1) Spine – The spine of a book refers to the outside edge of the book where the pages are gathered and bound. Most spines of hard cover books are wide enough to be printed upon and will usually be embossed with the title, author and publisher of the book. The top end of the spine is called the head, and the bottom is the tail.

2) Book Cover or Book Board – The front and back covers are sometimes called the book boards. Boards are usually covered in colored fabric that wraps from the spine to the inside of the covers.

3) End Papers – Also called “leaves” are the blank pages (sometimes printed) found at the front and back of a book. The pastedown endpaper are glued to the inside boards and the inside endpapers sometimes referred to as “front free endpaper (FFEP)” and “rear free endpaper (RFEP) float free with the text block.

4) Page Block – These are the internal pages of a book, usually made up of signatures, a large printed sheet of paper that when folded creates a section of a book, usually in multiples of four, such as 4, 8, 12, 16, and 32 page signatures. Signatures are either sewn or glued together into the page block. Smyth Sewn (also known as Section Sewn) book bindings are the highest quality available, because the pages are physically sewn into the book, reinforced with fabric backing and adhesive creating the best, most durable binding.

5) Page Edges – the exposed edge of the page block, top, bottom and rear edge.

6) Dust Jacket or Dust Wrapper – Hard bound books have protective paper or plastic wrappers that wrap around the covers of the book for protection. The dust jacket may also be called a dust wrapper and usually displays artwork as well as the title and author of the book.

7) Front Fly Leaf – the inside front edge of the dust jacket that usually provides a summary of the book.

8) Rear Fly Leaf – the inside rear edge of the dust jacket that usually provides information about the author.

9) Half Title Page – Only the book title appears on this page; the rest is blank space.

10) Other Books by the Author Page – This optional list might appear on the opposite side of the Half Title page, or on its own page following the Half Title page or elsewhere.

11) Title Page – The book title and the names of the author(s) and the publisher are found here.

12) Copyright Page – The copyright page is found on the reverse of the title page and contains the copyright notice, which consists of the year of publication and the name of the copyright owner. This page may also list the book’s publishing history, permissions, acknowledgments and disclaimers. This page includes the publisher’s statement that identifies the print edition.

13) Dedication Page – This optional page includes the author’s dedication to someone or something.

14) Acknowledgements – On this page, found either in the front or rear of the book, is where the author thanks people or organization that who in some way offered their assistance to the author.

15) About the Author – This optional page provides biographical information about the author.

Parts of a Book










Good reading ~

John Hutchinson