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How we grade books

Please be aware that sellers are required by the terms of the user agreement to use this grading system when describing books for sale on ObiBooks. This assures buyers that their books will arrive in the condition expected.

Our grading system

Grading Criteria

As New (aka Very Fine)

The book is either brand-new, or is new old stock, and has no flaws whatsoever. The cover and/or dust jacket is clean and bright and free of scratches, rubbing, or chipping. The binding is tight, there are no markings whatsoever on any pages, covers, or dust jacket. There is no sign whatsoever that the book has ever been read. If the book has a remainder mark, it CANNOT be listed "As New" even if it is otherwise new. Use "Very Good" and check the "Remainder" checkbox in your listing instead.


The book has been read, with care, perhaps only once (or only partway through). A small bump or two is allowed, and the spine may not quite have that "new book" tightness to it. The dust jacket or paperback cover may have some minor rubbing, and be very slightly less glossy than it was when new. However, the cover or dust jacket must be absolutely free of tears and chips. Although the spine need not be absolutely virgin, when the book is opened it should not fall to a particular page right away. Absolutely no markings of ownership, notes or the like can be present.

Near Fine

The book may have no more than one flaw in the most minimal degree possible, and must otherwise meet all of the criteria for "Fine." A very tiny tear in the dust jacket, or a bit of residue from a price sticker will demote a book from "Fine" to "Near Fine" even if everything else about the book is "Fine." Some booksellers will sell minimally flawed books as "else Fine" - if you're one of them, use this condition for those books. You should describe the flaw in the book's description, as its nature may affect the book's collectible value.

Very Good

The book may have one or two minor flaws, but is physically complete and intact. The book may open to a particular page (indicating some wear to the spine), but the spine must still be intact, never split. One or two small tears or chips, some sun fading, or a remainder mark may be present. There may be some very minor foxing (brownish spots caused by the acid breakdown of the pages). If the book has an ownership mark or a gift inscription, or if the price has been clipped from the dust jacket, then this is the highest grade the book can receive. Note that an autograph from an author or other credited creator of the book does not count as an inscription for the purpose of grading. If the inscription or ownership mark is large, the book is probably "Good", not "Very Good" even if all other condition criteria are "Very Good" or better. This is the lowest grade that is generally used for collectible books.


This book has signs that it has been well-read. The spine may be rolled or shaken (curled or slanted, no longer square). In a hardcover book, there may be some damage to the hinges of the book. The dust jacket (or paperback cover) may have larger tears or creases, but no pieces can be missing. The book may always open to the same page, but the spine should be intact, not split, and pages (or sections of pages) absolutely must not be loose or falling out. Older books may have some foxing but not enough to affect the book's readability. There might be a large ownership mark or a gushing gift inscription, but not margin notes or highlighting. Generally, books in "Good" condition or worse are not collectible unless exceptionally rare in better grades, and should not be described as such.

Fair - Reading Copy

This is the lowest grade of book that can be listed on ObiBooks without special arrangement. Reading copies' only redeeming attributes are that the complete text is present and the spine is still holding them in one piece. If the spine has completely split and the book is in two or more pieces, then the condition is "Poor" and cannot be sold. The book may have stains or be missing large pieces of the cover or dust jacket, there may be extensive notes or highlighting, and the spine or hinges may be barely hanging on, as long as the book is still in one piece. This is the kind of book you take camping or to the beach and not care what happens to it. Books in this condition are not likely to be worth as much as the cost to mail them to your buyer, unless they are otherwise very rare.

Poor - unsellable

Books in poor condition cannot be sold on ObiBooks without prior arrangement with us. In this condition, pages may be loose or missing, the spine may have completely split, both covers may be missing, the text may be redacted or partially obscured by stains or marginalia, there may even be extensive water damage, heat damage, fire damage (partially burned pages) or mould. The presence of mould in any amount demotes any book, regardless of other criteria, to Poor because mould spreads and ruins whole libraries. Generally, only the very rarest volumes retain any value at all in this condition; virtually all "poor" books should just be recycled.

Crading criteria

Our Grading System

Here are some common flaws we look for, and the highest grade a book can receive if that flaw is the only one. Note that the presence of more than one of these will degrade a book one or more levels, and that the presence of more than two or three of them will make a book "Fair - Reading Copy" at best.

Spine Issues

Remember that the grades given here are the highest possible for books with these faults; books with more than one need to be downgraded accordingly!

Spine - Paperback creases, minor

A ridge is visible but underlying paper is not visible.

Very Good if there is only one and it is so minor as to be nearly invisible.
Good if there is more than one or it is noticeable right away.

Spine - Paperback creases, severe (the crease is white because the spine art has worn away)

Good if there is only one thin one.
Fair if there is more than one or if it is prominent.

Spine - Slanted or Curled

Good if the slant or curl is slight and not accompanied by spine creases (see above).
Fair if the slant or curl is heavy or accompanied by spine creases.

Spine - Split, partial (book is still in one piece)

Fair at best. The book is basically falling apart.

Spine - Split, total (book is now in two or more pieces)

Poor. The book has fallen apart.

Cover or Dust Jacket Issues

Remember that the grades given here are the highest possible for books with these faults; books with more than one need to be downgraded accordingly!

Cover or Dust jacket - Chips

Missing pieces of glossy cover or dust jacket coating, exposing the underlying paper

Near Fine if there is just one and it is so small you have to be looking for it to see it at all.
Very Good if there is just one tiny one (one square millimetre or smaller).
Good if there is more than one or if the one is larger.
Fair if there are many.

Cover or Dust jacket - open Tears

Near Fine if there is just one and it is barely perceptible (under one millimetre).
Very Good if there is just one and it is very small (a couple of millimetres at most).
Good if there is more than one very small one or if the one is up to a couple of centimetres.
Fair if there are several medium tears or one big one (more than half the length of the book).

Cover or Dust jacket - closed Tears

A piece of dust jacket or paperback cover is missing.

Fair at best.

Cover or Dust Jacket - Price clipped

Very Good. This may be generous as the dust jacket has basically been modified.

Cover or Dust Jacket - Dust jacket missing

Very Good, if and only if the book is otherwise perfect.

If a book was published with a dust jacket and that jacket is missing, grade the book alone and select "Missing" for the dust jacket condition.

Cover or Dust Jacket - Dust jacket or paperback cover creased

Very Good if the crease is faint.
Good if there is one crease but noticeable.
Fair if there are many creases and/or the creases have worn down to expose the paper beneath.

Cover or Dust jacket - Stains or coffee-cup rings

Good at best. This is a sign of poor care.

Cover or Dust jacket - Hinge slightly damaged


Cover or Dust jacket - hinge failing but still partially intact

Fair. The book is falling apart.

Cover or Dust jacket - total hinge failure, cover separated from book or missing

Poor. The book has fallen apart.

Cover or Dust jacket - Price stickers or residue

Near Fine if the residue is very minimal.
Very Good if the sticker is still present or if the residue is still sticky.
Good if the residue has stained any part of the book or cover.

Cover or Dust jacket - Sun fading (ultraviolet exposure)

Very Good at best, for the most minimal case.
Good if fading is obvious.

Cover or Dust jacket - Rubbing

This is friction wear to the dust jacket (or cover for paperbacks) that is caused by handling and shelf storage, resulting first in loss of gloss and sheen, and in the worst cases, some of the cover art being worn down to the underlying paper. This is an especially prominent fault in paperbacks with embossed titles, which can sometimes exhibit the fault right out of the shipping case while still new! This includes scratches that are the result of shelf wear.

Fine if rubbing is so minimal that only the closest examination under optics can reveal any at all, and if the book is otherwise As New.
Near Fine if rubbing is very faint but the book is no longer quite as glossy as new.
Very Good and Good as rubbing increases, until...
Fair if rubbing is so severe that most of the cover art is no longer visible, or if the title or author are no longer visible.

Page Issues

Remember that the grades given here are the highest possible for books with these faults; books with more than one need to be downgraded accordingly!

Pages - Missing pages

Fair if the complete text is still intact (this includes plates, illustrations, etc).
Poor if any of the text is missing.

Pages - Highlighting, in any quantity

Fair at best.

Pages - Margin notes or underlining, in any quantity

There are exceptions to this, but they are insanely rare - if the notes are made by a sufficiently notable person, the book may have value as one of that person's effects, but in virtually all other cases vandalism of a book reduces its value to nil. Erased penciled-in marginalia count equally against a book's value as visible marginalia!

Fair if text or illustration details are not obscured.
Poor if any text is obscured.

Pages - Stains or redactions

Fair if the stain does not obscure text or illustrations, e.g. a transparent grease stain.
Poor if any text or illustration detail is obscured, as would be the case by definition for redaction.

Pages - Foxing

Brownish spots caused by acid breakdown of the paper over time. Generally affects only older books.

Very Good if minimal, and not obscuring the text.
Fair to Good if more than minimal, depending on how extensive.
Poor if the foxing is so extensive that text is obscured.

Pages - Yellowing

This condition affects older books, especially those printed on acidic paper.

Fine if the book is very old and the yellowing is less than normal for the book's age.
Fair if the yellowing has made the pages brittle.
Poor if the yellowing has made the pages so brittle that portions of pages containing text have broken away and are missing.

Pages - Dog-ears

Very Good if there is only one and it is small.
Good if there are a few.
Fair if there are many.

General Issues

Remember that the grades given here are the highest possible for books with these faults; books with more than one need to be downgraded accordingly!

General - Signed Books

Books signed by their authors are not considered inscribed for grading purposes.
Check the "Signed" checkbox but ignore the autograph when grading.

General - ownership inscription or stamp

Fine if small and belonging to a globally notable person or someone connected with the author.
Very Good if small and belonging to anyone else.
Good if large or impinging on text.

General - Gift inscription

Fine if unobtrusive and either from or to a globally notable person or someone connected with the author.
Good if small and given to and from non-notable persons.
Fair if large and gushing. In our opinion, such inscriptions are as bad as margin notes!

General - Water damage

Pages are wrinkled or wavy as a result.

Good if minimal wrinkling and no staining is evident.
Fair at best if wrinkling is deep or the liquid left a stain.

General - Heat damage (pages are prematurely yellowed and brittle)

Fair. Heat damaged books are often very fragile.

General - Fire damage

Fair if merely singed at the edges or if there is a smoke odour.
Also Fair if there is a strong odour that indicates former ownership by a smoker.
Poor if any text has been destroyed, or if there is smoke damage that has obscured any text or illustration details.

General - Mould

Always Poor. Mould spreads from book to book and can eventually afflict an entire collection.
Mouldy books cannot be listed on ObiBooks.

General - Remainder marks

Very Good if the mark is small and on the bottom edge.
Good if the mark is a rubber stamp on any page or cover, or is a large edge mark.

General - Library books

Always Fair at best. Library books have catalog numbers, bar codes, library ownership decals, rubber date stamps, and sometimes card pockets stuck, taped, and glued onto them. By the time the library retires them, most have also been read many times and will exhibit many of the other condition items described on this page. Library discard sales are a great source of books to read, but a poor source of books for resale. Ex-library books are allowed on ObiBooks but you must check the "ex-Library" checkbox when listing.

The sale of books that still belong to the library is strictly prohibited.