The ObiBooks Grading System

How we grade books

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.