From the Editor

by Craig Stark

#9, 5 January 2004

Book grading. Not the most glamorous part of bookselling, but, given the problems that so often arise from improperly grading books, one of the most important. A new series of BookThinker articles begins today that will discuss the principles of grading, define and illustrate its relevant terminology, and propose the adoption of a universal system.

That some sort of widely adhered to grading system is needed in this age of free-wheeling, sight-unseen bookselling is undeniable, but there are questions. First, what system should we use? It seems that every organization or grouping of sellers - and at times individual booksellers - has its own, believes it's the best; and who is to say that one is better than another? Worse, even if a sensible, superior system could be identified or a better one devised, how could we ever hope to achieve 100% compliance among booksellers?

The answer to the second question is easy: we can't hope for this; it's safe to say that we will never achieve anything near 100% compliance, but at the same time a concentrated and persistent effort needs to be expended in the direction of achieving at least majority compliance with something. We're going to do our part here, starting now. We think you'll agree that the credibility of booksellers everywhere is at stake.

The answer to the first question? Well, in our first article, "An Introduction to Book Grading," we'll make a specific proposal for the adoption of a system that's been in use since 1998. In our second article, "Book Grading, Part I," we'll make the case for using established book terminology in describing a book's defects, and in our third article, "Common Myths (and Dubious Practices) of Book Grading," we'll attempt to dispel some of the more persistent grading myths.

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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