Encyclopedia of ML Flaws? (was Re: Next Project: Judging Condition?

Sharon Biederman sbiederm at nova.umuc.edu
Thu Feb 7 13:22:45 EST 2002

Scot, John et al:

    I agree with John that pictures and descriptions of typical ML flaws
would be more useful than attempting to invent a new grading system for
books, especially one that might not conform with ratings currently in use
by reputable professional booksellers (who sell many other books besides
Modern Library editions). In my estimation, very few booksellers would
actually change ratings on the basis of what's on the dogeared website, so
the focus should be on ML collectors, and what types of flaws concern

    There are already many excellent books and articles on collecting
that discuss condition.   Grading is by nature subjective both at the
dealer and the collector levels.  For some dealers/collectors, the DJ 
spine is all important, for others it is the front panel.  Some people
downgrade heavily for foxing; others do not.  Personally, I like those
little stickers from long defunct bookstores that often appear at the
back of MLs, but perhaps for someone else it's a flaw. The importance
is not so much the grade itself as the description that goes along with

    Let me give an example.  Although I generally disagree with
criticizing anyone by name in public, I hope on the other hand that it's
okay to identify admirable business practices.  Amy Comeau gives very
basic grades to her MLs, maybe something like VG/G.  But she meticulously
describes both the flaws and positive aspects of each book.  Whether 
her G is really a G+, or a "3" or a "medium well-done" according to some
third-party's arbitrary standard is not an issue for me.  What's critical
is that when I buy I book from Amy and the front free endpaper is missing,
she will say so.  If the DJ is price-clipped, that fact will be mentioned.
Now for some people, a price clip is trivial, but for others it is a
serious flaw.  Neither is "right,"  but having the knowledge is essential
to making a sound purchase decision.  

    In summary, for me grading is a little like umpiring a baseball game.
Each person is going to define the strike zone a bit differently, but
consistency and integrity are key to doing the job well.


 To On Thu, 7 Feb 2002, j b krygier wrote:

> Scot Kamins wrote:
> > Anyway, the real question I have is this: Would a tutorial section on
> > Dogeared called "Judging Condition" have value, especially if
> > extensive graphics were used? Or is this a duplication of efforts for
> > work already available elsewhere on the Internet?
> I think what Scot is getting at here is to have a WWW-
> based encyclopedia of ML "flaws" with many examples of
> what the flaws look like.  One section for the book itself and
> another for DJs.  Subsections could be added for different
> eras of MLs (leatherette, flex, hardcover) if necessary.
> This could build on Henry's description of ML flaws on the
> last few pages of the ML Guide (underlining, signatures,
> bookplates, cocking, crayon, faded DJ spine, water damage,
> etc. etc.) enhanced with real examples.
> This resource could help sellers in describing MLs on places
> like eBay or other online services.  I do know that many
> booksellers are aware of Dogeared, so they may actually
> find such a resource useful in describing MLs they are selling.
> Once we build the encyclopedia of flaws, we could rate them -
> which would help sellers see what ML collectors care about.
> So lets say we get a dozen different DJs with various kinds
> of 'chipping.'  Some of us may find any chipping to be
> unacceptable, others may draw the line at chips that affect
> text on the DJ, others may be ok with half the front DJ torn
> off.  "10 out of 12 ML collectors find this DJ acceptable (or
> VG, or someother rating system).  Sort of like the review rating
> system at Amazon.com.  Out of this may come some more
> general, collective sense of the difference between F, VG,
> G, etc.
> But the first task is to build up an encyclopedia of ML flaws,
> which could be interesting.
> John K.
> --
> j   b   k r y g i e r
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