What’s an ISBN? (and other publishing terms you should know) As you begin your bookselling journey, you’ll encounter some trade terms that you should become familiar with before we proceed:
Advanced reading copy (ARC): This is a copy of a book printed before the first official publication. It may not be complete, may lack final cover art, or may still be awaiting a final proofread. ARCs are circulated to book buyers, critics, and press in advance of a book’s official release.
Antiquarian books: A term to differentiate collectible books from used books. Vintage, antique, rare, and out-of-print books may fall under this category.
Backlist: A publisher’s list of books published prior to the current year or season that are still in print.
Book distributor: A business that warehouses and sells books directly to retail stores, libraries, and sometimes wholesalers on behalf of publishers.
Book wholesaler: A company that buys large quantities of books from publishers and sells them to bookstores, institutions, and libraries. Wholesalers usually get volume discounts from publishers and can pass on a portion of that savings to their customers.
First edition: Any book copy printed in the first print run of that particular title.
International Standard Book Number (ISBN): A numerical code used to identify a book. Publishers, retailers, libraries, and other businesses along the book supply chain use this unique number for inventory management and ordering. Books published up to the end of 2006 have a 10-digit ISBN, while all books after that period have a 13-digit ISBN.
List price: The cover price or retail price of a book, generally printed on the back cover or sleeve.
Out of print (OP): A book title that is no longer being printed or distributed from the publisher.
Print on demand (POD): A term to describe a product being printed upon order. There is no inventory of the product, but it will be printed and shipped to each customer after the purchase is made. Many self-published books or books sold by large online retailers are distributed in this way.
Trade bookseller: Another term for a retail bookstore or retail bookseller. Trade booksellers sell to the general public and include independent bookstores, large retail chains, and online stores.