EBAY SECOND-HAND BOOK SELLERS DESCRIBING THEIR BOOKS AS 'MINT' SHOULD ALWAYS BE VIEWED WITH CAUTION. There is a standard grading that all good booksellers adhere to and Ebay booksellers should apply these rules to every book they sell to help buyers distinguish condition of books. Unfortunately, many sellers on Ebay often describe their books as MINT or NEW when the book is usually old and has been read slightly with a few slight flaws. Be very careful when a seller advertises his second-hand books as MINT. I very rarely do this because the buyer will usually be dissapointed.
VERY FINE (VF)
This is the highest grade given to any copy and is a term which describes a crisp fresh copy with no flaws. Any copy with even a minor blemish must not be graded 'very fine'; therefore, there is no 'else very fine' grade. Sellers should only use 'MINT' if the book looks as good as it would have done when originally published.
A copy that is without visible flaws, but one that may lack the pristine crispness of a very fine copy. Many antiquarian dealers quite properly never give a book a grade higher than fine. A book that is graded 'fine' has had excellent and loving care. Any minor blemish in the book or the dustwrapper must be noted in the description.
VERY GOOD (VG)
The most common grade given to a collectable copy, very good means exactly what it says. A very good copy is no longer fresh; it has been handled and shows some signs of wear, but is still sound and appealing. Flaws such as ownership signatures, bookplates and rubbed out pencil marks must be noted in the description, along with rubbing, chips and tears, and a price-clipping in dustwrappers where applicable.
Usually if a book is graded 'good', it means it has several flaws. Good is the lowest grade given to a collectable copy. The book has been well-read and abused, but it is whole. There may be one major flaw, like dampstaining or a cracked hinge that keeps it from a higher grade or there may be an accumulation of minor problems. A dustwrapper may have lost some design elements lost, but it must not be fragmentary.
POOR/FAIR/READING COPY ONLY
The lowest grade given to a book that is not whole either in the binding or in the text, or if it has been abused to the point that it is no longer sound or attractive. A frequently seen example of an uncollectable book is an ex-library copy, with such common blemishes as pockets glued to, or torn away endpapers, abundant rubber stamped dates and pasted-down lending sheets. An ex-library copy, while not collectable, may be an acceptable reading copy.