Popular Publishing Terms Deciphered

Publishing Terms photo

I must say, if you ever have the honor to write for a book publisher, you will learn so much. Publishing has so many layers and truly goes beyond printing and selling. Most writers know about the “Big 5,” the five largest publishers. However, smaller publishing houses also play a prominent role in the book business. The “Big 5” includes Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Hachette.

I am going to break down some popular publishing terms and explain them more thoroughly.

ARC (Advance Reading Copy): These books go out before the publication date, mainly for promotional purposes. The printer or publisher will send ARC books out to parties they select.

Book Blurbs: Readers often see blurbs on the back or the inside flap on physical books. Blurbs feature complimentary words from authors, experts, or renowned institutions or people. Since readers now enjoy ebooks and audiobooks, you often find blurbs on web pages. You will see words of praise in quotes by a notable figure.

CIP (Catalogue in Publication): You can find this data on the copyright page, operated by the British Library and Library of Congress (LC). CIPs go in your local library’s card catalog. The CIP helps librarians categorize books and locations in the facility.

Epub and MOBI Files: These refer to the ebook versions of books. Readers can read epub files on Apple, Android, or Nook devices. MOBI files exclusively indicate Kindle versions compatible with Amazon devices only. Kindle ebooks once used a PRC file extension. PRCs no longer have compatibility with modern electronic devices. The history of printing books has changed over the years.

Folio (Page Number): A folio refers to the actual page number in a publication.

Galley Proof: This text copy gets checked and proofed before the book’s final assembly for a print run.

Imprints: Most publishers use imprints to classify their works. Books fall into designated genres or under specific editors curating a collection. Most readers, when recommending the book, mention the author or title. Sometimes, we do not know the publisher or their imprint. Over time, authors may have more than one publisher or put out their work independently. When looking at Green Dragon’s imprints, I did recognize some of them.

ISBN: Most products you find in retail stores have a UPC (universal product code) to identify them. Books have an ISBN or International Standard Book Number. You can enter the 10 or 13 digits into Amazon, eBay, or Barnes and Noble to find a title. The ISBN 10 system was used until 2007 when the 13 digit system was introduced. RR Bowker is the official source of ISBN’s in the USA.

Manuscript (MS): An MS consists of an original completed book before it goes to publication. You submit your MS to an agent or publisher to get it adopted for print. You can also independently publish your book.

Mass Market Paperbacks: Throughout my work with Green Dragon, I turned to Amazon to get information. I kept seeing different versions of the book, including “mass market paperback.” The description sounds like it has a lower price, which they typically do. Also, these paperback books usually have a smaller size. You mostly see mass-market paperbacks when browsing rotating book selections in airports.

Page Count: This indicates the total number of pages in a work, including blank pages inside.

PW (Publisher’s Weekly): This news publication posts current information for the publishing industry. PW discusses books, authors, events, and other industry news. They offer various newsletters for librarians, publishers, booksellers, and literary agents.  

Trim Size: The final printed book’s finished dimensions (W x H) indicate the trim size upon completion.

Do you have other terms you’re curious about? Let us know in the comments section.