Book Publishing Glossary

To accommodate the new comment from BR, I’m moving the following post from my old blog, Frozen Coagulated Culture, over here. This provides a place for people to leave comments.


Originally posted May 07, 2006

New at, a glossary of book publishing terms.

A few sample entries:

BOOK REVIEW: A recycled press release offered to publishers by newspaper and magazine sales departments as an inducement to advertising.

DEADLINE: An item that exists to be renegotiated and revised. In his famous paradox, the Greek philosopher Zeno proved that deadlines can never be met.

FOREIGN MARKET: The part of the country outside New York City.

FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR: An annual international exhibition of artwork on paper.

LINE EDITOR: An escort charged with limiting an author’s consumption of cocaine.

MAINSTREAM FICTION: The pretense that there is a group of readers who can be reached through writing that is sufficiently unspecific as to exclude no one.


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  1. howard

    It’s funny. even if it’s true.

  2. It’s great! I’m going to link to it, I was going to
    create a tutorial on the publishing process to deflect
    all those questions I get, but this is better!

  3. I loved your glossary! Having worked in the publishing industry for eight years, I found this to be a breath of fresh air.

    May I just have a gripe about the word ‘Unputdownable’? This “Word” often gets thrown about by people supposedly literary. However, it is an abomination.

    Can something be ‘Putdownable’? Or would we just call that sort of book ‘Crap’? (See Kevin Lewis’ ‘Kaitlyn’ as an example.)

    So, ‘Unputdownable’ actually means ‘Uncrap’.

    It pained me even more when a book recently had a quote from Lee Child on the front saying it was “Literally unputdownable”.

    GAH! “Literally”? Why? Was it made from helium?

    OK rant over. I’m actually not insane nor terminally bitter and angry. I just thought you’d appreciate my issue.


  4. Thanks, I do appreciate it. I would never put it down.


  5. I started reading your glossary, but I’ll have to come back to it later—I’m working on a chapter-by-chapter breakdown.

  6. Splodin, vark?

  7. I’m issuing a challenge to come up with the glossary explanation of a blad. Mainly because I haven’t come up with a perfect one yet.

  8. BLAD: A preproduction edition of a book from which all of the tedious bits have been excised; used in promotion.

    (See also this Glossary of Book Trade Terminology.)

  9. Bill Sheil

    Your “top ten” list is both helpful and witty. Thank you for sharing it.

  10. Love the list.

    Responding to “Unputdownable” by BR.

    You know what is also Unputdownable – a smelly dog – (a vet told me he would not do it.)

    Draw from this what you can.

  11. Flowthrough: A term designed to measure the turnover of editors at large publishers.

  12. Great glossary! Perhaps you can include the term Bookstore or even better Independent Bookstore.

  13. Hallie H

    Loved your glossary! Really pulled my lips to a big smile during a time when I reading about the publishing industry was inducing my mouth to hang the other way.