Tolkien collectors spend their time reading lists of books who are mostly full of abbreviations and look a most of the like this example:
JRR TOLKIEN; THE LORD OF THE RINGS comprising THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
(12th IMPRESSION) (F/VF), THE TWO TOWERS (9th IMPRESSION) (F/-)and THE
RETURN OF THE KING (9th IMPRESSION)(M/F) pub by G. ALLEN & UNWIN,
1963, FIRST EDITION, dws 13TH, 10TH, 9TH, 8vo, Hardback.
This might to some look like a nice set of books while others keep wondering why these books are so highly prized. Book sellers have the tendency to use a specific terminology and a grading system to tell the condition of the books. The grading system defined below is called the IOBA's standard and is used by most booksellers. Further more i list a lot of other terms used by book sellers which might be helpfull when looking for Tolkien books.
_/_ CONDITION normally shown as __/__ or F/F, denoting
first book & then dustjacket condition.
AS NEW (AN) or VERY FINE (VF) or MINT (M): Without faults or defects, unread, in the same immaculate condition in which it was published (Note: very few "new" books qualify for this grade, as many times there will be rubs/scuffs to the dustjackets from shipping, or bumped lower spine ends/corners from shelving).
FINE (F): Approaches the above, but not crisp. May have been carefully read and dustjacket may have been slightly rubbed or spine ends slightly bumped from shelving/shipping, but no real defects or faults.
(NOTE: From here on, there may be "+" and "-" in a grade, which will mean that it is above the grade noted but not quite to the next higher grade for "+", and that it is below the grade noted but not quite to the next lower grade for "-".
NEAR FINE: Also used, although not contained in Bookman's Weekly definitions, meaning a book or dustjacket approaching FINE but with a couple of very minor defects or faults.
VERY GOOD: A used book showing some small signs of wear on either binding or dustjacket. Any defects/faults must be noted.
GOOD: The average used and worn book that has all pages or leaves present. Any defects must be noted.
FAIR: A worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title page, etc. (which must be noted). Binding, dustjacket, etc. may also be worn. All defects/faults must be noted.
POOR or READING COPY: A book that is sufficiently worn that its only merit is the complete text, which must be legible. Any missing maps or plates should still be noted. May be soiled, scuffed, stained, or spotted, and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc.
BOOK CLUB: Must always be noted as such no matter what the condition of the book is. Most book club editions are made of cheaper materials.
BINDING COPY: A book in which the pages or leaves are perfect but the binding is very bad, loose, off, or non-existent.