Terms & Conditions

Terms of Sale

All books are subject to prior sale. Appropriate sales tax will be added for residents of Maryland and Washington, DC.

Payments Accepted 

We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards, checks made out on U.S. banks, and PayPal. Institutions may make special arrangements. Orders that are placed through www.secondstorybooks.com are 100% secure. Click here for more information about Privacy & Security.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at internetdeskssb@secondstorybooks.com, or phone us at the Internet Desk, at 301-770-0477 ext. 14.

Shipping Policy

Items purchased from Second Story Books will be packed and shipped with requisite care by Second Story Books' in-house shipping department, unless the purchaser makes separate arrangements with a shipper or collects items in person.

Our default shipping method for domestic orders is Media Mail, for a charge of $5.00. Additional books may be added to Media Mail shipments at a rate of $1.50 per book. Expedited shipping via USPS Priority Mail is available for domestic orders at a rate of $9.00, or via UPS Ground at a rate of $12.00. Additional books may be added to USPS Priority Mail or UPS Ground shipments for a charge of $3.50 per book. Shipping insurance will automatically be added to orders valued at or above $50.00 that are placed through secondstorybooks.com. If there are any additional costs involved in shipping, we'll email you first to let you know before you are charged. 

International shipping costs will be billed at actual cost, plus a modest handling fee. International shipments valued at or above $2500 are shipped with DHL. All international purchases are shipped fully insured; international purchasers are responsible for any and all fees and expenses including, but not limited to customs duties and taxes. Please contact internetdeskssb@secondstorybooks.com with any questions about international shipping or requests for specific international shipping arrangements.

Second Story Books staff will, at the purchaser's request, initiate a claim with the shipper if an item purchased from us appears to be delayed or lost by the shipper. However, Second Story Books cannot control the rate at which packages are processed by the shipper and its partners and cannot guarantee that a package will arrive by a particular date.


Returns are accepted within 10 days of receipt only in cases when the item received is not as described in the online listing. Prior arrangement must be made with Second Story Books before the item is returned, and returned items must be carefully packaged and arrive safely.


Condition Guidelines

Within our catalog descriptions, we identify the condition of the book first and, if applicable, the dust jacket second. Thus, "F/VG" means that the book itself is Fine and the dust jacket is Very Good. Anything less than VG will be described in more detail for collectible books, while lower-priced books may not warrant a great deal of condition detail in their catalog description. Note that as a general rule, we rarely grade above a VG, even if warranted.

Further reading material can be found on the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers' Glossary.

“Remainder” indicates that the book was returned to its publisher by a new bookstore and is now being sold in a secondary market such as Second Story Books. Publishers mark remainders in a variety of ways and we describe the clipped dust jacket, magic marker dot or line on the text block or any other “branding” of a remaindered book

“Damp-staining” is mildew residue or what it has left behind. "Water Marking" is actual water spotting or other damage caused by liquid.

In modern usage, octavo refers to a standard sized book, like most novels, approximately 6-8 inches high and 5-6 inches wide. A larger book, between 8-10 or so inches in height or width, is a quarto, while an even larger book is called a folio or elephant folio. Most "coffee table books" are folios. A 12mo is smaller than an octavo and a 16mo is even smaller. Miniature books are usually around 1" x 2".

  • Fine (or mint): In “As New” condition, barely or never opened, often still in plastic shrink-wrap.

  • NF: Only different from Fine in that it has probably been opened, but the dust jacket has no stains, chips or wrinkles and the book itself is pristine.

  • VG+: Some light wear, usually around edges, or what is called "shelf wear" with minor imperfections in the edges. Panels are free of stains or stains are minor, spine may be slightly faded.

  • VG: Has some or all of the following: chips, abrasions, especially corners and spine ends, some staining, spine may be seriously faded, but no major flaws. Minor water marking or damp-staining, minor chips or tears in dust jacket. 

  • Good: Has some or all of the following: heavily water stained or damp-stained, faded spine, abraded corners and unusual wear to the book. Joints and hinges may be shaky as well. At least one serious chip or missing part. Wrinkled closed tears, chipping at the corners of a more than minor nature, long closed tears across either panel, water stains or damp-staining.

  • Fair: Boards detached but present, reading copy only. Major portions of dust jacket are missing but the dust jacket is still intact and all parts are present and hanging together.

  • Poor: Book and dust jacket, if present, are severely compromised. Text block may have parts missing and pages underlined or annotated.

Buying Guidelines

Second Story Books seeks high quality hardback and paperback books in at least very good condition. Second Story purchases antiquarian, out-of-print and current in-print titles in most disciplines. Second Story purchases both nonfiction and quality fiction with emphasis on books in their original state (dust jackets preferable), advance or review copies and books either signed or inscribed.

Second Story Books actively buys autographs, collectible photographs, signed and unsigned historic documents, newspapers and ephemeral material.

Within those general guidelines, Second Story Books seeks salable books in almost all categories with the following exceptions: textbooks, magazines (we do occasionally buy vintage pre-1960 magazines), encyclopedias, Book Club books, “pop” psych-diet-humor and other “fashionable” or “trendy” types. We also do not buy romance novels, ultra-violent, or pornographic material.

We also purchase LPs, CDs, DVDs, art (framed or unframed) and antiques. Second Story Books will purchase entire estates or manage their sale. We travel daily to purchase and/or appraise collections and individual items.

  • The Dupont Circle store buys daily from 12 pm until 2 pm. Store credit is offered for most second-hand books; however, cash can be given for valuable items (e.g., signed, rare, first editions), at our discretion. We can offer cash for antiques and artwork. This store does not purchase CDs, DVDs, or LPs.