Bookish Speak: A Glossary of Terms in the Book World


I have been in the book blogging world for about 9 months now, and I worked in a bookstore for about 3 years. That’s quite a bit of time spent around people who live and breathe books. I have noticed that my vocabulary has changed quite a bit, to the point where I will sometimes have to explain what something means to my friends and family members who aren’t immersed in this world on the regular. So, I decided that it might be beneficial to many if I were to compile a glossary of bookish terms!

A Glossary of Bookish Terms

ARC: stands for Advanced Reader Copy; when a publisher sends out copies of a book before its publication date in order to get advance reviews and hype; these can come in physical or e-reader format; generally uncorrected proof copies, so expect some typos and that a few things could change before the official published copy comes out

Bibliophile: a person who lives and breathes books

Book Tag: a blog post or booktube video that you complete and then “tag” others to complete after you; generally has several questions to answer; here are some examples

Bookstagram: the book side of Instagram; still a part of Instagram, but exclusively book-related content; basically a lot of pictures of books and people discussing said books; here is a link to mine as an example: WhitReadsLit

BookTube: the book side of YouTube; still a part of YouTube, but exclusively book-related content; here are a few of my favorite BookTube channels:


A Clockwork Reader


Buddy Read: when you decide to read a book with a “buddy”; you can read the whole thing over a specified period of time and then discuss it at the end, or you can keep a strict schedule and chat consistently throughout the reading of the book

DNF: stands for Did Not Finish; when you decide to stop reading a book before the end and not go back to finish it at any point

Fan Fiction: when someone write a story or book based on the characters of a book that was written by someone else; example – when someone, who isn’t J.K. Rowling, writes a story where Harry Potter and Hermione Granger are a couple, that is considered Harry Potter fan fiction

Fandom: a group of people who are united in their love for a book, series, author, movie, tv show, or any other form of entertainment

Galley: an alternate term for an ARC (see above)

Haul/Unhaul: when you purchase/procure a large quantity of books all at once, or when you get rid of a large quantity of books all at once

Hype: when a book has been talked about a lot, usually in a praising fashion, to the point where it seems as if everyone loves it

Mass Market Paperback: a paperback book that is smaller in size, usually around 4×7 inches, and produced more cheaply; the text is often smaller, and they are generally thicker than a trade paper book

MC: stands for main character; some bloggers will refer to the main character of a book as the MC as shorthand

OTP: stands for One True Pairing; when you “ship” a couple, they are your OTP; example – “Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are my OTP!”

#OwnVoices: when an author who is part of a marginalized group writes a main character who is part of that marginalized group

POC: stands for person of color; when bloggers talk about books that have a person of color as the main character or an important side character, or if the author is a person of color

Read-a-thon: when a group of people decide to spend a specified amount of time devoting themselves only to reading; often will last 24 hours or a few days; sometimes will have a theme for the type of books you can read, others are for general reading

Ships: when you fancy the idea of two characters have a romantic interest in each other; example – “I ship Harry and Hermione in Harry Potter! I wish they had dated instead of Hermione and Ron!”

TBR: stands for To Be Read; when you have a particular book you want to read, or if you make a list of books that are next on your list to read soon

Trade Paperback: a paperback book that is released in the same size and format as the hardcover version of the same book

Trope: a common or overused theme or device in literature; example – a common trope in literature might be a love triangle, or ugly turned beauty, or insta-love, etc.

YA: stands for Young Adult; this genre can also be referred to as Teen; generally has characters that are still in and/or around high school age

Do you use bookish terms that confuse others? Did you find any of these definitions helpful? Are there any other bookish terms you use that get you only blank stares? Let me know down in the comments! 

Love and happy reading,

12 thoughts on “Bookish Speak: A Glossary of Terms in the Book World

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