There is no standard I can find regarding what to do about remainder marks when presenting book grades to buyers on eBay. This brief guide is intended to clear that up, with the caveat, that there is no absolute correctness as long as the seller is up-front about what they are selling. HOWEVER:
I just purchased a book in "Very Good" condition. The description did not mention a thick green remainder felt tip marker curved line on the spine close to the binding.
This is done by wholesalers when they are clearing out inventory. The businessperson who buys directly from the wholesaler gets the books for nickels (or dimes) on the dollar. This prevents someone from trying to return the book dishonestly to get a refund, when in fact, they practically gave the book away in the first place. There is tax motivation to do this in the USA, as if they sit on the inventory, which will move incredibly slowly after the book is out of vogue, it will be a write-off disaster waiting to happen. And in the short term it takes up valuable warehouse space. So that is why a shrewd seller can get a great deal.
Getting a book with a remainder mark is no problem if the buyer only wants to read it cheaply and doesn't worry about reselling it (we're not talking about collectable books, remainder marks may severely drop the incentive for a collector). So you can just buy a fat $10 paperback for $4 shipped - and it is in reasonably to new (typically new-worn) condition.
OK, now to express the goal of this guide. Is a book new if it has a remainder mark and otherwise, perhaps a bit scuffed new? If we go by the strict eBay grade definitions, a new book cannot have a remainder mark. That is a type of damage and it does not qualify as new. Period! Some sellers will try to sell it as new because it suits them, but in fact that is a misrepresentation and better not to buy those and let them fester.
But, as the condition scale goes down, defects are permitted. At what point should a remainder mark be acceptable on a book? Keeping in mind that a remainder mark is a highly visible mark on virtually all the pages in many cases, "Good" is really the highest grade it should have if you read the eBay definitions. For business reasons some sellers may not agree with this. Well, I'm a buyer only and I'm sorry to vigorously disagree: if you run a business and buy books with remainder marks, I appreciate the service and frequently buy them.
However, there is nothing special about a remainder mark that magically exempts it from being an indelible (or highlighter) on all the pages. The remainder mark is just another category of damage and the condition it was liquidated cheaply in the first place to your seller or his source. Thus, the correct grade is at best Good, even if the book is otherwise "new". Later below I will show it is actually below good, i.e., 'acceptable', but good will do compared to the liberties that are taken on eBay ignoring the condition requirements.
Sellers can clearly describe in the listing that it has a remainder mark and would be new, but must list the condition as acceptable or good at best. I specifically would love to buy a book described in that way (search the good condition category and put the words "new" and "remainder" in the description search terms.
But the book I got today with the fat green remainder mark would have been a border line good, very good as it is. The fact that there was no mention of the remainder mark in the description and it was sold to me as very good prompted this guide, even though I gave the seller 100% good feedback.
As a reference let's just review the relevant descriptions of eBay conditions and convince ourselves that rather than being a stickler, I am actually too liberal in saying "Good" is the highest condition permitting remainder marks, and really they should be strictly graded all as "Acceptable" at best:
... no underlining/highlighting of text or writing in the margins. May have very minimal identifying marks on the inside cover...
...minimal pencil underlining of text, no highlighting of text, no writing in margins. No missing pages. See the seller’s listing for full details and description of any imperfections.
A book with obvious wear. May have some damage to the cover but integrity still intact. The binding may be slightly damaged but integrity is still intact. Possible writing in margins, possible underlining and highlighting of text...
Good luck and thanks to the sellers who do us this great favor to make remainder books available. It is a great way to pick up a great deal in some instances. But even if reselling the book, after we read them, the value will be lower. So please properly grade remainder marked books as "good" (at best) and use the space in the description to clarify how new the book would be if this marker hadn't written over the majority of the pages.
Best and thanks to all!