In my early days of crossword solving, when solving meant guessing answers and reverse engineering the wordplay, I figured that "books" often equalled OT or NT. Why this should be so was a mystery. I went along with it just as I accepted sailor = AB or soldiers = RE without understanding why.
For new solvers as puzzled by these abbreviations as I used to be, here is the simple explanation.
OT is short for Old Testament, NT for New Testament – they are both books of the Bible. The Old Testament is the collection of books that forms the first of two divisions of the Bible, the New Testament is the second, shorter division. Clues sometimes describe OT/NT as "good books".
THC 9941 (Gridman): Steal books and get caught by one – it's mechanical (7) ROBOTIC
ROB (steal) OT (books), C (caught) next to I (one)
FT 13655 (Monk): Advance given by gambler and yours truly going over books (10) BETTERMENT
BETTER (gambler) ME (yours truly) NT (books)
You might also come across the singular form "book" for OT/NT, though this isn't usual practice.
Times 23702: Revolutionary book on heavens kept in stock (10) TROTSKYITE
OT (book) SKY (heavens), in TRITE (stock)
A Single Book
Sometimes setters of British crosswords use the word "book" or "good book" to mean any book of the Bible.
Times Jumbo 838: Disregard information about book eaten by parasites (10) NEGLIGENCE
GEN (information) reversed, GEN (book, short for Genesis) in LICE (parasites)
sounds like 'see Esther' (observe good book)
Of these GEN appears most commonly. For the others this bookmark comes in handy: books of the Bible and their abbreviations.
Books = BB
The word "book" is also shortened to B, so "books" could be BB. As in:
Times 24855: Inappropriate, hoarding books along with daughter’s missing soundtrack (8) UNDUBBED
UNDUE (inappropriate) around BB (books), D (daughter)
Indy 7638 (Morph): Dirty books discovered in carriage (6) SHABBY
BB (books) in SHAY (carriage)
Caution! "Book" may not lead to an abbreviation at all. It may lead to a synonym (e.g. tome) , or to the name of a specific book.
Times 24529: Collection of books obtained on line (3)
Times 24712: Had spin doctor turned over books, worried? (7)
Independent 1107 (Poins): Isn’t Dicky to answer on books by Swift? (7)
Times 24500: Briefly, something to entice you into books? (5)
Guardian 25118 (Paul): Books alongside maps almost leading to a US city (7)
If you wish to keep track of further articles on Crossword Unclued, you can subscribe to it in a reader via RSS Feed. You can also subscribe by email and have articles delivered to your inbox, or follow me on twitter to get notified of new links.