Navigation – Plan du site
Dossier
Casus

The dust-jacket considered

Margit J Smith

Résumés

Description de l'histoire, du développement et de l'utilisation des jaquettes protectrices de livre, de leur origine à leur utilisation actuelle. Leur usage dans le monde du savoir ou en milieu commercial, les collections dans des institutions, leur traitement en bibliothèque et leur mise à disposition des utilisateurs sera discuté. On considèrera également des découvertes, des suggestions et des instructions pour leur conservation, le pour et le contre de leur conservation, l'importance dans le commerce de livre rare et la production de faux et des fac-similés.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

“The winning bid at $3,050: Madame Bovary designed by Manolo Blahnik. The jacket features Blahnik’s original painting of Emma with her lover and the book is protected by a Perspex slipcase. He said: ‘I wanted to come up with something light, sensual - something frivolous, because this is a novel about the dangers of frivolity. And I wanted something sexy too, cheeky. I usually focus on one part of the foot, the shoe. For this project, I had to consider a whole scene, there had to be a context, which is new for me. But I managed to sneak in a pair of shoes anyway. She wore good shoes.’”1

Dust-jackets, dust covers, book jackets and book wrappers

  • 2  Harrod’s librarians' glossary of terms used in librarianship, documentation and the book crafts,   (...)

1Researching the history of dust-jackets can be confusing because several expressions describe the object. To the writer’s knowledge no standard terminology has been developed to preclude grey areas. While a dust-jacket is also referred to as a dust-wrapper, a dust cover, a book jacket, a jacket, or simply a wrapper, the ‘wrapper’ in its original meaning usually covered the whole book, including the fore edge, and was firmly attached to the book block. It is the direct forerunner of today’s paperback cover. Harrod’s Librarian’s glossary of terms used in librarianship, documentation and the book crafts defines it as synonymous with dust-jacket.2

2For the purpose of this essay the term dust-jacket is used to describe the unattached, removable protective covering consisting of the front-sheet, the spine, the back-sheet and the front and back flaps which tuck into the book between the upper and lower boards and the fly-sheets, thus partly covering the paste-downs. The dust-jacket does not cover the upper and lower edges, and leaves the fore edge open as well. In contrast, the book wrapper, or dust wrapper, envelops the book completely, including the three edges.

3The difference between a dust-jacket and the book wrapper, (or dust wrapper) is, that the dust-jacket is removable, whereas the wrapper actually is a paper or light cardboard cover that is permanently attached, glued or stapled on to the book and becomes thereby an integral part of the whole. Often this wrapper was the only cover a volume received at the time of sale and was later replaced by a permanent binding. Today, in addition to finding dust-jackets on cased books, they are also occasionally used on expensive paperbacks, often with identical designs on the dust-jacket and the book cover; occasionally a CD or a small booklet may be attached in a specially designed pocket on the inside or outside.

  • 3  Book jacket. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) from Dictionary.com website: http://diction (...)

4Uses and meaning of dust-jacket along with its other appellations, have undergone considerable change over the years going from a means of protecting the book, to becoming a carrier of information, exploited for sales promotions and advertising. It is described as “. . . a removable paper cover, usually illustrated, for protecting the binding of a book and usually giving information about the book and the author.”3

5Protection of the book, however, has today become secondary as is borne out by this definition stressing its commercial value, in the 2004 edition of ODLIS, the Online dictionary of Library and Information Science "The removable paper wrapper on the outside of a hardcover book usually printed in color and given a glossy finish to market the work to retail customers and protect it from wear and tear…". 4

A very short history

  • 5  A detailed historical description of the development of writing which grew out of the use of token (...)

6If we accept the Mesopotamian clay tablets of the period around 3500 BC as iterations of the earliest books, we may go so far as to consider the clay envelopes around the tokens and tablets inside which carried accounts of the grain, oil, sheep, cattle, trade transactions, letters, documents, and tax payments, as the forefathers of the current dust-jacket. As dust-jackets do today, the clay envelopes referred to the contents within, although in contrast to the dust-jacket they had to be broken and were destroyed to provide access to the information inside.5

7China is credited with the invention of paper, and the artful wrapping of presents and books in silk and paper, and embellishing them with attractive objects, is part of an extensive gift giving ritual filled with symbolism in Chinese, Japanese and other oriental cultures. One could make the connection between dust-jackets as a further manifestation of these wrappers as they also serve a dual purpose namely that of protecting and beautifying the objects they envelop.

8Extending and carrying the thought of protection of the written word even further, we can look at the capsae, as well as the linen and papyrus sheets or animal skins to wrap papyrus scrolls, and the clay jars of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as means to store and protect their contents. Irish book boxes called cumbdachs - often jewel-encrusted and fortified with straps and locks - assured the safety of the books that went on voyage with the owners to distant locations. During the later Middle Ages, the 14th through the 16th centuries, protective book covers, so called chemises made of silk, velvet or thin-pared leather, wrappers and similar coverings, became fashionable and are frequently depicted in works of contemporary art. Embroideries, gold stamping and elegant silk tassels on the corners added to their sumptuousness as seen in the illustration below.

Fig. 1  “Annunciation” by a master from the circle of Juan Mari

Fig. 1  “Annunciation” by a master from the circle of Juan Mari

Spanish illuminated manuscript, c. 1460, in a Hüllenbuch-style binding of red velvet with tassels and brass furniture. Royal Library, The Hague.

Credits: VISAD Amsterdam.

  • 6  SMITH, M.and BLOXAM J., "The Medieval Girdle Book Project" v. 3, n. 4. International Journal of th (...)

9The girdle book6represents yet another format, which not only served to protect both religious and secular writings, but also provided a most useful way of carrying the book. It was suspended from the wearer’s belt by its elongated binding, or could be carried by hand, grasping the extension.

Fig. 2  St. Anthony by Martin Schongauer, cc. 1470, Tempera on wood.

Fig. 2  St. Anthony by Martin Schongauer, cc. 1470, Tempera on wood.

St. Anthony with Tau cross, swine and portrait of the donor, carries the girdle book by hand.

Credits: Musée d’Unterlinden, Colmar, France

  • 7  BOEFF. R.,  “Schutzumschlag und Umschlagschutz. Die Archivierung und Verwaltung von Schutzumschläg (...)
  • 8  MAZAL, O., Einbandkunde. Die Geschichte des Bucheinbands, Wiesbaden, 1997. (Elemente des Buch- und (...)

10Once printing from moveable type began in the 15th century, paper gradually replaced vellum as the material of choice for book production. Its demand increased, as did the variety of its uses. While readily available, it remained expensive and very little was discarded. Frequently this meant that paper, even though it had already been used once and was considered waste (the German Makulatur), found re-use in bookbinding to line the spine or covers, and also to serve in the protection of newly printed books. The first documented protective paper cover in the West comes from the hands of the bookbinder and woodcut artist Jörg Schapff of Augsburg who printed a woodcut border on waste paper to wrap around the book and a later example is found on Hartlieb’s Chiromantie (1484).7A book printed in 1494 by Erhard Ratdolt, another early Augsburg printer (1442-1528), also included a dust-jacket produced by a binder or artist. Ratdolt who later worked in Verona may be responsible for carrying the use of dust-jackets on publications from Italy.8

11After a first appearance and brief period of use in the 15th century, however, the protective paper covering of books fell into disuse until its re-appearance nearly 400 years later.  

12The early 19th century brought mass-production of books as a result of the industrial revolution, and is in part credited with the use of, and need for, dust-jackets. Their use assured publishers that their products reached the consumer clean and without blemishes. Booksellers traveled around the countryside in open wagons, carried their books in suitcases and trunks, and frequently set up their stock out of doors, and outside shops on the sidewalks where they were exposed to the elements. Thus climate and the environment, as well as developments in shipping and distributing printed materials also influenced the development of the dust-jacket as books began to be moved en masse, often stacked in barrels, between countries with frequently still unreliable means of transportation and storage. Shipping was fraught with dangers, and books, among all manner of merchandise, needed extra protection.

13The single most important development, however, favoring production and use of dust-jackets was the advent of publishers’ cloth bindings in the 1820s. Although, in addition to various types of paper, a very rough, unlined canvas had been used during the preceding century to cover books, it had the drawback that adhesive could ooze through to the outside. The new, flexible, impregnated and starch-filled cloth, usually made of cotton, was lined with paper to assure safe application of the adhesive. Two Englishmen William Pickering and Archibald Leighton are usually associated with the early manufacture of book cloth around 1825-1830. Case bindings had replaced hand-bound volumes and book cloth accepted printing and even gold stamping easily, thereby rendering them reminiscent of earlier bindings with expensively hand-tooled covers. Cloth in a wide variety of colors, finishes and textures, leant itself to being deeply embossed and colorfully decorated, and stamped with plates that completely covered the boards with designs. The need to protect these often elaborate and beautifully rendered cloth bindings with details in gold against everyday wear and tear, called for special care which was met by the use of dust-jackets. Though they did little to protect the top edges against dust, they prevented abrasion of the covers especially when moving them in and out of shelves.9

Fig. 3 Lessings Werke, Wien, Leipzig, Prag, Verlag von Sigmund Bensinger. 1883.

Example of cloth cover with line and floral designs and center medallion in gold and black .

Credits: Photograph by Smith of book in her collection

14Appealing alike to customers and publishers because of the endless possililities of decorating it, the dust-jacket in its present form became a frequent companion to the book. The wrapper style, mimicking a wrapped gift and often sealed on the back, still found uses as well. However, like the clay envelopes, they had to be cut open and were then usually discarded; in consequence, very few wrappers survived and have been preserved.

  • 10  TANSELLE, G. T. , ‘Book-jackets, blurbs, and bibliographers’ IN The Library, Fifth Series, Vo. XXV (...)

15The dust-jacket in its earliest form simply listed the title and author on the front sheet, and soon also on the spine making identification of a shelved title easy. As far as can be ascertained the earliest European dust-jacket was used in England in 1833 on The Keepsake, an annual, published by Longman in London in November 1832, although Tanselle states it was intended to cover the book completely. Buff-colored, with a decorative border around the title printed in red, it also carried advertisements for other Longman titles on the back. It covered a binding of gilt-stamped moiré silk. Unfortunately, this rare piece was lost during transit to Oxford's Bodleian Library in 1952, but not before the English bibliophile John Carter photographed it; it now appears in Thomas Tanselle's article on dust-jackets.10

  • 11  Famous First Facts, 5th ed., New York, Wilson, 1997.

16Entry no. 1748 in Famous First Facts, contradicts the above named place of publication as it reads: “[The first] Book jacket was designed by John Keep for the Keepsake: a Gift for the Holidays, published in 1833 in New York City. It was variously called a book cover jacket, a book jacket, a dust cover, a dust-jacket, and a wrapper.11

17The earliest protective wrapping in the United States is mentioned on the Atlantic Souvenir for 1829, but the earliest dust-jacket in the United States is probably the one on The Bryant Festival at “The Century”, published by Appleton in 1896.

Dust-jacket design

  • 12  ROSNER, C. , The growth of the book-jacket. Cambridge (MA), Harvard University Press, 1954, p. xv.

18In The growth of the book-jacket, Charles Rosner12 links the emergence of the dust-jacket in Germany to the rise of a strong graphic design movement during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With publication of the journals Jugend and the humoristic series Simplizissimus, artists turned increasingly to the applied graphic arts. Their designs on and in books of some of the more controversial writers of the time, such as Kierkegaard, Maupassant and Zola, Hofmannsthal, Hauptmann and Schnitzler established a strong connection between writer and artist.

19In France, the art of the poster, so famously represented by Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), Theophile A. Steinlen (1859-1923), and Jean Louis Forain (1852-1931), influenced the marketing and selling of books to a large degree. Illustration 4 shows Toulouse-Lautrec’s dust-jacket design for Victor Joze’s Babylone d’Allemagne, a series of satirical accounts of corruption and debauchery in Germany. The title deliberately insults Berlin, also called the German Babylon, and caused an international stir when its publication was vehemently condemned by government officials.13

Fig. 4 Poster designed byToulouse-Lautrec

Fig. 4 Poster designed byToulouse-Lautrec

The offending design for Victor Joze’s Babylone d’Allemagne, 1894,  which ridiculed the German state, especially Berlin, referred to at the time as the German Babylon.

Credits: Wikimedia commons

  • 14  ROSNER, xvii.
  • 15  In London The Yellow Book: An illustrated quarterly published by Mathews and Land from 1894-1900 w (...)

20Due to their ephemeral nature, most dust-jackets from around the turn of the century have been lost. Fortunately, most dust-jackets designed by Toulouse-Lautrec between 1893 and 1901 have been preserved in the collection of Ludwig Charell.14 L’Edition Larousse, and Grasset, two of the early publishers decided to use illustrated dust-jackets in contrast to the very commonplace yellow jackets in which the more decadent novels were published both in France and England.15

  • 16  TANSELLE, p. 95.

21Tanselle states that few more than a dozen dust-jackets have been reported dating before 1875.16Dust-jackets predating the 1870s are extremely scarce which makes tracing their history in the US and England very difficult, and no more than tentative observations are justified. However, as with book production, the number of dust-jackets increased manifold during and after the turn of the century, and from the 1900s their development and design changes become easier to follow.

22Today the dust-jacket has become mainly a marketing tool which is expensive to design and produce. The graphic designer entrusted with this work has to coordinate his efforts with the author, the illustrator or photographer, the editor, the writer of the copy and the 'blurb'; the marketing team, and finally the printer, who often is someone other than the publisher of the book. This is a long and circuitous route to create a powerful product that is often separated thoughtlessly from the book, carelessly discarded, or cut up.

23Browsing the NYPLDigital Gallery of Dust-jackets from American and European Books 1926-1947,17 more than two thousand examples show the development of style and design of dust-jackets. One of the earliest examples with a very plain frame and small decorative elements but without giving away its contents covers Humoresque, by Humbert Wolfe (English poet and critic, 1885-1940), published by Ernest Benn in 1927.

Fig. 5  Humoresque by Humbert Wolfe

Fig. 5  Humoresque by Humbert Wolfe

The severity of the dust-jacket design for a book of poetry is relieved by the small design motives at the top and bottom of the frame.

Credits: Digital image ID: 487629 NYP (New York Public Library).

  • 18  To trace the development of dust jackets as produced for books published in the Everyman’s Library (...)

24This dust-jacket does not overshadow the book itself, nor interpret, or explain it - it is restrained, elegant, and contains only basic information. In contrast, more than just basics is included on the front-sheet of the dust-jacket on Everyman’s Library edition of Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1818-1882), published by Dutton. In addition to advertising Everyman’s complete Library series - it is v. 30 as stated on the spine - prominent newspaper reviews are displayed, certainly with an eye toward appealing to the customer’s instinct of collecting recommended volumes in a worthwhile series. The reader is urged to step inside the book where further information about the series is available on the inside of the jacket where all titles are listed.18

Fig. 6 Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope, published by Dutton in their Everyman’s Library series

Fig. 6 Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope, published by Dutton in their Everyman’s Library series

 Dust-jacket with several press reviews of Everyman’s Library publications.

Credits: Everyman’s Library Dust Jackets: Collecting Everyman's library19

25In stark contrast is the very content-related design on Ingvar Andersson's (1899-1974) Skanes Historia, published just 20 years later, in 1947. It represents charmingly the stork's nest atop a tall chimney, architectural details, farms and fields, trees and shrubs, the hilly terrain, and a large Stonehenge-like stone circle, places author and title in an interesting way on the cover and leaves no doubt as to the topic. Here the reflection of the content is fully intended and a representative picture is drawn, sure to catch a customer’s eye.

Fig. 7 Skane’s Historia by Ingvar Andersson

Fig. 7 Skane’s Historia by Ingvar Andersson

Clearly epressing the contents of the volume, this lively illustrated dust-jacket draws the reader into the book.

Credits: Digital image ID: 490262 NYPL (New York Public Library)

26Between the two extremes lies a multitude of artistically designed and executed dust-jackets, which follow the fashion of the time, from the more restrained art deco period, to the inter- and after-war period. They transitioned from a sentimentality reminiscent of magazine covers during the ‘50s, through the eclectic ‘60s, to the mini-poster-like designs in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Today all styles are found, (even dust-jackets of mylar without design) including the integration of minimal, often ambiguous pictorial content with intentionally artless - or depending on one’s viewpoint - especially sophisticated, typography.

Fig. 8 Polish music since Szymanowski, by Adrian Thomas, 2005

Fig. 8 Polish music since Szymanowski, by Adrian Thomas, 2005

A stark color scheme of black, white and red proves effective on a book of 20th century Polish music.  

Credits: Photograph by Smith of dust-jacket in her collection.

27In another approach and taking advantage of the dust-jacket as a blank canvas, the designer, using all available space, unifies covers and spine with a continuation of the graphic idea - often producing extraordinary dust-jackets as in Illustration 9.

Fig.  9 Lozano. Buenos Aires, Imagenes Vázquez [2006]

Fig.  9 Lozano. Buenos Aires, Imagenes Vázquez [2006]

Using all available space, repeating the design, and keeping text to a minimum produces this dust-jacket with a city-scape design on a book from South America.

Credits: Photograph by Smith of dust-jacket in her collection.

28Vast amounts of money are budgeted for dust-jacket design as even with electronic transmission of information, it is still likely the most direct advertisement medium used in the distribution and sale of books. Bookstore and vendor orders are still frequently based on physical, or electronic examination of the advance jackets and certainly no more direct marketing tool exists, or confronts the buyer, than the dust-jacketed displays on book racks and sales tables in stores or on the internet.

29Mentioned at the beginning of this essay, one of the more unusual uses of the dust-jacket occurred in December 2005 when Abebooks and Penguin Classics teamed up for an online charity auction to celebrate Penguin’s 60th anniversary, with benefits going to English PEN, an international charity in support of freedom in literature, and authors’ rights. A group of internationally known artists including fashion and shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, Ron Arad, Sir Paul Smith and Sam Taylor-Wood created dust-jackets for five novels; the cover designed by Blahnik for Emma by Flaubert, netted the charity $3,050.20

Library collections, collectors, and facsimiles/fakes

30What is the state of retention and use of book jackets in scholarly settings, public and school libraries? The answer is different in different settings.

  • 21  MASSEY, T. ,‘The best dressed book in Academe’ in Associates March 2005, v. 11, no. 3.

31Public and school libraries tend to keep dust-jackets with the books as they have proven to enhance circulation, especially in the children's collections. Tinker Massey (University of South Carolina Libraries) describes in detail the year-long study he carried out at his library with Browsing Collection books transferred to the stacks, to see the effect dust-jacketed books have on the circulation of stacks materials. The study proved that circulation of jacketed books was more than three times that of non-jacketed books, namely 54% for jacketed books versus 15% for those without jackets. Since the study was not done with children’s books, but with the browsing collection, it proves that visual clues strongly appeal to and influence the use of materials also by adults.21

  • 22  PETROSKI, H. , The book on the bookshelf. New York,  Alfred A. Knopf, Distributed by Random House, (...)

32Money, staff, and time constraints alone force most academic libraries to dispense with the dust-jacket. Preservation librarians consider them breeding grounds for mold and harborers of insects. Processing staff look on them as nuisances since they need additional handling when applying labels, call numbers, etc. The administration sees the increased cost per item. In addition, dust-jackets add considerably to space requirements. Henry Petroski in The book on the bookshelf22 states that approximately 2.5% of shelf space has to be allowed for dust-jackets and more if they are covered in mylar sleeves to protect them. Multiplied by hundreds of thousands of books, it is easy to see that space becomes an acute issue.

  • 23  TANSELLE, [91]
  • 24  SCHWARTZ, J. , 1000 obscure points. London, 1931, p. ix.

33The dust-jacket, though by scholars now often considered primary research material, was, for most of its time, not considered worthy of more than cursory attention because it was not a permanent part of the book, and collecting or retaining it was derided.23 Jacob Schwartz emphasising this view, speaks about various kinds of “cracked collectors” who collect bookjackets rather than books and asks: “What, a library, composed of ‘chemises’ only!24

34Just why should the dust-jacket - the removable, yet integral, part of the book – be valuable to the publisher, bookseller, reader and collector? Because its design is a social statement and a witness to economic conditions and technological innovations. It reflects the current state of creative endeavor and output produced through various media using the latest printing and reproducing technology and materials. Recently dust-jackets have left the realm of paper and have been made of plastics such as mylar, and Tyvek, a material mostly used for shipping envelopes. They do not tear and have the great advantage of producing superior color printing.

35As a rule, basic information, author, title, and sometimes the publisher are shown on the front, expressed in graphic design in text and images and sometimes representative of the topic. Readers enjoy this instant visual identification, and can find added biographical information on the flaps. In libraries where the books are cataloged, however, the additional information aids considerably in constructing the bibliographic record.

36This often hard to find material may include a photograph of an author, birth and death dates, past works, professional associations, home town, marital status, family connections, hobbies and other interests, which help distinguish especially between authors with the same names, as in the case of minor writers. Important clues, often only available on the dust-jacket and its blurbs become an indispensable tool in the professional evaluation and description of the book. Details of Illustrations, the illustrator, and the translator are seldom, or at least not as a matter of fact, mentioned elsewhere in the book, nor does one often find a reference to the credentials of the reviewer other than on dust-jackets. Further, mention of the intended audience or reading level, evaluative - it is hoped unbiased - comments, a brief summary, an abstract or even excerpt, provide additional points for describing the book correctly. Book reviews, though often enough heavily slanted towards increasing sales, are helpful, but have to be used with discretion. Prominent writers in related fields, and illustrators may contribute reviews, and comment on books by established authors.

37From the view of the cataloger who describes the book, the dust-jacket becomes an information-rich aid. References to the publishing history or publishing program of a firm are witness to prevailing literary tastes, while prices associated with various editions, printed on the blurb (often divided from the text by a perforated line across one of the corners) establish a history of pricing structure of the publisher. These clues help check, assess and access past publications issued in series or special editions and are reasons that argue for the retention of the dust-jacket as an original and integral part of the published work, through the stages of bibliographic description, and beyond.  

38In the 1970s and 1980s the magazine Antiquarian Book Monthly Review published several articles about the importance of dust-jackets and called for bibliographers to pay greater attention to them in descriptive bibliographies. Thirty years later, with increased electronic access to library holdings and offerings by on-line book dealers, this call for added attention has increased in importance, and bibliographic records, especially those for special and rare collections worldwide, benefit by inclusion of as many distinguishing details as possible. Differences in dust-jackets of various printings and editions have proven enormously helpful to the collector and bibliophile, and a precise, inclusive bibliographic description contributes to locating rare and special items successfully - now made even more convenient through numerous online finding tools such as WorldCat, Google, etc.

  • 25  O’CONNOR, B.C., ,and M.K., O’CONNOR ‘Book jacket as access mechanism: An attribute rich resource f (...)

39Even, or especially in, the internet age, justification for retention of the dust-jacket is reflected in Brian and Mary K. O’Connor’s evaluative article “Book jacket as: An attribute-rich resource for functional access to academic books” in which they posit that ”The book jacket on an academic book provides a user-centered access mechanism. Unlike the representations in standard access systems, the book jacket is a multi-faceted and partly evaluative representation of the book. As such, it can provide a significant means for the scholarly searcher to reduce search time and make informed selections, providing topical information and significant clues as to linguistic, conceptual, and critical suitability.”  The authors present in tabulated form the results of their study, including the number of dust-jackets with access attributes as a percentage of the total. The most numerous attribute fell under “Subject indicators” with 96.1%; the lowest was “User description” with 46.9%, showing that informational elements on dust-jackets can aid in determining the book’s “aboutness” and contribute substantially to decisions about its suitability for research.25

40While some libraries do retain the jacket on the book  - e.g. the Florida History collection in the Baldwin Library at the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida - others keep them in a separate file, indexed or cataloged, and accessible to the researcher.  The De Grummond Children’s Literature Collection in Hattiesburg, Mississippi contains dust-jackets, designed by Nora S. Unwin and numerous other illustrators, as well as examples of the intermediate design steps, such as color separations, paste-ups, and dummies. Since the collection is openly available for research it is especially valuable for, and used by students in the fields of graphic design, book and publishing history, providing insight into the complex process from concept to design to the production of the dust-jacket.26

41The Deutsche Forschungs-Gemeinschaft Projekt as part of the “Historische Bestände Westfalen” study, directed by Dr. Nicola Assmann, at the University of Münster, is conducting an ongoing systematic study and cataloging of dust-jackets from books produced between 1900 and the middle of the 1950s, stored at the Gymnasium Petrinum in Recklinghausen in Germany.27 Further collections can be found in Germany at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, the Buchmuseum der Deutschen Bücherei in Leipzig, at the Klingspor Museum (a museum for modern international book art, typography and calligraphy) in Offenbach, among others.

42Libraries with sizeable dust-jacket collections also frequently mount thematic displays.28 The First International Book-Jacket Exhibition was held at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 1949; in the United States the Book Jacket Designer’s Guild – established mainly to combat “…"the stunt jacket that screams for your attention, and then dares you to guess what the book is about...the burlap backgrounds, the airbrush dollies and similar cliches as well as the all-too-many good illustrations that (are) stretched, squeezed, tortured and mutilated to fit a jacket …." - began holding exhibitions one year earlier. The fourth exhibition by this organization was held in 1951, but none is mentioned later as the Guild was discontinued in the mid 1950s. 29

43In the rare book collectors’ world the dust-jacket becomes one of the most important attributes of the book in question. Antiquarian and out-of-print dealers routinely note the presence and condition of dust-jackets which usually increases the value of a publication. The fact that the same dust-jacket may have been used on different editions of the same book, or that the same design may have been used with slight variations on different titles, the fact that editions that were issued without dust-jackets may have “acquired” them in the course of being bought and sold, can be vital clues to the book’s history. They can enrich and facilitate - or complicate - the search for provenance.

  • 30  BAMBERGER, A., ”How to spot and identify a facsimile book dust jacket”. 2003. http://www.artbusine (...)
  • 31 The  British Rare Book Society had been founded by members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Associati (...)
  • 32  CONGALTON, T., “Another perspective on dust-jackets” IN ABAA Newsletter, Vol. XVII, No. 2, Spring (...)

44Alan Bamberger, art consultant, advisor, author, syndicated columnist and appraiser, says that “Rare dust-jackets mean big bucks in the antiquarian book business. For example, a first edition of The Great Gatsby or The Maltese Falcon in good condition without a dust-jacket (also spelled dustjacket) sells for about $2000; with dust-jacket in fine condition, about $100,000.30”In his tips on how to spot imitations and fakes he advises the use of a battery-powered pocket microscope (60X or 100X) to differentiate between digital or ink jet printing and offset printing on older examples. If the dust-jacket looks too new, if a forty year old dust-jacket shows no wear, or the edges are fresh and new and uniform in color, if the creases of the flaps show no wear although the book does, the dust-jacket may be a facsimile or fake. For an interesting discussion covering all views on the subject and its attendant ramifications, see the extensive exchange between members of the Rare Book Society31 as well as Tom Congalton’s article in the Spring 2006 issue of the ABAA Newsletter.32

  • 33  JERMANN, P. ,“Dust jackets.” On ConsDistList, Sept. 20, 1995.

45Importance of, and demand for original dust-jackets has lead to a new industry that manufactures and trades in facsimile and fake dust-jackets. They can also be reproduced upon demand by firms, many of which clearly advertise that their product is a copy.33

46A quick search on Google for ‘facsimile dustjackets’ brings to light a plethora of websites such as Facsimile Dustjackets, L.L.P..34 Most facsimiles are available for $22 a jacket, the proceeds from the sale fund the Dust-jacket Archive which now includes more than 50,000 scans. Cooperation with the author in producing the dust-jacket is stressed by another firm, where design fees to accompany self-published works range from $250 to well over $1000, depending on the complexity of the design and the author’s involvement in the design process.35

Preservation considerations

47The decision to retain dust-jackets brings with it a commitment to preserve them.

    • 36  SCHROCK, N., On ConsDistList, Sept. 27, 1995. Subject: “Dust jackets.”

    One way to ensure their longevity is to ‘protect the protectors’ by covering them with polyester or mylar sleeves. Although expense and handling are added to the cost and maintenance of books, they serve an important preservation purpose. The sleeves which come in various configurations, with or without paper backing, provide additional protection against wear, abrasion, and light damage. Using mylar sleeves keeps the collection neat, but more importantly, the need for some repairs is reduced - repairs which are time-consuming and expensive when performed in-house, and more so when the book has to be rebound. For instance, Nancy Schrock cites Gregor Trinkaus-Randall’s figure of 15% hinge damage, an easier repair, compared to 5.6% spine damage, a much more time-consuming and expensive repair, on dust-jacketed volumes in some Massachusetts public libraries.36The mylar sleeve provides an extra millimeter or so above the dust jacket it covers and absorbs some wear to head-caps and spines resulting from pulling books off the shelf by the headbands. Unfortunately, once the dust-jacket itself is severely damaged, it may have to be discarded, as only in rare cases would the time and money needed to obtain another copy make that a viable option. Some repairs can be affected for instance at the in-house repair station of the library by a person trained in repairing library materials.

  • Much damage to dust-jackets will be avoided if processing units are instructed never to attach the dust-jacket to the book by taping it to the inside of covering boards. Tape is undoubtedly one of the most difficult adherants to remove and usually causes damage to both the dust-jacket and the book cover – if not the outside, then the inside – where they are often attached to illustrated endsheets.

  • Price labels should not be obliterated or removed even if the book was acquired as a gift, as they are a clear indication of the economic conditions at the time.

  • Dust-jackets collected for academic research can be saved without sleeves as inserting fragile and/or brittle dust-jackets is often difficult and tears and breaks can ensue easily. But they should be interleafed with buffered, acid-free paper and stored in a drawer, preferably in a metal cabinet. For those cases where covering with a sleeve is preferred, Archival Products has introduced the non-glare polypropylene book cover which simply wraps around the book without he need for creasing, and cuts down the time it takes to apply a complete sleeve.37Cellulose-acetate based materials, that can give off a vinegar-like smell when they deteriorate, are not to be used to cover the dust-jackets.

    • 38  SMITH, M., "Silverfish – their activities and how to stop them” In Archival Products News, v. 10, (...)

    Visual inspection and examination of the dust jacket storage area at regular intervals are essential to detect any incipient silverfish or mold infestation. Cleanliness of the storage area and the use of silverfish repellent packets will prevent most silverfish damage. 38

  • As provided for all library materials, relative humidity and temperature should be kept at proper levels and as evenly as possible in dust-jacket storage areas. Fluctuations will affect paper-based dust jackets – too high a temperature and light can cause embrittlement, and  high humidity can lead to swelling of the materials with resulting mold outbreaks.

    • 39  JOHNSON, A., The repair of cloth bindings: A manual. New Castle (Delaware), Oak Knoll Press, 2002. (...)

    To maintain the dust-jackets on a circulating collection, the same materials and procedures used for book repairs are indicated. Dust-jacket repair gets relatively short shrift in the preservation literature, with some exceptions. One such is Arthur Johnson’s manual on repair of cloth bindings in which he gives instructions for backing a damaged dust-jacket with a suitable piece of paper, and recommends the same procedures for dealing with tears, broken edges and soiled spots on dust-jackets as are used on books. 39

  • The first step in the repair process is to remove the dust-jackets and and turn them inside-out to clear any accumulated dirt and dust with a soft natural bristle brush.

  • Frayed edges can be reinforced with invisible archival mending tape, or preferably with a strip of stronger acid-free Japanese tissue paper complementary to the weight of the jacket.  This is to be adhered with methyl cellulose, not PVA.

  • Tears can be repaired with small pieces of archival tape, or if the edges have enough shear (overlap), with a small amount of PVA.

  • Staff who are properly instructed with the procedures and work under supervision can clean dust-jackets produced on shiny paper, as well as the sleeves. A 50:50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and water is carefully dabbed or wiped on with a soft cloth, rinsed with a cloth dipped in clear water and wrung out till barely moist, then carefullly dried with a soft cloth.

  • Smoke sponges made of vulcanized natural rubber can also be used for cleaning and are effective in many instances.

  • It is not recommended to in-fill with colored pencils or watercolor paints as those newly colored areas will stand out, age differently, and may be construed as an attempt to disguise a repair or restoration which is ethically and esthetically inexcusable.

  • As with the repair and restoration of books, it is better to err on the side of less intervention rather than more.

  • Library supply vendors publish instructions for chosing the right dust-jacket protectors which are manufactured in a wide variety of formats, thicknesses and sizes. Northeast Document Conservation Center has a short leaflet online with instructions to make a polyester film book jacket for books with or without dust-jackets.40

  • Finally, if the collection warrants it, the process of de-acidification should be considered to prevent further deterioration of the paper jacket.

Summary

48How libraries spend their funds becomes of utmost importance as budgets for print materials are decreasing, and the proliferation of electronically available resources and their effects on the traditional role and use of libraries is constantly changing. Decisions are made carefully about the materials to collect, maintain and retain. Into this decision-making process falls the fate of the humble object, the dust-jacket. Cost, handling, space needs, and their repair argue against keeping them - additional access points, biographical information, publication information, and graphic design elements used in different areas of study, argue for their retention.

  • 41 BOEFF, R.,  quoting KROEHL, H.F. , Der Buchumschlag als Gegenstand kommunktionswissenschaftlicher U (...)

49Collectors of fine and rare books consider them an indispensable part of the item, collectors of first editions would scarcely consider purchasing a volume that had lost its dust-jacket as issued. Some unscrupulous forgers capitalize on this by producing fakes and forgeries. A new, albeit small, industry has sprung up producing facsimiles on demand which serve a variety of legitimate purposes. Children delight in the dust-jacket’s visual promise, adults remove them because they are irritating and uncomfortable while reading. A study conducted in Germany found that 80% of readers do not discard the dust-jacket, though many remove it before reading, only to put it back on the book afterwards.41They are tossed aside and disposed of, or cut up and their dissected parts are pasted inside the covers, where they often obscure illustrated endpapers.

50At this time the writer could find no evidence that a concentrated effort is being made in the US to collect dust-jackets in a systematic fashion, except in very limited cases for those produced by some noted artists. This integral part of the published book is being preserved mainly in our school and public libraries and by interested book collectors. As the study of the book as a physical object continues to gain recognition as an academic discipline, knowledge about the history and development of the dust-jacket as an integral part of the book will become more complete. It is encouraging and to the credit of the bookbinding community as well as to university and college programs, that dust-jackets and their relatives, are becoming components of the relatively new, but steadily expanding scholarly discipline of book studies.

Haut de page

Notes

1  Penguin Designer Classics Charity Auction. http://www.abebooks.co.uk/docs/Featured/Penguin06.shtml#mb.  Viewed January 3, 2014.

2  Harrod’s librarians' glossary of terms used in librarianship, documentation and the book crafts,  7th ed. Compiled by Ray Prytherch. Aldershot, Gower, 1990, pp. 78, 212, 667.

3  Book jacket. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/book+jacket?s. Viewed January 3, 2014.

4 http://www.abc-clio.com/ODLIS/searchODLIS.aspx.  Viewed January 3, 2014   

5  A detailed historical description of the development of writing which grew out of the use of tokens and their impressions on clay envelopes surrounding them, is found in Denise Schmandt-Besserat’s When writing met art: From symbol to story. Austin, University of Texas Press, 2007.

6  SMITH, M.and BLOXAM J., "The Medieval Girdle Book Project" v. 3, n. 4. International Journal of the Book, Melbourne, Australia, 2005, pp. 15 – 24.) For descriptions and comparisons or various covering styles in addition to leather vindings, see Jan Storm van Leeuwen “The well-shirted bookbinding: On chemise bindings and Hülleneinbände” in Theatrum orbis librorum: liber amicorum presented to Nico Israel on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Utrecht, HES Publishers, Forum Antiquarian Booksellers, c. 1989.

7  BOEFF. R.,  “Schutzumschlag und Umschlagschutz. Die Archivierung und Verwaltung von Schutzumschlägen in der Universitäts- und Stadbibliothek Köln.” kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/volltexte/2009/2634/pdf/Schutzumschlaege.pdf. Boeff cites the following about the earliest dust jackets: Die Schwenke-Sammlung gotischer Stempel- und Einbanddurchreibungen. Nach Motiven geordnet und nach Werkstätten bestimmt und beschrieben von Ilse Schunke, fortgeführt von Konrad von Rabenau. Bd. 2: Werkstätten, Berlin 1996 (Beiträge zur Inkunabelkunde, Folge 3, 10),p. 9, and Lore Sprangel-Krafft. Die spätgotischen Einbände an den Inkunabeln der Universitätsbiblithek Würzburg. Würzburg 2000 (Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Bistums und Hochstifts Würzburg 55),  p. 54.

8  MAZAL, O., Einbandkunde. Die Geschichte des Bucheinbands, Wiesbaden, 1997. (Elemente des Buch- und Bibliothekswesens, Bd. 14), p. 324-328.

9  http://bindings.lib.ua.edu/gallery/grain.html. Viewed January 3, 2014.

10  TANSELLE, G. T. , ‘Book-jackets, blurbs, and bibliographers’ IN The Library, Fifth Series, Vo. XXVI, No. 2, June 1971, pp. [91] – 134.

11  Famous First Facts, 5th ed., New York, Wilson, 1997.

12  ROSNER, C. , The growth of the book-jacket. Cambridge (MA), Harvard University Press, 1954, p. xv.

13 Yale University Art Gallery eCatalogue.  http://ecatalogue.art.yale.edu/detail.htm?objectId=48073. Viewed January 3, 2014.

14  ROSNER, xvii.

15  In London The Yellow Book: An illustrated quarterly published by Mathews and Land from 1894-1900 with Beardsley as the art director, copied the use of yellow covers “… because many brilliant story painters and picture writers cannot get their best stuff accepted in conventional magazines, either because they are not topical, or perhaps a little risque.” See A History of graphic design at http://guity-novin.blogspot.com/search?q=dust+ jackets. Viewed January 4, 2014.

16  TANSELLE, p. 95.

17 17 http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/explore/dgexplore.cfm?col_id=157, Viewed January 3, 2014.

18  To trace the development of dust jackets as produced for books published in the Everyman’s Library series see: http://www.everymanslibrarycollecting.com/jackets.html.   Viewed January 3, 2014 .

19  http://www.everymanslibrarycollecting.com/jackets.html. Viewed March 29, 2009.

20  http://www.abebooks.com/docs/Featured/Penguin06B.shtml.  Viewed January 3, 2014.

See also note (1).

21  MASSEY, T. ,‘The best dressed book in Academe’ in Associates March 2005, v. 11, no. 3.

22  PETROSKI, H. , The book on the bookshelf. New York,  Alfred A. Knopf, Distributed by Random House, 1999.

23  TANSELLE, [91]

24  SCHWARTZ, J. , 1000 obscure points. London, 1931, p. ix.

25  O’CONNOR, B.C., ,and M.K., O’CONNOR ‘Book jacket as access mechanism: An attribute rich resource for functional access to academic books’. http://www.firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/616/537. Viewed January 3, 2014.

26  http://www.lib.usm.edu/legacy/degrum/public_html/html/aboutus-welcome.shtml. Viewed January 3, 2014.

27  http://www.kulturerbe-digital.de/en/projekte/9_38_393731.php. Viewed January 3, 2014. Also Nicola ASSMANN “Schutzumschläge: zur exemplarischen Erschließung eines graphischen Buchmediums mit eigener Tradition” in EinbandForschung – Informationsblatt des Arbeitskreises für die Erfassung und Erschließung historischer Bucheinbände. Heft 22, April 2008, p. 56, 57.

28  FINDLAY, J. A., "Brief history of the book jacket." In Pictorial Covers: An exhibition of American Book Jackets, 1920-1950. Bienes Center for the Literary Arts, The Dianne and Michael Bienes Special Collections and Rare Book Library. Broward County, FL. 1997.

29  http://rijkhart.home.xs4all.nl/papersite/bjdg.html. Viewed January 3, 2014.

30  BAMBERGER, A., ”How to spot and identify a facsimile book dust jacket”. 2003. http://www.artbusiness.com/facsdj.html.  Viewed January 3, 2014.

31 The  British Rare Book Society had been founded by members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association. (International). The lively discussion mainly between Julian Rota, and Lawrence Worms was accessible online, but has unfortunately been removed in the intervening years.

32  CONGALTON, T., “Another perspective on dust-jackets” IN ABAA Newsletter, Vol. XVII, No. 2, Spring 2006.

33  JERMANN, P. ,“Dust jackets.” On ConsDistList, Sept. 20, 1995.

34  http://www.facsimiledustjackets.com/cgi-bin/fdj455/index.html. Viewed January 3, 2014.

35  http://www.selfpublishing.com/design/custom/cover-design/.Viewed January 3, 2014.

36  SCHROCK, N., On ConsDistList, Sept. 27, 1995. Subject: “Dust jackets.”

37  http://www.archival.com/productcatalog/nonglarebookcover.shtml, Viewed January 3, 2014

38  SMITH, M., "Silverfish – their activities and how to stop them” In Archival Products News, v. 10, no. 1, 2003, p. [1] – 4.

39  JOHNSON, A., The repair of cloth bindings: A manual. New Castle (Delaware), Oak Knoll Press, 2002. p. 84-85)

40  http://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/4.-storage-and-handling/4.8-polyester-film-book-jacket. Viewed January 3, 2014.    

41 BOEFF, R.,  quoting KROEHL, H.F. , Der Buchumschlag als Gegenstand kommunktionswissenschaftlicher Untersuchungen. Mainz Universität, Dissertation, 1980, p. 180. Also KROEHL, H.F.  Buch und Umschlag im Test. Dortmund, Harenberg, 1984, p. 83.

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1  “Annunciation” by a master from the circle of Juan Mari
Légende Spanish illuminated manuscript, c. 1460, in a Hüllenbuch-style binding of red velvet with tassels and brass furniture. Royal Library, The Hague.
Crédits Credits: VISAD Amsterdam.
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/3786/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 796k
Titre Fig. 2  St. Anthony by Martin Schongauer, cc. 1470, Tempera on wood.
Légende St. Anthony with Tau cross, swine and portrait of the donor, carries the girdle book by hand.
Crédits Credits: Musée d’Unterlinden, Colmar, France
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/3786/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 176k
Légende Example of cloth cover with line and floral designs and center medallion in gold and black .
Crédits Credits: Photograph by Smith of book in her collection
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/3786/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 6,2M
Titre Fig. 4 Poster designed byToulouse-Lautrec
Légende The offending design for Victor Joze’s Babylone d’Allemagne, 1894,  which ridiculed the German state, especially Berlin, referred to at the time as the German Babylon.
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/3786/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 188k
Titre Fig. 5  Humoresque by Humbert Wolfe
Légende The severity of the dust-jacket design for a book of poetry is relieved by the small design motives at the top and bottom of the frame.
Crédits Credits: Digital image ID: 487629 NYP (New York Public Library).
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/3786/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 212k
Titre Fig. 6 Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope, published by Dutton in their Everyman’s Library series
Légende  Dust-jacket with several press reviews of Everyman’s Library publications.
Crédits Credits: Everyman’s Library Dust Jackets: Collecting Everyman's library19
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/3786/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,8M
Titre Fig. 7 Skane’s Historia by Ingvar Andersson
Légende Clearly epressing the contents of the volume, this lively illustrated dust-jacket draws the reader into the book.
Crédits Credits: Digital image ID: 490262 NYPL (New York Public Library)
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/3786/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 524k
Titre Fig. 8 Polish music since Szymanowski, by Adrian Thomas, 2005
Légende A stark color scheme of black, white and red proves effective on a book of 20th century Polish music.  
Crédits Credits: Photograph by Smith of dust-jacket in her collection.
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/3786/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 200k
Titre Fig.  9 Lozano. Buenos Aires, Imagenes Vázquez [2006]
Légende Using all available space, repeating the design, and keeping text to a minimum produces this dust-jacket with a city-scape design on a book from South America.
Crédits Credits: Photograph by Smith of dust-jacket in her collection.
URL http://ceroart.revues.org/docannexe/image/3786/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 3,8M
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Margit J Smith, « The dust-jacket considered  », CeROArt [En ligne], 9 | 2014, mis en ligne le 12 janvier 2014, consulté le 26 juin 2017. URL : http://ceroart.revues.org/3786

Haut de page

Auteur

Margit J Smith

Three years ago Prof. Smith retired after nearly twenty years from the position as Head of Cataloging and Preservation Programs at Copley Library of the University of San Diego. In addition to being a librarian, she is a hand bookbinder and has over the past several years begun to research and write about early and medieval book structures. She lives and works in San Diego, and maintains a bookbinding studio at her home.

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
CeROArt – Conservation, exposition, restauration d'objets d'arts est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Les cahiers de Revues.org