03 November 2012

On Dust Jackets and Snow

Sometime when the girl was quite small, I systematically took all of the dust jackets off of all the the books in her room, because she was doing it anyway. And my latent OCD was kicking in and I didn't want the dust jackets lost or damaged so I put them away for safe keeping.

In my enforced absence from the office, thanks to Sandy, I went on a clean-up-the-girl's-room rampage and, sigh, edited her library. In the process, I reunited all of the dust-jackets with their books.

I'm very conflicted about dust jackets.


They're usually pretty, and often a book without its jacket looks boring and naked. If they come with the book, they should stay with the book - it is as it was meant to be.


They slip around and make it harder to read the book. And you can't use the flap of a dust jacket as a bookmark because it distorts the dust jacket which then never lies quite straight again. (Oh, is that more of my OCD showing?)

It's quite possible to design a lovely book without need for a dust jacket - all the handsome hardcovers in the New York Review of Books Children's Collection have printed covers with red fabric spines. The worst are the picture books with jackets that are the very duplicate of the printed hardcover - it seems such a waste of paper!

Then again, once in a while, the dust jacket actually adds something wonderful to the book. A case in point is Eric Carle's Dream Snow. It has a clear acetate cover, printed with snowflakes, like the overlays within the book.

Without the jacket, there's no snow on the cover. With it, it's magic. Every year at Christmas, in the years after the great storing of the dust jackets, I'd pick up Dream Snow to read it aloud, and I'd cringe to myself about the missing dust jacket. Now, it's right again. I can't wait for Christmas.

So, dear readers, are you pro or con dust jackets? Do you keep them until they're tattered, and gently repair them with archival tape, or will you not have them in the house?


Awesome Mom said...

Con, I throw them out as soon as I get them in my house. If I don't they end up in the trash any way because they wander off and get lost. I can't read with them on my book unless they are taped on like they do for library books.

Swistle said...

I too am conflicted.

On my own books, I keep the dust jackets. But when I read the book, I set the dust jacket aside because it bugs me. Then I put it back on to store the book on the shelf.

With kid books, I figure we are likely to donate hardcovers to the library, and the hardcovers are WAY more useful to the library WITH dustjackets. So I set the dustjackets aside, and reunite upon donating.

Mayberry said...

Like you, I have removed all the kid book dustjackets and stored them separately. For the longest time my girl proudly referred to them as her own special "collection."

Heide Estes said...

I took off all the kid dust jackets because they were getting destroyed during kid reading. I kept a few of the loveliest ones, but got rid of them all in a move a couple of years ago.

De said...

I love dust jackets. I do use them as bookmarks. My husband removes them. I think they're rather sad in their flaccid state and I'd rather throw them out than store them.

Jeanne said...

I've never heard of anyone taking off the dust jacket before. Really. We trash them if they're too deteriorated to stay on anymore. There's a lovely one on our copy of Chabon's book of essays Maps and Legends which I keep having to repair with tape because I tear it getting the book on and off of our tightly-packed bookshelves.

snyderhayes said...

Con - I can't stand them. Early on, I saved the kids' book covers because they do tend to be pretty, but I've given up over the years.

FreshHell said...

Thorn in my side. The anti-Hoarder in me wants to throw them away. My husband has removed them from the kids' books and then stores them away. Every so often, I run into a bunch of them and out they go! Nobody misses them and with kid's books - what's the point? I have no intention of selling the books and the dust jackets - at this point - add nothing to the value. They are an annoyance and just get destroyed if kept on and clutter up storage space if kept off. Toss, I say.

Mental P Mama said...

Ohhhh Eric Carle. I miss those days. And those book jackets.

tara said...

I always remove them because they get all slippery as you said. But then I put them back on once I'm finished reading.


Kyla said...

I take them off for reading and put them back on later.