Jacket and Cover

Jacket and Cover

The Disposable and Non-Disposable Visual Identities of a Book

The Disposable Visual Identity of a Book (Jacket)

PÁGINA DE COBERTURA -folha de papel sobre a qual se imprime o título da obra e que a envolve, enquanto brochura; nos livros modernos é usualmente feita em papel colorido, com desenhos mais ou menos vivos e atraentes.”

Maria Isabel Faria e Maria da Graça Pericão, 2008

Only the book jacket offers the opportunity to let formal fantasy reign for a time. But it is no mistake to strive for an approximation between the typography of the jacket and that of the book. The jacket is first and foremost a small poster, an eye-catcher, where much is allowed that would be unseemly within the pages of the book itself. It is a pity that the cover, the true garb of a book, is so frequently neglected in favor of today’s multicolored jacket. Perhaps for this reason many people have fallen into the bad habit of placing books on the shelf while still in their jackets. I could understand this if the cover were poorly designed or even repulsive. But as a rule, book jackets belong in the waste paper basket, like empty cigarette packages.”

Since the jacket is not part and parcel of the book, its design and graphic form need not necessarily follow the shape of the book. It is entirely permissible to enclose a noble and cultivated cover in a crass jacket designed solely for the purpose of attracting customers.”

Those who do not trust their fingers to be clean may read a book while it is still protected by the jacket. But unless he is a collector of book jackets as samples of graphic art, the genuine reader discards it before he begins. Even the collector will remove the jacket and save it in a box. Books that are still inside their jackets cannot be held very well, and the visible advertising is annoying.”

Jan Tschichold, 1975

The Non-Disposable Visual Identity of a Book (Cover)

CAPA – Parte exterior de um documento, seja de que matéria for, destinada a protegê-lo; pode conter o título da obra, o nome do autor e do editor, a data, etc.”

– Maria Isabel Faria e Maria da Graça Pericão, 2008

As for the book itself, it is the supreme duty of responsible designers to divest themselves of all ambition for self-expression. They are not the master of the written word but its humble servants.”

Different from the cover, the jacket bore the title of the book and often further particulars also on the front panel. At times this was merely a straightforward copy of the title page with, perhaps, a border drawn around it. In the first decades of our century it was the cover itself that, to its detriment, became the carrier of a marketing tool: the title. In time, a separation evolved again between the book cover as the permanent integument, and the protective jacket as the carrier of advertising.”

The true garment of the book is its cover; the jacket is merely the raincoat.”

Jan Tschichold, 1975


Tschichold, Jan. 1991. The Form of the Book: Essays on the Morality of Good Design. Original edition, 1975

Faria, Maria Isabel & Pericão, Maria Graça. 2008. Dicionário do Livro. Edições Almedila, SA: Coimbra.



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