Dust Jacket

What is the point of dust jackets? The clue can’t be in the name: on the shelf, the most dust-prone part of a book is the top, which a jacket doesn’t cover. Decoratively, too, they are a recipe for disappointment. The jacket remains an unnecessary and vulnerable encumbrance. That at least, is how it has always seemed to me – and some in the book trade appear to be reaching the same conclusion. (Robins 2010)

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 grab of the book, is so frequently neglected in favor of today’s multicolored jacket. (Tschichold 1991 [1975], 10)

Book buyers are divided over whether to retain or discard them. Librarians, who always discarded, are rebuked for destroying book history. Book historians dispute whether the jacket is even part of the book. Bibliographers don’t know whether to describe jackets, or, if they do, what they should say about them. And second-hand booksellers rejoice in the confusion, some marking up prices furiously, others shaking their heads in wonder at this further proof of the idiocy, as they see it, of the ‘‘modern first’’ market.
A misapprehension vaguely persists that dust jackets are an invention of the twentieth century. Carter and Tandselle demonstrated that form of protective book covering can be traced back to the eighteenth century. Dust jackets have long been noticed as design objects: the first International Book-Jacket Exhibition was held at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1949. (Fergusson 2012)

Different from the cover, the jacket bore the title of the book and often further particulars also on the 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 permanet integument, and the protective jacket as the carrier of advertising. It is regrettable that over the past thirty years the quality of the book covers has declined; at the same time the design and form of the jacket, which lures the buyer, has been further and further refined. (Tschichold 1991 [1975], 61)

Vast 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. Just 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. Importance of, and demand for original dust-jackets has lead to a new industry that manufactures and trades in facsimile and fake dust-jackets. Thay can also be reproduced upon demand by firms, many of which clearly advertise that their product is a copy. (Smith 2014)

Beautiful, careful typesetting is not forbidden, but the jacket design should be such that it will be discarded without any misgivings once read, like any brochure. This is the only way to counter the unpleasent habit of some people who, like a bookseller, put jacketed books on their shelves. I will shelve a book that is still in its jacket only if the cover is even uglier than the jacket is. Unfortunately, there are more such every year! (Tschichold 1991 [1975], 63)



SOBRECAPA – Folha impressa, de papel forte ou de qualquer outro material, que envolve a capa de um livro quando da sua publicação. Capa de protecção. Cobrecapa. Sobrecoberta. Guarda-pó. Jaqueta. Dust jacket. Camisa. Não faz parte dele e é facilmente separável; muito usada nos últimos anos, o seu emprego gene- ralizou-se tanto para livros brochados como para livros encadernados; tem a vantagem de tornar o livro mais atraente servindo, deste modo, fins de propaganda comercial, além de que o resguarda e protege, especialmente se se trata de uma edição de luxo.

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. cobertura. 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.

(Faria e Perição, 2008: 197, 1145)



Robins, Peter. (2010). The Guardian. No Dustjackets required. [Consult. 2015-10-15]. Disponível em: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2010/feb/24/no-dustjacket-required
Tschichold, Jan. (1991). The Form of the Book: Essays on the Morality of Good Design. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks. Original edition, 1975.
Fergusson, James. (2012). The Times Literary Supplement. The Importance of Dust-Jackets. [Consult. 2015-10-15]. Disponível em: http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1029591.ece
Smith, Margit J. (2014). CeROArt. The Dust-Jacket Considered. [Consult. 2015-10-15]. Disponível em: http://ceroart.revues.org/3786?lang=en
FariaMaria Isabel, e Pericão, Maria da Graça. (2008). Dicionário do Livro: da escrita ao livro electrónico. Coimbra: Almedina.



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