Under the Dust Cover
There is just something about a hardcover book. It has class and prestige. And it sure looks great sitting on a bookshelf or stacked on a coffee table.
I recently participated in a #barebookstack challenge on Instagram where we were encouraged to strip off the dust covers of our hardcover books and take a peek underneath.
The dust cover, or dust jacket, has been around since the 1800s. Although, some book historians say there are records that date farther back. In the printing industry, it became the practice to use a dust cover because books were not printed with a formal hard binding. Then, as the hard binding became the custom, the dust cover was used as almost a gift wrapping in the store. Once the book was purchased, the dust cover was discarded. ¹
Today, the dust cover is used as a billboard, shall we say. It has artwork and images to capture a potential reader’s eye, as well as, a brief synopsis of the book. Maybe even blurbs from other authors or book reviews giving it high marks.
Let’s return to the challenge mentioned above, what if we remove the dust cover. All the eye-popping art and accolades from others are stripped away. We find the bare binding. Some of the colors, although usually muted and dark, are beautiful. The title and author’s name are many times printed in a gorgeous script or bold lettering, even with gold or silver inlay.
I like to thrift shop for books, and I admit, many times when I see a hardcover book without its dust cover I tend to pass it over. Why? I’m not sure, maybe because I’ve been trained to think of it as damaged goods. This challenge has helped me to see the beauty of a book in its bare and natural state.
Question: When you read a hardcover book, do you remove the dust cover? Do you keep your dust covers?
¹ Taken from the Wikipedia page on Dust jackets