"dust jackets" on books

Do you (and should you) keep the “dust jackets” that books include?

Sometimes, those darn things are annoying, as well as they can be rather unsightly.

For example: We have a bunch of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. These look gawdawful ugly on the bookshelves with their dust jackets. The books, sans jackets, look pretty decent though. I know it’s my choice, but should I get rid of those ugly dust jackets, or just take them off the books and store them?

I’ve always hated these things too–if you read in bed, they invariably end up tattered (the jacket). I’d take them off, keep the bookshelf dusted, and keep the dust jackets in an envelope somewhere in case you want them for collector value.

Depends if you consider the book more valuable with the dust jacket.

DJs originally served that purpose. They were meant to be thrown away, and they were. I have a collection of short stories by Dreiser published about the time of WWI (“Free and Other Stories”) that still has the jacket, and it’s type only. No art. Pretty dull cover.

The different in the value of a book with and without a DJ? Try ten times. At least. If you want a Hemingway first, they’re cheap. But without the DJ. Amazing what value a piece of paper can hold, eh?

As for the Condensed books, it’ll make no difference in their value, as nobody wants them anyway. Some libraries won’t even take them for their used book sales.

who has only one Brodart-covered book in his entire library, and it covers a replica dust jacket

All of my hardcover books have dust jackets. I won’t but a used book unless it has a dust jacket. I think that they are important and I have to have thaem.

I hate, hate, hate dust jackets. They’re useless. How hard is it to keep a damn book clean? They’re made out of obnoxious shiny plastic-paper and their only purpose is so the publisher can put ugly cover art on top of the book, which does nothing to enhance it.

Most books look quite dignified without the dust jackets. My hardcover shelf makes me look a lot smarter than I really am because it is filled with volumes that have real book spines with neat type on them.

The one exception is the jackets on Don Knurth’s Art of Computer Programming books. They’re made out of nice paper and are very tasteful. I kept them.

I loathe dust jackets. My books often end up in the bathroom and the covers end up curled and useless anyway.

The exception is if the cover is nice and the book is expensive. Otherwise, they are removed in short order.


I thought I was the only one. I hate dust jackets. Sometimes I cut out a bookmark from the jacket before throwing the rest of it away. I never buy books for their monetary value, so there’s no reason to keep them. They just get in the way.

so basically if you own the dust jacket but not the book, then it’s worth more than the book is without the dusk jacket? so you should just collect dusk jackets they’ll take up less space!

I’m on the fence regarding the issue. I like book jackets, but I won’t make a point of not buying a used book without it. As for DJs getting in the way while reading the book, I have a simple solution : just remove it while you read the book and put it back on afterwards (also I make a point of not lending a book with its DJ, you never knows how it will come back).

I usually read paperbacks, so it’s rare that I even have dj’s. They’re no big pain, really, but if they really get torn up I throw them away.

I did Niobium Knight’s post. :smiley:

i just take the darn things off. too hard to read the book otherwise. my claws keep catching on the space between the actual book and the jacket.

Detop, that is what I do. You can also use the DJ to make a notation as to who you loaned it to and when. Not that I’m that organized…but, it is a wonderful thought! :slight_smile:

I like 'em. The coverrs usually add something to the book. Sometimes the illustrations are practically essential. In some cases, they hide the cheapness of the cloth bindings.

If you don’t like the way they get caught, you can make a “book cover” (remember those from school?) out of clear plastic, much as the libraries do.
Besides, in my case the dust jacket has a neat picture of me on it! Try getting that in a hardcover!

Just a little FYI----if you’re the type of person who wants to “sell back” your books to a used bookstore afterwards, hang on to the dj. A lot of them won’t take it without the dustjacket. I like them generally, though this may be due to the fact that I priced books at a used bookstore for years and cringed whenever I got one in where, had it not been missing the dj, we could have sold it for twice as much…

I’m told (how’s that for precision citing?) that the dust jacket actually adds a noticeable amount to the production costs of hardbacks, which amount is passed on to the consumer. Some of the cheaper hardbacks issued by print-on-demand outfits don’t have djs, presumably to avoid that cost.

Can’t say I’d miss them. Most of the hardbacks I’ve bought new still have DJs, but that’s just because, on the whole, I try to take care of my books. I’m not mad keen on the idea of paying more for a book (new or used) if it has a dj; I buy books for the contents, not the appearance.

dj’s only really matter if we are talking selling them back to used book stores - where dj’s can add to your reimbursement, per booklover - and first editions - at which point, dj’s mean a lot per pesch. Even if your book is a first, you have to ask yourself if the book will ever have any collectable value - 95% of novels don’t, if not more.

From a collectibility standpoint (I know, I collect first edition books), dj’s are simply another way to establish the condition of the book. As anyone who has seen Toy Story 2 can tell you, condition issues can lead to jargon and concerns that are profoundly ludicrous to anyone not involved in collecting (“ooooo, that one’s Mint in Box”). I enjoy collecting, have a bunch of recent firsts, where it would be pointless to consider the book collectible without a dj - too many are available with a dj. Before WW2, or even 1930, first edition print runs were often smaller, and dj’s even more likely to be thrown away - which is amazing since the dj’s to * The GreatGasby, A Farewell to Arms*, and other books from that era are beautiful…

So, bottom line, if you don’t like 'em, take 'em off, read the book, and put 'em back. Someone may care later on that you did…

Thought I’d chip in here by adding that some publishers of academic books are fed up with the dust-jacket situation too–since many of such books go to libraries (which almost inevitably throw away the d.j.s) they’re going to the added expense for no reason. Many academic hardcovers now have the cover printed directly on the book, & omit a dustjacket. – That said, I like dustjackets, don’t throw them away myself, & don’t like it when libraries throw them away. I gather some libraries are now having 2nd thoughts about the policy; it was pointed out, for instance, how stupid it was to throw away the d.j.s to old Faber & Faber books, given that the jacket copy was usually written by T.S. Eliot.

What I’m mystified by is the practice of putting d.j.s on children’s books. Adults can handle them, but my 3-year-old inevitably grabs the book to find the book slips out of the jacket & goes CLUNK on the floor.

I will affirm that the secondhand value of a book without dustjacket is typically a tiny fraction of the asking price for an intact copy. Don’t junk the jackets!

This is interesting, it seems that the vast majority of those advocating keeping the dust jacket do so because the collectible value of the book drops without the DJ. I have absolutely no intention of ever selling a book that I bought for my own enjoyment. Given that, is there any reason to keep the DJ?

I mean, if the only reason to keep it is the resale value, what was its purpose in the first place? Is it just a cheap way to make the cover look pretty on the shelf?

One advantage of dust jackets is that they make it possible to play a very mean and juvenile practical joke - viz. taking two or more books and swapping the DJs around. Do it in someone’s house, and know that at some point in the future they will reach for a book and find it’s the wrong one (perhaps only after they have started on a very long journey where that favourite book was their only entertainment). Do it in a school or college library and drive people mad trying to find the information they want. Do it in a book store and make people pay for books they don’t want (assuming they don’t check too carefully before buying).

Like I said, mean and juvenile.

Seems reasonable, Cheese (uh…Mr./Ms. Steak?). The only exception would be to hypothesize: what if someone in your family years from now doesn’t want to hold onto the books and it turns out that some of them may have had some value if you had kept the dj…no one is asking you to “keep the toys in the box” and defeat the intent of having the toy to play with. Unless you are hard on your books, most are in good shape after a reading or two; holding onto the dj just covers you (pun intended) in case you or someone who has the book later do want to sell it, and the book has value…

Yes, its original intention was to keep the book in decent shape on the shelf and to attract attention. But as I mentioned in a previous post to this thread, some dj’s are really art. You probably have seen the original dj for The Great Gatsby - a woman’s eyes, the highlights of the pupils are actually nudes, gazing over a city at night. Or even Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying - plain, buff paper with the author’s name and title on it - simple, austere and beautiful.

How many types of art started as business based (posters, Japanese woodblocks, stamps, etc…) and transcend mere business to become art?

Finally, some of the dj’s have a “visual hit” for me, taking me back to the content of the book, which is what matters most. When I look at Catch-22 - simple, Rothko-like patch of royal blue with the title at the top and a little red dancing man towards the bottom - I flashback to Yossarian blacking out letters, and all of the other characters…

…bottom line, for me, they can mean more than collectibility - I like them for the art and the flashbacks they provide…