Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Trend in Jacket-less Hardcovers

The New York Observer reports on the trend of publishing hardcovers without dust jackets. I’m a big supporter of this idea. Dust jackets are annoying. When they’re not getting in the way of turning pages, they’re getting lost, torn, or wrinkled. And no matter how beautiful a jacket is, I can’t shake the feeling that it’s not really part of the actual book, which is often a bland, monochromatic object.

Publishers like McSweeney’s and Open Letter have been experimenting with jacket-less hardcovers for some time now, but this fall season will see some of the larger publishers getting into the game, including Farrar, Straus and Giroux (No Impact Man by Colin Beavan) and Viking (Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne). Eli Horowitz, the managing editor at McSweeney's, describes jacket-less hardcover designs as a way to fuse the cover design with the physical book, creating a single, integrated object: “Even well-designed jackets often feel like advertisements, not actual parts of the object. … Jackets carry all the design, but they feel disposable and often are disposable, the first part of a book to get torn or creased or trampled." Charlotte Strick of FSG agrees: "I don't know if I even completely understand why that is. Maybe there's something permanent about it, that kind of makes it feel substantial and special and gives it a certain integrity." Viking’s Paul Slovak sees jacket-less designs as a way to compete with e-books: "At a time when there are other forms that people can buy books in, it becomes more important than ever for the physical book to look really attractive."

7 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I agree - dust jackets are annoying!

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

I just read The Manual of Detection (it's reviewed on my site) which is a Penguin book and had no dust jacket. The hardcover was beautiful without it. I'm with you, I would like to see the end of the dust jacket in mainstream hardcovers.

extemporaneousexpressions said...

*longing for a return to leather-bound*

Zibilee said...

I haven't yet seen this type of book, although the books at my kids school are a curious mix of a jacketless hardcover that is smaller in size than the usual. More like paperback sized. that I haven't seen anywhere else. I am interested to see how these look in person, and will be watching out for them.

Lit and Life said...

Dust jackets are annoying but now if we want to judge a book by it's cover and we only love the beautiful books, we're going to have to wait for paperbacks!

Erin Skelly Cameron said...

I LOVE the idea of jacket-less hard covers. They're unecessary and a pain - they rip, they get bent up, etc. My husband throws them away almost immediately. An they're a waste of paper and ink. I like how the cover of your example looks like a foil stamp. Very sharp, and more enduring than a dust jacket.

Rebecca :) said...

I am a big fan of this idea! I love the way dust jackets look- but I have to take them off to read the book! The jackets are always too long for the actual book and get crumpled very easily. They also slip off easily and I feel like I spend a lot of unnecessary effort trying to get the jacket to cooperate instead of enjoying the book! I would love decorated hardcovers!