Dust jackets: love them or hate them?

Dust jackets: love them or hate them?

I’ve gone through many stages of book organization in my life: author and genre, rainbow-style, strictly alphabetical.

This weekend I started a new (and minor) organization project, with my one and only goal being to make the shelves look as pretty as possible. With that in mind, I pulled off all the book jackets and set to organizing the books loosely by color and size.

This is just one bookshelf, and it’s still very much in progress. But so far I’ve realized two things: I love the way this looks, and, were I to stick to this method, I might not be able to find anything ever again. I have a great memory for what a book cover looks like, but when the actual book color is across the color wheel from the jacket cover … I can’t keep up!

I have a longstanding love/hate relationship with dust jackets, and I appreciated this excuse to pull them off, at least temporarily. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

Cracking open each book for a minute has also been fun. I had no idea how many notes and cards were tucked into the books on my shelves!

And sometimes the endpapers themselves have surprised me. Isn’t the inside of Anna Kendrick’s book adorable?

And I have always loved the design of A Window Opens, even if my feelings about the book itself are decidedly more ambivalent.

I also discovered where all my book darts were hiding. At least a hundred were tucked into Everyone Brave Is Forgiven.

Back to dust jackets. When I was a kid, I used to pull them off and throw them away. Now, I prefer the look of my books without them, but only when they’re on my personal home bookshelves. I definitely don’t want publishers and booksellers to do away with them—I love that part of book design!

(I have some friends—who shall remain innocent—who use book jackets to disguise what they’re really reading in the waiting room, so they can cloak their embarrassing reads in respectability. Ha!)

Readers, I’d love to hear: how do you feel about dust jackets? Do you keep them on your books, or not? Why? And if you pull them off but don’t want to recycle them, how on earth do you store them? 

And if you have any tips for beautifying these shelves, please share those in comments as well. 

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108 comments

  1. Kelsi says:

    I’m apathetic about them. Some days I love them, some days I don’t, but I’m the type of person who does nothing about them and keeps them as is. I don’t like to mess up the status quo. The *only* dust cover I’ve ever removed from a book is from a devotional bible I own because it was so tattered it was more work to keep it on the book.

  2. Ooooooh! I’m so happy you brought this up. I ALWAYS remove the dust jackets and toss them. I love the bare covers. But I’m pretty tough on physical books. I’m happiest when they look well-loved, which means scribbles, water rings, dog-eared pages, tears, etc.

    I have a reader friend whose books look like they’ve never been opened—the spines were so right! He must have read them with his nose literally stuffed inside. He used to lend me books, and I had to stop borrowing from him because it stressed me out so much. I was so worried I was going to mar his pristine copy of a favorite book.

    P.S. Your shelves look so pretty!

    • Mandi Jayne says:

      Ha! I am on the same page about well-loved books. If one of my books looks new when I’m done reading it, I know I didn’t really like the book. Mine all have notes in the margins, broken spines, dog eared pages….I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    • Kim says:

      I’m like your friend! Even books I’ve had for years and read more than once look brand new other than maybe some age related page yellowing.

      • Anki says:

        I am also in that camp. As long as the book was purchased new, it probably still looks new, no matter how many times I’ve read it. Somehow I have figured out (subconsciously) how to hold even fat paperbacks without creasing their spines and without it being awkward either.

        I have also never been much inclined to take notes in the margins of my books. I am fairly sure I had it drummed into me at a young age that one does not write inside books, save for perhaps one’s name on the inside cover. If I wanted to take notes, well, that was what index cards and notebooks and loose leaf paper were for.

        • Mandi Jayne says:

          I liked how you mentioned that it was drummed into you to NOT write in books. I think that’s why I’m such a devoted annotator- I was homeschooled (I didn’t have to share my textbooks) and my mom was a devoted reader herself, and she encouraged me to write in all my books. It was what she did and what I was taught to do. I find that a lot of people are horrified by my highlighting because they were taught to never mess up a book!

  3. Well, I like to keep the dust jackets on because they add so much to the look of the book. But when I’m actually reading the book, they tend to drive me nuts. The flap keeps flapping out or I have to constantly push the jacket back down because it moves up the book (if that makes sense, Ha!). Anyway, sometimes I just take them off until I’m done reading then put them back on. 🙂

  4. Melanie says:

    I hate them! They drive me crazy when I’m reading and I usually throw them out. I don’t keep a lot of books either so it’s not important to me to have the dust jacket for any future purposes.

    • Miche says:

      As someone who buys a lot of used books, it drives me crazy when a hardcover used book has no dust jacket with a book summary. How does a reader decide to purchase the book with no idea what it’s about? I have never considered tossing a dust jacket.

  5. Jennifer N. says:

    I like to use the dust jacket as a built-in bookmark, so it stays on while I’m reading it unless it’s a huge book (in which case it doesn’t work that well AND book jackets seem to have a harder time staying on large books). If I decide to keep the book in my permanent collection, I remove the book jacket. I’m also the person who falls asleep with a book in-hand, which means I often wake up with my book on the floor in a heap and the jacket rarely makes it through one read in decent shape. Honestly, I would be perfectly happy if publishers forewent dust jackets altogether. Just think of the reduction in materials required and production costs!

  6. I love the look of them, but they’re so delicate. I love when they’re covered in plastic from the library, and I’ve often thought about doing that with my own books. If it’s a book I own, then I take off the dust jacket before reading, so it doesn’t get ruined. For my son’s picture books, I always take off the dust jacket, but I save them for when we eventually pass the books on to someone else.

    • Mandy says:

      Kate – where/how do you save book jackets so that you can reunite them before passing the book along to someone else? Do you have a system?

  7. Mandi Jayne says:

    I remove the dust jackets when I can, because I hate opening the book and having it flopping around! Drives me nuts. But I always save it so that I can put it back on the book when I shelve it.

  8. Rebecca Jo says:

    I one time took off all the dust jackets & used a file to keep them in alphabetical order so I could put it on if someone wanted to borrow it… but then I got the point of dust jackets… because my books started getting dusty & I didnt like it – so I took a full day & put them all back on. That was exhausting.

  9. Mary says:

    I hate them. I look at them, read them, and throw them away. I don’t really know why I feel so strongly about it. It does seem wrong of me, since I know someone put a lot of effort into them.

  10. Melanie says:

    I find them annoying, but I don’t have to deal with them often. Most of the books I own are either paperbacks or cloth-covered hardbacks with no separate paper jackets. And the vast majority of books I read are from the library, so the jackets have all been removed.

  11. Janet Miles says:

    I love them when they are new but if they get torn then I don’t like them so much. Your post made me think about using them in scrapbooking rather than just throwing them away, however. Most of the covers have lots of elements that could be used for scrapping or making a journal using the dust covers as pages. I may put a call out there for people to send me their unwanted dust covers!

  12. Lisa F. says:

    I love dust jackets, but I also kind to have my book shelves organized in a rainbow style. I’m not sure that I could throw the dust jackets away and I surely have no place to keep them. Such a dilemma.

  13. Michaela Noelle Nelson says:

    Two pretty and practical books:
    1. “The New Bohemians” by Justina Blakeney. Gorgeous, hand-illustrated endpapers.
    2. “Living With Pattern” by Rebecca Atwood. Beautiful linen binding, blue and white cover, with bright orange page edges! So fun.

  14. Karissa says:

    I love the dust jackets…probably for the art and I use the flaps as my bookmark. I don’t want to deal with another thing to organize, store, etc. so it stays on my book. I am very visual so I do identify my books that way. Even though I love the idea of putting books in color order, it would drive me crazy not to find one that I was looking for. I have them arranged on my shelves by subject,,,mystery, poetry, travel, spirituality, reference and can easily go to that section and visually spot what I’m looking for. Maybe I will try it in another small section of the house…..naaaaah, can’t do it.

  15. Jessica says:

    I decided to do something different. I grouped my books into sizes and types of books and put them in wicker baskets from Target. I use utility shelving as a bookcase so the books look a lot neater and more polished now.

  16. Leslie says:

    Many artists make their living designing dust jackets and often the design is what first attracts you to a book ( be honest now, if you don’t know the author it is the cover you like you pick up). In later years the dust jacket is often more valuable than the book itself as there are often elements of the design and indeed the artist which mark it as reflective of the era or a particular period in history. So honour those artists, treat those covers with respect!

  17. Andrea says:

    Where do you all put all those book jackets that you remove but want to keep pristine?! Especially Anne with the huge amount of books/jackets?

  18. Anki says:

    The majority of my personal library is made up of paperbacks (mass market or trade), and those almost never have dust jackets. As a result of this, I am very used to identifying books on my shelves based on cover art. So I tend to keep the dust jackets on my hardcovers because that way I can easily find the books on my shelves (as I have far fewer shelves than my collection requires, my organization style resembles a game of Tetris rather than anything you would find in a public library or bookstore. I am working on fixing this, but it is slow going).

    Sometimes I will remove the dust jacket while I am actively reading a book, but for the most part I don’t even bother to do that. This post has inspired me to want to take a peek under those jackets, to see what the book looks like. I rarely do this.

  19. Ah, well there is this intricate process that we do to the dust covers at the kiddos school libraries. Love it. Put them into protective sleeves, put them back on, add the AR stickers, Grade level stickers, and bar code and we are good to go for checking out books! Love this process. At home? I’ve protected my favorite books that I read over and over again. The James Herriot series comes to mind.

  20. Well i do like them sometimes. When i get books preordered and come in first editions i usually take the dustcovers off before i read the book. These books i then read carefully and after the reading put on the dustcover again. Well i think perhaps that i might sell them one day and then if there is a lot of first editions in a serie they may be more worth if they are in a better condition. Other i dont mind and some are there and some are not. My order of collecting the books is by author and that said, i collect all of that person. So i have 72 Agatha Christie. Some have dustcovers some are paperbacks and some are just today lose paper collected in a plastic cover. But i would never through them away

  21. Your bookshelves look beautiful, Anne! I have always organized my books by color (with the dust jacket on) and then by size within the color. I always take the book jacket off when I start reading and then put it back on the book when I am finished. I did see a photo of a beautiful white bookshelf in a magazine where the owner covered all of the covers with coordinated fabrics made of little printed designs. It was stunning to look at, however, I can only imagine what a crazy experience it would be to try to find a book. I guess those books where used only for design purposes. With that in mind, you could have two separate bookcases where you file one case for beauty (removing the dust jackets and color coding) when you don’t have plans to return to a book and another “working” bookcase where you leave the jackets on. I can’t wait to hear what you plan to do with the dust jackets you have removed! 🙂

  22. Lauren P. says:

    I generally like them. But if the underneath is prettier, I’ll go with that. The dust jacket makes the book look more put-together and “dressed” in my mind 🙂 My toddler immediately removes the dust jackets from her books (and tries to with mine). Kid’s books have such fun dust jackets that I’m trying to figure out a cute and easy way to display some of our favorites!

  23. Susan says:

    I don’t like book covers because they always seem to slip off when I’m reading. However, if you collect books, the value of a book without its cover is significantly decreased. So if you plan to leave first editions as a legacy, or if you collect them for their eventual value, you need to keep the book and its cover in pristine condition.

    Outside of using librarian’s covers over a dust cover (where the tape decreases its value), the only way I can imagine keeping the covers pristine would be to neatly lay them flat between layers of acid-free paper in an acid-free container. I’m very much looking forward to hearing what you do with them!

    Of course, if you don’t intent on keeping the covers pristine, they would make wonderful posters, decoupage projects, and other artwork….

  24. Casey says:

    I have always been baffled that people don’t like dust jackets. I love them! I think they’re beautiful and I have found some great books simply by being attracted to the artwork. I get so angry when bookstores put price tags and/or stickers on them that won’t peel off.

    • Laura says:

      That is my pet peeve too! Stickers that won’t peel off! Why??!! This is silly but peeling off stickers after the library book sale every month is so satisfying to me (when they come off easily).

  25. Janet says:

    Wow. I had no idea readers had such strong opinions about dust jackets! I like to keep my books in good condition, so I always leave the jacket in place. (No spine cracking or dog-earing of pages please.) Jackets don’t usually bother me while reading, and I sometimes use the flap as a book mark. While Anne’s color-coded shelves look pretty, to me a bookshelf should help me easily find a book. I don’t want them camouflaged by color! I want them grouped by topic (non-fiction) and genre/author (fiction). Books are beautiful as they are. I don’t need to make a design statement with my shelves.

  26. Megan says:

    I think dust jackets on KIDS books are really unnecessary. I always remove them and am saving them for when they become little authors and they can write their own story and insert it in the dust jacket cover. We have a kindergartener now, so I’m expecting in the next year or so that I’ll start pulling them out to see if he wants to write his own stories to insert in the dust jackets. We shall see!

  27. Michelle says:

    Your shelves look beautiful Anne! I’m a visual person where pattern and order appeals to me. I can really identify with many of the above statements. I actually really do like the covers but don’t want to mess them up when reading so I remove them when I read and put them back on to shelve. When I buy used books I’d much rather have the dust jacket there. My current book organization is rather haphazard, and I need more shelves. For anyone concerned about dust on your books consider glass front shelves. I have some and love them for that reason. You can retrofit glass doors on old entertainment centers and wardrobes often found at thrift shops/Salvation Army (Pinterest has tutorials). I bought my shelves years ago at a scratch and dent outlet store never thinking of that benefit, but have really loved not dusting books.

  28. Danielle says:

    While I love the book cover designs. I hate them as dust jackets. I would prefer it to be printed to the hard cover like what a lot of graphic novels have been doing such as DC or Marvel. Some books still have them. Some do not since my 2 year old destroyed them. So yep love hate here too!

    • Laura says:

      Yes! I feel the same way. I prefer paperbacks because they are more compact and I don’t have to worry about the dust jacket getting ruined.

  29. Andrea says:

    I like the jackets. Occasionally, there is a book I think is really pretty without its jacket – The One in a Million Boy instantly comes to mind – but it remains jacketed on my shelf to maintain the integrity of my rows of jacketed books.

  30. Kathy Grey says:

    I love the look of sorting by color, but agree that I would never be able to find anything ever again! I sort by author, mostly alphabetically, then in chronological order, so I can read an entire series again. Book jackets? When I’m reading a book, I always take the jacket off so I don’t rip it. OCD? I don’t know. This is how I’ve always done it. 🙂

  31. Diana says:

    I take the dust jackets off almost my books and keep them in the bottom of my file cabinet, under files, although they are almost too many for that to work anymore. I have books throughout so many rooms and mostly sorted by color more than genre/author/title. But I don’t have a ton so I mostly remember what is where!

  32. Melissa says:

    I have to remove the dust jacket when I read a hard cover book. It drives me crazy to leave it on because it slides all over, and I don’t want to get it dirty! I put the dust jacket back on when I place the book on my bookshelf. In the past I have thrown some just jackets away and later regretted it because I no longer felt the book was “complete”. Definitely a love/hate relationship for me.

    • Patti S says:

      I do the same, take off when reading then replace it when it goes on the shelf. I also like the feeling of getting 2 covers really- the dust jacket plus whatever is underneath.

  33. Pam says:

    I would never think of taking off my dust covers permanently. I do sometimes to read a book but then put it on! Thinking about taking them off makes me gasp in horror!!! Children’s books (I’m a preschool teacher) I like to keep the covers on until it’s not manageable any more. I much prefer when the covers of the books are printed EXACTLY like the dust cover….then I don’t have a dark night of the soul when I have to take them off.

  34. Aquila Herus says:

    I picked up several different heavy papers for custom made dust jackets and made my own labels (I am a calligrapher) for each book. The various papers were designated for novels (that was subdivided by genre), non-fiction (again, subdivided by topic) and poetry. It was easy to organize my books and the actual covers stay clean. If I get tired of a specific paper or can’t get it any more, I try something new. I have made the kind of dust jackets that don’t just fall off, more like book covers. I’ve had several friends who have asked be to do the same for them and made a nice profit on each book cover/dust jacket.

      • Aquila Herus says:

        Sadly, everything is packed up in storage until I am in a permanent residence. I did not have a camera when I first did the covers on the shelved books. Most of the papers were plain solid colors. Quite a few were simple brown paper bags from the grocery store (the heavy paper ones) with the labels attached.

  35. Courtney says:

    I love the uncluttered look of removing all the book jackets. This would horrify some people, but I throw the book jackets away! I just know I’m never going to put them back on, and I am firmly against the idea of storing things I have no use for.

  36. Susanne Bellamy says:

    Thanks for the giggle re: switching covers when out and about!
    I love dust jackets but have been tempted to pull them off when they become tatty after many years.
    Always enjoy your posts.

    Cheers, Susanne

  37. Linda says:

    My adult self detests dust jackets but my inner child is very nostalgic about them. They bring back memories of when I was very young and borrowing books from the children’s section of the bookmobile. All the books for young readers were covered with dust jackets plus cellophane jackets. The cellophane was always a bit scruffy and yellow with age but to me it meant the book was very well loved. As an adult the jackets can be a nuisance and I always felt like they had to stay on or the librarian would come knocking on my door demanding to know why I was breaking the book rules ( doesn’t matter if I owned the books).

  38. I like the idea of dust jackets to protect books but they are so damned annoying. I almost always end up pulling it off when I’m reading – and my favorite delight is when the actual book is cute, too, even without the dust jacket. I might just have to free all my books from their jackets, but I would be worried that I’d have a really hard time finding my books on the shelves without them!

  39. Debbie says:

    If you are into collecting, the book jacket adds more value.
    At one time libraries were organized by color or size. When the collection runs into the thousands, it is mighty hard to find the book you need. In fact these were two reason I used in teaching how libraries are organized, public Dewey Decimal, academic Library of Congress. Books were also chained to the walls so they wouldn’t “walk off”. Children love that fact. I learned to love book jackets as a librarian. Books with book jackets go out more than books with boring cloth covers, regardless of color.
    You know it is bad when a student says they want to check out the same book Tommy did last week and you know which Tommy and the book, the school had 500+ students.

  40. Amanda says:

    I don’t like how a book jacket interferes with my reading experience. I generally take them off to use as a bookmark! I know, terrible behavior for a book lover. I really prefer a paperback (not mass market size) over a hardcover anyhow. I believe there is a discussion in one of Louise Penny’s books about the merits of paperback over hardcover that really resonated with me 🙂

  41. Brandyn says:

    For each book on it’s own I like dust jackets, but bookshelves are less busy looking if the jackets are off. Unfortunately, I know I’m incapable of keeping the dust jackets in good condition if they aren’t on the book and the book loses a lot of it’s resale value without them.
    After reading “Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD”, I fully embraced organizing by color and size. It totally fits with the advice that things be easier to put away than get out. At least for me.

  42. Deborah says:

    My husband and I have a love/hate relationship over book jackets – he loves them and I hate them. They quickly get torn and destroyed in our house with the kids, they look awful and drive me crazy.

  43. Brenda says:

    I ordered a roll of library jacket covers years ago and use it whenever I get a new hardcover book. It’s super nice not having to worry about tearing the cover.

  44. Amanda Hensley says:

    I love when the cover of the book is the same as the dust jacket b/c then I can enjoy the beauty of the book and can throw away the jacket. If it’s not the same, it goes off while I read the book and then goes back on when I’m done.

  45. Mary Ann Thyme says:

    I love dust jackets…to me they are a piece of art. As others have mentioned, I, too, take the dust jacket off while I’m reading a book and put it back on when I’m finished. I protect the dust jackets with a clear archival cover to keep them pristine (or in the case of a used book, to keep them from deteriorating). Although I do read some Kindle books, I just can’t give up the pleasure of holding a book in my hands–the feel of the paper pages as I turn them, the beauty of the typeface chosen, how it’s arranged on each page–love it.

  46. An interior designer friend of mine who runs a blog recently ran a post about making a room look less cluttered by turning hardback books spine in on bookshelves with only the pages side showing. I left a comment asking for a recommendation for book lovers who can’t go without actually seeing the titles of the books on their shelves.

    This may be exactly what I was looking for! Unfortunately for me, I own far more paperbacks than hardcovers…

    • Barbara says:

      I like my books and if they add clutter to my apt, so be it. I once threatened to turn somebody’s bookshelves like that, with the pages showing as that was the worst thing I could think of.

  47. Erin says:

    I LOVE dust jackets. I’m ahem obsessed with covering all my books, paperbacks and dust jackets with book plastic. I buy by the roll the same plastic my local library buys, pic and instructions for paperbacks here. Must do a tutorial on covering dust jackets.
    http://sevenlittleaustralians.com/book-care-covering-without-dust-jacke/

    therefore my favourite part is how the books with dust jackets FEEL after covered. I can see you like the look, when it comes to books I like the feel. I freely admit I sound crazy, at least that’s what my husband says when he sees me running my hands over the books. Oh and I have thousands of books, hence covering is not a quick job.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      I don’t think you are crazy. I love the smell of books, especially new ones! I have a couple that have a coffee smell (due to the fact I spilled coffee while reading) and that reminds me of a cozy morning of reading.

  48. Amy says:

    I remove dust jackets while I’m reading the book so it doesn’t get raggedy, but I replace it when I reshelve the book. The cover art is often the reason I pick-up or buy a book so I’m more inclined the keep dust jackets in place. I love the look of the color sorted bookshelf, but the randomness of it would drive me insane.

  49. I have a love/hate relationship with dust jackets. I think they’re gorgeous and I want to preserve them. But I can’t stand having them ON my books when I’m reading. I’ve never tried shelving my books without the dust jackets. It might be worth giving a go if I could find a safe place to store all of them! (I’ve got an 8mo old running around eating everything; no place is safe). I think I would only do that if I went back to separating my hardcover from my paperbacks. I used to do that, but now, unfortunately, I have too many series that are a mixture of formats, and I hate separating series. :/

    Lovely pictures!

  50. Katelyn says:

    I am in the minority. I love the jacket on WHILE reading, as it serves as a very practical bookmark and saves me from losing my random napkin or fooling myself into believing that I’ll actually remember my page number. Plus, the satisfaction of switching from the front sleeve to the back sleeve as I make progress is so great!

  51. Dust jackets are one of the reasons I don’t like hardback books. I don’t generally buy hardback books (it would have to be a pretty desperate situation), but if I do find myself reading a hardback I always take the dust jacket off as I read. I do put it back on once I am finished because most hardback covers are now so plain.

  52. Tara says:

    I would love to get rid of ALL the dust jackets (and why on earth do so many of my cookbooks have them?!!), but I question, too, where to store them? I can’t imagine just getting rid of all of them, but I try not to keep random items like that just floating around. Sigh. I’d not thought about the fact that this contributes so much to the way I identify a book; great point!

    • Michelle says:

      Can I get an AMEN! Who ever thought a dustcover on a cookbook was a good idea?! Please! Not someone who actually uses a cookbook, well like I do. Perhaps it’s just me, but the mark of well loved, well used cookbooks are not the pristine ones that are unmarred and beautifully displayed on your countertop when you stage your home to sell. If you want to know the best recipes in my kitchen look for the cookbooks that are fairly worn, probably have the pages smudged from sticky fingers, maybe more then a few tomato splatters here and there. I clean things up, don’t get me wrong, but the ghosts of hours cooking, holidays past, and a lifetime of making memories are on those cookbooks. If it’s pristine, or (still) has a dustcover, I haven’t used it. Beautiful yes, used…no. And isn’t that the point of a cookbook?

  53. Allison says:

    Agree, love/hate dust covers. Personally, I usually slide them off when I’m reading the book (I don’t like them sliding around on me), but have always put them back on to shelve them.
    To be honest, I have never even considered taking them all off and shelving without them! I am intrigued by this idea… I do have a mix of paperback and hardcovers however so that might drive me insane. I guess I could shelve them separately?
    As far as covering books go – in my library/school district, we laminate dust covers and tape them in place. I totally agree that a dust covered book would be checked out over one without… High school students definitely need a flash factor!

  54. Shay says:

    I like the look, but don’t enjoy how they slide off when reading. Of course, I borrow a lot of my books from the library, and those covers have been wrapped so they don’t slide. My preferred format for purchase tends to my trade paperback. I also love my hardcovers that come in slipcases.

  55. Ruth-Anne Hayes says:

    95% of my book jackets end up in the recycling bin. I agree with you though. I enjoy buying a book in its jacket. They go a long way in attracting me to a particular read.

  56. Jen Banks says:

    My husband and I fight over this, but reading that a serious bookie says it’s OK to ditch the dust cover just might make me agree with my husband! He hates them. I always thought if they come with the book (and books are sacred to me) then they should stay with the book. But I’m starting to understand that they are more of a marketing tool. Knowing that I carefully shelve my books I probably don’t need the dust covers, and I like the raw look of the books. You may have just converted me!

  57. Gina says:

    It’s fun reading through all of these comments! I had never thought much about dust jackets. For me, it’s just part of the book. The thought of separating them never crossed my mind. I just peeked underneath one of my BOTM picks and it had the month & Year stamped on the front of the book! Behind the cover of The Thirteenth Tale is the most beautiful spine! Who knew?!! Still, I could never part with dust jackets. I love the art, and when I was in design school we had to design book dust jackets. It was one of my favorite units, combining reading and art. There is so much that goes into it, marrying the art and ‘feel’ of the cover to the words contained on the pages. Practically, as far as asthetics and organization, I think dust jackets fit in better with paperbacks and the only time no dust jackets seems to produce the desired effect is if you have a whole dedicated bookshelf or library of only hardcovers.

  58. Hannah Beth Reid says:

    I don’t usually mind jacket covers on books I’m reading, but what I cannot understand is dust jackets for children’s picture books that are handled and read over and over. We have a stack on the shelf above our children’s book because they are beautiful and I hate to throw them away, but they fall off when young hands carry the book and then the children struggle to put them back on the book. That’s my dust jacket soapbox. 😉
    And admittedly, I read a lot of library books where the dust jacket is taped on, so it isn’t an option to remove it and it is basically a part of the book.

  59. Roan Johnson says:

    I take off the dust jackets while I am reading the book, but then I replace them before I store the book on a shelf. I agree with Hannah above–why do they put dust jackets on children’s picture books. Sadly, I have thrown most of them away! But some of them have been recycled by my children in various art projects.

    As far as your bookshelves….the colors look beautiful! And the books look so pretty without their dust jackets. However, I’m not sure how you will quickly locate a book with its identifying book jacket removed AND the books organized by color only. But it looks so petty!
    I reorganized most of the books in my house last summer by category. I have been really pleased with this system, but my shelves do not look as pretty as yours!

  60. I personally never buy hardcover books – too expensive – so the only hardcovers I have are from the library (laminated and taped covers).
    I do have a few non-fiction hardcovers I bought on sale but it never occurred to me to remove them. They seem to me to be part of the book.

  61. Lori Narlock says:

    This post arrived just as I am putting in new bookshelves. I love the look of books without jackets, but am a little reluctant to undress all of my books. I too love the design of a jacket but love the texture of the book itself.

  62. Kristian says:

    I tend to keep them, so as to protect the book for longer, but eventually they get tattered and then they are thrown out. I’m sort of torn about how they look aesthetically. They aren’t as visually appealing as the hardcover (there can be too much going on so it looks distracting), but like you, the cover art can help me find the right book, so….

  63. Christine says:

    I just read a really fun and interesting little book (actually an essay that was first presented as a speech) about book covers called “The Clothing of Books” by Jhumpa Lahiri. I can’t remember where I heard of this, but somehow it came to my attention just recently and I immediately thought of this article. It is basically all about the covers of books – how they come to be, what they mean, how the author feels about them (and their designs on her own works), the purpose of them, etc. There is even a “chapter” entitled “The Naked Book” ! It was such an intriguing (and very quick) read and perfect for book lovers.

  64. Jen R says:

    I sometimes will keep the dust jackets on while I’m reading them and I use it as a bookmark. When I’m done with the book though, I will usually remove it and throw it out. Unless it’s a book I don’t like/get through and I’m not going to keep, I won’t get rid of the jacket only because I don’t know if the person who will be getting the book will want it.

  65. I will sheepishly admit that I just thought of this idea of removing the dust jackets just over a year ago. I love it! I keep the dust jacket if I know it is going to be a loaner book, otherwise it’s in the recycle bin!

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