I hate dust jackets. Take a look at my bookshelf, and you’ll notice that I exclusively own paperbacks when it comes to my English fiction books. Like I said, I hate dust jackets. Yes, so much so, that I hardly ever choose to buy hardcovers. Dust jackets are the primary reason I stay away from hardcovers. Of course there are other reasons, like paperbacks are handier for reading on the go and also cost less than hardcovers.
However, portability isn’t always my primary concern when it comes to book purchases. For instance, given a choice, I will surely pick tracebacks over mass paperbacks. Tradebacks for all intents and purposes share the dimensions of their hardcover counterparts. They just don’t have sturdy hard covers. Besides, I do borrow a lot of hardcovers from the library but they don’t bother me as much because those books are wrapped in clear plastic, which keeps dust jackets snugly in place.
On the other hand, when you take a look at my German fiction books, you will notice that I own a good mix of paperbacks and hardcovers. For some books, paperbacks weren’t available, so I didn’t have a choice. But there are some books that I chose to buy as hardcovers, even though I had the option to obtain paperbacks.
So why the discrimination for my English books and not my German books? Well, a whole lot of those German covers don’t have dust jackets. The covers were printed directly onto the panels. I wish that that were the case with more of the English hardcovers. Sadly, I rarely ever come across hardcovers without dust jackets when if comes to English fiction books.
Dust jackets throughly annoy me. I find them superfluous because they’re constantly in the way when reading. For all the protection they’re supposed to provide books, they look shoddy faster than the books themselves, even those books without dust jackets. Dust jackets bend in awkward directions when reading, which distracts me because then they’re in the way, sticking out where they shouldn’t. That’s why I generally take them off before reading but I don’t feel good about them lying around either. If I’m not careful, they just get bent in the wrong places.
Then there’s the problem with shelved books. The edges of the dust jackets tend to curl outwards if neighbouring books are shorter. This makes them less presentable, so I have to keep turning my books in order to ensure the dust jackets are pressed and remain flat. When covers are printed directly onto the books, I don’t have to worry about tattered edges.
Once in a while I wish I had it in me to abandon dust jackets. I imagine it would be liberating but then the cover designs would also be forsaken and I don’t want that. There’s only one dust jacket that I threw away. It was the dust jacket of a book that had the identical cover printed onto it. I figured since the covers were technically double that way, I could part with the dust jacket in good conscience.
My sentiments towards fancily printed paper to wrap around books are clear: Dust jackets, begone! Make way for printed covers.
How do you feel about dust jackets? Do you hate them as much as I do? Or do you prize them as an integral part of hardcovers?