Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dust Jackets

Could someone please explain to me why books have dust jackets? Are they, as the name implies, to keep dust off of the books? Or to make books look pretty?

I just don't know what to do with the dust jackets. If I leave them on, they get torn and I feel badly, but now I have a stash of dust jackets and I have no idea what to do with them. Should I keep them? I am very clutter-phobic, so the thought of a big pile of paper that I will never use gives me chills. I know we have some librarians who comment regularly. Clearly, this is not the most substantial question asked on this blog, but thoughts?


Elizabeth M said...

Not a librarian here, but dh is a book collector who used to work for a book dealer. For special books, he wraps in library plastic over the dust jackets!
Anyway, I do think they protect the book itself and also look good! I take the paper covers off while I'm reading a book, but put it back on when I'm done before it goes back on a shelf. That keeps it from getting ripped or getting in my way while I'm reading. So I usually just have a couple free at a time. I often place them on top of books on a shelf, so it's out of the way.

Kate E. said...

Librarian here. And confessing book destroyer.

Here's my take.
If you want your books to have lasting resale value then you should keep the dust jackets and keep them in nice shape.

If you are like me you take them off all children's picture books and then store them in a file even though they are already ripped and ruined...I would go with throwing them out but I haven't taken that step yet...they clearly will never be returned to their book, it's sad really, so if you are going to take them off, just chuck them (recycle?).

As for grown-up books, I say just leave them on, it's not that hard (we are adults after all) and then they look nice on the shelf or you can donate newer titles to your local library and we can use them (or sell them at our book sale). My husband is obsessed with taking his off though and this causes some minor arguments in our house(Ok very minor).

I would love to be able to keep them on our kids books but it just doesn't seem like it's going to happen for now...maybe when we move to chapter books in a few years.

Sorry, long-winded, but you opened the can of worms :)

Sophie said...

this cracks me up, I thought I was the only slightly weird one for fretting about dust jackets. I had a big pile of them from kids books and had some great idea that someday I'd make some neat scrapbook or collage or something. But then we were packing to move and I realized how crazy that was to think that I would actually ever take the time to do it. So I recycled them. I still feel a tad guilty...

I say keep if you're blessed with the time and creativity to do something neat with them. Otherwise, recycle! Or take a digital pic first!

Mary Alice said...

Sophie, I love the idea of doing something crafty with them! We have book posters framed for wall art, perhaps we will frame some dust jackets to hang in our home children's library area.

On children's books, when they fall off or are removed to read to a toddler, I let them pile up on one side of the bookshelf and then try to do a big match up every few weeks before the pile gets out of control. If a dust jacket gets torn or just seems to fall of constantly (for some reason some are worse than others) I just throw it out.

I recently did a big clean out of our children's shelves, which I do from time to time (about once a year?)

On the book subject, Kate E gave us book plates for Christmas, with each child;s name on them. Applying these kills the collectors value of the book, but I think they will add so much to the sentimental value, which is more important to me right now, especially since most of our books are the umpteenth edition of classics. So, as the kids get books for gifts they will add these plates and know that the book, while in the family library for now, is "theirs" for someday when they have children and want to claim it for their own.

Elena said...

How did you know I was thinking about dust jackets last night? Incredible.

Frances said...

Hysterical, we’ve been dealing with the same dilemna! If the kids get ahold of “our” book, I put them back on. If it’s one of their books (and not a library book, ha!), I used to save them and put them back on during clean up every night … and now I throw them out. Really, who had the brilliant idea of putting dust jackets on a book meant for a 2 yr. old?!

Sera said...

I use dust jackets from children's books to make displays in my classroom (I used to teach kindergarten) under a heading "Our favorite books" or "Books we love", or just with no heading at all. Now I am so used to saving them that I have a file. I'll go back to teaching someday so I know I will use them. My girls have their the dust jackets from their favorite books as "posters" on their bedroom wall.