The Humble Dust Jacket

Dust jackets: what are they good for? Some libraries cover them with plastic and use them as extra protection. Some discard them entirely.

But what about your personal collection? What do YOU do with dust jackets?

Reader Michelle Dean over at Flavorwire posted a full-on rant disparaging the humble dust jacket. She says that: dust jackets do not, in fact, repel dust; are no harder or easier to clean than fabric hardcovers; and are generally a pain-in-the-you-know and a scourge against reader-kind.

Who knew book lovers could be driven to displays of great passion over the humble dust jacket?

I, for-one, can’t stand them either! If I end up with a hardcover with a jacket, I throw it away as soon as I get home. I can’t stand the thought of having to be careful with it, lest it rips or wrinkles, and my minimalism tendencies demand an instant discard.

The Times Literary Supplement, however, argues that dust jackets do have an important function.

The Victoria and Albert Museum gives a History of the Dust Jacket.

Dust jackets can be quite beautiful; works of art unto themselves. The New York Public Library has an online collection of vintage dust jackets.

Finally, check out this poll of devoted readers over at GoodReads. One GoodReads user calls them “a crime against humanity.” The sheer variety of impassioned opinions is incredible!

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