Dust jackets in the bin?

Why do hardback books still come with a dust jacket? Surely there’s no need. As I was reading my hardback “Naked Conversations” (a book on the benefits of blogging) on the train this morning, the dust jacket kept slipping around and irritating me so I removed it as I always do. Underneath, the book was beautifully printed on the cover with exactly the same artwork; so why the need for a dust jacket? That’s the viewpoint from a reader – they’re annoying, they don’t protect the book as they’re only on it when I’ve finished reading it, and how robust is a piece of paper compared to the book anyway?

Now from the librarian’s point of view – those things need processing, putting in plastic such as Adjustaroll, time-consuming and expensive, whether you do it yourself or your library supplier does it for you. That’s if you’re a public librarian. In academic libraries they often just bin them; nightmare for the shelver / browsing student – you end up with rows of dull-coloured books with the title rubbed off.

Why can’t everyone just print the book up with the cover art and dispense with the dust jacket entirely? Surely printing technology has made it that far, if some printers can do it then why not everybody?

I appreciate that in days of “yore” that just wasn’t possible but now? And book collectors can just cope with it, it’s the content of the book that’s important. Can’t be doing with “purists” like that: books are meant to be read, artwork admired, classic cars driven and trainsets to be ripped from the box and played with till they break.

Having said that, I wish hardbacks were bound properly instead of this proliferation of crappy perfect-bound hardbacks so that the spines don’t break when you press them open with your cross-legged knees whilst trying to eat and read in the sunshine. Enough ranting.

Naked Conversations
is proving to be an interesting read and directly related to my dissertation. What particularly interests me is that this book is aimed squarely at the business world but there is much in there that is relevant and useful for the public library. I am moving towards the opinion that libraries need to look to the business world for strategies of survival and move past that to flourish. I’m not saying we need to make money or anything so crude, just that there are many tools and techniques already developed that we could adopt.    

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