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Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Art of the Book Jacket

William McGivern, Rogue Cop Edmund Héafod, Gimani
William McGivern, "Rogue Cop", 1957 & Edmund Héafod, "Gimani", 1961
Click images for more information on these books and their designs.

"Prior to World War I, the book jacket's main function was to protect the cloth and heavily embossed covers of the books. As protective wrappers only, they were throwaways, often discarded by readers at the point of sale, and by institutions as they were processed and placed on the shelves.

During the two world wars, this function was transformed into a marketing one when the publishing houses recognized the infinite promotional and decorative possibilities of the book jacket. Its potential, however, was slow in being realized and it was only when the use of well-known artists proved their aesthetic value as well as boosting sales, that the book jacket as a marketing 'hard-sell idea' became established.


This exhibition offers an overview of the early history of the book jacket. It also highlights the design and artistic aspects of book jacket production, and importantly, raises the viewer's consciousness on what is now considered an integral component of the book. It is no longer ephemeral; long live the book jacket. ..." (Quoted from 'Introduction')

Straight Jackets: The Art of the Book Jacket, exhibition made public by the University of Otago Library.