Why you should read every hardcover with the book jacket OFF

(Besides not wanting to crinkle, bend, bruise or blemish the lovely jacket, of course.)

One of my favorite parts about buying a new book is peeling off the jacket and seeing what’s underneath. Many times, the jacket-less version of a book is not terribly exciting. A plain front, a title and author on the spine, and that’s it. But sometimes, the naked book is so beautiful and surprising and thought-out that it rivals its shiny shell. I’m talking gorgeous colors, embossing, textures and additional design elements, all hiding behind the jacket and waiting to be discovered.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at some examples, shall we? On first glance, these books are quite lovely, with flashy, attention-grabbing covers:

So what makes their jacket-less state so beautiful?

» Color


Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

This book could have been black or blue or red or yellow or any number of colors in the world. But it is the color of rust, which could not be a more fitting match for this book and it’s subject.

 


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Not just one color, but two! The cover a glorious eggplant purple, the spine binding, a rich red. The two-color combo and that lovely argyle pattern impressed in the cover became a format for the series. They become identifiers. Teal and purple? Prisoner of Azkaban. Navy and gray? Order of the Phoenix. Olive and gold? Deathly Hallows. <3

 

» Secondary Cover Art


The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

A minimal and simplistic cover that mirrors interior pages. Stark black, with a knocked out frame. I prefer this version. It’s as if it is a canvas, waiting for Brian to show up fill it with illustrations.

 


Delirium by Lauren Oliver

The girl that’s peeking through the type on the cover? You can see her plain as day if you just take the jacket off.

 

» Interior Jacket Design


Across the Universe by Beth Revis

If you don’t take the jacket off this book, you’d never realize that is reversible. Or that the other cover includes a detailed diagram of Godspeed, the larger-than-life ship that is practically a character in this story.

 

Thirteen Reasons Why, with and without jacket
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The inside of this jacket is a map of Clay’s hometown, presumably the one that Hannah marked up and included with the box of tapes she sent from classmate to classmate. Something about this makes her story feel more concrete.

 

» Embossing / Foil Stamping

The Hunger Games, with and without jacket
The Hunger Games by Suzzane Collins

Even when I read this for the first time, the simple foil stamping had an impact on me. I did not know it was a mockingjay, or that it would become an iconic symbol in Katniss’ life and the future of her country. But I knew it was important. Graceful yet fierce. Intense and powerful, especially in the jacket-less version where nothing distracts from its form.

 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, with and without jacket
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I haven’t read this yet, but I have peeked under the jacket. And that name, Alma LeFay Peregrine, is the only thing on the cover. What does it mean? Is it the Miss Peregrine the title refers to? Oh, the mystery! The intrigue!

 

Divergent, with and without jacket
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Chicago’s skyline is unsettling, and the Dauntless flame, well daunting, but I find that faction emblem stamped on the cover more captivating. Like the mockingjay on the Hunger Games cover, it demands your attention, and its simplicity almost says more than the actual jacket.

 

» Final Words

If keeping your cover in pristine shape plus all these examples still hasn’t convinced you, I’ll say just this: Books feels better in your hands when that jacket isn’t sliding and flapping all over. Trust me. Go naked.

Know another book that has a surprise waiting for you underneath the jacket? Tell me about it in the comments! I’m a sucker for design!

And a quick reminder: I am giving away a copy of THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND, and you can enter to win through Monday. It’s a beautiful book that should absolutely be on your shelf. Details here.

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