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No jacket required? December 20, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in bookmooch, Books, Other.

I just got my first negative feedback from somebody who mooched a book from me through bookmooch.  Yeah, it bothers me a little, I guess.  Everybody looks for different things in a book, and I guess the jacket was pretty important to this person, who said that I should have noted that it had no jacket when posting it in my inventory.  Perhaps I should have told him that bookmoochers are able to place requirements on books that they mooch.  I have often refused transactions from people who say that they will accept no books that smell of cigarette smoke, for example.  I don’t smoke, but I don’t have that great a sense of smell, so I won’t vouch for a book’s smell.  And I won’t ask my wife to smell books for me.

Anyway, this morning I quickly went to my inventory on bookmooch and amended all of the hardcover book listings I have to note the following:

“This book probably doesn’t have a dust jacket.  I say “probably” because I usually throw them away before I even read the book.  If a book is on a shelf, the jacket will not protect it from dust, unless you are sitting on the couch flinging dust at the book’s spine.  If you want the book so that it looks nice on your coffee table and your house is dusty and you fear that this dust will have harmful effects upon the solid cardboard cover of the book then you should probably get it from someone else.”

But maybe that’s a little unsympathetic to this person’s point of view.  I realize that there are all kinds of people out there.  I’m just one of those people who flings these things in the garbage because they are so annoying.  When you are reading a book they often slip and the book slowly slides out of your hands.  I find this distracting.  And I guess I never really cared whether other people could tell what book I was reading.  If they want to know, I am happy to tell them.

I have noticed that many people keep their book jackets.  I never really figured out why, though.  I guess I always assumed that it had more to do with the fact that people don’t think about these things, or that most people are somewhat neater than I am. 

Do you keep them?  Do you toss them?  Why?  I really do want to know.  Leave a comment, please.


1. davidbdale - December 20, 2006

I buy my hardcover books already used, and I don’t care at all whether they have dust jackets or not, until they arrive.

Without dust jackets, the titles on those well-worn older (dare I say dusty?) tomes I buy are almost impossible, some of them, to read in low light. My “Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer” is virtually indistinguishable from my “Bible,” to cite just one particularly troublesome example.

I also need alphabetically-shelved clues to distinguish my “O Rare Don Marquis” from my “de Maupassant,” my “Typhoon” from my “The MacGuffin,” etc., etc.

Not a terrible problem, to be sure, but, since you asked . . .

Of course, I always toss them to the floor for the dog to chew before I actually try to READ the book.

2. caveblogem - December 20, 2006


So, O.K., mea culpa. Never occurred to me that people would want them for purposes of easy identification. I don’t know why this has never been a problem for me. Perhaps it is because I mostly have paperbacks. I love hardcover books, but because of the nature of my collection, they stick out like a sore thumb, or a green one, or a hitch-hiker’s or something like that. They stick out like thumbs, maybe.

3. davidbdale - December 20, 2006

Always with the latin, cave!

4. Goldiebear - December 20, 2006

I tend to keep all my dust jackets– though when I reading the book, I take it off. I put it back on when I finish… I think it looks nice on my shelf.. though I know it’s not quite the point of having the

I just got We Are Hungry from you in the mail from bookmooch. Love the corner cover with your address! Very cool.

5. davidbdale - December 20, 2006

Forgot to mention how very funny is this post, in particular, the comment that you won’t ask your wife to smell your books.

6. Mike - December 20, 2006

I always get rid of them. You can tell which hardcover books in my house I haven’t read…they are the ones that still have a dust cover.

7. caveblogem - December 20, 2006


Thanks, I really liked that book. It was a hardbound book but did not come with a dustjacket. It was designed like a Moleskine, with a rubber-band to keep it closed. No guilt, plus a good read.


Thanks, I was trying not to come off snarky, which was very much how I was feeling at the time–defensive, but realizing that I was in the wrong, somehow. And, obviously, the Latin makes me sound like an intellectual.


When I first started with bookmooch and paperbackswap I made an effort to hold on to the jackets. But I quickly created twice the mess, and lost many of them anyway, only to find them later on, creased and smashed, behind or under a row of books on a shelf somewhere.

8. maryjunebrown - December 20, 2006

I don’t keep the jackets on, either. They bug me for the same reasons you cited–so I take them off. They usually end up in the trash, under the bed, being used as scrap paper…or something…and I don’t really care about them in any case. If I think about it, I’ll put the cover back on before donating the book or passing it along, but I’m not a stickler about it.

9. sulz - December 20, 2006

i do what goldiebear does… and i keep them for the reason davidbdale gives. i like my books pristine (unless i bought it in a not-so-pristine condition) so whatever comes with it i’ll take good care of them.

10. prairieflounder - December 20, 2006

I always remove the dust jacket. I don’t know where they came from but they remind me of the vinal covers that you put on couches and chairs that was popular in the 50s. You may protect the chair but it is so ugly that your defeating the purpose.


11. caveblogem - December 21, 2006

maryjunebrown, I throw them in the trash, but since I feel guilty about doing that, they don’t always make it all the way to the trash the first time.

Sulz, I don’t think that the jackets bothered me so much when I lived in the west, where it is drier. Out here in humid Massachusetts they have a tendency to curl at the edges, unless they are kept in a humidity controlled environment. Especially the heavily shellacked kind that I see so many of these days (the kind which prarieflounder is talking about in his comment.) These make the book look cheap. Being from the lower middle class I find this cheap look particularly abhorrent.

12. Birdguy - December 24, 2006

I agree that dust jackets can be annoying when you’re trying to read the book, and I usually toss them when they get battered. But often there’s information on the dj that isn’t found elsewhere (author photo, blurbs, a short description, the original sale price, and of course all the hard work the cover designer put into it, especially if it’s someone like Chip Kidd). And in addition used-book sellers and many collectors won’t take a book without a dj, which matters if I plan on reselling them, or the person mooching them plans on reselling them. Which is I guess why the standard “used book” condition includes having a dj, and you’re expected to say if there isn’t one. I certainly wouldn’t have given you negative feedback (that’s for sending the wrong book, or not sending it at all) but I might have given a 0 if it was a book I really really coveted.

13. caveblogem - December 26, 2006


Thanks for your comments. When I was in graduate school I actually went so far as to cut the bookjackets into manageble slices and use them as bookmarks in the books, sometimes pasting them to the inside cover if I thought I might need the information later (like for preliminary exams or writing my dissertation).

I went to my paperbackswap account over the weekent to try to continue cleaning up my act w/r/t/ the book jacket thing, start the new year with a clean slate. I really need to maintain a good profile with these accounts. They have been a lifesaver for me. It’s not the money I spend on books that gets me into trouble, it is the sheer weight of the things accumulating. Some days when I hear a creak from the attic I look up and wish that I had gotten rid more books faster.

Before bookmooch and paperbackswap I would periodically get scared and attempt to take the drifts into used book stores to get rid of them. It’s always so disappointing when they refuse half of them. I have gotten rid of some books on pbs that I thought I was actually going to have to throw in the trash. Not that they are bad books, but sometimes the market for a book is just too small to manage.

Then in 2002 I discovered half.com. This was pretty good. I made enough in one summer to buy the new guitar I had my eye on. But still the sheer volume of volumes threatened the very foundations of my home.

14. velox - December 27, 2006

I’d never heard of Bookmooch before – what a cool idea.
Have now signed up and as soon as I get back home will begin adding books…

15. thebookliberationproject - December 29, 2006

I throw them all away and catch a lot of flak for it. They are really, like you said, useless and annoying. Also, if you try reading a book in the bathtub with a bookjacket on it and the darn thing slides, your book may fall into the water! That would be a tragedy!

My opinion, as a frequent BookMoocher, is that BM is for getting books you want to read for cheaper than new. If this person wants a book to look pretty on their shelf or show off, then they should go to the store and shell out some money for it. All books on BM are used.

Used books should be (duh) used, right? One of the reasons I have more books on BM than Bookins is because Bookins makes you certify that a book is in good condition before you can ship it and has a list of things you must meet before sending it out. And you know what? THEY don’t even make you have a dustjacket! It is sheer retardity for a person to expect more from a booklover sharing books than a used book store selling books for capital gain.

16. caveblogem - December 29, 2006


Thanks for your input here. It is good to get the opinion of an expert with experience in the book salvage industry. At first I was selling books through half.com, which has rating requirements similar to those of Bookins, I think. I hated all that pressure. Is this book “very good” or just “good”?

17. Cyndi - December 29, 2006

Oh, no problem – I think I may be a regular around here if you don’t mind my random acts of craziness. ;)

I hate selling books not only because money perverts the act of sharing art, but also because people’s opinion of “what is good?” is so vastly different. I have no problem with the ink of a new book smearing when I hold my thumb in one place too long, but some people hate that. I hate it when people roll and bend paperbacks around like magazines. I don’t mind broken spines or well-read books, in fact, that’s one of the ways you know a book is really juicy when browsing the library shelves.

18. w - December 30, 2006

I’m going to vote for book jackets here (though I do admit that lately I much prefer the easy feel of the paperback). Part of the reason for my vote is that I do like the physicality of removing and putting the jacket back on, which is like the book’s skin or clothing (jacket!), an accessory that’s as much a part of the book as my earrings are part of me or maybe one’s wedding ring is part of one’s ring finger (or something). The other (and more selfish) reason I vote pro-jacket is that I work in publishing and have seen the agony that goes into creating/perfecting the cover. I don’t write the copy or solicit blurbs (thank God); neither is actually very important to me, but if the design is gorgeous (New Directions books, for example), then the jacket, copy and blurbs and all, adds a wonderful texture to the beauty of the book as ornamental object.

That said, I really like the idea of cutting up the jacket into bookmarks… perhaps to note pages where passages struck you (instead of dog-earing the page, which visually drives me crazy).

One more note: I love paperbacks that have front and back flaps like a hardcover jacket. Those books are much smaller and more experimental, and invite one to engage in maybe a slightly different reading experience… very slight, but still notable.

19. LoyakyZon - October 27, 2008

Good luck with the site I want to improve my magenta discourse I have a nice joke for you people! :) Where do polar bears vote? The North Poll.

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