Judging A Book By Its Cover – Collectable Book Jackets



MARCH 19, 2015

The English idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” is a metaphorical phrase which means “you shouldn’t prejudge the worth or value of something by its outward appearance alone.” Nonetheless, when it comes to selecting a book, the cover dictates if I pick it up or not. Reading the blurb about what the book is about comes next in my selection process. This history of book covers is interesting. If you have time check out the Wikipedia link I have added. covers.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_jacket

Did you know that Dust jackets (book covers) are collectible items? Dust jackets from the 1920s and later were often decorated in art deco styles which are highly prized by collectors. Some of them are worth far more than the books they cover. The most famous example is the jacket on the first edition of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, published in 1925. Without jacket, the book brings $1,000 or so. With the jacket it can bring $20,000 or $30,000 or more, depending on condition. One copy in a near mint jacket was listed for sale in 2009 for half a million dollars. Condition is paramount to value.


Other examples of highly prized jackets include those on most of Ernest Hemingway’s titles, and the first editions of books such as Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, among many others. Prices for dust jackets have become so inflated in recent years that even early reprints of certain titles in jacket can command good prices. Conversely, if the book itself is unimportant, or at least has little demand, the jacket is usually of little value either, but nearly all surviving pre-1920 jackets add some additional value to the book they cover. Maybe you better look on your bookshelves for a valuable cover.


About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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2 Responses to Judging A Book By Its Cover – Collectable Book Jackets

  1. noelleg44 says:

    Can’t wait, Stepheny! And I wonder what the cover of Harper Lee’s next book will look like, all these years later…

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