Book Jacket

Paper wrappers for hardcover books

Close up of open book on counter
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A removable paper covering for a hardcover book, the book jacket protects the book cover and binding and provides space for promotional information about the book and author. It is part of the case components in book design.

Elements of a Book Jacket

A book jacket may mimic the artwork on the book cover itself, or it may offer additional illustrations that don't appear elsewhere on or in the book. The book jacket itself is as tall as the book but wider than the covers and spine combined so that the flaps at the ends of the book jacket can wrap around the front and back covers to hold the book jacket in place.

When samples of upcoming books are created for preview and promotional use, the blad—the sample book—may contain a proof of the book jacket.

The elements of a book jacket vary from book to book and from one publisher to another but typically include some or all of these items:

  • Illustration or artwork for the front of the jacket with the book title and the name of the author
  • Description or summary of the book often on the inside flaps or back of jacket
  • Photos or illustrations from inside the book
  • Author's biography
  • Author's photo
  • Quotes or review excerpts about the book
  • Quotes or review excerpts of previous works by the same author
  • Contact information for the author
  • Contact information for the publisher

The term "book cover" may refer to the book jacket, the actual hardcover or softcover portion of the book, or another covering added to the book with or without the book jacket to protect the outside of the book.

Designing a Book Jacket

One or more graphic designers who work for the book publisher design the book, its cover and its book jacket. If the book is self-published, the designer may also be the writer. However, these tasks are usually handled by different people. One graphic designer may specialize in page layout of books while another specializes in book jacket illustration and design.

Use these guidelines when you are asked to design a book jacket:

  • Understand the contents of the book. You probably won't have the time or the opportunity to read the entire book, but you must know something about the content. This is important to set a mood that matches the book and appeals to the readers.
  • Identify the reader. Some books aren't so easily classified. If you can identify the reader, you can use type and graphics to appeal to that reader.

  • Focus on the flow in your book jacket design, just as you would in any design. The eye should move easily from one element to the next.

  • Send a message to the prospective reader to attract attention and explain the book contents.

  • Choose your fonts wisely for the reader and the genre of the book.

Beyond the Book Jacket

The book jacket isn't the only part of a book designed to protect the book. Sometimes the jacket itself receives protection.

  • A book jacket cover is a clear covering that wraps over the book and the book jacket. Book jacket covers are typically used in libraries and other places where books are handled frequently. They protect the paper cover and provide longer shelf life for the book and its jacket.
  • A slipcase is a cardboard box that comes with some books or book collections. The front of the slipcase is open or has a flap that opens leaving the book spines visible.


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    Your Citation
    Bear, Jacci Howard. "Book Jacket." ThoughtCo, Aug. 20, 2017, Bear, Jacci Howard. (2017, August 20). Book Jacket. Retrieved from Bear, Jacci Howard. "Book Jacket." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 17, 2017).