That About Covers It

One looks both ahead and behind in this business, and, looking back to the 2012 Book Fair (was that just a week and a half ago?) I would like to report that quite a lot of the books for which the previous owner made Glad Wrap dust jackets sold very well, very well indeed. This is partly because they were good books to start with, and whether the Glad Wrap keeping the dust off or making them look shiny hd anything to do with it, I can’t really say.

Looking back still farther, I can tell you that the homemade jacket has been a perennial in Book Fair donations., We have had brown paper covers and wrapping paper covers and one lady clad all her science fiction paperbacks in ornamented paper with rick-rack accents. (I thought it added a little something to the books, but one of the set-up volunteers spent an hour taking every single one off and throwing it away. So I’ll never know.)

There are the ever-popular mass-produced school covers, often but not always, used to cover textbooks. (I never used these, myself. Having spent all thatmoney on a semester’s books, I had no intention of covering them up.) Some schools actually taught the art of covering your textbook with newspaper or butcher paper (it may be a weird offshoot of school uniforms) while other schools had their own patented, highly-complicated covers which took a masters in Engineering and a doctorate in Origami to figure out.

An earlier generation often sewed cloth bindings over the cloth of the original book. The lacing which holds this cloth together inside the cover is often more artistic than anything inside the book. One family brought in a massive family Bible to show me: moldy, falling apart, all but utterly disgusting. But at some point a hundred years earlier someone had sewn such a nice pattern of cloth around it, with such ornate lacing to keep it on that I suggested to the owners that they scan the pattern of the cloth and the strings inside, and save the scans as family treasures.

Quite a number of books have come to me, I recall with as many shudders, rebound in contact wallpaper. The man who made the Glad Wrap dust jackets, in fact, had done a lot earlier in his career with red and white checkered contact paper. Well, I suppose it helped hold things together. I recall with mixed emotions that second edition of Montaigne’s Essays, with its centuries-old covers held intact by that layer of bright yellow wallpaper. Excuse me: I just had this cold chill run along my backbone again.

Oh, looking ahead? What have I got for you for the 2013 Book Fair? Well, you know the Quasquicentennial calls for the best we can give. And, by gum, we just had a bagful of books donated by a man who took no chances with his delicate books. Half a dozen have duct tape running along all three free sides of the front and back cover, sometimes to three or four layers of tape, so as to provide a good grip. Those are both paperbacks and hardcovers, so he was covering all the bases. It wasn’t all he covered. Two of the books are swathed–front, back, and spine–in masking tape. There’s no excuse for it, but you have to admire hard work.

(Anyway, I recall a small child, many decades ago, being so impressed by the clear plastic jacket protectors his library used that he did his very best to do the same. Lacking access to Demco or Brodart plastic sleeves, however, he did the best he could with a half dozen rolls of Scotch tape. At least I never donated those to a Book Fair.)

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