Book cover  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The term book cover applies to a range of protective coverings that are used to bind together the pages of a book. Beyond the familiar distinction between hardcovers and paperbacks, there are further alternatives and additions, such as dust jackets, ring-binding, and out-dated forms such as the nineteenth-century "paper-boards" and the even more antiquated hand-binding.

History

Before the early nineteenth century, books were hand-bound, in the case of luxury medieval manuscripts using materials such as gold, silver and jewels. For hundreds of years, book bindings had functioned as a protective device for the expensively printed or hand-made pages, and as a decorative tribute to their cultural authority. In the 1820s great changes began to occur in how a book might be covered, with the gradual introduction of techniques for mechanical book-binding. Cloth, and then paper, became the staple materials used when books became so cheap—thanks to the introduction of steam-powered presses and mechanically-produced paper—that to have them hand-bound became disproportionate to the cost of the book itself.

Not only were the new types of book-covers cheaper to produce, they were also printable, using multi-colour lithography, and later, half-tone illustration processes. Techniques borrowed from the nineteenth-century poster-artists gradually infiltrated the book industry, as did the professional practice of graphic design. The book cover became more than just a protection for the pages, taking on the function of advertising, and communicating information about the text inside.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Book cover" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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