From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A gatefold is a type of fold used for advertising around a magazine or section, and for packaging of media such as vinyl records.
A gatefold cover or gatefold LP is a form of packaging for LP records which became popular in the mid-1960s. A gatefold cover, when folded, is the same size as a standard LP cover (i.e. a 12 inch, or 30 centimetre, square). The technique has been used for many notable LPs, in particular Carole King's Tapestry, The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Led Zeppelin's fourth album, Yes's Close to the Edge, The Allman Brothers Band's The Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East, Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead, Ray Stevens' Get The Best of Ray Stevens, and Small Faces' Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake. The larger gatefold cover provided a means of including artwork, liner notes, and/or song lyrics that would otherwise not have fit on a standard record cover. It became famous as an extension of Progressive Rock, as the expansive, transient gatefolds by Roger Dean or H. R. Giger became associated with concept albums. Gatefold sleeves were also used when an album contained more than one record (for example, a double album would include one record in each half of the cover).
Starting in the early 1950s, RCA used gatefold packaging for some of their deluxe 45RPM single releases, such as Nat King Cole's 8-song "Unforgettable" EP with two 45s, released in 1952. Gatefold packaging for LPs were popularized in the late 1950s by band leader and stereophonic studio recording pioneer Enoch Light, so he could fit liner notes he had written describing the sounds in each song on the album sleeve. However, experts advise that the first gatefold LP packaging used with a traditional 33⅓ LP was the Verve release Ella Fitzgerald sings The Cole Porter Songbook, issued in late 1956, featuring 32 songs on two long-playing monophonic records, on Verve MGV-4001-2.
In other publishing
Gatefold ads and highlights are often used as extensions of the covers of publications, folded either outside to overlap the cover or inside to unfold when the cover is opened. Similar folds include the split gatefold and the spadea.
See Folded leaflets for more types of folding.