With books migrating to pads and pods this maybe a moot point. But before designed book jackets, book covers were the primary illustrative and typographical surface on a book. The photographs of the covers taken from “Arts and Crafts Book Covers” (in the book over 90 in all), makes this an essential document of a fertile creative period.
Book jackets were functional appendages to books created to keep covers free of dirt and dust (hence the now antiquated term dust jackets). They’re also mini-posters designed to attract readers — like bees to the flower. Twenty years ago, Seymour Chwast and I authored a book titled Jackets Required, a survey of these dust repellent graphic designs from the ’20s through the ’40s.
The book industry may be in flux, but there is no shortage of support for beautiful books at the Furthermore Grants in Publishing program, funded by the J.M. Kaplan Fund, which gives modest grants for nonfiction in support of writing, research, editing, design, indexing, photography, illustration and printing and “significant visual books.”