To track down a first edition copy of one of my favourite authors is often difficult enough; to track down one complete with its original dust jacket is sometimes nigh on impossible.
As I have written before, libraries often remove dust jackets for reasons known only to themselves; and Age accounts for so many of the delicate wrappers, which get torn, creased, scuffed and ruckled all in the course of their duty to help protect the book, which lies beneath.
Many dust jackets are iconic pieces of artwork in their own right. Although the adage ‘never judge a book by its cover’ is a good design for living, in my experience some book covers are actually far superior to their contents.
Debate rages amongst book collectors––and, let me tell you, some of those book collectors know how to rage––concerning the merits––or otherwise––of adding facsimile dustwrappers to books, which are missing their original covers. Personally, I am all for facsimile dustwrappers. If I can’t find a copy with an original wrapper, it still gives me great joy to add a facsimile cover to a volume, so that I can experience something of the excitement of how it would have felt to have read the book when it was first published.
Three old Gladys Mitchell books in my collection, where I have given up all hope of ever finding original wrappers for them, are immeasurably enhanced by professional facsimile covers.
Of course, I recognise the arguments against facsimile wrappers. Collectors are concerned that facsimiles will be passed off for originals; that exorbitant prices will be charged for books that don’t warrant them. In my experience, this has never been the case. Books with facsimile wrappers are clearly described as such, and priced accordingly; in most cases, professionally-produced facsimiles will have the fact printed clearly on them, so that there can be no possible way to mistake them for originals.
Now, I am never going to suggest that a facsimile wrapper would be better than finding a book with its original wrapper intact but, if you can’t find diamonds, I am perfectly happy with a spot of zirconia.
© Fergus Longfellow
Fergus Longfellow is the original article.
Fergus Longfellow is author of the book Gently Observed: An Uncritical Reading of the George Gently Crime Novels of Alan Hunter.