How To Protect The Dustjackets Of Hardback Books

January 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve been meaning to write this post for months now. I’ve had the pictures stored on my computer for just as long.

So…away I go……


I learned how to do this when I worked as a librarian from 2006-2008. My boss taught me, and I’m forever in her debt.


Why I cover my books:

Hardback books are, unfortunately, very expensive. Whenever I purchase a new hardcover, the very first thing I do is cover the dustjacket for a few reasons…1.) I like to maintain the “new” factor of my books. Nothing makes me more insane than a trashed or poorly treated book. A cover will preserve a duskjacket like nothing else.  2.) When a duskjacket is covered and taped, it’s not constantly sliding off the book as you’re reading. 3.) I like the smooth feel of the dustjacket more when it has a covering on it. 4.) Accidents happen, and if something is spilled on the book, messes are easily wiped away from the cover. 5.) I’m a little bit anal retentive.


Where do I get my book covers:

I get my book covers from the same place as libraries….. library supply companies. There are a few big ones, and I have utilized a couple of them, but I’ve found that I prefer the company Demco.

You don’t have to be a library to order. Anyone can order covers and other supplies. But unless you know what you’re looking for, all the choices are really confusing.


For the dustjacket of hardbacks, you select “book jacket covers”. There are around 20 choices within that category, all ranging in price. There is anti-smudge, super-long, paper-backing, no paper-backing… gets intimidating unless you know what you’re after.

Also, when you purchase these book covers, they come in many, many sizes. The sizes can be even more intimidating than trying to decide which kind of cover to get.


The covers I use:

I’m not picky about the cover itself. I always go the cheap route. If the cover isn’t smudge-resistant, I don’t care. It’s still doing the job I expect it to…..protecting my book and keeping the dustjacket in place.

It’s been so long since I had to order book covers that I can’t even tell you which product I have. It’s a cheap version, and it has paper backing. This is about all I can tell you.

I made a big order several years ago. I was a little unsure what to get, so I bought two different sizes. I bought the 10 inch size (height)  and the 12 inch size. I bought more 12 inch than I did 10 inch, which I wholly regret. 10 inch book covers are, by far, the best size to get. They are the proper size for most all hardback books, while the 12 inch are slightly too large and I have to cut them down a bit.

Note: You can order in quantities of 25, 50, and upwards.



Pricing will, of course, vary by product and by company. But let’s say that I choose to buy a bestselling book cover from Demco, and I want 50 of them.

book cover

A box of 50 bestsellers, and I want the measurements to be 10 inches in height and 21 inches in length. That’s a really good standard size. (That’s the size I have, in fact.) That would cost me $20.54. Minus shipping.

So basically, a protective covering for 50 hardback books would cost 41 cents each. I, being an anal retentive weirdo, think that’s totally justifiable.


Other supplies:

A lot of libraries use basic scotch tape to keep their covers in place, and I find it appalling. This kind of tape wears over time, looks dirty, and is just generally not a good choice. I wish I had a picture to show you of what I mean about the tape, but that’s a no-go. (I‘ll get to applying the covers and tape usage instructions soon. This will all make more sense once we get to that point.)

I think a much better option is to buy a certain tape from the same place as your jacket covers called “filament” tape. (My boss also taught me this.) Smile

It can be seen in the picture above. It comes in different sizes, but I like the tape that is 1/4 wide, which is the pictured size.

HOWEVER, when I set out to take the pictures of the book-covering-process, I could NOT find my roll of filament tape for the life of me. In my desperation, I found an alternative that works just as well.


Shipping tape that I bought from the office supply section as the nearest store. I cut it into smaller strips and it works a dream.

Fun side note: I found my roll of filament tape within an hour of taking all the pictures of my book wrapping party. Go figure.


(Everybody is thinking that I’m a total weirdo right now. I know this. But I’m gonna keep going anyway. )


So, we’ve covered buying the covers, the sizes of the covers, cost, tape….we’re doing good. Now it’s all about actually putting the covers on the books.


How to put the cover on:


Here’s our lovely model this evening:


I found this book at a library sale. It’s not in great condition, but it’s a good read for young and old, therefore, I knew I would have it around for a long time. I generally don’t cover old, used books, but I knew I’d keep this one for a long time, so on a cover went.

Take the jacket off, and lay the book aside…….


Now get out a book cover. The covers have a paper side, and a clear side. The clear side and the paper side is connected only at the top. The bottom and the sides are not connected.


Lay the cover down flat with the paper side facing up.

Insert the book jacket into the cover. The artwork of the jacket should be facing down, or, towards the clear portion of the cover.


(My pictures are a little bright and it’s hard to tell what I’m doing. Sorry.)

Make sure that the top of the book jacket is pushed square into the top of the cover.

The bottom of these covers has an adhesive tab to hold everything together. Fold it over, stick it together, and then use some tape (scotch tape) along the seam to help reinforce. The built-in adhesive is on the clear portion of the cover and should be adhered to the paper backing of the cover….the adhesive does not attach to any part of your dustjacket.


And, well, that’s it. Almost.

Now you put the jacket back on the book.


Here’s where the filament tape (or shipping tape cut into thin strips) comes into play.

You have to attach the covered jacket to the book.



Insert a piece of tape like so…..



…and just fold it over.

Do this on the top and bottom of the front flap, and the back flap. So that’s 4 pieces of tape altogether.



That is how the libraries do it, and that is how I do it.



In case you’re wondering, I do not do this to all my hardcovers. I have a lot of series books (Harry Potter, Sookie Stackhouse, Stephanie Plum) and a lot of authors (Ted Dekker, Stephenie Meyer) whose books I will want to keep for a long time. So I cover them. It keeps the books looking new, but if I wanted to, I could just slide the dustjacket right out of the cover. Though I’ve never done that. Once I put it on, I leave it on.


I’m done now. I’ve just made readers of my blog fully aware of my weird OCD tendencies.  Smile