Problems with Wrappers




(Click any thumbnail to see a larger view)

When a hardcover book is printed, it is done on large sheets of paper that sport several pages per sheet. They are then folded twice to make up eight printed pages on four new sheets (Quarto); or, by folding it once more, sixteen printed pages on eight new sheets (Octavo). The printed, bundled pages are then sewn together to await binding. The head, foot and edge of the attached pages are trimmed to make them even. You can often see these bundles by looking down at the top of the spine of a hardcover book.

But paperbacks are different. After printing, the bundled pages are trimmed on the SPINE edge, then that edge is dipped in a glue to hold them together. Finally the wrapper (paperback cover) is wrapped around the complete page bundle (with more glue along the spine to hold it), and then the WHOLE BOOK is trimmed along the other three edges.

Almost always, the wrapper is put on straight. However, since the untrimmed pages aren't always even before the wrapper is attached, it's not odd at all to see paperbacks whose edges encroach on the illustration or cover lettering. In the two examples above, even part of the colophons and copywriting were "trimmed off" when the books were cut. Usually, the illustration was designed to allow for a little of it to be "trimmed" off without detracting from the presentation.


These next three scans show what is undoubtedly the "worst trimmed" book I've ever seen. They were all submitted by contributor Richard Cohen, from Miami, FL. I've presented them here the way the wrapper would look before it was attached, with the back cover on the left. That wide gold stripe on the edge of the back cover OUGHT TO BE the spine. The thin gold stripe on the spine is actually suppose to appear on the  front cover. Take a look at the later Pocket Book scans in the database to see what I mean.

(The first scan of Avon 242 above was contributed by Bruce Brenner.)