Book Covers – a 100-year-old Unique Feature of Japanese Culture | Guidable

Book Covers – a 100-year-old Unique Feature of Japanese Culture

By Yae Sep 17, 2018

What are Japanese book covers? You can see many Japanese people spending their time on the train effectively reading books or newspapers, listening to music or searching something on their phones. Have you ever noticed that most of them reading books wrapped by book covers? Do you wonder why they use book covers while reading books?

Let’s find out the reasons in this article.

1. Need Book Covers? Go to a Japanese Book Store First

If you want to have your book covered, stop by a book store near you and choose your favorite book in Japan. Then, you go to cashier and the shop clerk will ask you whether you want them to put a book cover for your book or not.

If you say yes, the shop clerk will wrap your book with cover made from paper. No matter how many books you buy, you can have all your books covered. Surprisingly, this is a normal service in Japan and all the customers who buy the books can get it free. After wrapping the books, the shop clerk will put them into a plastic shopping bag and give it to you.

2. Why is this service free?

There are 2 main reasons why books stores in Japan offer customers the book cover for free.

・It is one of the strategies in order to make the book store become famous and let people know its name. 

If people carry around or read books wrapped by book covers printed with the name of the book store, other people can notice this name by chance and can help with advertisement effect.

・The book covers can be the sign of who already paid for the books.

Some customers would keep searching for the books they want even they’ve paid for the previous books already. If customers refused to have plastic shopping bags and continuously keep carrying the books they already bought in the book stores, it’s confusing for shop clerks to know whether they paid for the book or not.

Putting the book covers on helps the shop clerk to distinguish who bought the books already and who have not.

3. Japan has 100 Years of Book Cover Culture

It is claimed that Japanese people have started using book jackets since Taisho Period (1912) so it has been 100 years since the book covers was invented as “wrapping paper”. Each book cover had the original design printed with the name of book stores on it.

The reason why Japanese people made book covers from papers is because of one major reason: “REDUCING THE COST”

4. Book Covers Protect People’ Privacy

What kind of books that a person read is none of the others’ business, but many Japanese people really care about what the others think in general. Some of them feel ashamed to let the others know their favorite type of books like self-help books, or books related to psychology, spiritual topics, medical, and any educational texts to get certifications.

What people read is what they are looking for. Sometimes people want to get deeper understanding about something by reading books privately. Therefore, book covers help them a lot with their privacy.

5. Japanese Book Covers Keep the Books Clean

I’m not saying that Japanese people care too much about germs, but some of them prefer to wrap their books to keep their books clean and neat all the time. Books are made from papers so if people keep carrying the books outside frequently, the books may get suntanned and cannot keep the original color.

Not only can people protect their privacy by putting the book covers on, but also people can keep the books as new as possible in a long time.

It’s a good habit to cherish things, don’t you think so?

Have you figured out why many Japanese people often wrap their books with covers?

Whether people use the book covers to keep their privacy or keep the books cleans, it still means that Japanese people treat their books with much care.

They want to cherish their belongings and they also want to keep things last long with their love. These people would also do the same to other people and try to be nice and friendly.