when you buy a book in Japan, you’ll be asked whether you’d like a book cover to go along with it, at no extra cost. these covers are made of brown paper, decorated simply with the logo of the bookseller.
these are from kinokuniya, where i found murakami haruki’s books in english retailing a fair bit cheaper than in singapore.
i like these book covers. they do a decent job of protecting the book, and works as free advertising for the bookseller. more importantly so, they afford a measure of privacy for the reader. you could read cheesy romances without being judged, or 50 shades in public without the sniggers; you could even read the marquis de sade with wild abandon on the train without raising eyebrows or blood pressure.
funny enough, I’ve never actually thought about the privacy of the reader till now. it may be that i judge people based on how i perceive myself – romance novels, as improbable as their storylines are (particularly regency romances), used to be my guilty pleasure, and i hid my reading of them. a literature fraternity (or sorority, for that matter, given the lack of men in my lit cohort) simply doesn’t take too well to readers of…low-brow(?) literature. the assumption that seems to hold court is that of you have the skills and ability to read great novels of our time, of which there are many, why would you waste your time on such? fair assumption, to be sure (i ask myself that all the time).
but I’ve deviated. i cut several leftover pieces of nice wrapping paper into foldable book-sized covers, to be used on my future purchases. excited!