Experienced booksellers and book collectors have come upon the front flaps of dust jackets with the top or bottom corner clipped, yet, strangely the books’ price still evident on the uncut corner. Why is the DJ’s corner cut off and the price still evident? Why cut the book’s corner at all?
This mystery is explained by Dan Gregory at ILAB in his article “Why Are Some Dustjackets Clipped but Not Price-Clipped?“.
[…] this copy had four different prices on the front flap (clockwise from the top they were $3.95, $3.75, $4.50, and $4.95). By printing four prices in such a manner, the publisher, W.W. Norton, could leave the decision of the final retail price until later in the publication process.
After the books were printed, and just before the printed jackets were to be folded onto the bound books, two or three cuts to a stack of printed jacket sheets could quickly eliminate the unused prices. It also allowed the publisher, if he were so inclined, to market the book at different retail values in different areas.
In over twenty years of collecting books, this is the first time I have ever seen a book – thank Dan for the photo – with four different prices on the front flap. There are many books in my library with two prices, one top and one bottom, with unclipped front flaps, but none with four prices.
Dan explains that the dust jacket corners are cut by machine which is understandable when dealing with thousands upon thousands of books.
For children’s book collectors, I suppose one of the rare unclipped first editions would be Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are. In addition to the correct copy on the DJ flaps (i.e. no mention of the Caldecott Award), my copy has “$3.50” on the top right of the front flap, which matches the description in the Hanrahan bibliography, and has the bottom right corner cut off. Hanrahan states:
It has a price of $3.50 (Horn Book mentions a library edition at $3.79) on the inside front flap […]
I’ve never seen or heard of a copy of Where The Wild Things Are with an unclipped dust jacket, which includes the “$3.50” trade price on the top right corner, and the “$3.79” library edition price on the bottom right.