Parts of a book dust jacket and flaps

The dust jacket or dust wrapper is the paper covering found on clothbound (hard cover) books. Its practical purpose is to protect the book's cover; its advertising purpose is to attract potential buyers. For picture books especially, the dust jacket can convey information visually about the book's ideas, content, and/or mood.

The jacket flap is the inner part of the dust wrapper.

The blurb is the text (or copy) on the jacket flap.

The covers of hard cover books are created by pasting stiff board onto cloth or a similar backing.

The end pages (or end papers) are the first and final pages in a clothbound book. Their practical purpose is to keep the book together: One side of each end page is pasted over the boards on the front and back cover; the other is attached to the inner pages of the book. Their aesthetic purpose is to convey information about the book's ideas, content, and/or mood. End pages can be plain paper or decorated with designs (as in the example by Beatrix Potter below). In some cases, end pages can even be used for the start of the story (as in David Small's illustrations for Sarah Stewart's The Gardener and The Friend -- the latter is pictured here.)
boards dust jacket and flaps


cover endpages

The half-title page (when it is present) has only the book's title (and possibly a decoration or illustration). It is found less frequently in recent picture books; many contemporary illustrators prefer to use the additional pages for visual narrative. Often, it is on the page facing the front end page.
half-title pg title pg

The title page (despite the name) has the title plus the author and illustrator's name, the publisher, and often the place of publication and/or date. If only one person's name appears on the title page of a picture book, that person is usually the author and illustrator. (The frontispiece is an illustration facing the title page; this term is used more frequently for illustrated books than picture books.)

The copyright page contains copyright information. Some books carry more than one copyright date for various reasons. If the copyright date for the illustrations is different from that of the book (text), it indicates that the text has been reillustrated. In older books, the copyright page is almost always on the back of the title page. In more recent titles, where illustrators experiment with layout, copyright information may appear in other locations, such as the last page of the book (as with David Small's The Friend). When copyright information appears in other locations, it becomes part of the publication information and the page it occupies is no longer identifed as the copyright page.
copyright + ded. pg first opening

The dedication page contains the dedication; picture books may have two dedications, one from the author and one from the illustrator. The dedication page is usually facing the copyright page. As with the copyright information, the dedication may appear elsewhere rather than occupying its own page. Occasionally, it is even incorporated into an illustration, as in David Small's The Gardener.

The frontmatter is everything after the front end pages and before the start of the text. In addition to the pages listed above, frontmatter may include a preface, introduction, forward, author's note, and/or table of contents.

The front peritext is everything before the start of the text. In addition to the frontmatter, it includes the end pages, cover, and dust jacket.

The first opening is the first spread after the title page where a picture book's text begins. Sometimes it is on one page, facing the copyright page; other times, it may be a two-page spread (as with the Beatrix Potter book pictured). Because most picture books do not have page numbers, the convention for identifying pages is to count the openings. Each two-page spread is one opening.

The backmatter is everything after the final illustration for the text and (usually) before the back end pages. Backmatter may include an author or illustrator's note, glossary, index, or publication information not placed in the frontmatter.

The back peritext is everything after the last opening with text. It includes any illustrations following the last opening (because the illustrator has added an additional interpretation not in the text), the backmatter, the end pages, back cover, and dust jacket.

The peritext is everything before and after the text. (A useful mnemonic is peri-text = periphery of the text -- though that's not actually the source of the name.)