Clipped Corners

The world of bookselling and collecting is intense: not only does this realm of publishing involve a series of new phrases and terminology, but participants must acknowledge ethical discourse within their hobby. One of the most highly controversial topics within this discourse is the concept of price-clipping. “Price-clipping,” or “clipped corners,” refers to the process of manually cutting the price off of a book’s dust jacket, mostly within the context of gift-giving: for example, if someone were to purchase a book as a gift for someone, they may not want the person to know how much they had paid for the book. Therefore, the person would diagonally cut the book’s price from the dust jacket and gift it to the person afterward (Browne). However, price-clipping can be for the convenience of booksellers (Marketplace). Some booksellers price clip themselves so that they can sell the book at a different price than what is printed on the dust jacket (First Edition Points). This practice was not uncommon in the 20th century, and now, book collectors have mixed opinions on the topic.

Rare book collectors attempt to find books in pristine conditions. Specific copies of books, i.e. the first editions of books, are highly coveted within this community (First Edition Points). However, the book simply being a first edition is not enough for rare book collectors. Instead, they value the idea that the entirety of the book must remain intact for the book to be valuable - that is, the book must have a complete dust jacket that includes the price of the book. It is not enough for the book to be the exact first edition, directly from the era in which it was published, than it is for the book to have all of the parts of its “set” (First Edition Points). Thus, a price-clipped dust jacket does not give a book the “character” assigned to older, beaten-up antiques. Instead, it lowers its value. While some book collectors attempt to match dust jackets from other editions to first edition books, a true book collector will notice the difference (Gusman).

When it comes to bookselling, independent booksellers may price clip so that they can change the price of the books they are selling. Companies like Amazon can afford to charge lower prices for their books, as they are making enough revenue to sustain themselves through other ways that they conduct business (Marketplace). Independent booksellers, however, are too small to function without pricing higher than mammoth booksellers, like Amazon. This is where price-clipping comes in: an independent bookseller may clip prices on hardcovers so they can either a) sell at a discounted price, but more so than a bigger business; or b) raise the prices of books to make a bigger profit (Marketplace). Some independent booksellers like having the control that comes with price clipping, but there are booksellers who would rather sell books at the listed price (Marketplace). Not only is this easier, but it helps in consumer disputes - if a customer tries to compare a book price at an independent bookstore to an online retailer, the cashier can simply show them the price on the dustjacket (Marketplace). Though controversial, clipping corners exists for many reasons, as does the price on the book jacket.

Works Cited

Browne. “Book Collecting World.” Book Collecting World, 29 May 2020,

First Edition Points. “Fedpo First Edition Frequently Asked Questions - Book Club Editions.” FedPo First Edition Frequently Asked Questions - Book Club Editions,

Gusman, Jessie. “Jessie Gusman.” Jasper52, Jessie Gusman Https://Www.jasper52.Com/Wp-Content/Uploads/2016/09/j52_logo.Png, 2 Feb. 2017,

Marketplace. “Why Do Books Have Prices Printed on Them?” Marketplace, 27 Jan. 2021,

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