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Colorful Book Jackets Do More Than Protect (May 8, 2006)

A brand jacket display rack (Setup Inc)
One of the hottest trends in Japan right now is book jackets - not just ordinary brown paper jackets, but ones made of high-quality paper and sporting elaborate and colorful designs. This new breed of book jackets boasts handy features like reversibility and built-in bookmarks. Called bra-jacket, short for "brand jackets," many of them bear corporate logos and brand images, thus serving not just to protect book covers from damage but also as advertising vehicles. As they are adverts, they are offered to the public for free.

Stylish and Free
The jackets are the brainchild of the advertising company Setup Inc. "We noticed that on the trains, many women were reading books covered by jackets they had made themselves, so we thought that if we could make covers that were nice to look at and easy to use, then they might serve as a good advertising medium," says Setup.

Setup's covers are available at special shelves at major book retailers in the Tokyo metropolitan area and the Kansai region. They are free for the taking, and customers need not even buy any books to get one. New editions are generally released every two weeks - on the first and third Friday of each month. Once they disappear from the racks, they are not replaced.

When the jackets are produced, extensive efforts are put into their materials and designs. Varnish is applied over high-quality embossed paper surfaces to give them durability and to bring out the colors in the designs. The jackets are designed so that they can be easily attached to a book with a simple fold of a flap.

The 62 designs produced so far encompass a wide range of styles, from one featuring a photo of bottles of a foreign beverage maker to screen shots from famous movies. The most popular designs reportedly disappear from the racks in just two or three days.

A selection of brand jackets (Setup Inc)

Station Stationery
As a form of advertising, a major benefit of the jackets is their relatively low production and distribution costs. The number of customers who visit book retailers that offer the jackets is estimated at around 460,000 a day. Yet when the number of people seen regularly carrying books covered with the jackets is taken into account, the total number of people exposed to the jackets and their messages is likely to be considerably higher.

Such numbers have not escaped the notice of Japan's high-profile advertisers, including Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation, electronics giant Sony Corporation, Häagen-Dazs Japan, Inc., and the Shiki Theatre Company - all of which use brand jackets to get their messages across.

Plans are afoot to further develop ways of distributing the book jackets for free. From the summer of 2006, for instance, the brand jackets will be available inside train and subway stations, including some on Tokyo's subway system. Also expected is the introduction of scented jackets imbued with perfume as a means of promoting cosmetics makers.

Many of the people who regularly visit bookstores to pick up the latest edition brand jackets have already started coveting them as collectables. As the book covers continue to evolve, their value in the eyes of a growing number of collectors seems set to take off.

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Copyright (c) 2006 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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