Genre Dust Jacket Backs of the Late Classical Period
1967 - 1975 (or so)

The folks in Marketing at Modern Library often used the backs of dust jackets to try to get folks to buy more titles than just the one they were holding in their hands. Most of the time they referred to the complete list of titles on the dust jacket reverse.

Beginning with the flaps of i dust jackets in the 1950s, and moving on to the backs of style j djs in 1960, ML placed short lists of further recommended readings that related to the volume that the DJ was covering. Starting in 1967, they introduced a new genre list dust jacket style; the titles in the recommended list were the same genre as the book. This new style (or set of styles) lasted until the ML ceased publication in 1975 -- the one that, with variations, we've come to know as styles n, o, Gi, and Gj.

Using the information in the section labeled Fragmented Data & Future Possibilities toward the end of this page, you can sometimes verify that the dust jacket on a first edition book is quite likely the correct one—often a difficult task because late dust jackets don't have reliable current catalog lists on the back.

Style n DJ back
Style o DJ back
Style Gi DJ back

Genre Areas

Genre backs came in five specific areas: Poetry & Drama, Classics of Modern Thought, Modern Fiction, Philosophy & Religion, and Classics of Literature:


Content Lists

The contents of each genre list seemed to change over time, perhaps reflecting the addition to, or removal of titles from, ML's active titles list:

Color Schemes

Each genre back came in a variety of fetching colors, usually tied to the color scheme of the rest of the jacket:



Style Variations

There are at five variations of info at the bottom of genre pages. The first four variations display "For further information and complete catalogs write:" along with an address, the form of which varies. Listed in order of appearance:

Variation 1: Address at lower left contains Box 41, The Modern Library, 457 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022. No ISBN:

Variation 2: Address at lower left contains Box 41, The Modern Library, New York, NY 10022. No ISBN:

Variation 3: Address at lower left contains Box 41, The Modern Library, New York, NY 10022. ISBN at lower right:

Variation 4: Address at lower left contains Box 41, The Modern Library, New York, NY. ISBN at lower right. (No zip code in address):

Variation 5: ISBN at lower right. The "For further information and complete catalogs write:" text and address are not present:

Variations Table

Here's a table showing where we've seen these variations:

Variation #

DJ back style n

DJ back style o

DJ back style Gj

DJ back style Gi


1 Style didn't exist yet
2 Only one instance observed

In looking through your own collection, please e-mail us if you have an example not noted in the chart (Gj5, Gi5, and any variation 4 including a confirmation of n4).

Fragmented Data & Future Possibilities

Please note that everything on this page is based on very little data. We (Ron Holl & Scot Kamins) had only 105 genre DJ backs in total on which to base all our findings. But even with that small sample, we've concluded these things:

  • n1 dust jackets started in Fall 1967 and ended in Spring 1968.
  • n2 dust jackets started in Fall 1968.
  • n2, o2, Gj2, and Gi2 ended when ISBNs started appearing.

You can use this information to help in dating dust jackets and to determine later first editions (those without reliably complete title lists on the DJ inverse):

  • With the single exception of 160.3 Auden's Selected Poetry (Second Edition), any jacket with an ISBN is not a first. So if you have a book with a genre variety 3, 4, or 5 DJ, it's not a first.
  • All other first edition titles published with type 14 bindings likely had o2 dust jackets.
  • All non-giant titles born Fall 1967 through Spring 1968 likely had n1 dust jackets.
  • All giant titles born Spring 1967 through Spring 1968 initially had Gj1 jackets.
  • All giant titles born in Fall 1968 initially had Gj2 jackets.
  • All giant titles born in 1969 and later initially had Gi2 jackets.

If you can supply additional information—including challenges to anything we've said here—we'd welcome it! Just click here to e-mail us.

Related Pages

The Genre Search Index includes all regular, illustrated, giant, and numbered paperback editions categorized by genre.

Six Degrees of Separation provides referrals to titles recommended by Modern Library for books you're currently reading. For example, ML's marketing boys suggest that if you're reading African Queen, you might also enjoy Moby Dick, Nostromo, Robinson Crusoe/Plague Year, and Three Musketeers. It also plays a version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with itself. Try it -- it's fun.