Some paperback editions have a front cover which is a centimetre or two shorter than the actual book. I first noticed this on House of Leaves, where I thought that it's just part of the whole experimental deal (representing the house whose inside is larger than the outside, and/or just putting the book firmly into uncanny valley), but since then I've seen a couple of other books which do this, like this paperback edition of Ken Liu's The Paper Menagerie:

House of Leaves and The Paper Menagerie paperbacks

So I'm assuming this is actually a thing that is done for some books, and googling confirms that. However, I haven't found any good sources on why this is done.

  • As a side note, any bibliophile needs a copy of that Ken Liu paperback, just because of how amazing the texture of the cover is. :) – Martin Ender Nov 24 '17 at 9:52
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    It is fundamentally an artistic choice, but I am wondering whether that sort of answer actually answers what you're asking for. Do you also mean to be asking what about the text prompts that choice? – user80 Nov 24 '17 at 18:10
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    @Zyerah If it's really a purely artistic choice, the reason why someone might make that choice would definitely be interesting. The reasoning from House of Leaves doesn't generally apply to other books. – Martin Ender Nov 25 '17 at 7:28
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    @Zyerah if it's fundamentally an artistic choice, then that's answer, even if that choice has nothing to do with the text of the book. – user111 Nov 25 '17 at 13:34
  • Maybe it's for a better grip when opening the book? You can open the front cover easier if it is not the same size as the actual pages as it 'separates' it. Hardcover book covers are generally easier to open as they are very thick and the cover usually overlaps over the actual pages, but normal paperbacks don't. So the paperbacks with shortened covers combat this. My thoughts only, I don't have any evidence so I don't know whether I can make this an answer. – Fabjaja Dec 4 '17 at 19:01

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