Devil May Care
by Sebastian Faulks
Die-cut car-shaped silhouette filled with a scale
model of a Bentley R-type.
Die-cutting is a printing process for cutting shapes in a material. It allows publishers to insert a ‘window’ into a book’s dust jacket, or a page or pages, or even a slipcase. Die-cuts are commonplace but many are elaborate or particularly eye-catching.
The most recent high profile addition to books featuring spectacular die-cuts is Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer. It combines art and literature, and has multiple die-cuts throughout the body of the book. Safran Foer wrote Tree of Codes by cutting pieces of text from his favorite book, The Street of Crocodiles - a collection of short stories about a merchant family in small town - by Polish Author Bruno Schulz.
Die-cuts are loved by art and photography book designers, who frequently create the effect of looking through a window into the book with something or someone interesting inside. Bullet holes are another common theme used to enhance the themes of drama and violence. The keyhole style can often be seen on the covers of pulp erotica paperbacks, hinting at what can be found inside. Sometimes designers forego the dust jacket all together and cut holes into the boards of the book.
See our video review of Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer. › Play Video
Tree of Codes
by Jonathan Safran Foer
Countless intricate die-cuts throughout the book - a remarkable piece of art.
by Katinka Herbert
Created by design group FUEL, this Mexican wrestling book has a die-cut slipcase.
by Brett Easton Ellis
This 2005 novel has a die-cut dust jacket.
The Year around Book
by Jill Helen Fletcher
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney - a die-cut cover from 1965.
by Stephen Dixon
Published by McSweeney’s, illustrated by Daniel Clowes with a die-cut front board
by Harold Norse
Beat literature with a die-cut keyhole cover design featuring a lady undressing.
by Robert Sabbag & Damien Hirst
Die-cut trench runs through the pages of this cult book about a cocaine smuggler.
Pop Art One
edited by Dorothy Herzka (Roy Lichtenstein)
Double plastic comb bound die-cut portfolio format - pages are cut vertically at the center.
Clock Without Hands
by Carson McCullers
Die-cut circle with glassine window on the front panel of the jacket for this 1961 novel.
by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)
A mass market thriller from 1971 featuring a bullet hole die-cut on the cover.
Day of the Assassins
by Johnny O’Brien
This 2009 edition from Templar has front boards featuring bullet holes.
The System of the World
by Neal Stephenson
A limited edition from Hillhouse Publishing with a die-cut on the slipcase.
The Story of the Heart
by Sandra Magsamen
A red heart is cut-out on the front board of this 2001 book about love and romance.
by Chuck Hogan & Guillermo del Toro
This book comes with a die-cut gash across the cover.
Me a Mound
by Trenton Doyle Hancock
The dust jacket features three die-cut windows for this unusual art book.