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An album cover is the front of the packaging of a commercially released audio recording product, or album.
The term can refer to either the printed cardboard covers typically used to package sets of 10" and 12" 78 rpm records, single and sets of 12" LPs, sets of 45 rpm records (either in several connected sleeves or a box), or the front-facing panel of a CD package, and, increasingly, the primary image accompanying a digital download of the album, or of its individual tracks.
In addition, in the case of all types of records, it also serves as part of the protective sleeve.