As a high-school student, covering my textbooks was always something I looked forward to, (so that I could fill the blank covers with I-heart-Morrissey). With a new school year, it’s the perfect time for a little refresher course on covering books, don’t you think?
HOW TO COVER A BOOK: 4 SECRETS
Let’s start with paper.
There are so many to choose from! You can go old school with a brown paper grocery sack — sturdy and the perfect canvas for all sorts of doodles and creativity. Or you could go with something like blue prints, vintage maps, sheet music, newspapers from foreign lands, or even vintage wall paper.
You may want to use clear, plastic book covers — the professional-grade types used at libraries — to cover books with jackets on them. But for books without jackets, a paper cover is just right.
Once you’ve picked out the paper you like, you’ll want to make sure it’s just the right size. I like to allow about 1-1/2″ on top and bottom and about 3″ on either side to allow for folding.
How to Cover a Book Secret #2:
One thing you’ll want to watch out for, if you are using a paper that has had a crease in it (such as a map or newspaper) you don’t want to put the edge of the cover on a crease in the paper. The edge will wear out much faster and you’ll have holes in the cover right away.
Lay the book on the paper and use something to mark exactly where you will fold the paper. Use a bone folder to score along the edge, or use a pencil or pen to trace where you want to fold.
Start with the top and bottom and fold the paper where you marked it.
Use my bone folder again for a really sharp crease. Now it’s time to fold the edges.
Close the book and center it.
How to Cover a Book Secret #3:
Leave a good 1/4″ on top and bottom. If you don’t, the book won’t fit into the cover.
Fold one edge down and give it a little crease so you know where to fold it.
Open the paper up and use the bone folder to score or mark where you want to fold the paper down. Scoring the paper makes folding so much easier if you are using thick paper.
Now fold the top down. Use the bone folder to give it a good crease.
You can use double-sided tape to help hold the fold in place. It’ s not absolutely necessary, but it gives a nicer, finished look when the cover is in place. Be sure to place the tape towards the center — tape closer to the edge will seal the paper shut and the book won’t fit inside the flap.
Wrap the cover around the book and using the technique above, gently give the sides of the paper on top a little crease so you’ll know where to fold it.
Use the bone folder again, not creasing it as well as the other times. Because the book’s hard cover has thicker edges, you won’t want to crease it quite as well as you did the other times, or it might look a little funny. (Think: double creases on pants.)
Insert the book into the top part of the cover where you folded.
Now close the book and wrap the cover around the book and turn it over to mark where you want to fold on the other side.
Repeat the steps for the other side.
How to Cover a Book Secret #4:
Carefully insert the other side of the cover into the fold. You don’t want to bend the book back too far or you might crack the spine and binding.
You can write the name of the book directly on the cover, or you can attach a pretty label.
Ta-da! It’s that simple. Repeat as necessary for all of your book-covering needs.
And just because I’m curious, did you doodle on your covered textbooks in high school? Did you favor band names or crushes?
P.S. — Want more? Find all the posts in this series here.
Created by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.
34 thoughts on “How to Make a Book Cover”
Totally!! I used brown paper bags and that’s what we were going to do with my son’s books. I was so surprised to see fabric type book covers at the store with a plastic bag covering it. So much waste when you can recycle paper, and maps! I love that idea! We have so many national geographic maps we could use. Fun! Thank you!
National Geographic maps would be great! I always had a tons of those hanging around my bedroom as a kid. Wish I would have thought to use them all those years ago. :)
When I was in school, we were required to cover all of our textbooks so they would last longer. I just used the school-provided covers, which were glossy paper and covered in advertisements for local businesses, and really ugly. In college, I didn’t bother, because most of my books were paperback anyway (yay political science!). Of course, now that I’m about to start grad school, I think some pretty paper covers would be too nice to pass up! That is, if I have any money left after buying all of the books!
Ugh. I hated those covers. We had the choice of using those or paper bags. Congrats on starting grad school! That’s great!
How fun! Thanks for reminding me how much I loved covering my school text books. I always used brown paper bags and never considered covering any in our personal collection….hmmm…next project?!
Now that I’ve started, I can’t stop myself. The books look so pretty in the different papers on the shelf. I have my eye out for some papers to cover my cookbooks now too.
I KNOW I’d become addicted…so clean, organized and pretty, right!? Have fun!
I loved covering my books. I would use brown paper bags and then cut out pictures from magazines and collage the whole thing. I would cover them with strips of clear packing tape to keep it all in place. Oh memories!
How fun! I don’t think I ever did that. The idea did come to me to use some cute washi tape on plain paper to make some cute designs and patterns. So many options!
I can’t wait until my kids are old enough for book covers. Brown paper bags worked the best….and if I remember correctly, some teachers required brown paper covers.
Brown paper seems to be the sturdiest, doesn’t it? I had teachers that required brown paper too. A lot of fun for doodling with my favorite markers.
You literally read my mind! The other day I was just thinking about how much I enjoyed covering my books when the school year started. I loved picking the “perfect” brown grocery bag and doodling all over them with my new markers. I stuck with patterns mostly that I could continue to add to when I got bored…
How fun! One year I was really into drawing different kinds of flowers that wrapped around the covers. I really kind of miss that!
We used brown paper bags too, though thinking about it–I’d probably try kraft paper now. It is so cheap and would be easy to decorate!
Kraft paper is awesome for so many things, isn’t it? And cheap. :) Even better.
lovely! i always loved covering my books. However, Grammar is spelled incorrectly onthe map covered book. . .whoops!
Oh, dear! Looks like someone needs to go back to school and learn to spell. :) Thanks for catching that.
thanks for sharing the coupon will us :) I’ll be definitely using that. Love the idea of wrapping textbooks. I remember how ugly mine use to be in school. Great tutorial!
The BEST use for a paper bag! I miss that new feeling…having all that room to marker up!!! I probably spent way too much time decorating my books and notebooks than I did on hw!
Oh, this post makes me want to go and cover my son’s textbooks. This is the first year he’s had books he brings home from school on a regular basis (3rd grade), but I don’t think they do book covers at his school. I’ve never seen any of the older kids with them on their books either.
Thanks to reusable bags, I haven’t brought home a paper grocery bag in years, but a roll of kraft paper would work just as well. And it wouldn’t have any pre-existing creases to navigate!
I attended a training session on Monday to learn how to cover books at my daughter’s school! I thought it was pretty funny that covering books required training, but they use contact paper and I actually learned something new! The contact paper works great for protecting all of those little paperback picture books, and since it’s transparent there’s no need for labels. :)
Our first project at secondary school was to make a fabric cover for the Bible we had each been given (to keep forever). The material was gingham (mine was shades of yellow, brown and cream) and we had to embroider a cross on the front cover.
Aww, this brought back fond memories of elementary and middle school, when my dad always helped me cover my new books with brown paper bags–he is a stickler for neat, tight wrapping, whether it’s Christmas presents or textbooks, and he taught me how to do it just this way (although we didn’t have a fancy bone folder–the back of a thumbnail works pretty well instead). Can’t wait to do the same with my kids in a couple years!
Perfect. I actually wish I’d been more creative when I was at school and covering my books.
Ah, thank you! I was just thinking of book covers a few days ago and trying to remember how we made ours. It was usually brown grocery bags, but one year, maybe 1984, one of my more creative older brothers offered to make mine and used neat old maps and things. AND, that year, he said “I’m going to make you the coolest cover, everyone is going to be jealous” etc. WELL, he used his old STAR WARS movie poster! From the original movie, the poster he probably went to the theater and asked for when they were taking it down! I’ve thought of that often and kind of wish we’d kept that poster intact!
Thank you so much for such a charming and clear tutorial!
You mentioned that you use library-grade plastic to cover books with dust jackets. We’ve got lots of well-loved books which will much longer if they’re covered, and covering them just happens to be at the top of my “now that the kids are back in school” to do list. Do you have a particular kind or brand of plastic that you would recommend for the purpose?
I am a high school teacher, and I require my students to cover their books. I loved covering my books when I was in school; I was able to decorate them to my heart’s content (usually with doodles and quotes I loved–oh, and of course the name of whichever boy I was “into” at the time).
I used to require the students to bring in brown paper bags; however, so many of my students would forget, now I give them each a length of butcher paper. I bought a huge roll three years ago from Sam’s that was the perfect size (height) for my text books when the top and bottom are folded in. It’s white paper, and the students enjoy getting out the markers or colored pencils to personalize them.
I love that simple look of those books! Also, the colour choices you have made, what kind category would the colours be called? ; for example: pastel, neon… Great work!
Gabby, this is such a great tutorial. I hope it’s OK if I link back to it in a back to school round up!
Has anyone ever heard of a Middle School sixth grade teacher telling her students that if they didn’t cover their books within the two day deadline given (two weeks into the school year, when all the stores are sold out of the “stretchy” kind that kids are insisting she wanted them to use) that it would affect their grades? It’s true. This just happened to use yesterday.
My son went haywire when I suggested using paper… he didn’t like my solution that I’d sent a note to school saying we’d have them covered after her Friday deadline (today). He insisted that we try to buy them after I picked him up from school yesterday… Target, Walmart, Staples, the craft store… all sold out. So, I emailed her saying we could not find any…
This was her reply: “Thank you so much for your email. I am certainly shocked that such a minor assignment has caused you and Lucas so much confusion and stress. It was certainly never my intention.
Please allow me to clarify. First of all, as I explained at Back to School Night, homework is worth 10% of Lucas’s reading grade. (I tried to be clear about the fact that I eliminated daily reading logs, but that there would be some minor assignments such as getting papers signed – or getting a book covered – that would count as grades.) Secondly, I want to be sure that you understand what the homework assignment was and why it was given. Students were assigned literature books on Tuesday this week, and I had them write down in their assignment books to get them covered for a homework assignment that night, even though I told them they would have a few days to get this done. The due date to receive full credit (which is only 2 points) is tomorrow, Friday. The reason behind this assignment is two-fold: For one, the books cost nearly $100 each. Yes, it is true, that students should not need to bring them home, but I have seen the way books are treated as they travel from lockers to classrooms, and I thought that by having the covers protected, students would not have any type of bill at the end of the year for a damaged book. The second reason for the assignment is much like the papers I occasionally ask to be signed; it helps sixth graders develop a sense of responsibility.
I would like to reiterate that I reminded students each day this week that they should NOT feel obligated to go out and buy a book sock. I told them a brown paper bag, wrapping paper, anything really, would work. Of course I am aware that many families are busy with work, sports, and family activities during the week. This is why I gave students several days to get their book covered.
Finally, please understand that I have never, ever considered homework to be a “threat.” As a professional educator of over ten years, I cannot help but feel that my character is being negatively questioned. I have nothing but the best of intentions for Lucas, and I hope that he is still eager to experience all that the middle school has to offer. I will be sure to meet with Lucas during resource period tomorrow to make sure that he is okay and to answer any questions he may have for me.”
Does this seem normal to anyone? Turning something as menial as covering a book (or returning a paper with a parent’s signature, too, apparently) into a homework assignment with points/grades associated with the task? Is it me, or is this person overstepping boundaries. We couldn’t find anything in the Parent/Student handbook about this. In fact, I can’t find anything on the Internet about whether or not a student covers their books affecting their grades.
Is this just another scheme for teachers to artificially raise their classes grade score averages to their own benefit?>?
Thanks for another informative blog. Where else may I get that kind of information written in such an ideal way?
I’ve a challenge that I’m just now running on, and I’ve been on the glance out for such info.
Thanks this was absolutely helpful. I am so glad I can how cover my old recipe books my sweet mother-in-law handed me down. I like how clear you are with the pictures and instructions.
Love this, thanks for providing such a great little tutorial. I’ve now covered a paperback book that my daughter will be studying and it turned out way better than I’d ever imagined. We always used clear contact when I was growing up, but I prefer the paper option since it’s more environmentally friendly.