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Protect Books with DIY Covers

By Kim Robson:

Often, when I find a paperback book to read from our neighborhood Little Free Library, its corners and edges are bent and torn. Reading a damaged, dilapidated book is never fun. I have a great technique that uses strips of heavy-duty clear packing tape to repair these paperbacks: I start by lining the outside edges with tape, then I do the top and bottom edges, and finally I finish with the spine. It can add years of life to a neglected book. But preventing damage in the first place is far better. The solution? Book covers!

Who remembers making fresh textbook covers each semester for all your classes? Usually I’d use heavy brown paper bags from the grocery store. There’s no reason we shouldn’t still use them as adults to protect our favorite books. There are scads of creative and attractive cover ideas out there on Pinterest and other DIY sites. Here are a few ideas to try for unique, one of a kind book covers:

Covers from Old Maps

Hardly anyone uses folded paper maps anymore in these days of GPS and voice navigation. Got a bunch that you haven’t looked at in decades floating around in the car? No? Get fresh ones for free from any AAA office. Use them to make book covers! (Maps also are great for wrapping paper.)

Covers from Old Jeans

Denim is so rugged and tough that it makes a great material for book covers. Plus, when jeans grow old, they become soft as velvet; and it’s fun to incorporate pockets, button, zippers, stitching or other design features.

Covers from Leftover Fabric

Do your own sewing? Then you probably have a bin full of fabric scraps. Don’t sew? Check your local fabric store’s cutting table and ask the store personnel there for scraps. Use them to make colorful, unique book covers!

Covers from Leftover Leather

Same scenario, different material. Check out craft or leatherworking supply stores. They usually have tons of scraps that can be repurposed into gorgeous, durable, leather book covers.

Papercraft Cutout Covers

Make an old-fashioned plain paper cover, then cut out a shape from the front. Turn the cover over and tape a papercraft design of your choosing over the hole. These rainbows were made by simply overlapping precut strips of multicolored paper.

Song Lyrics / Poetry Covers

Sure to be a hit with kids who love music (Are there any who don’t?). Print out their favorite song lyrics or poetry, and cut them into shapes. Make an old-fashioned plain paper cover, then use a glue stick to apply the lyrics to the front.

Fashion Magazine / Graphic Novel Covers

Cut up some fashion magazines or graphic novels. Make an old-fashioned plain paper cover, then use a glue stick to apply the pieces to the front.

Covers from Old Books

Another popular option, especially for tablets and readers, is to repurpose the hard spine and tough front and back covers from an old book. It looks like a weathered old tome from some ancient library, but tucked inside is your gleaming 21st century tablet!

Of course, if you aren’t crafty, you can still find all sorts of charming and creative yet functional book covers on Etsy.

About Kim Robson

Kim Robson lives and works with her husband in the Cuyamaca Mountains an hour east of San Diego. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, cooking, and animals. She has written a blog since 2006 at kimkiminy.wordpress.com. Her interests include the environment, dark skies, astronomy and physics, geology and rock collecting, living simply and cleanly, wilderness and wildlife conservation, and eating locally.

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One comment

  1. Great ideas! I usually use wallpapers for kids books, they love it!

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