Dec 4, 2013

make an e-reader cover from an old book

I have disemboweled a book. This feels a bit sacriligeous, but it's not the first time I've taken a book apart! I did this a bit differently than the various tutorials found online, and also learned from the experience how to do it better next time, so thought I'd share my steps here. First, of course, is to choose a book you don't care much about, which is close to the size of your e-reader. I have one just a bit larger than my kindle. (Next time, I'd pick one a bit thicker, so it closes easier. I have to hold mine shut with a rubber band if it's not facedown).
You need: your e-reader, a suitable sacrificial book, elmer's glue, a plastic cup to mix it in, a few drops of water, paintbrush, plastic wrap, pencil, x-acto knife or box cutter, ruler or straight edge, tweezers or sandpaper.
Choose whether to leave a few pages loose in the front or have it open just inside the front cover. Put a sheet of plastic wrap to protect the cover and first pages, and paint the outer edge of the rest of the page block, with elmer's glue thinned just a bit with water - you want it to soak into the pages some.
Close the book and let it dry under weights. I have lots of other books handy for this!
I let mine dry overnight. Next, trace shape of the e-reader onto the page block
and cut through the layers of pages to make the cavity your device will sit in. This step I did too quickly and had to clean up a lot afterwards. Some pointers: make a hole with the point of your x-acto blade at each corner, this will give your blade a place to stop and avoid overcutting the edge. Make your first few cuts very carefully and even; the blade will follow the path and the rest of it will go easier. (I didn't do so well at this, but mine is just to be useful, not so pretty). Use the blade or sandpaper to smooth out rough edges and if needed, tweezers can help you pick bits of paper out of the corners  This step takes the most time. Make a note of how many pages your book has, so you notice when to stop before cutting into the rear cover.
Cut a little gap for your finger to go in where the on/off switch is. This can be a half-circle shape, or go all the way through the page block if you like.
Paint the inside edge with glue, shield the free pages/front cover with plastic and set under weights to dry again.
If you want it to look particularly clean and you've left a few loose pages, carefully glue one of those down over the cavity and cut the e-reader shape out again, then dry with plastic and weight, so that the top surface is nice and tidy.

The aftermath:
Was this worth it? I think so. In fact, I'm going to do it again when I find a better book, one with an interesting texture on the cover (and preferably no exterior text)
I found that using this book cover for my kindle had two great benefits. One, it disguised the fact that I was reading on the device, so my kids weren't always pestering me to play games on it! They still haven't realized I have something else inside that small red book, ha. Two, I vastly prefer reading on the kindle now that it feels like a real book (I mean preferable to the way it was before, bare in my hand. I still would rather read physical books most times). Subconsciously I even forgot I was reading on the device, and caught myself reaching a hand to the edge of the glued book to turn a page forwards or back, instead of tapping the screen to scroll it!

I like to think that this book has a secret life now, full of multiple identities.


  1. That's so cool! Seriously, that looks amazing, I'm so impressed. I'll have to keep an eye out for some books I can use to this purpose next time I'm at a library book sale.

  2. What a great idea! I'll have to keep this in mind if I ever buy an e-reader.

  3. Thanks! I'd love to see how it comes out, if you guys do this too. I'm eager to find a more suitable book to use, next time there's a dirt-cheap sale or free books I can find.

  4. Love it! I've seen so many covers that look like books and cost thirty dollars to purchase. This is the way to go.

    Also wanted to mention that I've kind of enjoyed reading all of the fish books you've been posting about.

  5. I looked at ones for purchase but couldn't bring myself to pay for one. I was delighted to be able to do it myself (even if it made me cringe, making that first cut).

    Glad to know someone is enjoying the fish books! There are a lot more to come.

  6. I stumbled to your blog because I've been planning to make Kindle cover just like you but I couldn't bring myself to it. I think if I make it, it'll look ugly. :/


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