Make your own Book Cloak!

June 4, 2007 at 10:38 am 1 comment

You are a member of the Literati, but admit it: every now and again, you read something “unworthy.” Don’t raise your eyebrow at me – you know what I mean. I know all about your secret stash of Harlequin novels, that row of Stephen King and John Grisham tucked in your closet. I know all about your summer of chick-lit debauchery!

Your secret is safe with me – and I offer you assistance. No longer do you need to tuck bestselling novels inside sterner tomes or use arms, bags, or small children to shield the cover art from the world. I bring you hope, and hope’s name is the Book Cloak.

The Book Cloak is a custom book cover for those books that are simply too embarassing to be read in public. You might expect to pay $10, $20, even $50 for such a pride-saving tool – but no! The Book Cloak, as an open-source craftwork, is completely free to you, minus the cost of materials! You can make it using only materials found around the house (although a trip to the scrapbook store makes it all the more fun to do), and it’s so easy that anyone can do it. To demonstrate the ease of Book Cloak construction, I did my demo on a camping trip without the benefit of any specialty bookbinding tools.

The following instructions are for a standard mass-market paperback. However, they can be easily amended for any size book simply by using larger paper, or an additional sheet.

Supplies: two sheets of 12″x12″ heavy paper in contrasting colors; one sheet of 8.5″x11″ cardstock in a complementary shade; ribbon to match; acid-free adhesive (rubber cement works well), craft tape or acid-free masking tape

Tools: ruler, scissors (or craft knife and straight edge), pencil, hole punch

Step 1. Identify an embarrassing book. If it makes English majors turn green or sixth-grade boys faint, you’ve found the right book. Measure its dimensions (width, height, and depth).

Step 2. Take one sheet of 12″x12″ paper. From it, cut two rectangles at least two inches (5 cm) taller and one inch (2.5 cm) wider than your book. (If you have enough paper, cut the rectangles four inches [10 cm] taller and two inches [5 cm] wider.) These are the cover sheets. Make one rectangle, of the same size, from the contrasting sheet of paper. This is the spine sheet.

Step 3. Slip one of the cover sheets inside the front cover of your book and center it lengthwise. Mark where the edges of the cover hit the paper. Remove the paper and fold the top and bottom in at the marks. Crease sharply with your thumbnail or a bonefolder.

Step 4. Repeat with all three rectangles.

Step 5. Trim the spine sheet so that it is 3″ (about 7.5 cm) wider than the depth measurement of your paperback. If it is printed on one side, turn it over so you are facing the reverse. Center the paperback’s spine on the rectangle and mark about 3 mm beyond where the edges hit (so that the marked area is slightly wider than the paperback’s spine). The marks should go from the edge of the paper to the crease of the fold.

Step 6. Cut along the marks, and fold down the tabs. This will reinforce the edges of your Book Cloak. This narrower part of the spine sheet is the actual spine.

Step 7. Turn over all rectangles so that you are looking at their backsides. Line up the cover sheets so that they butt up against the spine. Make sure all edges are straight, and glue the three sheets together. Allow to dry.

Step 8. Fold this new larger sheet at the spine’s edge on both sides and crease gently. Slip the paperback in, being careful to line it up at the spine, and wrap the front coversheet around the cover. Mark where the edge of the cover hits the paper, and fold the paper at that point. Crease sharply. Repeat with the back cover.

Step 9. Find the point where the two creases meet on each of the cover sheet corners. This is the pivot point. Miter the edges by folding the corners in at a 45 degree angle at the pivot point. Crease sharply. Repeat for all four corners.

Step 10 (Optional). If you would like to add handles to your book, punch two holes in each side as shown. The creased edge should bisect the holes, which should be about 3″ (7.5 cm) apart. You will have a total of four holes, two on the front and two on the back. If you do not want handles, skip steps 10-11.

Step 11 (Optional). For a standard paperback, cut a length of ribbon approximately one meter in length. Thread it through the holes so that there are loops on the outside of the cover. Tie the ribbon’s ends together (make sure that the knot is one that will hold). The flatter the knot, the better.

Step 12. Take a piece of heavy crafting tape or masking tape and cut it to just shorter than the height of your book. Place it on the backside of the spine, over the tabs and ribbon, if applicable. This reinforces the spine.

Step 13. Set the paperback inside and slip the front cover under the corner flaps. Fold down the top, bottom, and side folds so that they make neat edges. Glue the folds down. (If you want the Book Cloak to be removable, only glue cover paper to cover paper – not to the actual book!) Repeat for the back cover. Put pressure on the glued spots and allow to dry.

Step 14 (Optional, but Recommended). It is recommended that the Book Cloak be attached permanently to the book, as it is custom-measured to that particular copy, but if you want it to be removable, skip this step. Take the sheet of 8.5″x11″ cardstock and cut from it two rectangles, approximately 2 cm shorter and 1 cm narrower than the paperback. This is your endpaper. Slip it inside the front cover, center it, and paste it down, making sure to glue it to the Book Cloak paper and to the inside cover of the paperback. This will keep your Book Cloak firmly on the paperback, and adds that final touch of class.

The Final Product! Once the glue dries, your Book Cloak is completed! If you added ribbon, you can carry it like a handbag, or tie the handles together to hold your book closed.

Make a matching bookmark from your scraps.

Finally, with the Book Cloak, you can read what you’d like with impunity.

Created as an entry for the Kimbooktu Reading Gadget Contest. Wish me luck! And if you make a Book Cloak, I’d love to see a picture. Comment with a link, or email me at

Entry filed under: Just for Fun, Making, Reading.

It’s Raining Books, Hallelujah! ‘Til You Drop!

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Lesley  |  June 11, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    What a great post! Helpful and entertaining – and yes, that book cover did make this former English major turn green. 😀


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June 2007

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