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How to Make a Paper Book Cover

Updated on July 19, 2012
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.


Have you looked around for book covers? You might not have found any. Then again, you might have found the ones that are stretchy and end up damaging your book. You don’t want that. What you really want to know is how to make paper book covers for yourself.

Why Would You Want Them

The purpose of the book covers is to protect the book. Many schools require their textbooks to be covered to protect them from regular wear and tear, spills, and scuffs. You want them to prolong the life of your book. Also, kids want them because their teachers say they have to.

Why Make Them

Why not just buy them? Years ago, you could get some could paper book covers. Most of us still made them because it was free that way, but you had choices in getting them. Today, most of them are made out of stretchy material that most schools ban because they damage the corners of the books.

So, you make them because they are better for the book and practically free.


Supplies You'll Need

When I say it is practically free, I mean it. You probably have all you need to make the paper book covers right there in your house.

  • Paper – You need the paper. Typically, you use paper bags from the grocery story. I’ve known people to use wrapping paper which can be too thin and tear easily. Others use butcher’s paper which is really good, too.
  • Scissors – You need something to cut the paper bag with.
  • Pencil or Marker - This will help you get the right size.

Yes, that’s it. Don’t believe me? Read on and see how easy it is do it.

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It’s So Easy

This example is using a paper bag but you should easily adapt it to any other paper you use to make your paper book cover.

  • Step 1 – Cut Down the Edge - Chose one of the edges of your bag and cut from the top down to the bottom of the bag. It doesn't have to be a particular side. Some people even pull the glued section at the back of the bag apart instead of cutting. It's up to you.
  • Step 2 – Cut out Bottom - Next, remove the bottom of the bag by literally cutting it out. This piece will be discarded. You only want the main portion of the bag.
  • Step 3 – Measure Book - Lay the now long paper bag out on a table or flat surface. Place the book you with to cover on the paper and measure it. Mark the top of the book and the bottom so your height is correct. Remember that all books are different. Never assume they are the same. Measure them each time. You can do this with hardcover books and paperback ones. Do each book individually and get the right fit. Don't eyeball it. You know were assuming gets you.
  • Step 4 – Fold Top/Bottom Edges - Remove the book from the paper and fold the top portion of the paper at the line you marked. Don't worry about how long it is now. Just fold the top neatly. Make sure the crease is good. I've seen some people iron it down. I wouldn't go that far, but it an option. I just fold it and press down firmly.
  • Step 5 – Back Flap - Now lay the book back on the paper with the top and bottom sections folded. Open the book to where you are looking at the literal last page and the back cover of the book. Pull up the right portion of the paper and 'open' the ends. See the picture to your right. Notice the small flaps the top and bottom section have? Slide the book cover into those until you have a good fit. Press down to form a good crease.
  • Step 6 – Front Flap - Now it is time for the scissors. The bag is more than likely too long for the book. Fold the front flag over the book and gauge how much to cut off. Once that is done, repeat step 5 with the front cover. Make sure it is all nice and snug on your book.

Now, you have your paper book cover. But do you really want to stop there? No way!

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Take It To The Next Level

You can leave it just the way it is. Maybe add the title of the book. But do you really want to leave it there? Make it personal. Make it yours. This is your chance to mark on your book.

Decorate your paper book cover. My daughter likes to draw pictures based on the subject of the book. Her chemistry book has formulas and such. Her history book has stars, monuments, and guns. Her math book has...well, math problems on it.

She doesn't just leave it there. Next comes out the crayons, markers, and such. She gives it color. My youngest likes to add scrapbooking items on it giving it even more character.

Have fun with your book cover. Make it yours. Make it unique. Make it not so boring while protecting your book from dirt and damage.

You can use:

  • Stickers
  • Markers
  • Glitter (those this can be messy)
  • Pictures
  • Scrapbooking material
  • Paint
  • Anything relating to arts and crafts.

How would you decorate your paper book cover?

See results


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    • kissayer profile image

      Kristy Sayer 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I used to do this for all my school books and decorating the covers was always the best part of starting a new school year - or a new book! Everyone always tried to make the best covers and out-do their friends, haha. Great hub :)

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

      When I was in high and jr. high school, we were REQUIRED to do this to all textbooks. (Yep, we used paper grocery bags. I guess it would be harder to do with plastic. ha.)

      This is one of those I wish I had thought to write. You did a good job of presenting it.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      RGraf, this is a great idea! I did not know how to do this and I have found that books get worn out so quickly. Thank you so much for this informative hub. I will be sharing and definitely voting up and more!

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

      I used to do this for all of my textbooks in high school. It does help protect the book, but also allows for easy identification of YOUR copy, as well as providing a place to doodle that doesn't damage school property. ;)