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How To Attach A Book Cover

Updated on December 29, 2016

How to trim your cover

In order to attach your cover you will need a ruler and a sharp pencil to make your marks as you go along. If you do not feel comfortable using an Xacto knife to make your cuts, You can use a rotary blade papercutter which is the safest type to use with your book projects. If you use a blade, you should also use a cutting mat or you can use a rubber mat of some kind to prevent cutting your table.

Mass market paperbacks are trimmed with the cover already attached by a cutting machine that does several at a time. Because you are placing a cover on the book after it is bound, you will be custom fitting the cover to your book. Storebought paperback books have no overlap at the top and bottom. but with this type of book, you will allow about 1/16th of an inch overlap.

The first thing you will do before you start trimming the cover is to make the folds along the spine using a ruler. Hold your printed book cover up to the light and on the back, locate and mark off the location of each side of the spine with your pencil. And then, lay the cover with the printed side facing down. Use the ruler and pencil to make a score line on the inside of the cover at each side of the spine.

The illustration below will show you the steps to follow. Make the spine folds for your cover using the ruler as a straight edge and then fold upward each side as the diagram illustrates. The spine should fit your book well. You may slip your book into the folded cover to see how well it fits.

Pull the book out and make the first trim cut along the top of your book cover using the trim marks as your guide. Slide the book in again and pull it down so that 1/16th of an inch overlaps. You will find that in most cases you will have to adjust the cut on the bottom allowing a bit more cover to show. This is not an exact science. Just by the way the book rests in the cover, you may need to trim lower than the existing trim mark. The key is to get the top and bottom even and allow a tiny overlap, otherwise the book will show outside the cover.

I would suggest taking a blank piece of paper and trimming that to fit your book first as to avoid ruining your printed cover. You will also get some practice fitting your cover and adjusting it for a perfect fit.


Diagram for trimming and attaching your cover

Follow these steps and you should have no trouble trimming and attaching you cover
Follow these steps and you should have no trouble trimming and attaching you cover

How to attach your cover

As you can see from the illustration above. After you custom fit your book into your cover, you will place your book back into the jig and allow about two inches of the book to protrude from the jig and tighten the wing nuts so the book stays in place. (note: make sure the front of the book is facing you and the top is up to the right.) Make sure your cover is also front side up so you are not gluing your cover on the wrong side.

You will apply a light even layer of binding glue with your brush on the spine of your book. You will also apply a thin layer on the cover itself inside the spine. And then, you will place the glued book cover onto the spine of the book and press along the spine to make sure there is a good bond and then check to make sure the top and bottom of the book have a little bit of overlap outside the book. Press along the spine until the bond is tight. Wipe away any excess glue that appears at either end of the spine.

Your cover should bond to the book well, but leave the book with attached cover in the jig for about 4 hours to assure a good bond before removing. After your book cover spine is attached, take your book out of the jig and use your hand to firm down each side of the cover to close it.

To give you a good idea of what a finished bound book looks like, I have given you a look at my finished bound book of Dark Sabbath. You will notice the slight overlap of the cover to the book.

If you have completed this last process successfully, you now hold your own home published book in your hand. Congratulations! you have become a book publisher!


This is a finished book with cover attached

If you have followed all the instructions with the book creating process I have shown you in my four book publishing hubs, this is the final result.
If you have followed all the instructions with the book creating process I have shown you in my four book publishing hubs, this is the final result.


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    • djbraman profile image

      djbraman 7 years ago

      Hey, I haven't talked to you in a while. I wanted to let you know that from the information I got from you I created a cookbook for our ministry, and it sold well! Thank you and I hope you join my hub!

    • djbraman profile image

      djbraman 8 years ago

      What size paper are you using for the cover. This is a great article. I write but I have never seen how a book is put together