How to Make a Kindle Cover (For Under $10)
When I first got my kindle there were a few things I noticed that would affect how I used it. The first was that it wasn’t terribly comfortable to hold. While a lot of thought was put into the design, I found that there weren’t a lot of good places to put my thumb where it wasn’t pushing a button or smudging the screen. I also noticed that it would quickly collect dust (if left on the shelf), or damaged (if left in my messenger bag). So the logical conclusion was to purchase a cover for the device. Upon searching for them, however, I found it difficult to locate any under $20, with some going as high as $50! It seemed ridiculous that a simple cover could cost so much. Similarly, very few of them looked like a book. I wanted to sort of re-create that hardcover feel, but the only ones I could find were specifically designed for the nook (and those were expensive too). So I searched online for a solution and found a great deal of helpful tutorials, though most revolved around slicing up a book/journal to accomplish this goal. I went a slightly different route.
This part could be the easiest or the hardest depending on how much access you have to really old books. Ideally, what you want is to have a hardcover book where the cover is already coming off (probably because the glue is too old to hold it on anymore). If you don’t have any lying around, try your local library for discarded books (do NOT cut up a library book in circulation!). There is a good chance they could help you get a hold of an old cover. Worst case scenario, you can separate the book you purchase from its binding. It will require some cutting, but the guts of the book should remain unharmed should you ever decide to read it, or if you wish to use it for other crafting projects. But overall, I would recommend using a book you won’t ever read. I will admit, it was too hard for me to cut a book, so my wife did it when I wasn’t looking. Realistically, it’s better to use some of it, than let all of it go to waste. But anyway, once you have your cover, you’re already halfway there. (If you’re purchasing an old book, they can run anywhere from 50¢ to $1.50 depending on what second hand store you go to.)
In the tutorials I watched, people would glue the pages of a book/notebook together, then trace their e-reader and slice out the center with an x-acto knife. The method is sound, but again, I refuse to destroy a book in such a way (and it feels like a waste of a perfectly good notebook). So I began searching for an alternative. What I found was a series of flat, foam sheets traditionally used in arts and crafts. They can be found in the craft aisle at any department store and it helps to get the kind with an adhesive back so they are easier to stick together. Buying a pack of these foam sheets will probably run around $6 and will be your biggest expense. The smallest sheets will usually be the right size for a standard hardcover, but if yours are too big, they can be cut down.
The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out how many sheets of foam can fit in your selected hardcover. You want the spine to be stretched the same height as it was when the pages were still in there, just to ensure the continued integrity of the cover. Once you figure out the correct amount of sheets, set one aside that will serve as your ‘cover sheet’. In other words, it’s the sheet you will put on the opposite side of the inside cover (that will rest on your e-reader when it is closed). The others can be stuck together. Just remove the adhesive back and start stacking, paying special attention to alignment. Once you have them all together press them down with something heavy on a flat surface for a few minutes. You want to make sure the edges don’t start curling up. Next you’ll want to trace your e-reader with a pencil on the top sheet, then set it aside. If you don’t own an x-acto knife, a box cutter also works, or anything sharp enough (please practice safe usage of all knives involved). When you begin to trace the outline with the knife, make sure not to cut too deep. You want to take each layer out one at a time until the e-reader fits comfortably. If you take out too many, you won’t have the adhesive on the last sheet to stick to the cover. Also, if you are using a cover from a really thick book, you don’t want your e-reader to sink really far in and rattle around. You want just enough that the cover can close and the e-reader isn’t getting squished.
These are the foam sheets I was talking about. The ones I found were about $6.00, so you may have to shop around for the best price.
If the whole process is too difficult, and you've got money to burn, you could always buy an official cover.
Frankenstein-ing it together
Once you’ve cut out your e-reader cozy (and confirmed that the device fits in it) you can adhere it to the cover (as well as the cover sheet I mentioned above. Be very mindful when you stick these into the book because you want to make sure everything lines up properly and the foam isn’t bending all over the place when you open it. Again, place it on a flat surface and lay something heavy on it to make sure it sticks well. After you know it won’t go anywhere, you will need some stronger glue for the spine. A glue gun, or any high quality tube glue should suffice. Basically, just open the book and line the spine with the glue in liberal amounts. Then, when you close it, make sure to press down the spine so that it sticks to the side of the cozy and secures it into the cover (you don’t want your e-reader to fall out). Depending on the type of glue, you may have to wait a while until it’s done. Just leave it under that heavy object again and come back later.
At this point you should be finished, but nothing ever goes perfectly. When I made mine I noticed two problems that needed fixing. The first was that the hole where my kindle sat was kind of sticky around the edges; where I had cut out the foam. Therefore, each time I rested the kindle inside, it came back out with tiny bits of foam stuck to it. I fixed this problem with masking tape. Unfortunately, it made it look kind of cheap/tacky when the e-reader isn’t in the book (which isn’t that big of a problem.) Ideally you would want something that is the same color as the foam, but whatever works best for you. If you’re savvy enough, you could line it with cloth or ribbon to prevent any unwanted substances from getting stuck to the kindle. I also ran into the problem of the cover sheet foam not properly sticking to the cover around the spine. It’s kind of hard to explain, but needless to say it prevented the cover from closing smoothly every time. In this instance you can try scoring the part that extends outward and folding it against the spine, or you can try gluing in the parts that stick up with a toothpick.
At this point you should have a fully functional kindle cover. If you’re worried about the kindle falling out you could also add a strap to the outside to keep it shut, or elastic bands on the inside to hold it in place, but every modification is going to make it look less like a book and require more glue and materials, so that part is up to you. But between the foam, the cover and the materials, you will have a unique cover for less than it would have cost to get a generic one at the store.
If you're interested in seeing what else I've crafted together, feel free to visit my hub "Real Life MacGyver".