How to make an ‘old book’ cover for your Kindle (or, a guide to how to accept a Kindle into your heart)

I am reblogging this old post from my old blog, http://booknewsatblackboardfiction.wordpress.com (yes, what a huge mouthful, and how content-specific, hence this new blog), which I originally posted on 26th December 2011 – Boxing Day. This was a delightful Boxing Day pursuit, as you will see. I thought it best to move it seeing as people keep asking me for it, and it’s far too time consuming to give them the old blog address 😉

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So… I got a Kindle for Christmas. My darling and savvy other half decided that, as I’m in the business, you know, actually publishing for Kindle, I should actually have one.

Look at it. Isn’t it pretty, with its lo-fi looks and super-fast charge speed. It’s completely non-threatening, and is so nice and simple that even my mum likes it. Ahhhh.

Having previously and privately sworn that I wouldn’t have one, I now love it; it has become the repository of all knowledge, all the things I haven’t yet read but know I should, thanks to the free Pre-1923 collections available. It has become some sort of mystical object, and I feel the need both to make it look like one and protect it.

Eschewing all modern-looking cover and snap-cases, I’ve decided to make one myself.

First off, I went to Ealing Oxfam for a suitable book. The best would be hard-backed, slightly bigger than the Kindle (it’s a supremely neat little 6.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″), and old-fashioned, preferably. Although I lingered a little in the ‘Curiosity’ section, looking at the hardbacks, there was no way I was going to carve up something in any way decent and old – it seems so disrespectful, especially for someone who, when I last moved, had to rent a storage lockup for a year to house all of my possessions: thirteen boxes of books and a king-size iron bed. (I later sold the bed.)

Luckily, with the trend for nostalgia publishing over the last few years , there are plenty of recent hardbacked old-looking children’s books around, and I found the perfect-sized ‘The Boys’ Book: How to be the Best at Everything’ by Guy Macdonald and Dominique Enwright. It’s a great book, but, having no ‘boys’ of my own, and convinced that this book had fulfilled its purpose by being read at least once, I bought it for the teeny sum of £1.99 and took it home to begin a new life.

How to make a Kindle Cover: step one, buy a book and some glue

At home, I collected the following items:

–       PVA glue (the WRONG kind it turned out, which was clear instead of white, and wasn’t as strong as normal PVA – don’t make this mistake)

–       a sharp craft knife

–       a pen

–       an old paintbrush

–       greaseproof paper

–       masking tape

–       upholstery pins (antiqued)

–       a strip of elastic

–       squares of felt

–       newspaper, so as not to make a mess

–       a cutting board

(Most of the above you can get in Wilkinsons, if you don’t happen to have them knocking around.)

Now, to make. I apologise for the artsy pictures. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

First, dilute the glue slightly, just so it’s a little less goopy – this will help it to sink into the pages. Next, open the book up to the title page, turn it over (you’ll need this page later), and flatten it open.

Next, paint the sides of the pages with glue. A lot of glue. Layer on the glue so that it sinks in. Then, take a sheet of greaseproof paper and put it between the title page and the rest of the book, so that when you close the book they won’t stick together.

How to make a Kindle Cover: make sure your pages are glued firmly

Weight the book down and leave it to dry. (Because I had the wrong glue, this took a long time, and, in the end, I had to dry mine on the radiator with elastic round it to keep the pages firmly pressed, but I wouldn’t suggest this as it does lead to a little warping. In the end, that seemed to fit into my design, luckily!)

Once the pages are dry and hard, and don’t open or stick to the greaseproof when you open the cover, put it on newspaper and a cutting board if you have one and put the kindle on the top of the pasted pages. Draw around it at its widest part with the pen (obviously. You may now discard the pen.) These will be your guide lines for cutting the hole in which your Kindle will sit.

How to make a Kindle Cover: start excising your pagesNB: Don’t be tempted to make rounded corners like the Kindle itself as these will be a pain to cut and will lead to bunches of paper in the corners that will stop your Kindle from lying flat.

TIP: put the Kindle as close to the spine as possible to allow for the widest strip of page at the other edge, where it will need strength.

Use the craft knife to now cut into the pages (sacrilege! It does get easier though…) on your guide lines. When you have cut the oblong shape, carefully pull out the cut pages. Continue. Continue more.

TIP: In my book, this was a pleasant process as each page lifted introduced me to a new skill, such as: How to draw a cartoon; How to dowse for water (I already knew this); How to tie a knot without letting go of the ends (useful); How to become a Catholic Saint (…unusual?). My Kindle was the perfect size to cut round the information on each page, so my cut-outs are all legible, which might allow them to be made into nice and very interesting wallpaper in a children’s room. Don’t waste if you can help it!

How to make a Kindle Cover: paper messAn hour or so of carving later, you should have a nice Kindle-shaped hole. Check it fits, and then cut corners more widely or sharply if it doesn’t quite sit flat and flush.

How to make a Kindle Cover: check it fits flush

Next, mark out a section at the bottom to give you space for the ON/OFF switch to be pressed, and at the right hand side to allow clicking access to the FORWARD/BACKWARD buttons. Cut these carefully, and pull out about half as many layers as the whole cut depth of the rest of the hole, creating a stepped effect.

How to make a Kindle Cover: cut out space for the buttonsNB: This should all be quite satisfyingly neat if you’ve glued the pages enough, but, if you haven’t, glue them some more before you attempt this stage.

Next: use the masking tape to make the edges completely neat. Cut small strips and paste them down carefully, going over each raw edge. Then, paste the leftover title page on top, and then cut the hole out of it to allow for a neat finish on the top of the cut pages.

You’re about half-way done now…

Now you need to make it secure and safe. Take the felt and cut out a piece the same size as your inside cover. Thickly cover the inside cover with glue and carefully put the piece of felt down, pressing firmly. The felt will still securely very quickly, and protect the front of your Kindle.

How to make a Kindle Cover: cut the feltNow take the elastic, and turn over the end twice to make a makeshift hem that will prevent it from fraying. Push a small upholstery pin through it, and then hammer this gently into the top back of the book’s cover, making sure it goes into the glued and stiff pages. Stretch the elastic over the front of the cover until it holds the cover firmly shut, then, carefully keeping the tension, double over the ends again and repeat the process with the upholstery pin. You’ll have a nice securing strap that will keep the whole thing closed.

How to make a Kindle Cover: elastic and upholstery pins NEXT: it’s really up to you. I was going to cover the title of my book with something else, but it’s such a pretty cover I’ve left it. Also, if you’re worried about your Kindle falling out, you could use Velcro dots, sticking one to the Kindle and one to the back of the case, to lock it in place but allow for easy opening.

How to make a Kindle Cover: finished cover with elastic

Here is it, in all its glory, looking fabulous against one of the screensavers – all of which, by the way, depict pens, pencils and printing. I assume this is ironic, or that some Amazon honcho is paying homage to the medium that made him?

How to make a Kindle Cover: finished cover

If you are indeed the receiver of an eReader this Christmas, make good use of Download Day (previously Boxing Day) by using the link to Amazon’s freebies or by visiting Lulu.com and entering a random word into the ‘Search eBooks’ field to find a gem or two.

You can even buy my little offering of short stories, either for Kindle or for other eReaders (or even in paperback). If you’re not sure, here’s a free story to whet your appetite.

How to make a Kindle Cover: blatant self-publicising

After all that, here’s my last eReader recommendation for the holidays: you can download and use the wonderful and free Calibre to store all your eBooks, read them on your computer, and swap them between formats (.epub for most eReaders and .mobi for Kindle) so you can read them on any device!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

pudding

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