Introduction: Book Speakers

Picture of Book Speakers

Create a pair of speakers by recycling six old hardback books and a pair of speakers from a broken cd player. They will be unnoticeable on a bookshelf, cost virtually nothing, and sound pretty good.

Step 1: Tools and Material

Picture of Tools and Material

You will need:
6-8 hard back books, about 1 1/4 inches thick each
2 speakers, 3 inches in diameter

Hot glue gun
2 or more clamps
small board
box cutter

Step 2: Preparing the Center Books

Picture of Preparing the Center Books

First, you need to figure out the basic internal layout of your speakers. I decided on a simple rectangular cavity, to make it easier. Make the cavity a little wider than the speaker is, so you have some wiggle room. Draw the design of the speaker cavity on the book that will be in the middle. Clamp the book down, drill a pilot hole in one corner of the cavity, and cut out your design using the jigsaw.

Step 3: Preparing the Outside Books

Picture of Preparing the Outside Books

On the outside books, you can't just saw strait through. Trace the shape of the cavity from the center book onto the cover of the outside book that will be touching the center book. Saw through the book, except for the outside cover. Then do this for the book on the other side. When all the books are put together, there should be a fully enclosed rectangular cavity inside the stack of books.

Step 4: Preparing the Inside of the Books

Picture of Preparing the Inside of the Books

Near the spine of the books, where you cut out, there will still be a fairly thick layer of paper. This paper will block the sound if not removed. To remove it, fold the covers of the book out and together, and fasten them there so they do not get in the way. Clamp the book down, and, using the jigsaw, cut most of the way to the binding, but not all the way through. Cut a slit in the paper between the pages and the cover with a box cutter, and also with the box cutter, finish cutting out the layer of paper at the front of the speaker cavity.

Step 5: Poking Holes

Picture of Poking Holes

There is still an unbroken layer of thin cardboard between the speaker and the outside. Using a safety pin, or something similar, poke lots of holes in the spine of the books.

Step 6: Mounting the Speaker

Picture of Mounting the Speaker

Now the speaker needs to be fixed to the books. Start by fixing the speaker to the middle book. I did this with hot glue- lots of it. Be sure not to get the glue on the cone of the speaker.

Step 7: Gluing the Books Together

Picture of Gluing the Books Together

Cut a thin strip of paper out of one of the book, behind the cavity, for the wires to go out of. Spread a thin layer of glue between the covers of each book. Tightly clamp the books together, and leave them for a few hours.

Step 8: More Speaker Gluing

Picture of More Speaker Gluing

Unclamp the books. They should be attached at the covers, but you should still be able to open the books. Open the outside books, and put more glue on the speaker, fixing it even more tightly to the inside of the books. Paint a thin layer of glue on the inside of speaker cavity.

Step 9: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

Drill a large hole in the back of the books and to the speaker cavity, and paint the inside of the hole with glue. Once it is dry, put the speakers on a bookshelf, plug them into your stereo, and enjoy!

This project, along with others, can be viewed on my blog, which can be found here:


fencingsupplier (author)2015-08-05

book speaker looks interesting! Creative work done by a creative thinker.

Doc Holliday (author)2009-05-24

Um, couldn't the speaker point out the top of the book set instead?

That would simplify a lot of the issues discussed here, as well as the whole construction process.

Somebody would have their head hovering over the books to notice it.

ben_k (author)Doc Holliday2009-05-24

But then the sound does not project outwards, it goes up...

Leah Michealis (author)ben_k2015-05-12

i agree with you. if and when I try these I would put them on my book shelf, which is only about 16 inches high. not enough room for an upward facing speaker to produce clear sound.

thecolor (author)Doc Holliday2010-05-11

This seems like a logical solution and while (yes) the sound would go up rather then out (for the below comment) in that case (if undesirable), why not create a brace behind the speaker held in the middle of the book hollow and mount the back of the speaker to that instead of the front.  Then, the actual cone(s) would be free for full movement (hitting nothing) and there might be a better (or worse) sound as it floats in the center of the book.

Just a thought.  Either way, I have 4 black box speakers I plan to mimic this project with but leave them in the speaker boxes for the original sound.  I think I do agree with that, if the box is built, use that, place some book sides on the left and right and a foe front.  As for the back, do you really need to place anything on it (covering wires or holes)... it's not seen (typically).

sideeffect11 (author)2015-04-22


Disneydreamer20 (author)2013-07-02

I am goimg to seem really stupid by asking this question but how do you wire the speakers to work ? I am a beginner with electronics and wiring. I completely understand how to make the books to act like speakers but how to get the actual speaker to work is where I run into some confusion. Can someone please help me ? Much appreciated. :)

You probably have found out by now but for everyone's sake. If the speakers have wires already you need to run those to the back of whatever stereo equipment you're running it to. If you're unable to do that because the speakers don't have wire already, or you need to run the speakers to some kind of jack your best bet is help from someone local as i can't teach you how to strip wire and solder from the internet.

iApple guy (author)2012-08-26

If you have a small sub you could put the sub in some books too.

fizban7 (author)2009-04-05

what is this last step for?

ben_k (author)fizban72009-04-08

Painting the inside of the cavity with glue stops the pages from vibrating when the speaker is playing. The hole is to let air pass freely into the chamber.

qwerty987 (author)ben_k2011-08-22

could you put the wires through the big hole and save yourself a step

ben_k (author)qwerty9872011-08-22

I suppose you could, but they would probably look better with the wires as I did them.

nolan5683 (author)2011-07-26

i love how the book is called "a blast of trumpets"

hfuller (author)2011-07-25

If you had a stereo that had separate speakers could you do this but do the stereo part with the controls and stuff like this too? It wouldnt be excaltly the same you would need to put the spines on a hinge somehow so you could open and close it :D just an idea

SantaB (author)2011-07-08

How loud are these? Is the output pretty good or very muffled?

ben_k (author)SantaB2011-07-08

By themselves, they play up to a moderate volume before you get distortion, but the books don't seem to muffle the sound. However, if you want to play them loudly you should definitely pair them with a sub.

Yerboogieman (author)2009-08-12

I have a pair of good sounding speakers that went through a flood, so i hot glued them together, perfect for this because they wouldn't be seen.

MartRo (author)2009-07-16

Great idea! Maybe you could use books with dark covers, so you won't see the holes at all.

jessyratfink (author)2009-07-15

Really well executed! I do book projects too. :D Good to see you used the crappy ones that aren't worth anything. That's a few less I'll have to buy from someone at work!

PyroMonger (author)2009-06-02


ben_k (author)PyroMonger2009-06-02

I made it way before the contest started, so I can't. Believe me, I've tried. =)

pyroninja9 (author)2009-06-01

i made one of these for my tech class my teacher really liked it

Yerboogieman (author)2009-05-21

"A blast of trumpets."

ben_k (author)Yerboogieman2009-05-31

Aha! I just realized that that was the title of one of the books! =)

jordanpa (author)2009-04-05

The most positive thing I can say about this project is - To get reasonable sound, leave the speakers in their original enclosures and don't mess with them. In other words, don't do this project. If you must do this project, note that the glue used to fix the speakers must be kept away from not only the cone, but also the suspension (the flexible ring around the outside of the cone. You would need to be very careful to get this right, as the suspension is normally right next to the metal frame that you are gluing. Loudspeakers often have lugs that can be screwed. It is best to use these for fixing, thereby keeping glue away from the suspension. I don't really care if you ban me from the site. But please - take my advice first. I have actually designed and built my own quality loudspeaker enclosures and understand the technology.

modskwod (author)jordanpa2009-05-25

I can respect what you're saying, but you never know, the compacted paper might be better than the original enclosure. If the original speaker was made of plastic, yes, the paper would be better, since it won't be as resonant. I agree about the way he fixed the speaker in place though, if it were me, I'd have found a way to actually mount it somehow. BTW, the part around the cone is the surround, you probably made a typo. The suspension is the spider(s).

ben_k (author)jordanpa2009-04-08

I don't think you understand the whole point of this project. It is not to make a pair of ultra high quality stereo speakers. It is to make a pair of speakers that is extremely unobtrusive when placed on a bookshelf. I would never rip apart a perfectly good pair of stereo speakers. I got these from a broken cd player. Because of the way the speakers were fixed to the old cd player, there was no way I could screw the speakers on, so I had to use glue. As you can see, the metal part of the speaker is fairly wide, and I had no trouble whatsoever gluing it without getting glue on the cone or the suspension.

PyroMonger (author)ben_k2009-05-25

5/5 from me, Techno. Great ible....I'm going to try this as soon as I get some decent sized hardback books and some old speakers.

MadMonso (author)ben_k2009-05-20

If I understood correctly, just be careful not to glue the actual speaker diaphragm. I did like that you included the hole in the back but unless it's in the proper location, I doubt it will do much more that prevent muffling. Then again, with scrap speakers I doubt you'll notice a difference

PyroMonger (author)jordanpa2009-05-25

I know the author already replied but I wanted to get my two cents in. The point of Instructables is to share ideas and learn from eachother as a community. As for this project..I love it because it's original and unique. I don't know about you but I can confidently say I've never before seen speakers made from books....It's a new twist on a long used idea with the books. Learn to appreciate other people's work and stop criticizing. It's not always about perfection. It's the pleasure of doing the project and the satisfaction of the end product! Now go sulk in a corner and abide by the 'be nice' policy.

hahasgirl (author)2009-05-23

it would be nice to hide the holes. Perhaps you could use books that come with a paper jacket and after making the holes attach them to the books? The sound would still be able to come through nicely but it would look more attractive.

zimmemic25 (author)hahasgirl2009-05-24

then it would even better to make bigger holes into the cardboard, because then the paper jacket can act like a second speaker membrane

ben_k (author)zimmemic252009-05-24

I don't think that would sound very good. Try taping a piece of paper over a speaker and you will see. About the holes, unless you are about two feet away, you don't see them, and that is only if you are actually looking for the holes.

deemerch (author)2009-05-22

"A Blast of Trumpets"... nice choice for a book speaker thanks for sharing!

qdogg (author)2009-05-21

I think you meant safety pin instead of clothespin! I don't think a clothespin would make a hole in many things... this is a good idea.. bookshelf speakers for sure. It looks like that spade bit was left out in the rain for awhile. Another good way to drill in books is w/ a hole saw because it doesn't tear the paper as much.

ben_k (author)qdogg2009-05-21

You're right about the safety pin. I corrected it. The bit I used was only 3/4 of an inch and I'm not sure they make saw bits that size, but if they do, that would be better.

wetnap (author)2009-05-21

interesting look, but probably poor engineering for speakers. walls of speakers have to be stiff as possible. i don't really see the books as being a good material to work with.

omnibot (author)2009-05-21

I luvz .. will make for my livingrooms 5.1 setup.

lemonie (author)2009-03-22

Book-club books? How do they sound? L

ben_k (author)lemonie2009-03-22

I found the books in a closet in my house actually. They're fairly old (1975). Sound wise, they sound decent. I didn't exactly use top notch speakers, so the base gets pretty buzzy at high volumes.

sevesteen (author)ben_k2009-05-20

If you want more bass, add a sub-woofer with a crossover. Bass is non-directional, so you can re-route the bass causing the rattle to a bigger speaker on the floor, or behind something. Home-built is quite possible, and it doesn't have to be huge to make a big difference.

lemonie (author)ben_k2009-03-22

"Buzzy"? That'd be the speakers, rather than vibration in the books? They look pretty chunky, but pump enough power and you can overdrive anything I suppose... L

ben_k (author)lemonie2009-03-22

It's the speakers vibrating. You still have to play it pretty loud for that to happen though. I guess I'm just used to my 18 inch high stereo speakers with 8 inch sub woofers though...

f3rg (author)2009-05-20

Cool project, Technochiken.

CletusSpuckler (author)2009-05-20

Great Idea.

paxamoret (author)2009-04-20

Very cool idea, especially when I think about the possibilities for customizing the titles!

shascho (author)2009-04-11

Great idea! Nicely illustrated, too. Thanks!

cflowers (author)2009-03-23

Very nice build, Technochicken! I featured it on The Daily Hack. Keep up the great work! :-)

Charlie Flowers

ben_k (author)cflowers2009-03-23

Thanks! I really enjoy your site also!

About This Instructable




More by ben_k:Electric TricycleAll-Terrain Electric ScooterRetro Rechargeable USB Booster
Add instructable to: