Introduction: Decorate and Protect a Textbook!

remember that time you spilled Dr. Pepper on your Geometry workbook? that cloth 'booksox' didn't do much to stop it from soaking into the cover and making it smell of all 23 different flavors. not to mention how sticky it was. if you have to return the book to someone when you're done using it, would you rather hope that they don't notice that it's dyed brown and sticky? or would you want to prevent that scenario from happening completely?
i would also recommend this to college students who buy their own textbooks and plan on selling them for cash when you are done with them - they are a valuable investment after all!
in this instructable you will see how to combine a boring paper book cover with everyone's favorite medium: Duct tape!* it will keep your books considerably safer from all those dangerous soft drinks.

*If you're not a fan of duct tape you can use any other variety of tape, or any kind of paper your heart desires. i would recommend something heavier than plain letter paper, like card stock but more pliable. I've made a few covers out of bags with interesting patterns and brand names.

Step 1: Materials Needed

  • paper bag - any grocery bag will do. the newer the better, as you can make crisper folds. pick a pretty one if you aren't using duct tape, or a plain one if you want to doodle on it!
  • duct tape - classic silver or any color you like. your can substitute other kinds of tape or adhesive decorations, but keep the end appearance in mind.
  • scissors or bladed tool- unless you want to rip everything with your teeth. it gets messy that way.
  • a book to wrap- smaller books use less paper and tape, so you can do two or more out of one bag.

Step 2: Cut Open the Paper Bag

The bag is the backbone of the entire book cover! it makes it clean crisp, and easier to remove.
pick a corner edge of the bag and cut it from the top opening to the very bottom. then remove the bottom completely, cutting along the edges. you should have one long rectangular bag strip, with two large and four small sections.

Step 3: Fit Book to Cover

if you did the cutting right, two of the small sections of the bag should be one of the new edges. Align your book's front cover with the crease between the two sections and the bottom of the triangular crease. it's an easy place to start!

Step 4: Fold for Size!

[Insert unnecessary origami joke here]

First Fold

Starting on the aligned cover, fold the paper toward the book.

Second Fold

weigh down the first fold with the paper of the book, and make sure the spine is flat before flipping over to back cover. repeat first fold on back cover, making a well-defined crease. unfold and cut away excess paper, but leave enough to cover at least 1/3 of the back cover's inside. fold back into book again

Enough Stretch?

when you close the book, the creases should not pull away from the edges. if they have, you have not left enough room for the spine. holding the front edge to the cover, open the book so that both covers and the spine are as flat as possible. then make a crease for the back cover that will fit.

Step 5: Cut Some Corners!

without actually using your scissors, take the triangular crease ( now a diagonal) and fold it along the cover's edge, so that the point is on the edge. there is an origami name for this kind of fold, but it escape me at the moment ( leave a comment if you know what it is!) define a new crease on the top. do this in all four corners.

close the book again and make four incisions which line up with the edge of the spine, and check to see how purty it is now :D
make four more cuts, at an angle from the spine cuts, which form a parallel-ish trapezoids on the four vertical edges of the book

Step 6: Fold for Covering!

Third Fold

fold the trapezoids which have now been formed along the top of the book inward. there should be four of these.

cut away the excess sticking out on top of the spine

Step 7: Secure the Edges

Tape down the edges of folds. repeat on back cover and make sure they are secure.

if you are not using duct tape and don't want the tape showing, tape only on the inside of the cover in such a fashion that the folded-in edges are secured. this is the last necessary step for non-duct tape users!

if you are using duct tape, i taped it down with one long strip which was visible on the outside of the cover, and just enough to secure the insides.

Step 8: Decorate With Duct Tape + You're Done!

coat with duct tape in a manner which please you, but DO NOT tape the book itself, only the paper cover! this makes sure the cover is quick and easy to remove should you need to do so. i tried going for a woven pattern look, with long strips going horizontally across the book, from front to back covers.

once the book is sheathed as you please, take it out into the world, show it off, and study for that test on Monday!