I purchased a Kobo ereader from a local Borders store that was closing. After a near mishap with the screen that occurred because I was toting the Kobo around unprotected in my purse for a week, I decided that a protective cover would be necessary. I wanted a cover that looked like a Moleskine notebook so that I could have it out on the bus or in other public places and not be an obvious target to get my new gadget stolen. After having little luck finding assorted cases for the Kobo, and no luck finding a case for a Kobo that looked like a Moleskine, I decided to make my own case. This is my first instructable, but it is inspired by a crapload of instructables that showed similar projects.
A "base" book - $.50 at a closing bookstore
Faux leather/vinyl upholstry - $5 in the clearance bin at a craft store
Spray glue - $5 or so at Target
Inner cover fabric material - $1 at a craft store
Black elastic - $2
Glue gun - got mine from a friend for free (Thanks J!)
Step 1: Finding a "base" Material
For the base of my e-reader cover, I decided to use the shell of a hardback book. You could use a hardback book from a thrift store or some thick non-corrugated paperboard or other such material that will be durable and won't bend easily. I got my "base" book - 39 Clues - from a closing Borders store for next to nothing.
The first thing you need to do is remove the pages *without* damaging the spine or ripping the book apart. I just used a box cutter to cut out the "guts" of the book. On the inside cover of the book, look for the seam in the crease where the inner paper lining the book has been glued to the front cover. The pages can easily be cut out if you use a light pressure and start the incision in the liner paper close to the pages. Another way to find this cutting point is to look at the book from the top and slightly pull out the pages so that you can see where they start to separate from the spine.
- This step was the hardest part for me because it required an extremely precise control of the pressure of the box cutter. As I found out, it's easy to slice through the spine when making your cuts if you accidentally push just a little too hard. It's not the end of the world because you're going to cover it all in the end anyway, but I am a perfectionist and wanted to redo it without ripping through the book cover. You could avoid this by being careful, cutting slowly, and making sure your blade is very sharp.
- In the books I used, the pages were glued to the spine with some REALLY strong glue. There wasn't a lot of it, but the glue that was there complicated the removal process because it was an unexpected roadblock. Just be prepared to really pull once you get your incisions made!
- If they're cheap and readily available, it might be good to have some extra "base" material. I think throughout the whole project, I started with 5 bases and only 2 of them escaped without injury.
I didn't plan on making an instructable at this point in the project so I didn't photograph the first step in progress, just the result of a successful page removal!
Step 2: Adhering the Outer Cover
After removing the pages, it's time to adhere the vinyl upholstery to the outside of the base book. I did a lot of research on what kind of glue would be best to adhere the cloth side of vinyl to a the paper of a book and it took two tries to get it right. First try was a vinyl epoxy, which ended up leaking through the vinyl and removed the varnish from my kitchen table. Second try was a 3M general purpose spray adhesive, which was perfect for this type of project (Thanks to www.thistothat.com for the glue advice!) and, more importantly, didn't damage any furniture. This spray adhesive produced a strong bond without hardening too much to close the cover.
I cut out a piece of vinyl that was the size of my book with one inch extra all around to allow for gluing. Then I followed the instructions on the back of the spray adhesive - spray on both surfaces to be glued, hold can 6-8 inches away from the surfaces, wait at least 15 seconds, and then put the two together - to attach the base to the vinyl. If you have something heavy like a textbook or a dictionary, you could lay an open magazine or newspaper over your base and lay the book on top to flatten the surface.
- It's best to do this in a ventilated area such as an outdoor porch or in the grass if you have a lawn. I damaged the kitchen table the first time doing this, and learned the hard way that it would have been better to do it outside and with an adhesive that wouldn't eat away at varnish!
- Even if you are outside, lay down a magazine or a newspaper if you have it - better to take protective measures than to have to fix something later.
- You may want to wear a mask over your nose and mouth when using the spray glue if you are sensitive to chemical smells. I just tried to spray so that the wind wouldn't direct the adhesive toward my face or clothes.
- If it gets on skin, it will come off pretty easily.
- And lastly, it may be helpful to do a quick "test" spray on an extra piece of magazine or newspaper, as I got a big glob of spray glue when I first sprayed the spray glue.
Step 3: Making the Corners Look Nice and Attaching Elastic Strip
Cut slits into the corners diagonally, perpendicular to the edge of the cover. Then cut a slit into the vinyl on each side of the four existing slits. It should look like there are two flaps protruding from each corner. This is gonna help the fold from bunching up when you glue the flaps down on the other side. Then make a perpendicular cut to the existing corner flaps. This 90 degree cut is going to ensure that there isn't a ton of excess overlapping material and it will lessen the bulk factor of the cover. Hot glue the strips down one corner at a time, then glue the left and right (but not top and bottom) flaps down one side at a time. Use clips, clamps, or weights to secure until dry.
Mark on the inside of the cover where you want to have the elastic that is going to keep your cover closed. I used a ball point pen to mark and then a sharp, thin kitchen knife to puncture the cardboard and vinyl. Once you have a big enough slit, measure the amount of elastic you will need and feed it from the outside of the cover to the unfinished inside. You can then glue the top and bottom flaps down while making sure to tuck the elastic under the flaps when they are glued.
Step 4: Inner Fabric Panels
This was all an experiment and my first thought to make the inside look nice was to cut out a piece of thinly corrugated cardboard and cover it with fabric, then glue it over any seams. It has held up really well, so I feel good about including it in this tutorial! So. Measure the front or back panel of your cover, making sure to allow room for the spine. Then cut out two templates - I curved the corners of my cardboard to make it look nice. Next, hot glue a layer of t-shirt material around each panel for extra padding to prevent e-reader damage, and hot glue your nice looking fabric over that. So you should have two cardboard panels that have been covered with two layers of fabric, and they should be mirror images of each other for each side of the e-reader cover. Don't glue them down yet!
Step 5: E-reader Straps and Inner Spine
The next thing was figuring out how to secure the e-reader so that you could open the cover and not worry about losing your reader. I tried some kind of pocket at first, and that didn't go so well, so then I started paying attention to other people's e-reader covers and I came up with a design that worked much better.
Taking the right side panel, you are going to affix little elastic pieces to each corner to strap the reader down. I hot glued little pieces of vinyl to each elastic piece to ensure an extra secure hold. You basically want just enough elastic to let the reader barely fit because if it's too loose, the purpose of having it there in the first place is defeated. My elastic was probably about 3 inches and that allowed room for me to glue it.
So, you have a left panel with no elastic and a right panel with 4 elastics. In order to finish the project, you need to cover the spine somehow. I did this with a piece of fabric that was about 5 inches wide. I folded it in and hot glued it at the top and bottom to create an even edge that wouldn't fray, and glued it to the e-reader while it was folded completely open. By this, I mean that the front flap was tucked all the way under the back flap. I glued the spine fabric like this so that I would be able to hold the reader in one hand while on the bus, train, or wherever I may want to read.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
Glue each panel to the inside of the cover with hot glue, and voila! You have a hand-crafted cover for your e-reader. You could make any adjustments to this to suit your personal needs, like using canvas instead of satin or making a pocket/pencil holder for the inner left panel. Anyway, if you're still reading this, thanks for checking out my first instructable and, as always, Party on, Wayne!