September 4, 2012

How to add covers to a book or give it a new look

Well this is my first talking post on this blog. Usually I post pictures of my hobbies and passions without words. But this time I felt  a little verbose. Indulge me, please!

Recently, I have been looking for bookbinder shops here in Budapest, and inquire how much will it cost to dress a book cover in canvas and give it a sparkling fresh coat of letters on the spine. I had a figure in my mind, but hells and bells wasn’t I surprised to learn how far I was from reality!!! I have received a few estimations ranging from 4000 HUF to anywhere to 6000 HUF per book, when I decided it's time to learn bookbinding. 20 Euro just to change the covers, well that is not in my book, mister! So, I have watched a few videos, I have learned the know how and went for it. I do not recommend grudging money to a professional when it comes of valuable books. That is a no, no.

But if you desire to give a dog eared book, sentimentally valuable only to you, another chance to life with your own very hands, don't hold back. It is a very rewarding time passing, and is not that hard as one might think. Here are the results of my new hobby, so you can judge for yourself.

At the end of the post you can find what materials you need, where to buy them if you happen to live in Budapest, some practical advise based on my experience and a list of the videos that inspired me. Hope this is helpful.



A bone folder -buy two, as you will need one for the canvas and one for the end paper. The one for the canvas always gets gluey and sticky. Have close at hand a dry cloth and a damp one, to wipe the bone folder, the surfaces around, and your fingers; it gets messy as you advance in your work.
Paper glue - I bought 1 Kg for 900 HUF
End paper - for the beginning and the end of the book. Together with the covers, they hold the book together, provided your book is already in one piece, and you just want to update the covers. If it's not the case, you will need to learn how to correct the nuisance.
Binder boards for the covers - (carton) - I prefer harder boards. I bought 2 mm. Mind they are pretty hard to cut with a cutter, but not impossible. Take great care of your fingers. Think twice before you cut.
Book canvas - it could be leather or textile. I used textile.
Cutter or craft knife
Double-sided adhesive band- in case your book also needs repair. It comes handy. I use a narrow one, when I have pages that come a part.
Sand paper - I sand paper the exterior of old dusty pages to give them a fresher, newer look. Hold the pages together and run the sand paper in one direction, bottom, top and lateral. It will remove the dust, and the paper will become whiter. If the pages are held in a tight grip, they look like a piece of wood, and have the same consistency. 
Book pressing device - if you don't happen to own one, you can construct one or pile heavy books on top of each other on your book. Here is a video about how to make your own book press:
Lot of waste paper - this is an extra. Gluing gets messy. Don't use newspapers as they tend to live marks if glued on to the paper accidentally.

Where to buy materials in Budapest:

I bought all the items I needed from Konyvkotobolt. I recommend going there by car. GPS wouldn't hurt using! I spent around 10.000 HUF, (35 Euros). Presently I have bound around 20 books, and I could still bind at least 50. The only thing I have gone out of is glue. Glue held me out trough 20 books. Mind, the binder boards come in big sizes and get heavy if you buy more than one. The end papers also come in big sizes, and it wouldn't do rolling them into a papyrus. You need them straight. So go there by car. Probably they can cut them down to different sizes on request. Ask them if you feel this is a problem for you.

After all said and done, all I need is a special printer to type me the title of the books on the spine. That proved difficult. I decided in the end to print it myself on paper and glue it on the spine. Not the best solution, nor the worst.

Other shops:

addresses- here you will find a list with the shops that sale these items, problem is most of them don't deal with end users - hobby enthusiasts like me. But feel free to try, maybe you are luckier. If you are thinking about Hobby Bolt - well, that is not the shop to buy materials if you are serious. The prices are more than high, and you won't find all you need. Hobby Bolt is good for kindergarten.

List of the videos that inspired me:

Don't laugh, but Martha Stewart has a point. If you’ve never done bookbinding before, this is a good starting point for beginners. It has a nice introduction page plus two videos, step by step.

After you watch this, and you feel ready for the next level, please check these videos:

Book Repair -- Recase

Book Repair - End sheet Replacement Part I

Book Repair - End sheet Replacement Part II

Best of luck, this is a wonderful hobby :)

P.S. I would like to thank my two wonderful friends Olga and Hilda, invaluable counselors, always ready to help me in my creative projects.

Hilda thank you for calling all those shops for me and ask for offers. You are a great lady and a friend!

Olga thank you for being a creative partner and my blog, facebook, excel, cuisine and all advisor. My sweet Olga!

And now last but not least, I thank my sister for giving me the best presents ever. The ink you gave me and the calligraphic pens are precious gifts, like all the others. Thank you sis. I love you!

And to my wonderfully funny, smart, beautiful and loving Maci, who indulge all of my whims and is always there for me. This goes out to the one I love.


  1. Looks amazing!!!!! you are a profi!!!!!!!

    1. Coming from a profi yourself, I humbly accept the compliment :)


you might like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...