How to Protect a Paperback Book

Written by carolyn enright
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How to Protect a Paperback Book
Without protection, paperback book covers can bend and tear. (waterlogged book image by Joseph Chiapputo from

Paperback books are cheaper, lighter and easier to carry around than hardcover books. There's just one catch: their soft covers easily bend and tear. The good news for book lovers is that there is an easy and inexpensive way to protect your paperbacks from daily wear and tear, and keep them looking great for years of reading pleasure.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Self-adhesive laminate book cover
  • Bone folder or other straight-edged tool
  • Sharp scissors

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  1. 1

    Place your paperback, spine down, on a self-adhesive laminate sheet. Open the book so that front and back covers lay flat on the sheet. Use grid markings on the sheet to square the book. Trim the self-adhesive sheet so that you have a 1- to 1.5-inch border around the book.

  2. 2

    Set the book aside. Peel the middle paper strip from the laminate sheet and line up the book spine on the edge of the exposed adhesive. Pull up the sheet and press the laminate strip onto the spine with your hand.

  3. 3

    Peel off the paper backing of one half of the adhesive sheet. Use the bone folder to smooth the adhesive sheet onto the book cover. Press out air bubbles and creases with the bone folder or other straight-edged tool.

  4. 4

    Cut each corner, top and bottom, of the excess laminate at a 45-degree angle to the book cover. Make diagonal, 45-degree cuts on the excess laminate at both the top and bottom of the book spine. Make these cuts about 1/2 inch out from the spine so that they point toward the spine, but end just a little to the side of the spine on the edge of the cover.

  5. 5

    Fold over laminate edges and press to the inside of the book cover on all three sides: top, bottom and vertical edge.

  6. 6

    Repeat steps 3 through 5 for the other cover of your paperback book.

  7. 7

    Trim excess laminate at the top and bottom of the spine by lining up scissors flush with the spine. Get as close to the spine as possible without cutting into the book. If you leave any of the adhesive exposed, it will stick to things and eventually peel back.

Tips and warnings

  • Use clear, self-adhesive laminate book covers to allow the book cover to show.
  • If you find an air bubble in your cover, pull off and reapply. It will not hurt the jacket of the book.
  • Do not use self-adhesive laminate on archival or valuable books as it will decrease their value. Look for non-adhesive, removable covers.
  • Self-adhesive book covers, once applied, cannot be removed without damaging the book. Although you may peel back and adjust the cover when you are first applying it, it will eventually set and damage the book when removed.

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