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How to Make a Book Cover Look Old

Updated February 21, 2017

In certain situations you need to make a specific book cover look old, for example, in a film or during a play. You don't need to buy a specific kit to achieve this; instead, ageing a book cover is something you can do with materials around your house. The key things to remember when you're ageing the cover of a book is that when books get old, they begin to discolour, the corners of the cover begin to wear and the threads, or glue which attach the cover to the spine begin to unravel or disintegrate.

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  1. Brew half a pot of coffee and pour it into a paper cup. Dip your paintbrush in the coffee and apply vertical strokes from the top to the bottom of the book cover. Apply even strokes until the entire surface area of the cover and spine are coloured brown. Allow it to dry to give the cover a yellowed or simply discoloured appearance.

  2. Rub a piece of sand paper vertically across the front cover until it has a faded, worn appearance. Repeat with the back cover. Make sure you focus on the edges and spine of the cover as well.

  3. Hold the book cover over a sink and burn off the top and bottom corners of the cover with a lighter. You want to burn one more than the other so that they don't look identical. Run the lighter around the perimeter of the entire book so that it looks worn. Repeat with the back cover.

  4. Open and close the book vigorously, bending it so that it's almost folded inside out. Repeat this movement until you visibly weaken the spine of the book.

  5. Tip

    If it's a hardcover book, slice open any stitches that you see which connect the cover to the spine of the book. Use a pocketknife or sharp scissors. Sprinkle a small handful of cornflour on the cover and rub it all over the front and back with your hands until it is well-distributed. This will give it a dusty look.

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Things You'll Need

  • Coffee
  • Paint brush
  • Sand paper
  • Lighter

About the Author

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."

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