How To

How to Make a Paper Bag Book Cover

Patricia Thang

Senior Contributor

Patricia Thang is an educator located in Los Angeles. Though a native Angeleno through and through, her heart also belongs to Tokyo, where much of her family is from. Besides books, she is an enthusiastic devourer of many things, including podcasts, television, and J-pop. She realizes there’s not enough time in the world to consume all of that content, but she’s trying anyway. Other endeavors to which she has dedicated herself include cuddling her dogs until they’re annoyed and taste-testing every vegan ice cream she can find. Twitter: @aintnopthang

Whether you want an affordable solution to protect your books from everyday wear, an eco-friendly use for those paper grocery bags you’ve collected, or just an easy craft to work on over the weekend, here’s the project for you! Using paper bags to cover your books is a quick, fun way to give them a touch of rustic charm or a simple disguise. It’s even a great method to give school textbooks a temporary, but personal touch so that you’ll never accidentally grab someone else’s. Below, I’ve put together a short, step-by-step guide for how to make a paper bag book cover, as well as some extra ideas at the end for those of you with creative juices to spare.

How to Make a Paper Bag Book Cover |

Materials needed: a book to cover and a paper bag (not pictured: scissors)

How to make a paper bag book cover: the overview 

Here’s the steps for how to make a paper bag book cover, with more info on each step below.

  1. Prepare your paper bag
  2. Cut paper to size
  3. Fold top and bottom edges
  4. Wrap jacket around book evenly
  5. Slide book securely into paper bag book cover
  6. Let your imagination run wild with decoration ideas!

1. Prepare your paper bag.

Depending on the size of the book you want to cover, you can use a paper grocery bag (usually enough paper for two standard hardcovers, maybe a textbook) or a brown paper lunch bag (good for one smaller hardcover). In order to get the most out of one bag as possible, instead of cutting out flat pieces, you should be able to find a glued seam on the back face of the bag that you can gently pull apart. There will also be some glued seams and folds on the bottom of the bag that can be taken apart as well. You will end up with one large, flat piece of brown paper.

Any paper bag should come apart easily into a large, flat piece.

2. Cut paper to size.

Using the book you want to cover as a size guideline, measure (or approximate, precision is not super important here) out a rectangular piece of paper slightly larger than the book itself. There should be about two inches of excess at the top and bottom, and about three inches on each side when the book is opened flat.

Cut out an appropriate piece of paper based on the size of your book.

3. Fold top and bottom edges.

Center the book to be covered on the paper and create creases along the top and bottom edges of the book. Fold the paper down along these creases across the entire length of the paper so that it now matches the book in height, and place the book on top. (Make sure you position the paper so that any grocery store logo faces inward and will be hidden once the jacket is complete.)

Match the height of your paper cover to your book by folding over the top and bottom.

4. Wrap jacket around book evenly.

Gently wrap the paper around your book, ensuring that the book is centered so that there is an even amount of excess paper on each side. Fold the excess paper around the front and back covers to create gentle creases. The jacket should appear complete.

Fold the sides evenly under the book’s front and back covers to create creases.

5. Slide book securely into cover.

Due to the folded edges from Step 3, small flaps should have been created at the top and bottom of your new paper jacket. Tuck your book’s back cover into these flaps and slide the jacket onto the cover until you reach the crease made in Step 4. Repeat with the front cover, and your book should be securely covered with a new brown paper jacket!

Left: Tuck the book’s covers into the top and bottom flaps. Right: Book is securely covered.

Note: Be careful using this method to create a cover for a paperback. It is absolutely possible, but the flimsier book might cause the jacket to slip off fairly easily.

Extra ideas:

  • Of course, decorate! Let your imagination run wild and cover your jacket with drawings, stickers, etc.
  • You are not limited to just brown paper bags. Have fun using leftover wrapping paper, colored paper, any type of paper you want!
  • Attach a ribbon (with tape or glue) right at the center of the top folded edge of your paper jacket for a custom marker!

  • Use the brown paper as a backing for some fabric to create a whole new feel. I used double-sided tape to attach the fabric to the paper so that it could be easily removed and replaced in case the fabric gets dirty or I want to change things up without completely starting over with a new bag.

And there you have it! No matter if you want to keep your paper bag book cover simple or come up with all kinds of creative ways to make it your own, I hope this guide can serve as a good jumping-off point for all you crafty readers out there. If you have any cool ideas that you’d like to share with other readers, feel free to drop them in the comments!

L-R: Simple brown paper plus ribbon marker, wrapping paper, fabric. Happy crafting!


Want even more book-tastic crafts? Check out our whole section on bookish crafts