Last night I was thumbing through some books here in my home looking for a specific one.

I was looking for Alvin Toffler‘s 1970 treatise on cultural change called Future Shock. I found it, but the book itself is not the story here today. My old 1971 paperback edition of this book was still in relatively fair condition. I wanted to re-read it, but I didn’t want to beat it up in the process. It’s a paperback book. Normally, I would use clear contact paper to create a protective cover for a cherished paperback. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any handy last night, so I decided to make an old-fashioned brown paper grocery bag book cover for it, like the ones that my dad taught me how to make 45 years or so ago.

I have books on my shelves currently that still wear some of those covers I made back when I was a kid. I also have some with more recently made covers. It’s a great way to protect a book and recycle those old grocery bags you have in the pantry. Of course, nowadays, it’s getting so many young children have never even seen a brown paper grocery bag. That’s progress… I guess? And the world moves on, which coincidentally, is the topic of Toffler’s book… sort of.

Some books on my shelves…


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Two of my favorites…


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Written on the back of one…


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Tools and materials needed…


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Even though these type covers are best for hardcover books, they work well for paperbacks also. I made one last night for Toffler’s book. 🙂

I hope this article has taught you younger folks something worthwhile, and maybe brought back a few good memories for you older folks out there. I love books. I have books in my home still that I acquired as a child. Books are like old friends to me. I’m reluctant to let them go. Unfortunately, reading the way I do and collecting books can sometimes allow your books to actually take over your home. I recently had to liquidate a goodly chunk of my personal library. Before the liquidation, I had nearly 10,000 editions. Now, I have a leaner collection of maybe 4000. I kept all my favorites, of course.

No, they don’t all have brown paper grocery bag book covers on them, just the ones I really treasure.

Enjoy and take care of your books. They may be a fading thing also, unfortunately. You’ll never have to make a brown paper grocery bag cover for your Kindle, will you? Of course, when society crumbles and the zombie hordes walk the earth, I’ll still be reading my books at night by candlelight. Your Kindle won’t even make a good doorstop. 😉

Have fun!


Additional reading:

About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

9 responses »

  1. I love brown paper bag book covers! I used them for many years in school. I never liked the ones you could buy in stores. They were too slick for one thing.

    • Store-bought book covers? Blasphemy… and a waste of money. When I was a kid, there wasn’t that much money going around in my household. We didn’t waste.

    • My father earned a decent salary working for a major airlines and later, when I was a pre-teen, my mom owned a small freight forwarding business; we weren’t in poverty by any stretch, but money was tight quite often. Plus, both my parents were Depression Era children, so you know that they were pretty frugal just on principle. 🙂

  2. chrisretusn says:

    Boy does this bring back some memories. I had completely forgotten about making these. We used them throughout most of my early school years. Today we would be hard pressed to find paper grocery bags where I live. We do make covers for our kids school books, just not out of paper bags. We buy an inexpensive roll of plastic sheeting. Cover are made the same way.

    • Heh! Your reply reminded me of something else. I remember that right after Christmas time, when we all returned to school at the beginning of the new year, a lot of kids would have cool book covers made with recycled and left over wrapping paper. 😉

  3. ebrke says:

    OMG, Eric, you take me back. I remember when I was required to cover schoolbooks, and sometimes used covers like that, at least until I got into junior high, where you had to be cool and use bought bookcovers with your school logo.

  4. […] seen many of those around lately, huh? There’s a whole story about those covers on this blog. Check it out, if you’re […]

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