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How to Make a Dust Jacket

William T. Stackpole,  (1827-1894), was a very interesting character in Fairbury, Illinois, history.  Among his many accomplishments was writing and publishing the book Heart of the West back in 1871.

For some reason, he did not use his own name as the author.  Instead, he used, "By: An Illinoian", for the author.

I found and bought a copy of this book published back in 1871. I plan on donated to our Fairbury Echoes Museum. It will be placed in our historical book room.

It was suggested to me that I make up a dust jacket for the book, so in the future museum visitors would understand the Fairbury history connection.  Since the book does not include his name as the author, people would not  understand the Fairbury connection.

I have never made a dust jacket before, so this should be an interesting experience.

The 1871 Book


I decided to used Google Sketchup to design the dust jacket, and then print it.

I measured the old book, then drew it in Sketchup........

I measured some other books that I have, and the dust jacket is 3 to 4 inches wide on the inside of the book.

I then designed the dust jacket in Sketchup........

How to Make a Dust Jacket using an Ink Jet Printer

The first thing I noticed after I designed the cover in Sketchup, was that there was no way to print the complete dust jacket using my 8.5x11 Canon ink jet printer!!!!!

The height of 8.75 exceeds the printer size of this won't work.

If I had access to a large plotter, I could print the entire dust jacket on 1 piece of thin engineering paper.  Although this would work, the standard paper would be too thin and would easily tear with handling of the book.

So, if I have to print on multiple pages, how do I join the pages?  I could glue standard thickness paper onto a heavier cardboard piece of paper...........but past experience shows the paper edges come loose over time.

I could tape the pieces together with clear packing tape..............but it yellows and becomes brittle over time.

Then I remembered they make a special book binding repair tape.  It is designed to be flexible and hold up for many years.  Maybe I can design the dust jacket so 1 tape joint is inside the front cover..........and the 2nd joint is on the back cover??

By trial & error in Sketchup (with Use Model Extents not checked), I was able to print the dust jacket using 3 pieces of paper........

I ordered a roll of the book repair tape from Amazon.........

Mock-Up Dust Jacket

To test out my design idea, I went ahead and constructed a mock-up model of the dust jacket, using my ink jet printer, and regular weight printer paper.  I used 2 inch clear packing tape on the inside of the cover to hold the 3 pieces together (since I don't have the brown book repair tape yet).

Mock-Up Results

I am pretty pleased with the results of the mock-up.  It will be interesting to see how the book repair tapes works, after I receive it.

Another idea is to tape up the dusk jacket on the back side like I did above, then go to a print shop in Bloomington, and have them photocopy my sheets onto 1 page.  However, the last time I called one of these shops, they no longer had the bigger copier machines at their store.

Creating a single page dust-jacket using large copier

I have to go to Bloomington, IL, in the next couple of I can stop in at a couple of copy shops and see if they have a copying machine big enough to create a single page dust jacket from my taped together Sketchup sheets.

I went into Sketchup and made 2 versions to try on a large copy machine.  The first version just printed out the whole 1 page and I taped it together on the back side. But, a couple of the joints were in bad spots, and it may not look perfect when photocopied.

So, I first printed out the sheet border and taped it together on the back side.  Then I printed out the following sheets.......

1. Front page
2. Title and author on spline

3. back page

Then I glued these 3 pieces in their proper location on the border sheet. This way I avoided any tape joints where there was text or images.  This should work better for photocopying.

The Copy Shop in Bloomington, IL

I went there on Nov 6, 2017.  They were able to copy my taped up single-sheet.............onto 1 complete sheet.  The text box got a little fuzzier, but you can still read it ok.  On future projects, I probably need to increase the font reduce the fuzziness from photocopying. The cost was $11.00 to make 3 dust jackets (I got 2 spares).  I should make the width of the text box on the back a little smaller also..........the border is right up against the book edge.  See above for finished photos of the dust cover from the copy shop.

Closing Thoughts on this Project

Making this dust jacket was more complicated than I originally thought..........because you need a special printer or copy machine to fit it onto just 1 page. The following process works ok if I do any more different just jackets......

1. Draw dust jacket in Sketchup.  Just the outside border. Tape on underside of sheets.

2. Print front, spline title, and back text block on 3 different sheets, glue 3 sheets onto border

3. Take to Copy Shop by ISU in Bloomington to photocopy. Ask for heavier paper than normal to be used. About $3 per copy. Make some spares.  I would use cream colored instead of white paper.