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Kindle Kraft: a Handmade Cover for 25 cents

For years, I’ve been a big fan of Kindle E-Readers. I bought my first one—a second generation model—in March, 2009. Although I loved my Kindle, I hated the $40 price for the custom cover. So instead of buying Amazon’s product, I bought a shiny $2 bubble wrap mailer at The Container Store. This cheap substitute lasted four years before it wore out. When I bought a replacement, I personalized it with a Red Sox Nation sticker (it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that bling).

In late 2013, Mrs. Moose and I updated to the latest Kindle Paperwhites (we saved ten percent by buying through AARP). To my dismay, Mrs. Moose decided to buy the custom fit cover. I was appalled, but the value of marital harmony far outweighed a measly $40, or so I calculated at the time.

I’ve since seen Mrs. Moose’s custom cover in action. Apart from its exorbitant cost, I don’t like it for two reasons. First, the cover is bulky. The hinged front side opens and swings around to the back. As opened, the reader almost doubles in depth from 0.36″ to 0.69″. Second, the cover is heavy. The Paperwhite weighs 7.3 ounces, but add a cover and its weight balloons to 12.9 ounces. I think the unadorned Paperwhite is a minimalist’s delight. I see no need to spoil everything by piling on excess dimensions and weight—especially when the excess costs $40.

Still, an e-reader deserves protection when idle or during travel. My shiny mailer, which was just the right size for a second generation Kindle, was too large for the Paperwhite. I searched online for smaller mailers, but came up empty. I did, however, receive in the mail a bubble wrap envelope made of paper. To my delight, it fit the Paperwhite perfectly. But it lacked a Velcro clasp and it also lacked durability (paper doesn’t last and gets soaked easily).

Although I’m not crafty by nature, I saw here the opportunity for a great project. I had everything I needed already on hand: a free mailer, duct tape, packing tape, and Velcro. With these four items, I began my Kindle cover adventure. I photographed each step so that you could come along for the ride. Total time required for this project: about 15 minutes if you don’t stop to take pictures.

Step 1: Reinforce the Flap with Packing Tape
The paper flap’s hinge is flimsy, which makes sense because it’s meant only for a single use. I figure it will last much longer if I reinforce it on both sides. Duct tape might be too thick for this purpose, so I use packing tape, which is thinner but still plenty strong. Here’s the reinforcement as it appears on the mailer’s outside.

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Step 2: Cover the Mailer with Duct Tape
To reduce the number of seams, I tape over the bottom rather than over the sides. I start on the mailer’s backside and wrap around until I finish at the top of the front flap. Here’s a picture with the first row of duct tape applied.

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Once the body of the mailer is covered, I tape up the flap.

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I also reinforce all edges by wrapping a small width of tape over them. The photo above shows my reinforcement along the mailer’s right side. I later taped the other edges as well.

Step 3: Install Velcro Clasps
My Container Store mailer has a single clasp, but I decide to go with two. Here are the Velcro pieces set in their final positions and ready for permanent placement.

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And below appears the Paperwhite cover side-by-side with its shiny inspiration. I figure this project costs about 25 cents’ worth of materials. When my 2014 Red Sox Nation sticker arrives (any day now), I’ll add the final touch of personalization.

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Today’s takeaway. Need I say it? Duct tape is a modern miracle of versatility. If everything looks like a nail to a hammer, then to a roll of duct tape everything looks like it needs covering.

Do you have a favorite project that’s used this ubiquitous product? If so, please leave a comment and let everyone know.

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