Turning the iPad into an iBook (DIY iPad Booksafe case)

Posted on 15 April 2010 by



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Update: How-to guide is posted if you are interested.

I was in the mood for a nice DIY project, so I picked up about $10 worth of materials (including the book) and decided to create myself an iPad case with a twist.

There were a few reasons I decided to make this:

  • Didn’t want to drop $40 for Apple’s iPad case
  • iPad back scratches easily, I hate to rest it naked on the table
  • I feel like a pretentious bastard using the iPad in public because everyone knows what it is, but few people have one — this helps me disguise it while in use
  • On a similar note, the iPad feels particularly vulnerable as a hot gadget, I feel much better leaving it sitting around while camouflaged than by itself

Have a look at the case, and if you’d like to make your own, I’ve documented the process and will put some instructions up a bit later. I’m sure there are more efficient approaches, but my way didn’t require any sort of workshop or power tools. The thing that looks like a bookmark from the outside is a strip of canvas secured with duct tape to help lift the iPad up when you want to get it out of the case (the fit is quite snug).

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I’m pretty happy with the results. The great irony here is that I don’t read a lot of books! For anyone interested, the book I used was Stand-Up Comedians on Television. Sorry for cutting up your book Larry Gelbart!

Some improvements that I might make at a later time:

  • Access to headphone/volume buttons/hold button while the iPad is in the case
  • Moleskine style elastic band to keep the book held closed

I went to a local book thrift store and looked for books with removable covers that looked relatively boring underneath, as to not attract attention. I also kind of dig that old-school material that they used to cover books in, so I looked for that as well. I took the iPad with me to size up some books and I look particularly for one that would offer enough padding around the iPad for be strong and durable, but not too much that it greatly increased the size of the iPad. As long as the book fits inside my backpack then it’s fine, as that’s where I carry the iPad when it comes with me anyway. I came out of the book store with three books of varying sizes so I could make sure that I got one that fit just right. I used one that I determined to be too thin to be my test book, so I did this whole process on that book first so I could fix any oversights or errors in the process for the final version that is shown here.

20 Comments For This Post

  1. Tai-Pan says:

    very cool… should keep you from getting mugged on the streets!

  2. Sumocat says:

    Ben, this is extremely cool. For a closing system, might I suggest magnets in the corners. Not as secure as an elastic band (well, depending on the magnets), but it would be hidden.

    Ben Reply:

    Good idea. If I used magnets, I’d probably like to conceal them. Would be tough to do on the front cover, but I suppose I could find some small circular magnets, drill shallow holes, then cover it back up with a sheet of paper and make it look unmodified. Unfortunately I don’t have access to a drill at the moment!

    Sumocat Reply:

    Depending on how strong you want the seal to be, you could get by with magnets on the book end and flat pieces of steel on the cover. Not sure how you’d acquire that though.

  3. ChrisRS says:

    Interestibng idea.
    If used inside the carrier for long periods, is heat build up an issue?
    If the book is thick enough, I would glue up about a dozen pages to the cover to add extra protection to the screen. Paper is fiberous and somewhat abbrasive. A felt or fabric/microfiber lining would protect the iPad.

  4. Jane Vandenburgh says:

    I don’t know, I am using my iPad to write on, and this makes its keypad inaccessible. Also, the lightweight nature of the the iPad, as opposed to the BOOK book thing, is actually why I bought it. I’m a writer of those things, books, also a reader and the one I’m reading right now is Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, which is 1004 pages in its paperback edition and, downloaded onto the Kindle app, weighs 1.5 pounds. I don’t really care that people think I’m a “pretensious bastard” for owning one, what business is it of theirs, huh? I mean the thing costs way less than my laptop, which is ALSO just a machine

  5. Manual Navarrate says:

    Found your web site on altavista . Super post and what a great web log you have. Will visit here soon.

  6. Bernie Sox says:

    Wonderful post! I totally agree with you.

  7. Lindsay B says:

    Cool, this will help me fulfill my childhood dream of having Penny’s Computer Book on Inspector Gadget!

    If someone broke into your house and looked around to steal stuff (as has happened to me), it’s unlikely that they would steal a big old book! Also, I have been mugged twice before (DC & Guatemala), and both times, the thieves dropped things they didn’t want – and that usually included books! And I got them back.

    I would definitely use the moleskin type of elastic to hold it together.

  8. isabelle says:

    am i the only one who finds this hilariously ironic ?

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  10. Waine says:

    Your article is very interesting – thanx

  11. jjray says:

    Nicely done. Perhaps such a DIY case also comes with a theft deterrent feature. If you absent-mindedly leave it on the car while running into the grocery store (or on the table at the coffee shop for a run to john) it’s less likely to get stolen.

  12. jessamyn says:

    Did you do any bevelling when you cut the pages out? I noticed you said to put the iPad in “left side first” or is that just your preference?

  13. Lindsay B says:

    Thanks for your post. I created my own ibook:
    http://lindsaybanks.tumblr.com/

  14. Cat says:

    What are the dimensions of the book you used?

    Lindsay B Reply:

    The book I used was about 8 3/4″ x 12″ and a little less than 1″ thick.

    You can use a piece of paper to measure the book – 8.5″ x 11″ should fit, but you might want to go slightly bigger.

    Inside I have about half an inch on either side and an inch on the top and bottom. I’ve got more photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindsayfotos/sets/72157623940626900/

    Ben Reply:

    Wow Lindsay, I just looked at the pictures of the one you made, it looks so cleanly done! I’m jealous : P

  15. BNY says:

    Very interesting indeed. You see a lot of these types of “niche” products within the techy world because it seems the techies have a great appreciation for weird and obscure stuff.

    Thank god for the childlike enthusiasm. It reminds me of seeing Saturday morning commercials during Saturday morning cartoons. I had to have that new GI Joe character or I was going to die.

  16. Cathryn says:

    Magnets? Don’t know if it’s true about newer televisions, but used to be that you could screw up a TV screen real good with a magnet. Could the same thing happen with a magnet that close to an iPad? Who wants to find out!

    Putting the iPad into a book is a great idea. btw – you used a router?

    Thanks.

  17. MTFF says:

    Love this! I went out and bought an old, slightly dusty book entitled ‘English Cathedrals’ at a 2nd hand bookstore today to start this project – feel completely gleeful at the thought of starting.
    I would be wary of magnets, but a moleskine type elastic band would be perfect, or (as the older lady who owned the bookstore suggested) an ordinary elastic band around it with some extra pieces of paper glued into the book as false ‘notes’ to give it an even more authentic studious look – she was completely into the whole disguising the iPad idea and asked me to come back with the completed project for her to see (very sweet as I thought she might be a bit offended I was cutting up a real book)

  18. Tony Bors says:

    Interesting read.. Would love to read more of this.. Awesome blog btw! Subscribed

  19. Elmo Weser says:

    One other very robust and highly effective post. I’ve been reading by way of a few of your earlier posts and at last decided to drop a comment on this one. I signed up to your newsletter, so please sustain the informative posts!

  20. ZachD says:

    loved this so much, I had to make my own! Thanks! Pictures here:
    http://emptyheaded.posterous.com/diy-booksafe-ipad-case

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