Sense and Sensibility

My girlfriend’s birthday was earlier this month and I had no money to buy her something. So what did I get her? A book! That I made! With text I got on the internet! For free! Legally!

The book was Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, obtained from Project Gutenberg, a pretty cool resource for old things written by now dead people.

I laid it out in Word with a 5.5″ by 8.5″ page setup, the dimensions of a letter paper folded in half, so as to not waste any real estate. Then I exported as a PDF and used Acrobat to print it in booklet form with two pages on each side. This one turned out to be 208 pages original. With double-sided booklet printing, that’s 52 printed pages.

I took every five printed pages, that is, every 20 pages of the book, and bound them together with thread. This is called a “signature.” Here’s all 11 of them.

Then, using such professional tools as a ruler, a guitar capo, a pencil, and a clamp thing that came with a generic dremel tool, I clamped all the signatures together and glued them up with some binding glue.

After a whole bunch of coats of that stuff, it gets a cardstock cover.

Opened to a random page, in proof that it is, in fact, a real book.

Total project time: a solid 5 or 6 hours

This is actually the second Jane Austen book I’ve made for my girlfriend, the first one being Pride and Prejudice. To friends and relatives who may receive such an affordable (but thoughtful!) gift like this from me for Christmas, please forget everything you just read. Yay!!

  • Vince

    you are my hero

  • Toni

    You’re my hero too! It was an amazing gift. Thanks baby!

  • This is pretty awesome. I’ve never actually made a book before. Looks pretty complex. Where did you learn to do all of this?

  • tommy


    It’s actually pretty easy, just tedious. There are more complex ways to do it with cardboard and fabric and specialized materials, and also an easier way to do it w/o signatures where you just clamp everything together and glue it up then put a cover on it.

    I don’t remember why or what I originally wanted to make, but for some reason or another I researched it all awhile ago via google and instructables. I would love to take a class or something on it. Making stuff like this is incredibly fulfilling.

  • I have a few friends that went to art school and took ‘bookmaking’ classes. I bet you could take them at BSU or perhaps audit them so you don’t have to pay any $$.