A little about how this all got started:

Early in 1990, I had received my Alcoholics Anonymous 3rd Edition book from the Valley General Hospital Recovery Center in Monroe, WA.  I soon found that I had too much free time on my hands.  Since I had recently gotten interested in leathercraft, from reading some books about it, I thought I would try to make a leather book cover for it.  I had some scrap brown suede and some vegetable tanned tooling leather.

My plan was to make the cover similar to the way we used to make covers our school books with cut up brown paper grocery bags. The decoration was a cut out circle of vegetable tanned leather that I tooled a circle/triangle design on it and dyed it brown. Then using 1/8-inch leather lace I laced the first book cover.  Still have that book and cover. Here are the pictures:


Later I made a similar cover for my Twelve Step and Twelve Traditions book and my little Twenty-Four Hours a Day book.

When I brought my Big Book to meetings people asked: “Where did you get that cover?” and after I told them, they asked if I could make them one and I did.  Most were gifts to friends.  This began to happen regularly so I checked with some Twelve Steps Shops in the Pacific Northwest.  The “Rainbows End 12 Step Shop” in Everett, WA offered to take them on consignment which gave me the money to break even and make some for profit and the profit was used to make gifts for others.

By the time I left for some work overseas I had made, sold or gifted over 1,000 covers.  These covers were plain covers with lacing at the top and bottom.

While living in England, my wife and I often browsed the antique fairs and shops.  At one fair I noticed a gentleman selling a complete printing press with all the movable type, chases, leading and even a small press large enough to print announcements and business cards.  So for £100 ($160) I picked up all he had.  I took the stuff home and thought that this movable lead type might be the way to personalize the book covers I was still making. I needed some way to press the type onto the leather and the next antique fair showed me a book press for another £100 ($160).  You can see how the letterpress type is used to emboss text on to leather in the Training section. Now with my ability to carve leather images, type to personalize and some new found AA friends in England, I start to make gifts again.

In 2007 we moved to Richland, WA and settled down in retirement or so I thought.  I started to come up with different ideas for different sized books, different designs and multiple (dual, even triple) book covers.  In 2009 I formed Desert Leathercraft LLC, obtained the proper city, county and state licenses and taxing requirements and launched the www.leatherbigbookcovers.com website.

Without any advertisement, someone stumbled on to the www.leatherbigbookcover.com website and an order from South Carolina came in.  I sent that cover and with in 2-weeks 3 more orders came in from the same town as the first order. It seems that the best advertisement is “word of mouth”.  This was repeated for Texas, New York, California. even foreign locations and soon I had more work than I could handle.  I have found ways to streamline making the custom leather covers (e.g. sewing the cover instead of lacing, having embossing plates made for common symbols and common quotations).

Now I have started teaching others what I have learned after the years of making these custom leather covers.  These custom leather book covers are a labor of love.

As I get more spare time, I am putting together some instructional notes in the Training section.  By the end of 2014 there should be enough material to allow anyone with some craft skills to make their own leather book cover.  If you do make your own cover, please share a picture of it with me and I will post on this site.

“Book Cover” Bob