Leather Book Cover Basic Care Suggestions

Congratulations and thank you for the purchasing handmade Leather Book Cover .  This cover requires little care, however liquid spills should be removed immediately with an absorbent cloth used with a blotting motion.

Cover fitting:

It is strongly suggested that the book being covered retain its dust jacket or make another one for it out of paper. The paper dust jacket helps relieve any strain on the spine of the book by allowing the book’s covers to slide inside the Leather Book Cover when opening or closing the book. Covers made from suede tend to “grab” the cover, more so than other leathers, and may cause damage to the spine. Once again, it is strongly suggested that the book being covered retain its dust jacket or make another one for it out of paper.
  • If the cover is a little too tight, run a ruler inside, around the cover to loosen and stretch the leather. Excess force should not be used, but gentle stretching of the sleeves can be done with your fingers slipped inside of them. Gently is the keyword here. If the cover is a little too loose, cut some thick cardboard, the size of the book’s cover and insert in the Leather Book Cover before inserting the book. Book covers have been fitted already on a book prior to shipment so your book should slide right in. Paperback books take a little Tender Loving Care to get the thin covers inside the sleeves.
  • Insert the book, into the cover by slipping on the front cover completely, and then open the book so that the back of the book will slide into the Leather Book Cover. If this is difficult, try opening the book so that the covers almost touch each other and then slide the Leather Book Cover on both covers of the book simultaneously.
  • The Dual Leather Book Covers may be a little difficult to get both books into the covers. The best process is to install the smaller book (Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions) first. Place the 12 & 12 front cover in first, then the back cover. Then place the Big Book’s back cover in followed by the front cover.
  • If there are matte boards delivered with the covers, they are intended for paperback books. See if they work for you.  If they don’t seem to work, then use the leather cover without them.  I’ve had various success depending on the condition and age of the paperback books. Those AA paperback covers are not the strongest and  the matte board allows the cover to slip more easily to reduce the strain on the paper cover when opening and closing the book. Also, if the paperback book is well worn, removing the matte boards allows for better fitting due to the normal expansion of the book over time.

Protection of the vegetable tanned carved or embossed appliqué decoration:

  • If there is a smooth leather appliqué with text on it or if the entire cover is smooth (and labeled vegetable tanned) and has text or a design embossed it, please apply Kiwi® neutral shoe polish, to the that section, a few times a year to protect it.  Simply apply Kiwi® neutral shoe polish with the fingers and when dry, buff with a soft cloth to a bright shine.

Prevention and correction of water spots on the vegetable tanned carved or embossed appliqué decoration:

  • The best prevention is obviously avoiding water on the appliqué. If water is dropped on the appliqué, then immediately blot dry, then reapply Kiwi® neutral shoe polish with the fingers and when dry, buff with a soft cloth.
  • If water spots have happened then, here are some suggestions:
    I’ll start with some background. First, let me explain the process in making the applique that is sewn on most covers I make. I start with natural vegetable tanned cow hide that is a very light brown, almost a cream color. Then the leather is cased (wet with water and then almost dried) to make it ready for the embossing of names, symbols, etc.After the embossing impressions and tooling are all completed, the leather is left overnight to dry thoroughly. Next the leather is dyed with an Eco-Flo Hi-Lite Chestnut Color Stain:

    …from The Tandy Leather Company. This stain is for use on natural veg-tanned tooling leather that will bring out and enhance cuts and impressions.

    The directions from Tandy are:

    “Directions for use: Shake well before use. Transfer a liberal amount of Hi-Lite to a slightly damp sponge, soft cloth or piece of sheep wool. Apply to leather, quickly rubbing in a circular motion until color is even across project and all cuts and impressions are full. Remove excess Hi-Lite immediately with a clean, slightly damp sponge, soft cloth or piece of sheep wool. Allow to dry completely, then buff to a mellow gloss. A second coat may be applied for a slightly darker shade. Add as many coats of Hi-Lite Color Stain as necessary to achieve the color desired. Allow each coat to dry completely before reapplying.”

    Tandy suggests a finish coat as follows:

    “Apply a light coat or two of Tandy Super Shene, Tandy Satin Shene or Carnauba Creme for a final seal. Allow to dry completely between coats.”

    Super Shene or Satin Shene or Resolene are just clear (or matte) acrylic finishes. I apply the acrylic finish with an airbrush to avoid streaks and apply a light coat. Too much finish makes the leather look like shiny plastic.

    After the acrylic finish is dried, additional apply a liberal coat of Skidmore’s Beeswax Waterproofing:

    …and let that dry overnight. I wipe off the excess and polish the leather. Just before I ship, which might be a day or two later, I rub in, with my fingers, a light coat of Skidmore’s Beeswax Waterproofing.  As I have found, nothing makes leather waterproof. Most products make the leather water resistant.

    Never-the-less, the ecology friendly products I use are not the same as those you might find in commercial drum dyed items: belts, shoes, purses, wallets, etc. For example, if you cut a solid black belt in half, it is black all the way through)

    Usually, if the applique get water on it, the water can be removed immediately with a blotting motion. Wiping or rubbing will likely remove some of the finish.

    OK, OK, enough of the background. My wife says when she asks me for the time, I tell how the watch is made. Time to tell you what I suggest to do. First and easiest is my guarantee “If, for any reason, you do not like your new Leather Book Cover — you may return it, within 30 days, for a full refund.

    Next, I can try to refinish for you—no guarantee that it will look brand new. Please ask for the cost.

  • Lastly, I’m offering this an an option, because it may happen again. I can send you some of the finishing Skidmore’s Beeswax Waterproofing and a bit if the Eco-Flo Hi-Lite Chestnut Color Stain and you could refinish it yourself with these steps (please ask for the cost of materials):
  • 1. Cover the black front cover with blue painters tape. Get very close to the applique.
  • 2. Moisten (not dripping wet) an old tee shirt and wrap it around a wooden block and start to rub the applique, lightly at first, then a little harder. The color of the applique, should be getting lighter and the water spots may just disappear. Stop if the spots are gone and if the color appeals to you, then let it dry and rub in the Skidmore’s Beeswax Waterproofing. Let it dry overnight and remove the blue painters tape.
  • 3. If the tee shirt has removed too much of the chestnut color, then apply the Eco-Flo Hi-Lite Chestnut Color Stain and wipe off, before it dries. Repeat until the color you like appears. Then let it dry and rub in the Skidmore’s Beeswax Waterproofing. Let it dry over night and remove the blue painters tape.

Protection of the main leather cover (non-Suede or non-Nubuck with a finish applied):

  • This leather has a uniform appearance and color. The leather has an intense color and a definite pattern (grain). You cannot see any natural leather markings through the top coatings, because a pigmented leather paint-like coat is applied to the surface. It is then sealed with a durable finish. Properly maintained, this finish will provide years of cleaning ability and durability. Identifying characteristics: uniform color and grain patterns; will not scratch easily; water drops will not change color.
  • Cleaning can be done with Lexol Leather Cleaner found at most Auto Parts stores.  There is also a Lexol Leather Conditioner, but I suggest little to no use of the conditioner on the non-suede or non-nubuck leather because the finish will not allow penetration to the leather for conditioning.  If you use a conditioner remember at all times to test whatever you are planning on using to see if it is going to alter the color of your item.

Care of “naked” or “unfinished” leather

  • Naked leather has only been dyed and has had nothing applied to it that would mask its natural state. Because of this, it is the softest and most supple leather available. It gives the unique natural grain of leather a distinct warm rich glow. With age conditioned naked leather increases in beauty, growing softer and richer in appearance. If you have been told or the cover is labeled “naked” or “unfinished” leather you have a cover that will achieve a natural patina during normal handling.  The oils from your hand with darken the cover overtime.  This type of leather is easily stained, so avoid liquid spills or rain spots.  If you do not want the cover to gain that natural patina and aged look then applying a conditioner like Fiebings Aussie Leather Conditioner will seal and protect the cover. This will darken and change the color of leather. [Note: As of 2011, I have been using a Natural Leather Protector from Bee Natural that resists water and protects color sensitive leather. This Natural Leather Protector offers a water resisting and stain resistance that doesn’t affect the color or texture of the leather.]

Care and cleaning of Suede or Nubuck leather:

  • If part, or all, of the cover is made of suede or nubuck leather (leather that is rough), please clean only with a suede brush.  The suede brush can be found at most shoe stores. The surface of Suede and Nubuck leather has no protective barrier to protect it. As a result these leathers are very prone to soiling and staining.
  • Most suede covers will tend to have a “rub-off” of the dye colors.  This is normal and will decrease in time.  To test for color “rub-off” just rub with a scrap piece of white cloth.  If there is any “rub-off”, please avoid the cover coming in contact with clothing.  The “rub-off” is most prevalent with Suede covers in bright colors.
  • Nubuck and Suede leathers are very susceptible to scuffing or becoming flattened with wear. Simply brushing the material, using a circular motion, with a Nubuck sponge/brush or Nubuck cloth (such as those offered by LeatherWorldTech) may impart new life to the leather.
  • Light soiling and dried stains can often be removed with Nubuck cloth or Nubuck sponge/brush (such as those offered by LeatherWorldTech). Gently rub the affected area and brush the nap with a Nubuck sponge/brush. Alternatively, a liquid Nubuck cleaner may be used for routine soiling as well as deep and heavy soiling. After the leather has dried, groom the leather with the nubuck sponge or cloth.
  • Body oils often accumulate on Nubuck and Suede items. In light cases, a Nubuck cloth alone may be effective. In more serious cases, use leather degreaser followed by leather cleaner. After the leather has dried, groom it with a nubuck cloth or nubuck sponge.
  • The first step is to clear the stain of any excess grease or oil with a clean, dry cloth. Never use water to clean such stains. It merely spreads the stain or embeds it deeper in the material. Finally, use a quality degreaser, such as one available from After using the degreaser, clean the area with Nubuck cleaner and then apply Nubuck protector. Use a Nubuck sponge/brush to raise the nap of the leather.
  • Ink stains can be very difficult to remove from Nubuck or Suede leather. Blot spills immediately with a clean cloth. If needed, use lukewarm water and a clean cloth to wipe the spill. The cloth should be moist and free of excess water. Dry using a blow dryer while brushing the affected area with a Nubuck sponge/brush.

Medallion/Coin holder (optional):

  • The medallion holder can be accessed from the reverse side. Peel back the strong black tape that holds it in place to pull out the circular leather plug that the medallion is attached to. Replace the shipped sample medallion with your own. Use two-sided tape to keep the medallion in place and prevent it from rotating. Work the leather plug back into place and secure with the black tape.

Large Print Books bound with leather (special order):

  • Notice:  The Large Print books are integrated into the leather cover and are bound to the book with a very strong adhesive.  This adhesive (contact cement) has VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) which dissipate in a short time.  You may be able smell the glue for a few days until all has evaporated.

Some Notes and Considerations about leather:

  • Leather is a product that has been used for many years.  It is derived from animal skins that have been tanned to preserve the skins.  As such, those skins come from animals that live manly on a range where their skins encounter many hazards: bug bites and burrowing insects, horn gouges, barbed wire cuts, branding and even encounters with predatory animals.  You may notice some imperfections on your leather cover.  These are normal and some care has been used to minimize their appearance, but all marks are natural and add to the authenticity of the finished 100% leather cover.
  • You may notice that the embossed lettering and leather carving is always a tan/brown color.  That is vegetable tanned leather.  Leather that has been tanned with tree barks.  That is the only type of leather that can be tooled or embossed with text.  Other parts of the cover are chrome tanned leather that is softer and more flexible and normally have been commercially dyed and finished.