DIY: Classic Notebooks

March 13, 2008


The Great Escape cover above, designed by Abram Games for Penguin in 1951, is one of my all-time favourites. And when, Moleskined-out, I needed a new notebook, it sprung to mind.

So here’s what I did. I scanned in the cover, and created a dummy edition, complete with 200 blank, numbered pages, which I had printed by Lulu – a replica edition for my own use. It cost £5, which I thought was pretty reasonable.

If you’d like to do the same, here’s the blank, numbered interior pdf for a 200pp paperback notebook (what Lulu calls Pocket B&W, Perfect Bound, 10.795cm x 17.463cm). And if you have InDesign CS2+, here’s a blank cover file, complete with bleed and spine correctly sized for 200pp (I’m pretty sure this is copyright violation, so you’ll have to scan your own favourite cover).


Note that I messed up the bleed a little, trying to preserve the edges of Games’ design, but trial and error will out.

I’m starting to see the internet as an (admittedly very slow) cornucopia machine (yes, I’ve been overdosing on the Stross again). The number of web services that let you customise ‘things’ – and sell them on – is growing rapidly, and has quite profound consequences for traditional first-order (manufacturer) and even second-order (designer) producers. And quite interesting ones for the rest of us.


  1. James- this absolute genius, great idea.

    Comment by Michael Bhaskar — March 14, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

  2. That. Is. Awesome.

    Comment by Joseph Devon — March 14, 2008 @ 6:09 pm

  3. Like all great ideas, so simple that I thwacked my forehead while asking why I didn’t think of it myself! I’m going to try it out with a favourite crow image – a new notebook for my new novel Corvus.

    Comment by Lee — March 16, 2008 @ 9:59 pm

  4. […] has veered away from Moleskines in favour of making his own notebooks through, using a classic book cover [via […]

    Pingback by George Walkley — March 17, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

  5. Hey James,

    This is slick. An unconsidered revenue stream for Penguin too?
    Do you think they would allow people to reproduce covers for a small fee for this kind of thing?
    Would you pay?

    Comment by Eoin Purcell — March 17, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

  6. Yes, you are correct- it is © violation! Estate of AG own the ©! Careful please!

    Comment by Estate of Abram Games — March 19, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

  7. Perhaps you could offer to pay a few cents so that AG’s heirs can buy their next loaf of bread.

    Comment by Lee — March 19, 2008 @ 9:06 pm

  8. I thought this was such a great idea I rushed off and made my own – and it arrived yesterday. It came out great – and I already got a funny look on the Underground for appearing to write in a vintage copy of Orwell’s 1984 :)

    I decided it would be easier to upload the front and back covers separately and not worry about the spine – which means you don’t have to be an InDesign whiz if you don’t mind skipping the authentic spine…

    Thanks again for the inspiration!

    Comment by Simon A — April 2, 2008 @ 12:13 pm

  9. Glad you guys all like it. Simon – pictures?

    Comment by James Bridle — April 2, 2008 @ 12:29 pm

  10. Have posted some pics on the bookgeeks blog:

    Comment by Simon A — April 5, 2008 @ 10:18 am

  11. This is a great idea!

    Comment by Rob — April 10, 2008 @ 6:11 pm

  12. Once in a while the Internet throws up a new possibility that pleasantly boggles the mind. This (both for the object created and the lessons you draw from it) is one of those times. Thank you, James.

    Comment by Fin Keegan — May 8, 2008 @ 9:11 pm

  13. […] After reading Jame’s Bridle’s recent post over at about making custom notebooks using and scanned classic book covers, I was inspired […]

    Pingback by bookgeeks — August 12, 2008 @ 10:37 am

  14. Very nice idea. Interesting thoughts.

    Comment by schoschie — March 23, 2009 @ 7:15 pm

  15. […] exist: I wanted to test Lulu’s capacity for hardback books, to continue experimenting with the literary cornucopia machine, and to see if you could make a traditional diary/journal in retrospect. And you can, and it’s […]

    Pingback by Newspaper » Lone Gunman — October 1, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

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