Honey, I Shrunk the Books: A DIY Guide to Making Miniature Book Replicas

Assorted art supplies on a bright blue cutting mat. Some tiny books and one normal sized book, a pulp fiction novel called Odd Girl Out.

Here is something true about me: I forget things a lot. All the time, really. Maybe it’s an ADHD thing. I forget to text people back; I forget what stories I’ve told. I forget my friends’ birthdays — sorry, friends! I love you! I forget what season of a TV show I’m on and whether I ate lunch today. And maybe more than anything else, I forget which books I’ve read.

When I used to spend way too much money on books, this wasn’t much of a problem; I could just check my shelves. But last year, when I started checking books out from the library, I realized I was putting books on my waiting list over and over again, only to get five chapters in and remember I’d already read them. The problem was compounded when I started checking e-books out from the library and reading them without ever even seeing their covers.

Then, on one of those days when I’d accidentally ended up on the crafty straight mom side of TikTok, I saw a video by a woman who was creating small replicas of the books she’d read that year and tossing them into a decorative jar. I scoffed at her jar — is it even TikTok if you’re not judging, just a little bit?  But I knew right away that I wanted to start making tiny books.

I began with office supplies, a few colored pencils, and a dream. Those first books I made were cute, but very crooked. They were cut unevenly with sewing scissors and held together with staples. They didn’t even open. I can’t do these things halfway! So I bought some craft supplies and tried to remember what I’d learned in my one-hour bookbinding seminar in college. Now, every time I finish reading a book, I get to work on its tiny counterpart, and I’ve got a shelf full of minis that make me happy every single time I look at them.

Wanna make one with me?


Today, we’ll be recreating the cover of Odd Girl Out, a pulp fiction classic by Ann Bannon. I haven’t read this one in years, but the cover is so gloriously pulpy, I couldn’t help myself.

Three photos illustrating the tiny bookmaking process described in this post

First, we’ll make our inner pages. Using your white paper, cut 15 sheets that measure four by three centimeters each. I use a ruler and an exacto knife, but you can use scissors too.

Three photos illustrating the tiny bookmaking process described in this post

Fold your sheets in half, hamburger style (was that a thing at your elementary school, too?). If you want to get fancy, use a folding bone to set the crease; I’m using the little red tool that came with my iPhone’s screen protector. Then, sort your pages into three sets of five sheets each. Nestle the five sheets into one another.

Three photos illustrating the tiny bookmaking process described in this post

Once you have your little signatures of five sheets each, you can sew each signature together. I usually use white thread, but I used red here for visibility. My stitches definitely aren’t proper bookbinding technique, but they work! If you want to be fancy, you can create a miniature awl by pushing the eye of a needle into a cork and poke your holes before you sew them together so you don’t wrinkle your pages while sewing.

Once you’ve sewn up your signatures and tied them off, set them aside. You may want to put them under a heavy book — or clip them with a binder clip — so they’ll stay flat later.

A collage of photos illustrating the bookmaking process described in this post

Now it’s time to design your cover! I use Canva, but you could easily use Microsoft Word if you’re comfortable working with images and text boxes. I find my cover images on Goodreads. If you’re artistic and don’t have a printer, you can also hand-draw your cover! You’ll want the cover to be slightly larger than your signatures, so the front and back covers should be about 2.4 cm wide by 3.4 cm tall, with a spine that’s about a half centimeter. Print or draw your cover on card stock, if you have it. Cut your cover down to size.

A collage of photos illustrating the bookmaking process described in this post

I find that scoring the card stock makes it much easier to fold. Placing the cover right side-up, use a nail or the blunt end of your needle to press four dots into your cover to delineate the edges of your book’s spine. Turn the book over, and run the blunt end of the needle along the ruler to score your two folding lines.

Now that you’ve got your cover, you can put it together with your signatures! Pressing your three signatures together, run some glue down the spine, and then place them directly into your cover. Wipe away excess glue and put your book under something heavy to dry. We did it!

A 1:12 scale, Ikea-style bookshelf full of tiny books

These books fit in some 1:12 scale dollhouse bookshelves, like this one I found on Etsy!

Someday, maybe, I’ll get to the stage where I’m printing a chapter of the actual book inside. For now, these tiny blank pages are there to do what I like with. How will you fill yours?


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Darcy

Darcy, a.k.a. Queer Girl, is your number one fan. She's a fat feminist from California who doodles hearts in the corners of her Gay Agenda. They're living through a pandemic, they're on Twitter, and they think you should drink more water! She also wants to make you laugh.

Darcy has written 301 articles for us.

20 Comments

  1. This is adorable! That little bookshelf with the mini books is amazing.

    Younger me would have been all over this – i had a dollhouse that my dad made from a kit and decorating it was my favorite thing ever. I built furniture from a kit. I made little rugs. I took apart costume jewelry to make a chandelier that I’m still pretty proud of.

    I use Goodreads to keep track of my reading now and while it’s flawed, I do really like being able to look back on what I read.

  2. Just a plug that goodreads is owned by amazon and there’s an alternative called Storygraph which is an independent black-owned business and you can easily automate the transfer of all your data from goodreads if you want to switch!

    app.thestorygraph.com

      • It was very easy to transfer the data from Goodreads to Storygraph! And for me it was a good excuse to clean up the shelves that I had on Goodreads. You do have to do it on a web browser not in the app though. I still use Goodreads as I find the social aspect very lacking in Storygraph (I rely on reading reviews by ppl I trust and follow on Goodreads) but for tracking your reading Storygraph is excellent! It makes you pretty pie charts and everything.

  3. Bookbinding content on Autostraddle! I love it.
    I’ve got a great system for remembering books I’ve read, in a notebook that has, by this point, I think about 38 pages filled with the titles of books that I’ve read, going back quite a few years now. When it’s full, I’ll start a second notebook to keep the collection going – I’ll probably bind one myself so I can make the cover match the old one. Always really interesting to have a chronologically ordered snapshot like that to flick through.

    • Probably going to scale up to 1/3 because 1. can print readable excerpts 2. I got my better half the American Girl doll she always wanted as a birthday present…and then proceeded to adopt my own because she was so cute and determined looking.

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