Some textbooks are available with soft covers for a discounted price, and many complementary workbooks are only sold in the soft-back version. Many students are also printing the electronic versions of their textbooks, as well. Of course, even minor wear-and-tear can cause significant, unsightly wear and even—you guessed it—tears. There are several ways that you can preserve your soft-bound textbooks or workbooks or your printed e-textbooks. Most of them will take only a few bucks from your laundry till and only minutes of your study time.
1. Convert your soft-bound book into a binder book.
This is my favorite approach for these reasons: It doesn’t take much time or crafting ability, it allows you to have your pages lie flat, and it gives you the option of keeping other course materials with your textbook. You need to get the spine cut off your book and all the pages 3-hole punched. (Of course, if you’re doing this with a printed e-book, all you have to do is get the holes punched.) You can probably get both services done at your local office supply store or print shop for only a few dollars.
Then, all you have to do is slide the pages onto the rings of a binder. If it’s a workbook that you’re converting, you can slide notebook paper between the pages in order to avoid writing on the actual book pages. You can then re-sell the workbook when the course is over, if you wish.
2. Convert it into a hard-back book.
This method requires a little bit of skill, some patience, and a few supplies you might just have around your dorm room. Basically, you just need some thin cardboard, contact paper or fabric, scissors, and a writing utensil. For cardboard, you can use cereal boxes, stiff file folders, or cardboard mailing envelopes (such as the Priority Mail envelopes you can get at any US Postal Service location, for free).
Basically, you need enough cardboard to cover the book (front, back, and spine) two times, and then enough contact paper or fabric to cover the book twice, plus an inch all around. (If you’re using fabric, I’d suggest using Mod Podge.) Basically, you just need to lay four cardboard rectangles, slightly taller than the book cover and miter-cut the corners, before attaching the firmer cover to your soft-bound book.
You can probably figure out the other details on your own, but otherwise, you might want to check out this helpful tutorial. For e-textbooks, you can learn how to bind the pages into a book, yourself, from this well-illustrated tutorial, and just replace the cardstock cover with the hard-back cover described above.
3. Be very cautious with your book.
This means you won’t allow it to rub against other books in your backpack, throw it at your roommate, drop it off your desk, or open it at all. This probably is not the most practical option, especially if you want to pass the class, but it has worked for some failing but fastidiously careful students, through the years.