The First-Ever 3-D Printed Book Cover

Slate’s design blog.
Jan. 17 2014 3:00 PM

The World’s First 3-D Printed Book Cover

The world's first 3-D printed book cover is a novel by Chang-Rae Lee.

Courtesy of MakerBot

There is a lot of talk in design and publishing circles these days about the objectification of the book in a time when words no longer need be contained in discrete physical packages and screen-based reading is becoming the norm. Authors, designers, and publishers hope that a heightened attention to form will encourage people to buy, hold, display, and keep books on the shelves in a world where making books from dead trees is a dying art.

So it was unsurprising but still kind of cool when Riverhead Books released the world’s first 3-D printed book cover earlier this month. The limited-edition printed book sleeve for On Such a Full Sea by award-winning Korean-American novelist Chang-Rae Lee was designed by Riverhead art director Helen Yentus and produced by Brooklyn-based MakerBot. The design is a 3-D take on Futura typeface, a piece of sculptural typography formed from a corn-based bioplastic printed on a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3-D Printer. One of 200 original signed, numbered copies—initially  priced at $150—is currently on sale at Amazon for $795. (Amazon is also selling the hardback original for $16.77 and the Kindle version for $12.29.)

Chang-Rae Lee with the MakerBot printer used to create a 3-D cover for his new novel

Courtesy of MakerBot

It remains to be seen whether 3-D book covers will become commonplace or remain a rarefied exercise in style. But it’s notable that the first 3-D book cover is the casing for a novel, not a coffee table book, and one in which the design is used as an extension of the flat typography on the cover of the book, used to bring a third dimension to the written word.


Check out this video to learn more about the design of the book:



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.