Abby, founder of Paper + Word, chats her book sleeves company
No more ripped pages and dented corners!
Being a book lover is not a cheap hobby, sorry, lifestyle. From buying all the Waterstones and subscription boxes exclusive editions, to buying bookshelves, there are many things we need to make our reading more enjoyable. Now, given how much we have spent on these pretty editions (which we always love and recommend), we often worry about damaging the books while carrying them out and about. Recently we came across Paper and Word, a company based in the UK that sells handmade book sleeves so you no longer need to worry about dented corners or ripped pages. They have very pretty designs and come in various sizes to fit different books, and even e-readers! Today, we have the honour of chatting with Abby, founder of P+W, on all things book sleeves.
First of all, tell us a bit about Paper + Word. How many people are in your team? When did you start the company and why?
I started P+W in 2018, after looking desperately for a good looking non-fandom book sleeve for myself and not coming up with any results. I began making my own, as I’d been sewing and creating as a hobby for years. Being part of the Bookstagram community at the time, people started to see my book sleeves and asking me to make more! Since then we have grown to a team of four, mostly working from our studio on the Wirral, and others remotely.
We have Midnight, Comet and Marble in the New Year Collection. How long ago have you started planning these patterns?
I think for this particular collection we started planning around 12 months ago. We’ve seen huge delays in fabric deliveries since 2020 (sometimes 6 months+!), so we’ve had to be quite flexible on when we can put out a collection, ensuring we have a plan B. These designs fortunately arrived in time, as I really wanted them together for New Years!
And usually when you design a collection, do you come up with the overall theme first or individual pieces first?
When sourcing fabric, I start by choosing designs I love and thinking no further than that. When we get delivery dates and can see all of the designs sitting together in our planning tool (currently Asana, but we’re in the process of moving to Notion), we then start to pick and choose what designs work best together and what season they belong to for release dates.
What about this time? Can you tell us briefly why these three patterns were picked for the New Year collection?
After the heavy colour palettes of autumn and winter, along with the more festive releases, I really wanted the New Year’s collection to feel fresh and ‘seasonless’. I love the new start in January, so wanted to choose designs that felt like they were a break from everything Christmas, and something you could use all year round. I said to the team that this collection felt like the time of year where you still feel a little bit in party mode, but you’ve got your slippers on and your new planner tucked under your arm!
After designing the collection, what’s the next step? Would you sometimes need to revise the designs before they’re
We keep the collections a little fluid, as with the aforementioned delays, we can’t always guarantee things will turn up on time. Sometimes we will push a whole collection to a later date, for example I had an autumn collection for ’22 planned that didn’t arrive in time, so we’ve moved it to autumn ’23. Other times we will swap out a delayed fabric for something that has already arrived, or hunt for something we can get quickly if nothing here feels quite right. We’ve had some epic collections form from last second changes!
And what’s the buying process like? Have you changed it since the beginning of Paper + Word?
When we first started out we were buying much smaller quantities of fabric, so it was easier to buy these in local stores or source last minute online. However now that we are buying in a higher volume we have to order straight from the manufacturer in advance, via our wonderful fabric supplier. Any last second additions take a lot of time to source, as it’s hard to get the volume we need straight from the independent fabric shops we use. All of our fabric is bought from small women-led indie businesses, and most are from women designers too! Having worked in male only teams for almost 7 years prior to P+W, it was important to me to surround myself with other women for P+W.
Anything you want to experiment with Paper + Word? A different style of book sleeve etc?
We are frequently asked for more tech sleeves, so this is something we are working on in the background. We have a high demand for Switch sleeves too, so we’re going to expand this offering further very soon. I also have another few things up my sleeve for this year, that I can’t reveal just yet!
And finally, let’s chat about your own usage: When using a book sleeve, do you just pick one at random or do you try to pick one that reflects the genre / content of the book?
We keep one of every sleeve we make, so I have an epic choice for my own usage! Most of the time I like to choose the perfect match to my current read, but sometimes I am so obsessed with a new design that it is all I use for a while (looking at you, Marble!). I have some all time faves too, that I regularly go back to (Constellation, Dust, Horizon).
You can shop the latest Paper + Word book sleeve collection at paperandword.com , or follow them on Instagram @paperandword for sneak peeks of what’s coming soon!