Nov 2, 2012

Remember November: Covering Copybooks

Caution: this image could prompt the viewer to break out in cold sweats.

At the start of each school year, rolls of this substance - clear Contact - would be purchased, with the express purpose of extending the lifespan of a textbook or copybook cover.

The last few days of school holidays would be spent allocating blue-lined 64 page copybooks to each forthcoming subject, and embarking on an adventure in measuring, scissoring, peeling, sticking and smoothing out air bubbles.

Air bubbles were the enemy.

By Year Twelve, my Contacting skills were sufficiently polished to deal with my ego's demands for more complicated, prettier designs. I was no artist; but geez I was dab hand with brown paper and a gluestick:

This cover is all that remains of my Year 12 maths copybook. Certainly the workings within were not worthy of being saved all these years, but my James Bond-themed pictorial tribute still impresses me. The Contacted topcoat kept the cover from tearing; even today, shoved in a storage folder in my flat, it remains in excellent condition. I should frame it.

I had others - I remember Marilyn Monroe in particular for an English book - but the James Bond one is the only one I've kept for sentimental reasons.

Now I understand that for many parents, the reality of covering school textbooks and copybooks is not something to be looked back fondly on; rather, it is a yearly trial of patience and skill.

But it's still a real and present challenge to all of us - well, at the very least to those of us who wish to extend the life of our smartphones and tablet computers. The act of placing plastic adhesive covers onto gorilla glass screens requires the same concentration and exact positioning as copybooks did all those years ago.

And air bubbles remain the enemy.


  1. They've changed the recipe. Now it's almost impossible for get an air bubble trapped under contact. I helped out a local school when they were recovering from the floods and I spend six hours contacting library books.

    It was the most restful and pleasant volunteer work I've ever done.

    I don't know about those protectors on smart phones though. I mean, have you seen the videos showing how strong that gorilla glass is? Mind you, I'm always mindful to put it in the different pocket to my keys.

  2. I did the same thing furring my work for the dole days. Contacting books in a school library. So peaceful.