Concertina books were traditionally used for Buddhist sutras or for albums of calligraphy or paintings. A typical concertina is made from sheets of paper pasted into a long strip that is then folded accordian fashion into the desired length. Your concertina book can be just about any size and you can add sections of textblock by pasting together long sheets, see Figure 6. Once you pick the size of your book you can begin cutting the various pieces. For example, let's say you wanted a finished book measuring 4 x 6 inches.
Cutting the Pieces for your Book
Cut two pieces of board exactly the size of your desired book see Figure 1. For our example, that would be 4x6 inches. You can use mat board, cardboard, just about any heavy board that doesn't bend too easily, but that you can cut smoothly with whatever cutting tool you have at hand.
Cut two pieces of decorative paper the width of your board; in our example 4 inches, and 1 1/2 times the height of your board, or for our example 9 inches, see Figure 2.
Cut two pieces of stiff paper, this can be construction paper or kraft paper, or any paper of about that weight or a little heavier. You want something that won't wear too easily because this will be the cover of your book, see Figure 3.
You will want an additional piece of this stiffer paper for the spine. It should be the height of your book and about half the width, or 2x6 inches for our example, see Figure 4.
Cutting the Textblock
Cut a single piece of paper the height of your book, 6 inches and as many times the width of your book as you desire, see Figure 5. So for example, a book with two pages requires a length of 4 times the width of your book (16 inches for a 4 inch book.) If you continue to use multiples of 4 it will be much easier to fold your pages. If you want multiples of your 4 inch book, you would use 16 or 32 or 48inches. If you wish to use multiple pieces that are glued follow the instructions in Figure 6.
Assembling your Book
Once you have prepared your materials; you are ready to start folding. Using your board as a guide, set the board in the middle of your decorative paper with the good side down and the board on top. Use a bone folder to score the paper just at the end of the board and fold up. Make a good crease and then with the board snug against this crease fold the paper over the board so that the board is sandwiched between the sheet. Do this on both ends so that the board is inside and the decorative sheet is wrapped around the board.
Set the decorative paper aside and do the same thing with the stiffer paper, wrapping it snugly around the board and creating two creases for each edge you wrap around.
To assemble the covers wrap the sheets around the board and use the sheets to cover up the fold over parts. Make the last fold the decorative paper and fold it into the space between the board and the stiff paper. Press the paper and board to make a snug fit.
Folding the Textblock
Fold your long sheet of textblock in half. Fold each half into the middle using the crease as the edge to fit against the end for a marker, see Figure 7. Now fold out one of those sheets and fold it to the center, being careful to keep your edges even. Fold over the tail again using the edge to keep your folds even. Do the same with the other side. You should have a mountain/valley fold sequence with each flat surface, (Figure 8) the size of your board. Or continue folding in half until you do have the flat surface the size of your board.
Take the textblock and slide one end into the space between the stiff paper and the board. Do the same with the other board. You have a concertina book!
Finally, take the spine piece and fold it just off center, then using your book as a gauge fold again just the thickness of your book. Cut off just a bit of the edges at a slant so that the tails will slide between the boards and the textblock, covering the textblock fold on one side with your spine sheet, (Figure 9). You have a western style book!
Sometimes this structure is called a secret diary because with the spine piece in place you can hide the text of half your book, and with the spine piece removed you expose that side of your textblock for writing your secret thoughts.
You can also use this structure for a fold up or standup photo album by making slits in your sheets and sliding in pictures. You should use a stiffer, heavier paper for your textblock to support the weight of your photos.