Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review: CoLibri Pocket Auto Covering Machine

So much for good intentions! The start of the year is just crazy, and my resolution to blog once a week didn't even last through Labor Day. But -- I'm back!
Today it's a review of the CoLibiri Pocket Auto Covering Machine.

We're always hunting for cost efficient methods for covering books. We buy lots of graphic novels, paperbacks, and hardcovers with dust jackets. Two years ago, the PTA purchased the CoLibiri machine for us. We've used it regularly, and I've got a few thoughts on it. At Right: The Colibri Pocket machine we own. Image from

How the machine works: Covers are available in three different sizes: mini, standard, and big. The covers are plastic, or more specifically - clear polyethylene. Basically, you pick the cover that's the closest size to the book you're working with. You slip on the cover, and then use the CoLibiri machine to seal/cut the cover to the exact size of the book. It's EASY. Last year, our library volunteers mastered the machine in just one training session, and did most of the covering for us. The machine makes it easy to create precise, even edges. At Left: The biggest size cover. I've got my hand in one of the cover's two "pockets."

CoLibri Positives:
  • Initially, the covers look great.
  • The machine is VERY easy to use
  • The machine can be used for MORE than just book covers. You can use the plastic to cover bookmarks, make pouches and bags, and even wrap presents.

CoLibri Negatives:

  • The covers aren't cheap - it works out to about $1.00 per book, regardless of size. The covers come in cases of 250 for mini and standard, and 150 for the big ones.
  • We had issues with our machine - a bar inside was bent, creating jagged edges on the plastic covers, and the machine needs to be oiled REGULARLY - otherwise it squeaks like crazy. Oiling it isn't difficult, but still a pain.
  • We weren't 100% satisfied with the customer service. When we had issues with our machine, it was a pain to get our salesman to come fix it. Though, that's probably just an issue with this one individual, and not the company as a whole. They do promise "100% customer satisfaction."
  • Finally, the biggest issue: The covers don't hold up under heavy use. Below are some images I took of a book we covered about a year ago. Obviously, this title got a lot of use -- maybe 15 or 20 checkouts over the course of a year. You can see the issues we're having. The plastic can rip, and kids love to scratch through it. It also gets cloudy as the books are circulated.

So, for now, we're not using CoLibri covers. To be honest, we've stopped covering our books altogether. I might regret this in a few years . . . but we'll deal with that then.
Any recommendations for covers you LOVE?


  1. Thanks for the review. We consider using Colibri too but the cost is too prohibitive.

  2. Thank you for writing this blog post. Our library has used Colibri for the past several years due to the inexpensiveness of the covers, but we've had the same issues with it that you have had. Our covers do not cut correctly, just as you experienced; additionally, our salesman has been very unwilling to come take a look at it! We ended up sending the machine back to them for repiars, and the person who is supposed to fix it took a week off. Who knows when it will be done! Reponses to our e-mails and phone calls are very abysmal. Overall, this hasn't been a satisfying experience for us! It's not your salesman - it's the company...

  3. I think there may be some misconceptions on the purpose for using CoLibri Covers. The job of the CoLibri cover is to preserve and protect the book in it's original state or stop further damage of an old book, not make it look pretty. CoLibri covers can double the life of a new book or prolong having to throw away an old book. I am talking hard cover books especially! When the cover does take a beating, the book does not. So if you have a high circulating book like Harry Potter, you can throw a CoLibri cover on it, let it run it's course and when the hype cools down, your book is still in GREAT shape! CoLibri covers do not jeopardize the integrity of the book like contact paper and Mylar.(which get torn, picked at, cloudy too.) For .72 cents, a CoLibri cover can save an old hard cover book that normally you would throw away and pay $12.00-??? to replace. CoLibri is incredible for hard cover books and saves a great deal on the cost of replacing.

  4. It's fun to play 'spot the Colibri sales rep' in these comments :)

    1. Also fun to spot the ones with no experience trying to make a point they are clueless of...

  5. Thank you for the blog post; I bought my books from Bound to Stay Bound with CoLibri covers and they have not held up. Many are torn and/or cloudy as with your photos above. I would advise against purchase of this system for heavily circulated books. I've had to take all of my covers off because I can't scan the barcodes through the cloudy covers at this point.

  6. The customer service at this company is horrible. I have a Colibri machine and it is still under warranty but it no longer gives me, the only user by the way, a smooth even cut. I have been trying to resolve this problem with the company since before Christmas to no avail. After many phone calls, finally, today, I have some sort of resolution. However, I feel like the customer service at this comapny has been more about "What did you do wrong?" rather than "What can we do for YOU, our customer?"

  7. Thank you for these comments. I was contacted by their sales rep today and am now convinced that this system would be a bad choice for our library.

  8. I love the concept and the way our Colibri machine works, but the covers are terrible. Its almost impossible to remove the new stickers when the library book is ready to be moved into regular circulation, the cover stretches and the sticky from the sticker remains on the cover. One of the selling points of the system and the covers was "look how nice the book looks" after its covered. I received an email asking if "I would recommend this system".? I said no and explained the reasons why. I received an apology and told my rep. would contact me. I laughed knowing that would not happen. I do love the way my machine works.

  9. Also many ads say the plastic is 3.5mm (over 1/8") thick which seems highly unlikely. I assume they mean 0.35mm.

  10. Covers do not last long at all. It might be around 75 cents to cover a book, but I promise you that you will have to recover that book 3-4 times per semester. Do the math...cost about $6.00 to keep each book covered for the school year. That's what they want, so you will keep reordering the covers. Advise strongly against anyone considering this product.

  11. Heard recently that Colibri introduced a new 4.7 mil cover that lasts longer and wears better. Anyone have any experience with this?