I posted about the gorgeous BookBook laptop case for the 15″ Macbook Pro back in January on TehAwesome.Net, and have been impatiently waiting for a 17″ model. They’re finally available (first come, first serve!), and I received mine today.

The BookBook is a hand-crafted leather laptop case that when closed, looks like an antique leatherbound book. I doubt very much it would contribute to the security of carrying your Macbook, since I’d be just as likely to steal a sexy awesome leatherbound book as I would a sexy laptop, but it’s sure pretty to look at, and one of the most unique laptop cases I’ve seen. Others include the Newspaper laptop sleeve from MiteMite, and the Shuky sleeve that looks like a manilla envelope.

First things first, the quality of design and craftsmanship is outstanding. Everything from the distressed leather to the stitching is perfect, and it feels incredibly sturdy – more so than I would have imagined. The zipper doesn’t seem at all flimsy, and the leather that attaches it to the main body of the case is thick, and reinforced with suede on the inside. (The BookBook comes in classic black and red. I ordered the red, although both are beautiful.)

It’s a little larger than I expected, sticking out about an 3/4 from the top of the screen, and 3/4 of an inch beyond the bottom of the laptop, but I suppose that’s to be expected so that it will fit properly when the case is closed. I’m more used to the Case-Mate hard leather case that I have had since I bought my laptop, which solves this issue by way of a flexible gusset at the hinge.

Side note: I love the Case-Mate hard leather cases. I was only lured away from them by the sheer coolness of the BookBook, but I’d still strongly recommend them any day. I am pretty rough on my laptop, commuting with it through New York City for 4.5 hours a day when i go to the office, and I’ve had the same Case-Mate case for years, with almost no sign of wear and tear. Those things are tough!

The issue I have with the BookBook is actually with the straps. Here’s a short (< 2 minute) video of how the straps work. Sorry for the shakiness, I was rushing to get this done in between conference calls. Also, don’t mind teh kitteh. Or the mess.

As you can see in this video, I suck at taking video and I desperately need to re-paint my nails. Oh, also, you can see what I mean about the straps.

I sent an email to TwelveSouth, the manufacturer, asking about the straps:

Hi there – I received my 17″ BookBook case, and it’s just as beautiful as I thought it would be. I have a few questions/concerns though….

Is there no strap for the bottom to hold the case onto the bottom part of the computer? I admit I’m a little surprised that the straps that hold the case onto the top piece are black and actually cover the top left and right of the screen. This is such a beautiful cover, it seems impossible to me that the attachment mechanism would be so ugly and intrusive. Even my hard leather case that I have used for years includes clear straps that do not obstruct any part of the screen.

This is disappointing to the point where I may actually return it, which saddens me, as I have been waiting for a 17″ BookBook since I first saw the 15″ model months ago.

Andrew from TwelveSouth immediately replied to me, (really, 45 minutes later, and it probably took him at least 20 to write the email) with an explanation that makes perfect sense, but still bums me out:

Hey Snipe,

Thanks for the email and comments. My name is Andrew and I designed the BookBook. Just wanted to explain our thinking on the case and it’s features. If it doesn’t meet your needs – by all means return it. 99 dollars is way to much to pay for something and not absolutely ‘love’ it. That said, here’s what we had in mind for those straps.

The primary reason for the straps at the top only is to allow the BookBook case to close – and also open the MacBook lid itself (unibody only – the silver key version requires that release button on the front). Using it like this, the BookBook can stay basically ‘attached’ to the MB. When opened past 90 degrees for use, the corner straps should just clear the screen corners too. If it’s close, you could push back the screen angle a little bit – or slide the MB more towards you. Either one of these adjustments should clear the corner straps from the corners of the screen.

That said – the overall design of the case was to use it more like a notebook sleeve – slipping it in and out for use – and also possibly carrying it in an additional bag or backpack – was what we had in mind. We never really intended to ‘strap it in’ – we wanted it to slip in-and-out – just like a neoprene sleeve – only better, cooler and more protective once inside. The two straps just added the easy option to use it while still partially contained. (Actually – my favorite way to use it is to use the BookBook as a riser of sorts. I take My MB out and set it directly on top of my BookBook. It adds a little height and angle to the keyboard).

Sorry for the rambling email. I hope our intentions for the BookBook are at least a little clearer now. And again – if it doesn’t completely meet your expectations, please don’t hesitate to contact us again to request a refund. We really do want you to not just like your BookBook – we want you to love it.

Thanks again for your feedback and email,

Andrew

So as you can see, they did have a reason for the decisions they made regarding the straps. Major, major props to TwelveSouth for being so quick to reply to me, and to explain their decision in such detail. It didn’t come across to me as rambling – it came across as a passionate explanation from someone who loves the product they sell – and that’s awesome.

Less awesome is the fact that I thought I was buying a case, not a sleeve. My work environment may not be typical, but it suits me well. Two days a week, I work from home, the other 3 days, I commute to the city. On the days I work from home, my “office” is usually the couch, using the armrest of the couch as my laptop desk. Because there is a fair amount of jostling (and the constant threat of me or one of my spastic pets) knocking it over, something that actually attaches to my laptop is arguably critical.

At this point, my only suggestions to TwelveSouth would be to either re-label the item on their website that so that it’s more clear that this is meant to be a sleeve, not a case – or make a second model that is meant to be be a true case.

If you’re looking for an extremely sexy (if a little spendy) laptop sleeve that will definitely turn heads, BookBook is an excellent choice. If you’re looking for a case for your laptop to basically live in 24/7, this might not be the best choice. I haven’t decided if I’m going to try to jerry rig some straps, or if I’ll return it, but it’s undeniably a work of art regardless.

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I’m a tech geek/dev/infosec-nerd/scuba diver/blacksmith/sword-fighter/crime fighter/ENTP/warcrafter/activist. I'm the CTO at Mass Mosaic and the CEO of Grokability, Inc. in San Diego, CA. Tweet at me @snipeyhead or read more...

  • where kitteh?

  • Ahh, kitteh might not have been in this one. She was poking her head around in the earlier vids, but i trashed them because I sounded like a moron. Like more of a moron, I mean. 😛

  • lomifeh

    That is a nice sleeve but the strap thing kills it for me personally. I need to see if they make something for the iPad.

  • I don't think they do, yet.

  • And to think before reading this I was only thinking of a bland leather slip cover for my MBP. Thanks Snipe for opening my eyes to some cool ideas.

  • Ozux

    And, BTW, What is your camera name and model! ?

    • I used my iPhone 4

  • Nik2589

    for the jostling problem, why not use a couple of those “sticky” pads that you put on the dashboard so you can leave phones and mp3 players there without falling off? i just got a bookbook case for my ipad and i’m planning to do that too coz the straps are kind of.. lacking.. but my sister has done this before with her ipod touch and a belkin case and it worked for her! 🙂

    • Well, I mean I guess I don’t want to have to jerry rig something I paid quite a lot of money for. The zipper has since busted on me anyway, so it’s a moot point. 🙁

  • In an earlier comment, you said that the zipper broke? How did it break and how long did it take for it to break? I’m considering buying one, but I’m wary because I can’t find many reviews online.

    • Hi Ems – I’m honestly not sure how long it took – but the guys from Twelvesouth have been great, and I’m certain that they would have replaced it if I sent it back. The whole thing felt very sturdy overall.