We’ve reviewed and enjoyed a number of TwelveSouth products over the years. We were intrigued by the hollowed out book idea with the company’s original BookBook case for the MacBook Air and since it has brought out similar hand distressed leather BookBook cases for other Apple devices, like the iPhone and iPad mini. While maybe not the ideal option for Apple’s anti-skeuomorphic cheerleaders, I found the stark contrast to Apple’s sometimes cold industrial design a nice juxtaposition.

I tend to not use any skins, covers or cases when using my MacBook on a day to day basis. I slide my MacBook into a laptop pouch built-into my backpack or use a standard laptop case when on the go, and rarely do I actually leave the MacBook in the case when in use. A case was necessary for protection when traveling, but for me the average soft or hard plastic laptop case never quite does the pricey, Jony Ive designed Apple hardware inside justice. BookBook is different… BookBook is made to stay on your MacBook when in use and, on top of protection from scratches and impact with its two hard covers, provides a nice level of security from prying eyes, easily fooling passers-by with its realistic, vintage hardback book design. However, that’s of course when the case is closed and inconspicuously resting on a table. When opened, BookBook for obvious reasons attracts more onlookers than your average laptop case, but that’s only a testament to its unique design. Designs vary from product to product, and there are competitors offering similar options, but TwelveSouth has become well known as the go to place for those looking for this unique vintage book design. Hands-on 

TwelveSouth isn’t shy about the fact that BookBook is made to look vintage. Hand distressed leather means the leather along the spine appears to be creased and worn in all the right places, while the two hard covers also come quite beat up. It means no two BookBooks will arrive exactly alike, but it also means you should expect your BookBook’s leather to have its fair share of imperfections. The leather is soft enough that it will continue to get nicks and scratches on a daily basis through regular use, but unlike other laptop cases, it only adds to the charm of BookBook’s vintage design.

The spine of the BookBook isn’t just painted on like some of the knock offs on the market. Instead you get thick, rigid stitching that feels just like the binding of a real book- not only does it add to the realism of the hollowed out book effect, but it also provides an easy way to pick up and grip the case when it’s closed. I lose the handle that is standard on the laptop bags I typically use for traveling, but TwelveSouth notes that BookBook’s tight fitting, slim design with rounded spine will squeeze easily in laptop bags designed for the next size up MacBook. In other words, BookBook for the 15-inch Retina MacBook will fit in most bags with compartments designed for a 17-inch laptop.

The intricate detailing extends to the zipper itself with small leather zipper pulls that give the look of a decorative bookmark and light cream colored material surrounding the zipper to mimic the pages of an old book. One slight downside is the quality of the zipper. It didn’t pose any problems for me during my month with the case, but I noticed the majority of my other laptop bags, such as my PowerBag, employ much heavier duty zippers. Detailing on the spine and a small TwelveSouth logo indented in the bottom hard cover provides an easy way to see if BooBook is the right side up before opening.

The inside of both sides of the case is lined from corner to corner with a brown, velvet-like material that keeps your MacBook Pro safe from getting scratched by the case itself, but the lining isn’t thick enough to provide any real extra impact protection. The MacBook fits nicely in the case when open and in use, with the top cover held to the display using the usual small, soft elastic bands. It’s the standard solution for laptop bags to stay attached to the display once opened, and it does the trick, but it doesn’t exactly have the same vintage feel and unique quality as the outside of the BookBook. I would prefer something more substantial to keep the MacBook secure and in place inside the case, but I didn’t run into any issues with the elastic bands and the MacBook doesn’t have much room to move around when BookBook is zipped up.

It’s a little heavier than your average lightweight sleeve at approximately 1.5lbs/22.5 ounces, but it also provides more protection compared to typical soft cases and sleeves with its stiff, hardback covers. The weight certainly isn’t something that would keep me from using the BookBook and fortunately the added weight in this case goes towards a generous covering of quality genuine leather and the durable protective hard covers.

There is a small amount of room for the MacBook Pro’s vents to breathe, but it did get noticeably hotter and louder over an extended period of use inside the case. You’ll likely want to remove it from the case when at home or office and using the MacBook Pro as your main machine throughout the day.

Changes from the old MacBook case

While the Retina Macbook pro and its slimmed down profile would probably fit loosely in the old 15-inch Book Book for the non-Retina MacBook, TwelveSouth has thankfully made some tweaks to make a perfect fit. Anyone familiar with the BookBook for the last generation non-Retina 15-inch MacBook might notice a few changes. Gone is the option to choose all red or black detailing and new is a slimmer design that it first introduced with its BookBook for the Air. Apple shrunk the MacBook Pro down to the size of the MacBook Air at its thickest point with the introduction of the 15-inch Retina last June, so it’s only fitting that TwelveSouth would opt for the much thinner design and rounded spine for the new MacBook Pro lineup too.

It may be a hard sell to Apple purists with a phobia of covering up Jony Ive’s award winning designs, but if making your MacBook look like an old piece of literature is your thing, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a solution that does a better job than TwelveSouth’s BookBook.

BookBook for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro is available now for $79.99 with free shipping. TwelveSouth also has the same version I reviewed today available for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, and both the 11 and 13-inch MacBook Air models.  Users with the previous generation MacBook Pro can check out TwelveSouth’s other BookBook cases here.