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Make your MacBook look like a real book

One innovative case maker has a solution for bibliophiles who want a little more book in their MacBooks.

An 11-inch MacBook Air, hiding inside a book-like case. CNET

Yes, we all know it's called a MacBook (and a laptop can also be called a notebook), but that doesn't mean these portable computing products actually have any resemblance to real books.

One innovative case maker has a solution for bibliophiles who want a little more book in their MacBooks. Pad & Quill, previously known for its iPad cases, has a new case called the Cartella, designed to fit either the 11-inch or 13-inch MacBook Air. We tried the $79 11-inch version, as seen in the accompanying photos; the larger 13-inch version runs $89.

The company designed this case, like its original iPad cases, to look like a cross between a bound book and a Moleskin notebook. Inside is a carefully machined piece of plywood that holds the MacBook Air securely thanks to some thin rubber bumpers, and there are strategic cutouts for all the ports and connections on the laptop. Unlike the first generation of iPad cases from Pad & Quill, the case now shuts with a black elastic strap, rather than the hard-to-operate button closure we struggled with previously.

The look is clean and vaguely academic, and the Cartella works best for carrying the MacBook Air solo--packed into a laptop bag, the extra size and weight (the case itself weighs 13 ounces for the 11-inch, 17 ounces for the 13-inch) make the ultrathin laptop less portable, not more. Like the pair of iPad cases we tried last year, the fit was very snug, and we had to be careful while removing it.

Related links
• Apple MacBook Air 11-inch review
• Apple MacBook Air 13-inch review
• BookBook: A novel way to tote your Mac

Nearly everyone around the office who has seen the Pad & Quill cases (both iPad and MacBook versions) liked the concept and look, but some also questioned the utility--these cases seem the most useful for covering up gadgets that will be kept around the home, especially if you hate the look of high-tech laptops laying around, or perhaps just want to create the impression that you read a more books. Still, it's a unique, well-made, and very protective case, and definitely something a little different from the norm.