The digital age has all but eaten up that quiet, dusty time when humans would grab (would touch even) a book to read. We no longer visit the library to pull them from the shelves. In fact, those shelves of colorful, often historical, book spines are being swallowed quickly by our turn towards the future.
Okay, enough moaning—the digital reading onslaught is awesome. Now we can read anywhere, at anytime, and off of anything we choose. No more lugging around thick collections of man’s environmental waste when it’s no longer necessary. These five great ways to repurpose old books show you how to hold on to the nostalgia of page-turning while also tapping to the next chapter of The Tempest in the palm of your hand.
A Book Hide
If you have some hardcover books that no one’s interested in reading again, don’t toss ’em! Construct yourself a Book Hide. This involves hollowing out a book so you can keep valuables or secret stashes inside.
Pick your hardback and wrap the cover along with the first few pages in plastic to protect them. Then, close the book and spread white glue all over the three edges of the remaining pages. Put something heavy on top of the book while the glue soaks into the paper and dries.
Now, take off the plastic wrap and turn to the first glued page. With a large box cutter, utility knife, or heavy duty razor blade in a safety holder, measure and mark your box on the stack of glued pages. Carefully carve out your ‘hideaway,’ digging a half to three-quarters deep but never to the bottom. Smear the inside of the space with glue, let dry, and fill it with whatever you want to keep from prying eyes.
This repurposing idea for old books is very unique. The final product is a headboard that displays the open pages of books placed side by side. All you have to do is purchase wood the size of the headboard you’d like to make. Measure and mark where your mattress will contact it, and spread your choices of opened books above the mattress mark.
Have fun here, choosing your favorite pictures or even passages that readers highlighted in one or multi-colors. Once you have your layout, mark on the wood the location for each book. Then hammer three nails into each open page, making sure the nails are long enough to reach deep into the wood but not through it. If the edges of the pages flutter too much you can always glue them down. Also, if your headboard is not sturdy enough to be braced by your bed you may want to mount it to the wall.
Personalized Book Marks
Some old books come with the greatest of titles. Instead of tossing these treasures, harvest their spines and make them into bookmarks. Handmade bookmarks make great keepsakes, gifts, giveaways, and reminders of the works you love. If you’re feeling entrepreneurial you can sell them at local craft fairs, mom and pop shops, or online.
Carefully use a utility razor blade to cut out the spine. Here, you have the option to leave the spine as is or drill a hole into the top of your new bookmark, making sure there’s scrap wood underneath it to support the drill. String a piece of ribbon or feather through the hole as a final touch.
This is a clever way to display a unique conversation piece. You simply follow the same instructions on how to make a Book Hide, filling the tiny grave with colorful stones, small shells, crystals, marbles, or even sand. It’s even a great cactus holder.
Tchotchke Book Shelf
Old books can be used as free-standing shelves that, when displaying your favorite tchotchke can make an empty wall look smart and artistic.
Pick hardback books that you’d like displayed, particularly those with an appealing spine. Choose where you want to install your book shelves and in what order. For example, they can be placed one above the other, diagonal, or juxtaposed.
To install purchase two corner brackets. These are steel, L-shaped mounts with holes for screws. Place the brackets on the book with the spine facing out. Mark and drill holes into the back of the book, screwing brackets into it with small screws. Then attach the brackets into the wall using a molly stabilizer.
These five great ways to repurpose old books can afford you some semblance of everything you love about your library while also reducing your local landfill. If you have other ideas on what to do with old books, comment below.