Friday, February 10, 2012

What are your Thoughts on Re-purposing Old Books?

What are your thoughts on altering an old book?

I went looking to see what kind of things people create from old books and found all kinds of interesting products. Upcycled bits and pieces combine to become everything from picture frames to wallpaper for an entire room and loads more.

Some of the projects people have posted are definitely beautiful, I just couldn’t bring myself to cut out or cut up pages of any book. Not even one that I’ll never read.

To me, I feel like books should stay books. But that’s just me.Instead of keeping books that don’t speak to me I like to donate them to charity. The fun thing? One of those crafty types might make their way into that same thrift store, find the book I donated and use it in some crafty way that I discover years from now online.

It’s fun to imagine who that person might be. A new character perhaps?


What would you do with an old book like the one in the picture up there? Read it? Hack it up? Donate it? Something else?

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Jenn said...

I have that problem too.

So I'm no help.

KC McAuley said...

I've purchased some of these upcycled books - mostly old text books. They are kind of cool. But like you I hesitate to just take any old book and cut it up. That particular one - I would love to thumb through it. Love! I got a real hoot reading through Miss Joan Crawford's My Way of Life - tips on everything from packing to the right hanger for your clothes. "I need sex for a clear complexion, but I'd rather do it for love." (actual quote)So while I like the idea of upcycling - I'd have to kill you if you cut up shakespeare or dickens. ;-) I know you wouldn't do that.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

KC you literally made me laugh out loud with that quote. Fantastic, gotta love Joan. She sure held nothing back! And, no, not a chance in hell I'd cut either of those guys up, I'd have their book in a vault if it was practical!

The book in question is actually pretty fun and like I said, kind of time capsule-esque. Textbooks though, that might not be a bad idea to use. Goodwill here I come! Thanks for the suggestion.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...


Karen said...

My personal opinion is that the only time a book should be destroyed in order to become something else is when it's already become partially or wholly unreadable through some force such as water, fire, or even just old age. In that case you're salvaging and repurposing what you can, not destroying a perfectly good but somewhat outdated book. I also can get behind (albeit begrudgingly) repurposing a perfectly good dust-jacket if you leave the book itself intact.

You'd be surprised at the value some seemingly outdated books might have. To take the example of the book you showed in the picture, if you do put it on eBay, tell me when because I'm SO bidding on it! I'm also aware of a subculture of women who regularly troll eBay who would be very interested in a book like this (though they'd be even more interested in a book on Victorian era glamour and beauty tips!)

Finally, as a matter of historical preservation, if books like this are destroyed we lose a valuable window into what life was like in days gone by. Assume this book would have been of interest to an 18 year old when it was published in 1949. That woman would be 81 now, and in--let's be super-optimistic here--20 to 30 years will no longer be able to tell her granddaughters what it was like to be a woman way back when. If you want to have a clear idea of where you're going, it helps to know where you've been.

Sorry for the tome, but I have a deep love for old books, and cry at the destruction so many of them have already suffered simply because someone believed they were irrelevant as information or literature.

Judi FitzPatrick said...

The only book I've been able to "cut apart" and use for other things (Collage) is one I found during a rainstorm - it was totally soaked and many of the pages are totally stuck together.
I have used LL Bean catalogs to make folded trees with no qualms.
Peace, Judi