How to Repurpose Used Books


Everyone has a few books lying around their home they may no longer want. Perhaps it was a best seller you picked up because you liked the author. It may be a book you read, enjoyed, and want to share with others. At Goodwill, we always recommend sharing those used books with others who can benefit from them, including through donation.

Yet, you may not be ready to part with them just yet. Perhaps a DIY project or two could offer just what you need to create something interesting out of a favorite book. Here are a few key recommendations to get you thinking about turning that dusty book sitting on your bookshelf into something that’s adding value to your life again.

Create a Book Safe

If you have a hardcover book that you love the look of, but you no longer plan to read, why not turn it into a book safe? This DIY project takes a bit of work but can be an excellent way for you to keep those beautifully bound books on your bookshelf while serving a new need.

The goal is to carve out the interior portion of the pages of the book. You’ll leave the edges and the cover in place. This creates an opening in the center. You can use an epoxy glue to help seal the pages to each other to create more durability. Once dry, you can store an important key here, a special message, or the code to the safe. Place it on the bookshelf knowing no one else knows what it is.

Create Hidden Storage

This project goes a bit further but uses the same process for the same benefit. Instead of using just one book, turn a set of them into a larger storage area. For example, you may have that big set of encyclopedias that used to be a must-have in the 1970s and 1980s. While every bit of information in them is probably outdated, you can turn them into a hidden storage area.

This project involves using two of these hard-backed books as the sides. You’ll then cut through several others to place in the middle so that only the actual binding is left. Mount these pieces, page-side down, to a wooden box. The goal is to encase the thin, wooden box with the binding and sides of the book. That way, when placed on the shelf, it looks just like a shelf of books. However, when you pull it forward, you reveal a compartment for storing anything you need.

Turn Bindings into Bookmarks

Once book covers are damaged, or the pages within them start falling out, it might be tempting to throw them out. However, we believe these books can still serve a purpose (even as just a bookmark).

One easy way to do this is to take your favorite books and remove the binding from them. Just cut down the edges of the book covering so that only the binding remains. This is where all of the good, memorable information is, such as the name of the book and the author. You’ll be able to attach a simple piece of yarn to the top of them with a small hole or by using a bit of glue. You instantly have bookmarks you can use in your next book adventures.

Bind a Set of Favorite Cookbooks Together

Do you have a lot of cookbooks, perhaps older versions you no longer use? You can turn them into a beautiful statement piece for your kitchen. Bind several of them tightly together with twine. Stand them upright on your countertop and use them as a way to hold knives in place (just insert the knives into the book’s pages). Or, set them on their side and use them as a place to store your jars of spices.

Don’t Forget the Pages Themselves

The pages from within those books don’t always have to be damaged or thrown out. You can use them for a wide range of crafts. Get creative here to turn pages into functional tools or decorative items. Here are some ideas:

  • Pull out a stack of pages from the book. Set them on a table. Glue them to each other using clear glue. Then, carve out a hole in the center about as big as a small glass. You can then use this as a pencil holder on your desk.
  • Take the pages of a favorite book out of the book. Link them, one right corner to the next page’s left corner together to create a banner. Use string to tie them together. Then, place a message of congratulations or someone’s name on them. Hang it on the wall as a banner.
  • Cut out a special portion of a page that’s meaningful to you. Perhaps it is a favorite book’s most magical sentence. Add it to a charm or a picture frame as a way to keep that message in your life daily.
  • If you have a lot of older books with different wear and tear to them (aging adds color and character!), use them as a wallpaper in your study. You can do the same for music pages if you want a music-themed space.
  • Layer pages together over the top of a light fixture (be sure there is no heat produced). This can add dimension and interest to a boring lampshade.

A DIY project like this may take a bit of creativity and patience to pull off, but it can be an exciting way to add charm and interest to your space.

Repurposing Used Books for Others

Don’t forget about some of the best ways to turn no longer used books into important tools again. You can often donate to Goodwill or if you’re looking to add to your collection of used books, shop the book aisle at your local Goodwill store.

Creative ideas for used books can also be turned into profit. You can create any of these crafts mentioned – or create your own – and then sell the books in a craft show. Many people would love to have a set of books that’s really a hidden compartment or a beautiful decorative item added to their shelves in their kitchen. The only thing limiting you is finding the right type of display for your needs.

Do you have some ideas for how to repurpose used books? What books do you have lying around the home that you can transform into something new and useful? Which ones do you want to keep on hand, perhaps in a new way, as a memory? It can be a lot of fun to come up with new ideas.

Repurpose Used Books | Blog

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