This is Part 3 of Nora’s series on Book Inventory. Nora can be found at Rainy Day Paper Back Exchange Please give her a visit.
Admit it, nobody wants this book
Eventually there comes a time when you must admit nobody wants this book. You could offer it as a freebie with purchase and people would say “no, thanks.” This usually happens with books that the material is so dated or out of style as to be worthless (diet books from the eighties) or everybody that wants one already owns one. (I’m looking at you, two-year- old NY times bestseller!)
So now what? You have two options. Use them for something other than their original function as books or give them away.
Get out the knife and get crafting!
If you are of an artistic bent, you can always, GASP turn your books into something other than books. Or you can specifically offer them as supplies to artists. Some art stores will buy them by the pound for sale as supplies. Many people will slice up books with nice pictures to use them for decoupage, collage, etc.
Here’s some examples of things people have done with books. If you’re even semi crafty, this may make a nice sideline for you.
[editor's note: I'm not sure how long Etsy keeps their items/images, let me know via a comment if these links cease to work well.]
Wondercabinet produces prints on old pages of text, including dictionaries:
Pinky Brown Inc. also draws on old book pages, plus uses some for embroidery!
Dis-card uses old books, maps, and sheet music to make on of a kind greeting cards:
retrograndma uses books as the back for clocks and also hollows out the innards to turn them into purses. (she also does neat stuff with records, if you’re stumped as to what to do with those)
MaxineDear uses old library binding books to make purses and wallets.
Refabulous makes wallets and business card holders
IKCdesign turns old books into checkbook covers
Chaos Into Art uses old books to make blank journals
Paperfaerie turns paperback books into sculptures
urbana hollows out books to turn them into stash boxes and safes
PistolesPress turns books into 3-D silhouette sculptures (Go look, its easier than describing)
lineanongrata I’m not even sure how to describe what she makes, other than art with book innards
Vestal Designs used them to install a bar!
And while I couldn’t find pictures, Brunswick Bound books in Australia apparently made their front counter out books!
Danny Seo turned a book into a birdhouse
Urban Outfitters offers a wound paper vase made out of magazine pages and book covers
Still need ideas? You can spend hours and hours and hours looking at what artists have done to books at the International Society of Altered Book Artists website
But I hurt myself with the glue gun…
So maybe crafts aren’t for you and you don’t know any artists. There’s still lots of options besides throwing the books in the trash.
You can sell them to a house dresser. House dressers (or house stagers) basically dress up new houses with furniture and some items to make it look like a home rather than a big empty box. They love books for this, especially encyclopedias!
The local high school or college art program may appreciate a donation of books that they can use to try out some of the examples listed at the start of this post.
Some train or bus stations have a “free” rack at them where you can leave books.
If you’d rather have them be read as books, here’s some places that may take books:
Thrift Stores such as Goodwill and Salvation Army
Your local library show
Church rummage sale
Nursing Home or hospice
Daycare center or after school program
Battered women’s shelter or homeless shelter
Hospital or VA hospital
Freecycle.org will hook you up with individuals that want your books for free
Remember, if you give your books away, somehow MARK them so that you don’t take them back in a fit of forgetfulness. You can make it obvious by stamping the book with something like “no return” or use a more subtle method. For example, you could leave a small pencil X in close to the binding on page 5 of each book you offload. It doesn’t seriously deface the book and its not obvious it’s a reject either… but you know where to look to make sure you aren’t getting a reject back!
And of course, if you’re going to offload books for free, spend a tiny little bit of money on one last thing: print some business cards and slip them into the books as bookmarks before they leave. Maybe a booklover will see it and come find you…
Rainy Day Paperback Exchange
gently used books for kids and adults