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Upcycle Old Books - 4 Great Repurposing Ideas

Updated on November 18, 2012

New Life For Old Books

Because of the ability to download virtual books for reading, many home library books are being thrown away. Donating them to a worthy cause is always a good idea. Recycling them is certainly a great green method of disposal. Many are being given to used book stores which are bursting at the seams already. Most, however, are simply being thrown into the trash.

To help keep books functional, I've written 4 great re-purposing ideas. These imaginative uses will allow retired books to still be enjoyed for years to come.



A great idea for recycling a larger, hard cover book is to make it into a safe for valuables. Hollowing out a compartment for keeping jewelry, money, keepsakes, etc., provides a good place for hidden storage. It's a fairly simple job that's best done with a dremel-type tool instead of a manual blade such as an exacto knife.

Though these safes can be purchased, by making it yourself, you can choose the book that adheres to your own color schemes, titles of choice and especially size.

I have purchased a couple of the ready made ones and they tend to be too small for some of the treasures I had intended to put in them. By making your own, a large book could hold much more without the high cost.

Several websites give specific instructions as to how to cut a storage area out of a book. Go to for some ideas on how to make a secret hollow book.



Did you know you can make lovely purses from books? The best source I've found for step-by-step instructions is

There are variations of styles such as zippers or latches for closures. Though some are painted inside, a fabric lining makes for a more professional look.

Choose a book in your choice of size, color and cover design. If there's a favorite topic, author or book title you like, your finished project will let everyone know.

These purses also make great gifts. Make them even more personal by giving the recipient a book purse that has a title corresponding with their career, hobbies, favorite sport, etc. If the recipient is a therapist, for example, choose a title about therapists.



A floating bookshelf is a unique way to reuse books. It appears to defy gravity but it is basically an L-bracket attached to the book and a wall stud. The shelf can be used to stack several books or use the base book for displaying other items. Again, has the clear steps on how to create this project that takes about an hour to complete.



This has got to be my favorite! has instructions for putting together a table lamp such as the photo I've included. The possibilities are endless as to what kind, shape, color lampshade to go with the base books. I'm not sure this would be described as an easy project, but one certainly worth endeavoring to complete. Chances are, you won't find one like it in any other den or library.

I hope these ideas have given you reason to not dispose of the old book(s) you no longer read. They can be re-purposed into so many useful projects that will add years to their function.


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    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 5 years ago

      I loved these ideas! I just love books anyways so these ideas are a spectacular way to theme my decor.

      Glad to have stopped by