Thrift Store Transformations: Used Books

We could hardly have a series about transforming thrift store items without talking about vintage and used books, could we? I mean, don’t they usually take up a third of the store?

Vintage books with heart box

The truly vintage books can be used for things besides only reading them – most folks know how they bring so much to a room, making it instantly feel lived in.

Whatever color you decide to bring into a room, using a stack of books with covers that coordinate helps bring a cohesiveness to your space that few other things can match. Especially at their price point.

Green covered books with dove

Besides the wonderfully worn brown leather covers that go with every decor, I’m drawn to shades of green and look for them wherever there are vintage books. There seem to be many from the 1930s-50s – it must’ve been a popular color then.

Oh, and do you remember this little guy sitting on the stack from earlier in this series? Makes me smile whenever I see it.

Twine bound books

Ahhhh, but what about the used books that aren’t so lovely? The type where the content is dull, outdated, bad, or just plain weird? That’s when it’s perfectly okay to transform them into something else, usually (but not always) by tearing out their pages and using them in crafts.

I gotta be honest with you all – when I saw in catalogs a few years ago stacks of books with the covers torn off and tied with jute twine selling for $40 (or more!) I about fell outta my chair. Who on earth would pay for something that is so easy to replicate for a couple bucks? Heck, probably free since there’s usually a box of books at every yard sale with a “free” sign plastered on it.

This is one look that took me no time at all to copy.

Here are a few other ways I’ve used the pages themselves:

2012 Fall-Mantel

Our  fall mantel’s banner that seriously took me about 10 minutes to make.

Christmas book page banner

Last year’s Christmas banner. Which I just glued to the back of an old tag banner I had so that it would coordinate with the other book page things I was making.


Last year I also crafted lots of Christmas ornaments and decorations out of some old, unusable books we got from Brian’s parents “free” pile. I really love how the worn pages instantly add an heirloom effect to the ornaments and with the addition of glitter it gives them that a sort of vintage elegance.

I’ve wrapped book pages around candles, shredded them to use as gift basket filling, made bows with them, and even framed them as the background for a photo.

Have you used book pages in crafts? What have you made? {Click to comment}

31-days of Thrift Store TransformationsThis is day 24 in our series (you can click on the button to see all the posts in the category). If you’re wondering what’s up, you can read the introduction to 31 Days of Thrift Store Transformations here.


    • Jami says

      Well, Deb, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it, AND…I’ve got so many more projects that I didn’t get to I think I’m going to make it a weekly (or at least semi-weekly) feature here at AOC! So, not totally ending. :)

  1. says

    I’ve been seeing crafts and DIY projects for over a year and I love some of them. But I have a wee personal problem. I have been a lover of books since a young age and I am finding it difficult to justify ruining a book. I’m not saying this as a complaint but wondered if some elses opinion could convince me or help me in this process. lol I have the same problem killing a tree in my yard even if I hate it lol

    I hope there are others out there with this problem or am I just crazy lol

    • Jami says

      I think you’re right, Kylara – it’s not for everyone. For me, I think there are truly awful books – it’s just a fact that a lot of junk has been published. Just because some publisher somewhere thought it was a good idea doesn’t make it a classic. And then there are the Reader’s Digests that only published partial books- since the full book is elsewhere, they’re fair game. SO, if you’d like to make some of the crafts, look for books like that.:)

      • says

        Ohhh, I could use readers digest books I think. I will also go to my used book store and see if they have some books that are falling apart. Thank you so much for the idea. I don’t think I will feel bad about using those.. and finally i can do some of the book/pages crafts. I appreciate the suggestions and am excited about the possibilities.

  2. Deb says

    Hi Kylara…..I would have a hard time using a book in good condition too. I have done a couple of projects with books that are falling apart so didn’t feel bad about it:-)

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