Posted by: Sally Ingraham | September 3, 2011

The Repurposed Library

Guide to Destroying BooksI found this book in a shop the other day, and I promptly ILLed it. The timing was perfect since my local library is having their annual book sale and there is a wealth of old, musty, mysterious books that I am unlikely to ever read but which I am more than happy to purchase (in support of the library) and DESTROY! Repurpose is certainly the kinder word. Adding an additional element of interest is the fact that with extensive traveling and possibly another move in mind, I have been eyeing the Kindle. And to my surprise and pleasure I found a Kindle on my bookshelf last night when I got home from work – placed there by CP as an early birthday present! I will not abandon the physical book entirely, of course. I love them too much. But with the thought of a storage unit or moving van looming, I need to stop buying them for awhile (unless they’re NYRB editions, which I am still allowing myself to collect – yay!) Meet my new partner in crime:Partner in crime
(I love that whenever I put it to sleep it pops up a picture of an author or something else random – a rather lovely touch, and it made my heart leap a little when Virginia Woolf made an appearance). For the time being, if I can find a book for my Kindle I will buy it that way (unless it fits into one of my collections – I was almost relieved that nothing by Perec is available since the Godine editions look so rad on my bookshelf!) This is the plan, at least theoretically. We’ll see how it goes. I’m sure you will all start tempting me left and right with books too beautiful not to own physically… I am steeling myself.

Obviously my new Kindle needed a case or cover. What better project than the one found in The Repurposed Library which used the hard cover of a book for this very task? (Which is super ironic of course!) I took apart a tattered copy of Silas K. Boone’s Phil Bradley at the Wheel, which has a great cover. Observe the awesomeness:
Kindle Cover 2Kindle Cover

Liberated by my creative act of book destruction I then moved on to another project, the “Book Burst”. This involved chopping a book into four sections and then folding (and folding and folding and folding) the bits of pages until you get this:
1/4 of a bookBook Reconstructed

Pretty fun, right? If mildly horrifying in principle. Here’s a gory picture from halfway through the project:
Book Fourthed

If you didn’t run away screaming and instead found your crafty senses stirring, then I highly recommend The Repurposed Library. There is still a lampshade, a “Book Quilt”, a book photo frame, a clock, a mirror, a shelf, and other things that I wouldn’t mind making myself. The books I bought for this purpose are mostly falling apart or ridiculously tattered – they’ve already been well used and hopefully loved and had long lives. They deserve to be repurposed! Can’t you find it in your heart to give a tired book a new life? ๐Ÿ™‚

Now excuse me while I go download the electronic version of The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton, and settle back to click through the pages while finishing this delicious pumpkin beer!

(Check out more of Lisa Occhipinti’s bookwork here. Also, my past adventures in destroying books can be found here.)


  1. Love the Book Bursts. How did you cut the books?

    • I probably dulled my good pair of fabric scissors for life to do the pages, then I raided the garage and CP’s tools to find a little saw for the spine… That caused some pretty heartbreaking book dust – but the end result is worth it. SO fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. These projects are chock full of awesome. Love them.

    And congrats on your Kindle and happy early birthday!

    • Thanks Emily!

  3. I must admit it sounds shocking at first but then again some books are beyond keeping, falling apart etc and this is a very crafty idea. Love it.
    It’s the first time that I read about a kindle and feel a little greed stirring… I didn’t know about those author pictures popping up. Why does no one ever tell the important things!

    • Haha, yes indeed. The author pictures are a constant delight when I play with my Kindle. And having the bookish cover on it makes reading it feel so much more natural. I want to make a few others so I can switch my Kindle from one to another when the mood or reading material strikes.

  4. Sadly (or happily, depending), I haven’t really noticed a significant change in how many physical books I’m acquiring since I got my ereader over a year ago. Much as I prefer and choose ebooks for a host of reasons, I’ve ended up treating myself to more NYRBs and obscurer small publisher titles.

    I love your Kindle cover. I have to find me an old hardcover to repurpose.

    • I suspect this will be true for me too – except for the fact that I won’t be able to buy too many more books if I am traveling extensively in the next months. But I definitely see myself building my NYRB collection and getting more Open Letter Press and Godine books, which I wouldn’t be able to read on my Kindle anyway!

  5. I saw that project on the Repurposed Library the other day and thought it would be fun to do if I could ever find a really nice copy of an old book. Yours for your kindle turned out great.

    I still balk at book destruction, its just the way that I am, but I’ve started to take apart and old copy of Poe’s tales that I bought for the purpose of using as part of a larger art project, so perhaps I’ll change a bit. I always love the art people create with these old books. Its just hard for me to do personally. Odd, I know. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I completely understand. I trick myself into doing it easier by never destroying a book I’ve read and loved, or really know anything about. And I have been saving a copy of a book I hated for the perfect repurposing project! What could be better than turning a book I despised into something pretty or functional? ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Well now you have to say which hated book you’re saving for repurposing! OMG, is it K-Lav? No, I think you said you got rid of that one. DO TELL.

  6. Haha, Emily you’re dead on. It IS K-Lav. I did rid myself of my copy, but I picked up a paperback last summer that had a laughably awful cover, intending to make one of those paper wreaths that Frances had posted about around the time. That’s still my intention. And I nearly bought another terrible paperback copy again this year…! My hate knows no end. ๐Ÿ™‚

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