The Book Project – introduction

16 Sep

repurposed books

For more information on making the items shown, please see these posts – they’ll be appearring throughout the week

Jewellery and boxes




Over the last couple of years, something I’m always using in my work is books. It started with a recycling project at college, at a time when I was volunteering at a charity shop.

I don’t know if you realise it, but there are some things charity shops just can’t sell – it isn’t their fault, it’s consumers. Most second hand books can be very popular with people, some second hand books are popular with everyone because their age makes them valuable, and some books are so ubiquitous that once everyone has read it, the charity shop is full of them. Books are so cheap to buy new, and so expensive to post, that hardly anyone bothers to buy second hand books online (such as on eBay or Amazon marketplace), and many people don’t read books any more anyway as they have eReaders.

The upshot of this is that if you donate a book to a charity shop, chances are it’ll be thrown in the skip behind the shop. I’m sure I’m not only speaking for the experiences I had at the shop I worked at, but if we had a book donated, it went something like this.

1. Check to see if it’s signed, a first edition, really old, or valuable for any other reason. Most charities have an online sales division now, with many having eBay and Amazon shops to sell the stuff which can fetch high prices, such as designer clothing.

2. Then it was checked over to see if it had missing pages or tears, or scribbles in a children’s book – if it was not in perfect condition, it was thrown out.

3. Finally if it was likely to sell, a coloured sticker went on the spine, and it went on the shelf. For example, Mills and Boons were ALWAYS soughtt after, but Dan Brown books were never even put out.

4. Whilst putting them out, it was also time to weed out the ones which had been put out a month ago and hasn’t sold (hence the coloured dots) and those were also put in the skip.

One day, we threw out a book because it had scribbles on the inside cover. It was a beautiful Winnie the Pooh book, with colour illustrations. The scribbles were in pencil, and could have been rubbed out easily, but apparently even then it wouldn’t be good enough.

I was annoyed – I took the book home, and started making stuff out of it, to try and prove *whoever* wrong. I made envelopes and cards for birthdays, and kept hold of the cover and pages for the future. Every now and again, I’d find a use online for book pages, or I’d think of something myself, and use that book. I made a lot of stuff out of that Winnie the Pooh book, and now I’ve made a notebook with the cover – needless to say I’ve left the pencil scribbles on the inside cover.

The other day I got thinking about all the things I could, and have, made from books, and I began wishing I’d kept track of that one book. There was nothing to say I couldn’t do it with another book though, and keep track of everything I made. So when I closed the shop, I chose a Bash Street Kids annual I’d been given (in a box of about 30 old books which weren’t worth anything) because I find books with all pictures best for recycling, and the size of it meant the pages were more versatile.


I kept everything I made in one box, and today I finally used the last page – so here’s everything from one book.

bash all

Even I was surprised when I saw it all together. Now, this project has been a really good exercise, and it will be good for illustrating some of the following things

1. The fact that not everything made is good enough to sell.

2. Not everything you do will work, but it’s worth doing it anyway.

3. It’s fun looking at projects on Pinterest and trying them out.

4. It’s cheap making things out of books.

I’m scheduling posts to be published every day this week, so watch out for the next 4 days, at 7.30pm!

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