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15 Cool Ways to Reuse Old Textbooks

15 Cool Ways to Reuse Old Textbooks

Consider the fact that, although you won’t be getting cash for your perfectly good book, there are still fun things you can do with it.

Elizabeth Hoyt

May 01, 2014

Ah, the end of the semester. It’s so close, you can almost feel the summer breeze. Which means, you’re going to have a sweet stack of used textbooks ready to sell back for cash. That’s always the goal, anyway. But, sometimes, something absolutely terrible happens.

You know what I’m referring to here – it happens to the best of us – gasp a newer version of the book is coming out rendering your perfectly good book USELESS. How can this be? For heaven’s sake – you just learned from this book for an entire semester! Was your entire semester useless?

As you scoff at the student bookstore, online web site or whatever your book buyback method is, consider the fact that, although you won’t be getting cash for your perfectly good book (yep, I’m on your side), there are still plenty of fun things you can do with it.

Don’t get bitter, get even! That’s right! You can even the score with unique book projects that will make the bookstores wish they had never turned those books down. (OK, they may never see them again, but you’ll know in your heart that, if they could, they would be super jealous.)

Instead of throwing away the books that likely cost a small fortune to purchase, why not upcycle them into one of these unique items?

1. A Book Safe

Hide your prized possessions in a clever spot that nobody will ever suspect. After all, who is going to pick up a textbook for casual reading?

2. An Invisible Book Shelf

Create an invisible bookshelf out of one – or pile on a few books for a layered look. Not only will it look unique and artistic but you’ll gain extra storage space in the meantime. Take that, Ikea!

3. A Clock

What better way to keep track of time in style than an upcycled book clock? You can add panache to your décor for little to no cost by creating this sophisticated piece which friends are sure to ask about.

4. A Stacked Books Table Lamp

Add some light to your room – literally and figuratively – with a table lamp that’s base is made out of old books. Charming and distinctive, you’ll actually make a statement with a lamp. Who knew!

5. A Cover for Your eReader or Tablet

When art meets necessity, it’s a beautiful thing. Such is the case with a book-turned-tablet-cover. Why purchase a cover that every average Joe has when you can create your own one of a kind piece of art?

6. Book Bookends

Books for bookends? Now that’s just genius! People will wonder how your books are able to hold themselves up. They may ponder if you are some kind of wizard. It’s OK to keep them guessing.

7. Carved Book Letter

Have you ever wanted to carve your initials out of a book? Look no further – here are step-by-step instructions how to do just that. These book monograms make great decorations and even greater gifts. There are some heavy duty tools involved, however, so hopefully you’ve got your hard hat handy.

8. A Book Headboard

Headboards take up so much space, which is a problem when you’re a student with limited resources. This book headboard, however, solves all of your spacing woes because it doesn’t take up any additional space (only than perhaps an inch or so). Now that’s what I call a space-saving solution!

9. A Coat Rack

Home is where you hang your hat (or coat, scarf, etc). Create a spot to do so in yours with these instructions to make a coat rack out of books. It’s clever and doesn’t take up space because it hangs on the wall.

10. Book Art

Art can be rather expensive. Instead of being one of the millions of students that has a John Lennon, Bob Marley, Anne Geddes (just kidding) poster hanging, why not create your own custom artwork out of book pages?

You have a choice here: be one in a million or be one of the millions. What’s it going to be?

11. Book Charging Station

Docking stations can be such an eyesore, don’t you agree? Disguise yours by creating your own book charging station. It still serves the same function as your docking station, without the ugly electronic-ness.

12. Book Planters

If you have a green thumb or like the look of plants, a book planter can be a unique way to showcase your leafy greens. This especially works well for succulents!

13. A Mail Holder

Keep your mail organized and within reach, instead of in a pile on the table, by hanging a nifty mail holder. Created from an old book and a dollar store folder, this DIY is not only easy but useful, too.

You could even create one for each roommate and hang each holder vertically, sorting the mail as it arrives.

14. A Scrapbook or Journal

Scrapbooks and journals are personal items that we cherish, so why do we purchase them at the store? Make yours even more personalized by creating it from scratch out of an old book. You could even create one as a gift for a friend or loved one.

15. Book Picture Frames

Everyone has plenty of picture frames around of happy memories. As long as you keep creating memories (and I’m sure you will) there will always been a need for more frames.

The next time you have a photo you’d like to frame, consider creating a book photo frame rather than purchasing a generic frame at the store. Trust me, it will take on more meaning that way and you can tailor the frame’s look to the photo you’re displaying.


Tip: Perhaps you’re thinking, “Sure, these projects are great, but my academic books are lame to display!" Try one of these methods: a. painting the outside jackets or modge podging inside pages on the outside jackets. Both are easy to do and will give your books a clean, unique look.


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