Updated April 2019 with more creative uses for old books including book craft ideas, fresh photos, and lots of inspiration.
For those of you who love the written word and want it to be part of your aesthetic too, this post is for you. Pick up a new (old) book at the thrift store and get to work on one (or more) of these creative uses for old books.
I know some of you are cringing right now–how could anyone ruin a perfectly good book? Well, some books aren’t perfectly good anymore. Some are outdated, irrelevant, or already in a condition where they can’t be read anymore. So why not honor these books by finding creative uses for them that you’ll cherish?
A while back, my sister worked on a project with a library that had old books they were no longer shelving. They had tasked her with finding creative uses for the old books to give to the library’s donors as a thank you gift. What a perfect gift for the donors who obviously value books and reading.
The further we delved into repurposing books into new beautiful objects, the more discoveries I knew you’d want to see. You may have seen some of these beautiful book crafts before, but as a collection, they show the versatility of book crafts and the power of the written word. So let’s get creative!
So what can you make from old books?
I think you can make almost anything your mind can think up. I have classified book crafts into three categories: book page crafts, book cover crafts, and whole book crafts.
These examples are just the starting point, but they showcase different ways to utilize the parts of a book. And if you just can’t make one yourself, you can at least enjoy them for the beautiful creations they are. 🙂
Creative Uses for Old Book Pages
You only need the pages to do the following book crafts. Get out your pens, paint, and origami skills!
Book Page Painting. Painting a watercolor on top of a book page is simply lovely–you get the beautiful combination of opaque words and translucent color that’s beautifully mesmerizing. Add in the details with a pen and your artwork just shines.
Book Page Wreath. I’ve seen hundreds of book page wreaths with rolled pages, but I love this one with the folded pages even better.
Printed Images on pages. You can actually buy this one from an Etsy shop (through the link) but I love the way the image looks on the printed page.
Book Page Buttons–these are another Etsy listing, but I love the simplicity of these buttons. I’m thinking that if you used a waterproof shellac….they’d be adorable on purses and things that weren’t going to be washed.
Creative Uses for Old Book Covers
What if you love the cover, but just used the pages for the crafts above? The following crafts utilize the cover and spine, but don’t require any pages.
Zipper Book Clutch. Sewing and books just seem to go together beautifully. These stunning zipper book clutches would be a beautiful cover for your tablet or phone depending on the size.
Sewing or Treasure Box Book. This sewing box is darling, practical, and stunning. Just use cardboard to create dividers the height of the spine. It would be so darling for embroidery projects too.
Book Planner. Get organized or keep track of your thoughts while staying beautifully stylish with this one. This Vintage Planner is just the way to do it. Put in your filler paper, and keep your system going with a beautiful book cover.
3-Ring Binder. Book turned binder–I love this idea. Take out the pages, and add a binder spine and you’ll have the most gorgeous 3-ring binder ever.
Creative Uses for Whole Books
Turn the whole book into a stunning display fit for book lovers everywhere.
The link to this beautiful book page mobile is broken, so I can’t seem to find the original source, but I LOVE it. It’s simple and classic and makes you want to discover what’s inside your most recent book. It also makes me want to play with all the designs and hang it in a reading nook by a window. Heaven.
Book coat rack. How original is this coat rack–out of books? It’s so much fun! Add it to the book page background and it’s a reader’s heaven. The stacked books give so much texture and color to the rack while the mismatched hooks add character.
Accordion Folder Organizer–I love this because it’s super functional, includes sewing, and organization. I think I’d store notes from my kids and special (flat) treasures in it.
Why not grow something magical in your book? This beautiful planter can be found at this shop on Etsy, and it’s simply gorgeous.
After curating this list, I am anxious to try a few of these book crafts myself. Which of these book crafts would you try?
More Creative Uses for Old Books
The ideas I’ve shared with you so far are so fun that I thought I’d add another section of creative uses for old books. Be sure to check them all out.
More DIY Book Crafts for Book Lovers
I've already given you 12 beautiful examples of book crafts, but there are SO MANY MORE that I couldn't stop there. If you're looking to figure out what to do with your old books keep looking below. Create any of these book crafts for stunning results and a great way to upcycle or repurpose those books you don't know what to do with.
Stacked-Books Table Lamp
Use a stack of books as the base of this unique and stunning reading lamp. All you need are books and a DIY lamp kit.
Repurposed Book Cover Storage Box
This repurposed book box is so fun and would be perfect for organizing jewelry or other small items. And you get to choose cute paper to best suit the book cover.
Awesome Bookmarks from Old Books
These bookmarks are super fast, utilize a great book spine, and are the perfect marker.
What Your Book Pile Says About You
Use book piles to create table legs. Not only do they provide a sturdy surface, they have tons of character too.
Invisible Bookshelves DIY
These floating bookshelves are so cool. Using a book as the shelf is definitely a way to display a beautiful cover.
What crafts can you do with kids books (or any book)? This book clock is a great way to remind your kids to spend time reading, even if a few pages are torn or missing.
Top 10 DIY Repurposed Old Books
DIY: Nerdy Chic Book Clutch
Look at this super cute book clutch! I'm sold. I love how it opens like a vintage handbag. Swoon.
DIY Book Headboard • Design Every Day
Slip into bed and into another world with this stunning headboard. Does this count as learning by osmosis?
DIY "Book Shelf"- Decor Fix
These hanging shelves are so stinkin' cute...and they're all books!
Tote Craft - Making a Purse
If clutches aren't your thing, try this stunning purse with wooden handles.
Old Book Mail Organizer
I LOVE these. Get organized while repurposing those book covers with these adorable book mail organizers
"hidden storage" books
Tame the clutter and make your shelves look perfectly curated with these storage books.
Book Pages Pencil Cups
Turn the pages of an old book into this double pencil holder for your desk.
How To: Make A Paperback Christmas Tree
This whole-book craft turns a paperback into a Christmas tree just by folding pages.
New Star Design from Vintage Bookpages
The depth and detail on this paper starfor Christmas is really amazing, and it's totally doable too. Double win.
Sheet Music Pumpkin
This one is made with sheet music, but any pages from an old book would be beautiful and perfect for displaying in the fall.
Paper Medallion Banner
Use book pages as the center of these darling paper medallions perfect for any occasion. They're easy to make and easy to store.
Which is your favorite creative use for old books? I’d love to hear in the comments.
This goes on my to do list and I pinned it on Pinterest as a reminder !LOL Yah I know unless I write it down or I pin it (I forget!). Thanks !!!!
Thank you! And I’m the same way–i have to write down EVERYTHING.
I’m a writer, not a crafter, but I am going to beg, plead, and cry until my sister or my daughter make me that front door wreath. I LOVE it.
I love that mobile, too. Maybe I’ll double my pleas?
Thanks for sharing!
That’s awesome Amy. I’m positive your pleading will result in beautiful book crafts. 🙂
All of these are such great ideas! I’m definitely a bibliophile and doing some of these crafts to display around my house would definitely be right up my alley!
I hope you do–and then let me see!
Hi Lisa! Loved these crafts. They’re great! Pinning!
So glad you liked them, Vashti. And thank you so much for pinning!
These are all so beautiful but I could just not imagine destroying a book for art.
Hi Meghan, I know it’s a bit hard to do. For other projects I’ve found a book that was already pretty destroyed so I didn’t feel so bad about it. Hope that helps.
So now I pretty much want all of the above!
Right? The hardest part is deciding which to start with!
What a fun gathering of book arts creative crafts/artwork!
I will try and make time for at least two of your projects (with my own twist, of course!)
Thank you Rose!
Hello! Thank you for this beautiful roundup of book crafts! I’ve actually featured this post on my own little Pinterest roundup of art jouraling ideas and prompts, as a few of these crafts would look great in an art journal. You can check it out here (I’ve added a link back to your blog of course! 🙂 http://www.ashleypicanco.com/art-journal-page-inspiration/
Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Ashley! I love sharing!
I love several of the projects but can’t see how I can ever sacrifice a book to do it. It would be like wielding the ax at a beheading. The Library Society here runs a sale every year for the County Library, but the older books just go from the regular library to the Library Guild, run by the Society. We respect our books around here. My mom still has my Dad’s Encyclopedia Brittanica from 1966 with addendum every year until he died. I believe he read every page. I’ve had to promise to keep them as a set on… Read more »
Book crafts aren’t for everyone. I think every book lover loves the look, but some can’t quite destroy the book and that’s okay. I’ll bet your Dad’s encyclopedias are amazing! 🙂
Amazing ideas! Thanks for posting..
Thank you Nancy!
Love the crafts. I have an old book.. paper very fragile. Hopefully I. Can give it a new life with some of these ideas..
love the watercolor idea and also the
Buttons.. thanks for the ideas
Thanks for checking them out!
Thanks for posting all of these great ideas. I found the link for the book page mobile, http://thepleatedpoppy.com/2014/01/diy-book-page-mobile/.
Love seeing my bookmarks here, made from the spines of books beyond repair that are headed to recycling. And all my net proceeds are donated to the Semper Fi Fund, a top-rated 501(c)(3) that assists injured service members. You can see more of my work here: http://www.facebook.com/paintingforpatriotssemperfi Sadly, the blogger mentioned here took photos of my bookmarks without my knowledge, at a sale in my home, and then posted them on her blog, with a bogus tutorial, as if they were her own. Before I found out, it had been pinned on Pinterest over 4,000 times, without a mention of… Read more »
I’m looking for the book page buttons and can’t find your Etsy page link as it says to follow! Help and thanks for this connection.
Thank you so much for sharing your creative thoughts. I am inspired already and I cant wait to get started. I almost was going to get rid of my books until i saw what i can create with them. Thank you again. Ngamihi
why are the ´y´ and the ´e´ switched in the ¨mabey¨?
I’m in a decoupage group on Facebook that uses different napkins and decoupages them onto each page in old books! Very pretty