30+ Creative Uses for Old Books

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 Some are outdated, irrelevant, or already in a condition where they can’t be read anymore.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.

[mv_create key=”1″ type=”list” title=”More DIY Book Crafts for Book Lovers” thumbnail=”” layout=”numbered”]

Which is your favorite creative use for old books? I’d love to hear in the comments.


Lisa Mabey blogs at Mabey She Made It about DIY, Crafts, Home Decor, and Sewing.

View 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 !!!!

  • 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!

  • 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!

    • 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.

  • 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!)

  • 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! :)

    Thanks for 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 display in my house when she's gone. I just don't think I can destroy a book.

    • 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! :)

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