Playing With Books

Warning: Look away now if the idea of cutting up books bothers you.

I’ve mentioned now and then that my day job is writing books. Some of them have been translated into other languages. Most of the time I get copies of the foreign language editions. Sometimes I get far more copies than I have time to find homes for – or else I only have one or two from a series and it seems unfair to lob them one someone when they can’t get the missing book/s. The growing towers of boxes filled with books has been getting to be a problem lately.

So when I spotted this book on a blog I got very excited:


I lost my reluctance to cut up books waaaaay back when I worked for a travel guidebook company, where we sometimes chopped up books to make them easier to work with, and where it was recommended that travellers cut out the sections of a guidebook you didn’t need, to reduce weight in your luggage. (The books were sewn and glued so that they wouldn’t fall apart if you did this.)

Also, working in the book publishing industry, you learn that millions of books are pulped each year. Turning a book into art or practical items seems a better destination, compared to that.

I also lost any delusions that old books have value after talking to an antiques valuer. Most books have little or no value as collectables. Some do, of course, so when in doubt it’s best to check before hacking up a book. (Unfortunately, the prettier the book the more you want to cut it up, but the more likely it has value as collectable.)

Anyway… you can’t really see it in the pic above, but there are a LOT of bookmarks in the book. Here are just a few of the projects that I want to try:


Envelopes. I also want to make cards and gift tags.


Mats made of rolled up pages. I can see place mats and a table runner in my future. Maybe coasters. Maybe even covers for a bookbinding project.


Various ball-shaped ornaments. I might do more non-Christmassy Christmas decorations this year.


And – I’m sure you’ve seen this before – books cut up to form sculptural objects.

I spent most of the last weekend trying out projects in the book. I have four of them in various unfinished states, and one completed one, so there’s going to be plenty of creative blog fodder in the coming weeks.

2 thoughts on “Playing With Books

  1. Have you seen the books on Altered Books? They are oh so tempting … Do a Google or Amazon search — or resist the temptation and don’t…

  2. I had a search and look around, but funny thing is, the altered books thing doesn’t do it for me. That is, the collagey sort of altered books. I like the books that are cut up into sculptural shapes or little dioramas. Or things made out of books – like tables and chairs.

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