Calling all book lovers!
Is your house overrun with too many books?
Or have you had an unfortunate mishap that has damaged some of your old books?
This post is all about what you can do with your old books including:
- places to donate them to be read again
- ways to sell your unwanted books
- craft projects for those too damaged to save; and
- ways to give old books new life by decorating them!
Here is how we are going to organize these ideas. Scroll down or click for the section you are interested in!
Table of Contents
Where to Donate & Sell Books
If your books are in good condition and you’re just looking to move them on to a new home to free up space in yours, then this list of places that might want your old books should help.
Local public libraries are a great idea to start, especially if you aren’t that interested in selling your books and you just want them to end up somewhere where they will be enjoyed.
Now your library may not be interested in all your books because storage space will be at a premium and there is an admin cost to sorting through lots of old books.
However, if you read popular fiction or have lots of children’s books to donate they might be super grateful!
Is there a local community center or seniors center in your area that has (or would like to have) a book lending or book swap area?
It’s worth dropping in and asking if they would like to take some or all of your unwanted books.
Book Drives & Book Drop Boxes
Some non-profit organizations and charities do book drives where they will publicize that they are looking for donated books.
There will usually be a drop-off point and a set deadline. Look out for these or mark them on your calendar if they are annual events – they can be a great reminder to do a clear-out!
Here where I live in the UK there are also charities and non-profits that have a drop box for books that can be donated all year round. Where I am these are located next to the big recycling bins in supermarket car parks.
Local thrift stores or charity shops (as we call them here in the UK), are often great places to donate boxes of books. Especially fiction and paperback books which sell well in these kinds of shops.
Larger thrift shops and charitable organizations can sometimes also arrange free pickup!
Other places that might accept Book Donations
These are some other great options for places where you might be able to donate books:
- Local Hospitals
- Literacy Programs
- Local School
- Local Church
- Local Coffee Shop
- Book Clubs
- Mom & Baby Cafe’s (children’s books)
- Friends and Family Members (but I’m guessing you started there!)
Selling Books – especially Old Textbooks
Obviously, if you know of any college students who could use your unwanted textbooks it would be super nice of you to just gift them to them (who doesn’t like free books?)
However, if you don’t there is a very strong market for used textbooks, so these are usually some of the easier types of books to sell (assuming they aren’t 50 years out of date!)
Selling old books can be a great way to earn a bit of extra cash and reduce your carbon footprint.
Here are some places to try:
NOTE: these suggestions work for all types of books, but college textbooks and how-to style hardcover books generally go for a more reasonable price than paperback fiction books.
- Amazon (you would need to open a vendor account which would only be worth it if you have a lot of books to sell on a regular basis)
- Book Selling Apps – Search ‘sell books’ in the app store on your phone and you will find plenty of options (but the money you get will be on the lower end just so you know!)
If all else fails there are always garage sales or yard sales. Just set up your books (and other unwanted items) on your lawn, set up an eye-catching sign, and get selling!
Upcycling Old Books – 35 Ideas!
35 Fun Things to do with Old Books
Perhaps you've exhausted your routes for donating old books or had something unfortunate happen to your books (like a spilled cup of coffee or a tear-happy toddler).
In this case, you might like the ideas below for crafting and decorating with your books.
Obviously, the upcycling and crafting ideas are best for books that have some damage or are just so unpopular that you can't find anyone who would want them.
I'm not in favor of tearing up perfectly good books just to be clear!
But there are also loads of great decorating ideas that keep your books intact and readable!
Scroll further down if you want fun ideas for using books to decorate for the holidays!
How to make a bookmark from a vintage book
I love, love, love this idea. This is the best option to make good use of the most memorable part of the book if the pages themselves have been damaged.
And we know I love upcycled bookmarks in general so I was bound to love these!
DIY Hollowed Out Book Tutorial
This is a great idea for making your home look less cluttered with electronics. Hollow out an old book and use it to hide your phone as it charges!
Also a great way to help yourself implement some 'no screens' time - out of sight, out of mind!
Smarty Cat Food Bowl Made From An Old Book
So cute! What a cultured cat!
How to Decoupage Fabric onto Books
This is a beautiful way to decorate books with loud or garishly-colored covers. You can keep them on display and still have the color scheme of your dreams!
Hardcover Book Clock DIY
I love this cute project to use a hardcover book for a clock. This is a great option to give an old or damaged book a second life.
You'll find more upcycled clock ideas in our Father's Day Gifts post too!
DIY Knife Holder Made From Upcycled Books
This one is great idea for an eclectic decorator. Also a great way to keep books you love on show even if their insides have seen better days.
We featured another example of books as knife holders in our Kitchen Makeover post too.
Book Succulent Planter
We know I love a funky upcycled succulent planter! This one rocks!
Chalk Painted Books for Easy DIY Decor
Did you know you could paint book covers? Well, you can, and stencil them too!
One of the best ways to make your books more attractive without getting rid of them or tearing them up!
DIY Comic Book Coasters
This is a super cute gift idea and a good way of salvaging bits of a damaged comic book if there has been an unfortunate attic flood or the like.
Hymnal Bouquet Tutorial
This paper flower bouquet tutorial is a lovely idea for a wedding as it can be saved as a keepsake afterward.
We featured some lovely Etsy sellers who make these types of paper flower bouquets to order in our Valentine's Day Gifts post too.
Birch Bark Painted Decorative Books
This is such a fun idea to help your books be part of the theme of the room. I bet you could paint other kinds of trees too!
DIY Little Golden Book Banner
This is a fab decor idea if your little one has torn a book to the point that sellotape won't help.
Salvage a triangle shape per page and make a cute book banner to decorate a nursery or kid's room.
Spring Flower & Book Page Banner
A spring-themed book banner project. Another great option for creative types!
Insanely easy DIY book cover tutorial - adds color in minutes!
Want a definite pop of color on your bookshelves? Or want to make a rainbow room?
Check out this fab book covering idea to add whatever color your heart desires!
DIY Book Safe to Hide Your Coolest Valuables
Let your books help keep your valuables safe in the event of a burglary. Hide your lovelies away in a book and place it back on your bookshelf.
Just don't forget which book you put it in or you'll have trouble finding it when you actually want to wear them!
Thirty Minute Bookshelf Decor
This book decorating idea is a serious wow! So fab!
Paper Embroidery and How To Make Dictionary Art
This is a pretty little idea from Claire at Pillar Box Blue. Perfect for a torn or damaged dictionary. Salvage a page and try your hand at book embroidery to make some unique wall art.
Spring Book Page Art - What Meegan Makes
Another way to make lovely book art - this time with a spring theme!
Book repurposed into a Jewellery Box
Another lovely decorating idea. Pick a book with a cover you love and see it every day when you are getting ready!
DIY Stacked Book Decor
Stacking and stamping books for a cute decor statement seems to be all the rage.
Many of my blogger friends sent me their versions when I put the call out for crafts & decor ideas using old books. I've included this one and a few more below!
How to Make a Hand Stamped Books Bundle
This is a great idea for those of you who love motivational words and phrases in your life.
Stamped Books DIY [Tutorial using Chalk Paint]
Here is another great take on the stamped books look.
How to Cover a Book for Practicality and Style! Easy tutorial
More stamped book covers!
How to make stamped book stacks [so easy]
And another! Get stamping guys - it's clearly a trend!
How To Make Book Bundles For Decorating
Did you know everyone is making book stacks these days? A great way of bringing some order to your clutter.
Easy DIY Book Wreath with a Custom Sign
Make some wall art with the pages of a damaged book. So sweet!
Decorated Book Wreaths
This is an idea for starting with a basic book vase and decorating it for different seasons. How cute!
Vintage Book Page Wreath Tutorial
Another pretty book page wreath idea to try.
Hunger Games Book Page Charms
A cute idea for book series super fans. These ones were done with pages from the Hunger Games but of course, any fan-favorite book could get the same treatment.
Upcycled Book Ideas for the Holidays
From Christmas to Halloween and Valentine's - if you like getting in the holiday spirit here are some fun ways to use your books in the process!
How To Make An Advent Calendar With An Old Dictionary
A fun Christmas craft idea to do with the kids. Make an advent calendar out of some torn book pages!
Make a Book Page Valentine's Pennant Banner
Another book page banner idea - this time for Valentine's Day.
How to Upcycle Plastic Easter Eggs with Vintage Book Pages
Fun decoupage idea for Easter. Pretty up those plastic easter eggs with some upcycled book pages!
Decoupage Book Page Pumpkin (Dollar Store Craft)
Halloween is prime crafting time isn't it? Here's a fun idea to decoupage your pumpkin!
Bonus points if you use a ghost story to do it!
Harry Potter Ministry Of Magic Guest Book
Another Halloween idea - this would be perfect for a kid's Halloween party.
Make Your Own Book Tree
A cute Christmas idea to make your books look holiday-ready!
If you are an avid reader I hope you have found a good idea or two in this list of fun things to do with old books.
I’d love to hear what you’ve done with your old books: did you decorate them? Donate them? Or turn them into gifts and wall art?
Leave me a comment or find me on social media (links above and in the footer) to let me know!
- For the love of books, please don’t tear up new books for these craft projects! Instead have a hunt around family members and friends, your local flea market, and even the recycling bin if you’re looking to find books that are worse for wear and in need of upcycling.
- If you’re stamping books, make sure to test out your stamping technique on pieces of scrap paper first! It’s inevitable that some letters will turn out a bit crooked, but that adds to their charm!
To be considered vintage, a book usually needs to be over 50 years old but less than 100 years old. Anything above 100 is usually considered ‘antique’.
The definition of vintage does not just stop at age but the book’s nostalgic value. For this reason, collectible, mid-century books and comics are considered vintage.
Age alone is not a key factor in determining the value of a book. You’ll need to take into account the condition of the book, its rarity, and demand for the book.
The easiest way to figure out the value of a book is to look at book price comparison websites where you type in the book’s name, author, and other key details.
If you have an old book that is past its best but you want to keep it, you don’t have to throw it away or upcycle it. You may be able to get it restored by a professional bookbinder instead.
Bookbinders can restore an old book’s condition, fixing everything from a detached spine to torn pages.
Other Posts You Might Like
If you’re looking for more fun ideas for upcycling around the home, check out these posts!
Handmade Valentine’s Day Gifts you can DIY or Buy
Art Deco Style Upcycle Projects