What to do with Broken Books

book drunkardBooks get broken. Some can be repaired. Some aren’t worth repairing but could be repurposed/ upcycled instead. Book art is nice to see but, I think it needs to be practical so we aren’t just creating clutter but something useful too.

I don’t have many hard cover books these days. I miss them.

When you buy a book now it’s either a paperback or a bigger sized paperback book. Very few books are published and distributed as real hard covers any more. In stores they seem to think those big sized paperback books are the new hard cover books. They’re wrong. I think they just don’t want to reduce the price. But, do they really think we are that easily fooled?

The old hard cover books, the real hard covers, needed some extra looking after once in awhile. The old bookbinding sometimes came a bit unravelled if the book were well read many times. We would recover the book. We used wallpaper left over from a home decorating project, drawing paper from architectural drawings my Dad didn’t need any more, or plastic which was intended as drawer liners but worked very well as book covers too.

It wasn’t just book covers that took abuse. We taped up pages and made home made repairs to the book spines too. Tape wasn’t the best choice for fixing pages though. After time the tape would get yellowy and sometime after that it would eventually lose its stickiness and fall right off as if it were just an ordinary piece of plastic. I guess, by that time, it was.

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Books Beyond Saving Can be Upcycled

Not all old books can be saved.

Sadly I lost a few boxes full of books when the water heater tank leaked and eventually cracked down in our basement at one house. No one noticed right away. So there was water on the floor awhile. The boxes were in the same room, sitting in the water. The water was soaked up into the cardboard box and into the books.

The books on the bottom were the worst off. Some were mildewed and I wasn’t even able to pick them up due to allergies to mould and mildew. Books in the middle were water logged, thickened with wavy pages. They couldn’t be saved. No store would have taken them in trade and I couldn’t keep them due to the allergies. Most of them were past being readable anyway. Some books on the top were not too bad. But, I was so disheartened I wrote them all off.

We burned them all. At that house we had a large backyard on the edge of a small rural town. So burning out in the back garden was ok.

Burning isn’t the only option for books beyond saving. If the pages are okay still you can do a lot in creating book art. Books in bad shape can still be used, just in different ways.

Be Creative but Practical Too

I think there is one very important thing to keep in mind when we repurpose books or anything else. That is to keep the repurposing functional. Yes, a lot of the book art is cool or interesting to see, but where will it be a year from now even? Will we still like it, want to keep it and want to give it space in our home – or will it just become one more piece of stuff we have around adding to the clutter?

There should be new value added to anything we repurpose. If we are just creating mindlessly or for the joy of the moment then are we really repurposing and upcycling at all? Or are we just giving the book a temporary stay of execution?

I think it’s very important to find new uses for old things but they should actually be useful.

If you can’t fix them… repurpose them!

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