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Upcycling Books

Posted by Joshua Glenn  May 28, 2008 06:47 PM

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I've been helping my friends at Pazzo Books move their store from Roslindale to West Roxbury, recently. (I've been painting the new storefront, mostly, though I have also been known to schlep a box or two.) I love used bookstores, and nicely aged books. Which is why I'm of divided opinion about this sort of thing, spotted on Rob Walker's blog, Murketing, today:


It's a handbag made out of a book. Which is an example of upcycling, I suppose. As Brainiac readers know, I do approve of upcycling. But... did this book really need to be recycled? Unlike a beer bottle or out-of-fashion shirt, books don't ever have to be upgraded or tossed out. Right?

People love using vintage book covers to make chic new stuff. Like these coasters:

By Etsy seller Pitterpainter
Click to see larger size

Or this blank journal:


By Etsy seller KitMit

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Or this belt buckle:

By Etsy seller MaxineDear
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Heck, Tom Nealon from Pazzo even makes something cool out of old book covers. He makes clocks. This particular clock is mine:

Click to see larger size

Please note, however, that the books Tom uses are in terrible condition. He really is upcycling them, saving them from a trip to the dump.

As for you aliterate crafsters, out there, though... cut it out!

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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