How to Make an Unbound Book Stack

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Hello readers! This article is a repost originally published August 11, 2013.  Lost & Found has many new readers, I thought this information may once again be helpful.  Melanie . . .

I have written before about how I love to decorate with old books.  Sometimes I love the distressed hues of the covers, but other times the books are in really bad shape, or the covers are not very attractive.  In those cases, I rip off the covers and binding and make these great book bundles.DSC04250.jpgI first saw these books bundles in a Ballard Designs catalog, and then I saw some stacked in a basket in a Pottery Barn catalog.  Ballard Designs actually used to sell them, but for an astronomical price.  I have learned to make them though for pennies, and I think mine actually look better than the catalog ones anyway 🙂

So here is a quick how-to guide on making your own book bundle.

First, gather your materials.DSC04230You need at least two old books to make a bundle, plus some sort of twine and scissors.

Next, begin removing the covers and binding from your books.  Some come off easily, and others not so easily.  But really the more ripped and shabby the spines get, the better.DSC04233Sometimes the glue on the spine is still pretty strong, and you wind up with this:DSC04236That does not make for a pretty bundle, so keep working on pulling off as much of that glue as you can.

Now, a quick note for those book lovers out there who are cringing at the idea of me ripping apart books . . . Always give your old books a good once over and make sure you don’t have any valuables in there.  I usually look for old textbooks, because those typically are of no value and I can rip them up with a clear conscience.  Keep an eye out for authors though that sound familiar to you.  In this stack of books I got for $5 at a garage sale, there was one book caught my eye:DSC04227I looked it up online and turns out it’s a great vintage copy of a popular author, and could be collectible.  So, that one stays intact.

After you have ripped the covers off all of your books, start separating each book into about 1 inch sections.DSC04241Once you have a bunch of these sections, start stacking. I look for sections that are similar in width and stack them alternating with spine and page edge facing out.DSC04243I also try to reserve for the top of the bundle one section that is a title page, or has something particularly interesting on it, like this inside cover that a young lady doodled on back in her day.  It adds more visual interest to your bundle.DSC04246Once your books are stacked 4-5 sections high, tie them up with the twine of your choosing.  I double wrap the twine around mine, again, just to add more visual interest.DSC04248And your done! Here is my finished stack–4 book bundles from the stack of 8 books I started with (minus the collectible one!)DSC04250I love the spots of glue and strings all sticking out–they add great texture to each bundle.

Use them to decorate on bookshelves, table tops, or group a whole bunch in a basket by your fireplace.IMG_1239Here they are piled in an enamel basin in my shop (along with a GIANT lightbulb!).  They all sold within a week! Time to find more old books.

Try making some for yourself!



Thursday 26th of January 2023

I love this idea! I live the texture it brings to a room. Can you tell me the price you put on these in your booth?

Melanie Alexander

Tuesday 31st of January 2023

Hi Robin! I usually price them around $10

Can You Make Money Selling at an Antique Mall | L&F

Tuesday 26th of July 2016

[…] I take a few old books (typically ones that are falling apart), rip off the covers, stack a few together, and tie them up with twine.  You can read full book stack how-to here. […]

Donna Wilkes

Tuesday 6th of May 2014

I do cringe when I see books torn apart, but love the look of book stacks and have made many myself. Another hint especially with children's textbooks - often it is the illustrator who is collectible.


Wednesday 7th of May 2014

I cringe a little too Donna to be perfectly honest . . . but I really do try to only rip apart the really dull ones :) I have several in-tact children's text books in my space right now and have no plans to tear them up. They are beautiful and like you said have fantastic illustrations!


Saturday 26th of April 2014

I have never thought about using unbound books as decor, even though I have stacks of old, old books (but with covers on). Fantastic idea! My favorite here is the that title page with all the doodles and handwritten cursive. I am a bit of a junkie around all things handwritten so this is just lovely. Visiting you from #SITShareSaturday


Monday 28th of April 2014

Hi Barb! Thanks so much for stopping by. I love the old doodles too. Just makes me wonder what the person who wrote it all was like. I hope you try making your own book bundle sometime soon :)

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