5 Things to Do with Old College Textbooks

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At the end of the semester, it’s obvious what you’re looking forward to. Not the relief that comes with passing your finals, or the promise of a break filled with minimum wage labor. It’s time to sell back your books. The excitement builds as you imagine returning your books for forty, maybe even fifty percent of their original value. But often times this is not to be. The bookstore informs you there are brand new editions coming out, and your 6-month-old versions are now useless. You’re sad and bitter, yes, but don’t despair. Here are a few options for what to do with these previously essential textbooks.

Sell them elsewhere.

This one is obvious. Your trusty university bookstore has failed you, so now you turn to the Internet. Thanks to sites like Amazon, anybody can sell their old books quite effectively, and frequently come out a lot better than they would using their local buyers.

Make a book safe.

Haven’t you always wanted to hollow out the inside of a book? It’s really a clever place to stash a few precious belongings, without the blatancy of a wall safe or lockbox. And now you can render an expensive book unreadable without feeling guilty.

Save them for craft projects.

Illustrated textbooks often have beautiful pictures you would be sad to just toss out. Save a few of your best (subjects like art history and astronomy would yield the coolest artwork), and use the pictures over time. Create handmade cards for friends and family, decoupage onto picture frames or journal covers, or back with mats and frame for home décor.

Make book letters.

This is becoming a popular thing and an interesting gift idea. You take a discarded book and carve through the entire thing in the shape of a letter. It could be a fun wedding present, an art piece on your wall, or an edgy design element in your office. To create this,  trace your letter onto the book in question, tap a few nails into places that will be cut off in order to hold everything tight, then cut away. Be careful: this project does require a scroll saw, a band saw, or a jigsaw. Just…be careful.

Create invisible bookshelves.

You know the kind; the books appear to float magically, free of clunky hardware, and can display whatever you like. First, attach two long, metal brackets to the wall, each forming a ninety-degree angle. Then cut two small slits in the book’s dust jacket (if it has one), and slide onto the brackets and under the hard cover of the book. Now you can stack more books on top until the brackets are completely hidden!

The end of the semester doesn’t have to mean the end of your books. If you can’t sell them back, get creative and think of interesting ways to get some use out of them. If all else fails, keep them on your bookshelf in the event you are bored and desperate for reading material on linear regression.

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38 thoughts on “5 Things to Do with Old College Textbooks

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