As a journalist and writer, I love books. Maybe you can relate! I appreciate many types of books (as my overflowing bookshelf clearly demonstrates), but there’s something special about really old books. Vintage and antique volumes have character that mass-produced paperbacks of today can’t begin to match. Think colorfully embossed covers, metallic lettering, and beautiful ink drawing illustrations.
Sometimes the content is charmingly old fashioned–the mid-century Childcraft books come to mind. But overall I collect them for their aesthetics more than the content. No matter how many or few older books you have, don’t hide them away out of view. Here are some of my favorite ways to decorate with old books.
Thank you to Abbie for this guest post! I’ll be back once I’ve fully recovered from my infusion later this week.
Line a few on a mantle or shelf. Group similar sizes and colors together for a unified, purposeful look. You can also display their beautiful covers by lining them up front-facing on a shelf. Adding a few vintage cookbooks in your kitchen adds character to the room–and you might score some great-tasting recipes while you’re at it! Or try stacking a few books under a small lamp to create a unique-looking base. I once saw centerpieces at a Beauty and the Beast-themed wedding that were created with stacks of vintage books with a teacup on top!
For another way to use old books there is also an entire art form called altered books, that involves decorating antique books themselves and turning them into works of art. You can find inspiration about altered books on Pinterest and Instagram–two social media platforms that I also turn to for vintage book decor inspiration as well.
So where do you find old books? Etsy is a great place, as well as vintage shops, independent booksellers and estate sales. Local libraries often host book sales, which is where I’ve found almost all of my collection (and quite affordably, I might add). Occasionally they also pop up in Little Free Libraries, so keep an eye on them. Once you start to notice and appreciate these old volumes, you’ll probably find them more readily than you think!
Some rare copies that are in good condition are collectible and can cost thirty dollars or much more, but some are just junk that people are thrilled to get rid of. In fact, you may be saving that antique book from the landfill or recycling plant! Don’t forget that sometimes a beautiful cover is hiding underneath a tattered dust jacket. Just this week I picked up a book from 1912 that looked tattered and forgettable, but when I took off the jacket I found a metallic inlay with seahorses and anchors–win!
As I wrote in a recent post on The Pink Paperdoll about collecting and decorating with old books, one of the most interesting aspects to me about these copies is that they are quickly disappearing. You may be holding one of the very last copies of that book in the world!
How do you display your books?
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