Getting hold of old books (in the UK) to craft with

Hello. I’ve just discovered I am going to get a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday.

I’d like to mount my new ereader inside an old book.

Does anyone know of any good places (in the UK) where I could get hold of old books that I wouldn’t feel guilty about partially destroying for a craft project?

If there’s anywhere in the US that can send books to the UK cheap that’s also an option but as USPS no longer does freight that’s not likely. (back in the '90s I used to get any american board games etc via freight, took a minimum of a month but it meant I only had to pay around £2-£2 instead of £20-£30)

As you may have guessed he plan is to get a book slightly bigger than the ereader, glue the pages together and make a hollow for my ereader. Stage 2 would be to do something to the cover to make it relevant to the ereader.

(I know the precursor to these forums, craftster, had regionally based boards so I’m hoping enough UK crafters have made the move over)


There are lots of charity shops in the UK and they always have tons of books, both newer and older books. I bought a book from 1923 at Oxfam not too long ago.


Sorry, I should have explained better.

I had thought of this option. However the main problem I have with that at the moment is that the whole of the UK is in Lockdown so nowhere on the high street is open apart from Supermarkets (and maybe some other stores, but not charities). (My Birthday is in the middle of May when I’m guessing we will all still be firmly esconsed in our houses) I am very grateful for the answer but was hoping there might be some kind of “online slightly damaged books” business someone could recommend. I’m currently looking for projects to keep me from going crazy in Lockdown and, while I definitely would still want to do this post-Lockdown, doing so before was my main aim.

have you tried ebay or the bookdepository

This Irish second hand bookshop does worldwide delivery, but I am not sure if you can get anything cheaply as they do amazing antiquarian books, but it is worth a look

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Oh I had no idea all shops were closed there! I’m not too far away (the Netherlands) and shops aren’t closed here. Some choose to remain closed but many are open and pretty quiet too. If you hate crowds this is the perfect time to go shopping.

Maybe a local Facebook group focused on second hand or free items? A lot of people are using this time to clear clutter. I have already given away so much stuff through these groups. I do contactless pickups: I put it in the front garden and people pick it up.

I’m afraid that old books worth selling online are probably not the type of books you want to craft with… Maybe ask around among your friends and family?

Your shops are open?

All ours are closed apart from food shops and essential hardware shops-for building, plumbing etc. And pharmacies.

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Yes, sit-down restaurants and bars and any businesses that require physical contact (hair stylists and tattooing and the like) have been closed since early March but otherwise all shops are open, or, at least, are allowed to open if they want to. There’s a maximum amount of people allowed in shops and of course people have to keep their distance. All shops have different ways of ensuring that - one way traffic through the isles, taped lines on the floor, putting a large sheet of plastic between the cashier and customer.

Shops are generally fairly quiet and a lot of local businesses offer delivery now. For Mothers Day this Sunday I’ve ordered some artisanal coffee for my mum from a local business in her city and they will deliver it to her doorstep by bike! That is pretty common now. Delivery kids on bikes are everywhere now. Even my optician biked to my house to fix my broken glasses.

They’ve published our timetable for emerging from lockdown. Shops in shopping centres (malls) that don’t have a street entrance, won’t be allowed to open until 10 august!

Some shops, like repair business, opticians etc will be allowed open in three weeks time.

If you’re not bothered by what the book is, send me the size you’re after and I’ll see what I’ve got.
I went on a book buying spree a while ago, with the intention of pulling all the cute buts out, but never got that far. Not promising but I might have something suitable.

Even hardware shops over here are shut! B & Q is still open, but only for click & collect.
I think a few of the trade stores might reopen soon, as the construction industry is going back to work.
Its caused a few sleepless nights here, having so much shut down.
Dont get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the lockdown, I agree that it was needed, just moaning about some of the effects of it.
A couple of weeks ago DS1 complained that his shoes hurt. It’s hard enough getting shoes for him at the best of times - he’s in adult sizes, needs orthotic insoles due to hypermobility, as well as really supportive shoes (rules out slip-on & elasticated fasteners) and he can’t tie laces. Also, I dont know how much his feet have grown. Online shopping wasn’t going to work so the only other option was a drive to York (an hour away) to go to a supermarket that also sells shoes. Wasnt looking forward to that, with the likelihood of being stopped by police.
Before going I decided to try taking his insoles out, they were far to small, so not doing much good anyway.
Hussar! That was enough to give him enough room, at least temporarily.

I didn’t realise your government had published dates. Hope it all goes to plan with that.

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I’m glad you were able to solve the shoe issue! A friend of mine in Belgium had the same issue with clothing for her fast growing toddler, mail delivery has also become an issue so she couldn’t even order online. And as people aren’t supposed to go too far away from home or meet up with people in public, picking up hand-me-downs from friends is difficult too. She eventually managed to organize that and said it felt like a drugs deal!

That’s why I’m so glad our shops are open. They aren’t busy and people don’t go shopping for fun but when you need something you can go and get it. I haven’t heard of shops becoming great sources of infection. Honestly I think if we waited until August to open them there wouldn’t be any shops left to open! We are pumping massive amounts of money in the economy but still many businesses are struggling. It’s a difficult choice - of course health is more important than money but when 75% of the businesses in hospitality expect to go bankrupt this year, the economic challenge that’s waiting for us is going to be huge.

The construction industry has never stopped working in my country as their work is fairly low risk generally (in the open air with enough distance) and their work is of national importance. We are still struggling with a massive housing shortage because we basically stopped building between 2008-2013. It was clear from day 1 that construction had to continue no matter what. So all hardware stores are open and these are probably the only stores that are really busy, seems like the whole country is doing DIY now.

Interesting times we live in. My little request about books has become a fascinating conversation about the world in Lockdown (as well as providing me with a few more avenues of enquiry - thanks people).

My plans for my book have got a bit more ambitious. I’ve found a guide to adding one of those wireless chargers and a guide to getting a debossed affect on hardcover books so the plan is:

  1. Get an old hardback book bigger than my new kindle. Preferably old enough for “Old book smell”.
  2. Cut out a space big enough to fit my kindle with the magnetic induction charger underneath.
    3.make some foam rubber inserts (or similar) to grip the indle.
    Moving to my Silhouette:
  3. Cut out a card template with a hole in it slightly smaller than the Kindle so that the whole screen is visible but there’s no way it can fall out
  4. Use that to cut a hole the same size in the page above the kindle.
  5. put all the internals together so:
  • Glue all the ‘hole’ pages together
  • Glue the rubber inserts
  • Plug the induction charger into my kindle
  • Place charger and kindle into book
  • Glue card template on top.
  • Glue template page over charger

That’s stage one. Making my Kindle into a book. Stage 2 would be titling it so:

Nipping back onto my silhouette I will cut several bits of card the size of the book front with the words “Ex Libris” as the title and my name at the bottom.
I’ll then glue them together, glue them to the front of the hardback book, then coat it with that book covering stuff that my mind won’t let me remember the name of right now.
Finally I’ll use one left over bit of card with the letters cut out as a template to ink the debossed lettering.

I’ll try and make sure I put all of it up on here for people to see.

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Will do. It just has to be hardback and preferably have “old book smell” (although there’s perfumes that you can get with that smell so the other option is to douse the cover/pages in those)

I 'll get my present mid may so I’ll have a better idea of dimensions then.

Thanks so much for your offer of help.

I have vinyl (sign vinyl - rainbow colours, plus black white silver and gold) here and a silhouette Cameo 3 so if you want a cut sticky decal shape or two I can send you those in return. All I’d need was an SVG or high resolution bitmap of the shape(s) and an idea of scale.

Incidentally, when I make this project would it be best to post it in “Decor and function” as the scope of the project kind of goes a little beyond papercraft…?

Thriftbooks sends overseas but do not know what shipping prices they have.
Jibid Neary a UK Youtuber she got great finds at british goodwill/charity shops of old books. Instead of old book scent you could go for an incense scent of your liking.
I once ordered a book from USA that arrived totally infused of a most amazing incense smell took many years to fade away. Never knew what it was,some blend very smooth.

You can see if there is a Little Free Library near you, or in a place you can get to: If you are not familiar with it, they are wooden boxes people put on their properties where people can take or leave used books for anyone else to share. In my area some have been temporarily taped off or converted to a food box, due to Covid 19. But many are open as usual. Book selection varies and I don’t often see very large books, or at least not those that might look like it could be converted to a nice looking booksafe. I made a similar craft back at Craftster:


If using a little free library I’d make sure the book has no Bookcrossing tags or markings. It’s a popular drop off spot for those.

This sounds like such a cool project and I hope you have found what you need! I think Decor and Function seems like a good place for your project since it more about making a cool case for your ereader than making something with paper.

Please don’t damage books from little free libraries.
That hurts my heart.

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Well I haven’t got a really old book but I’ve got a copy of a Hardback book about Dad’s Army which I’m taking the sleeve off.

The next stage is trying to find a foolproof way of cutting holes in the pages accurately as I’m sight impaired and usually use my electronic craft cutter and computer to ensure I cut accurately. Results with knife and scissors have not been very precise and accurate of late. So I’m trying to think of a way of making a frame I can use as a guide to cut within as there’s no way of getting a craft cutter to cut an already made book.
I’ve worked out most of the rest which I think I’ve already written here.

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