One of my biggest issues as a reader who receives Advanced Reader’s Copies (ARCs) is: what the heck do I do with them once I’m finished reading them? I write notes directly into the margins of my ARCs so I can go back and look at them while writing my review of the book. This means that, unless I want a stranger to read my most personal thoughts and opinions about the book, I can’t really give the ARC away through donation, a giveaway, or trade.
Over the years, while the ARCs I’ve defaced have piled up, I’m left wondering what to do with them. Sure, I want to—and do—hang on to some, but for most of them, they’re collecting dust and taking up space. And putting them in the recycling bin feels a little wrong as a reader. So what is then the only solution? DIYs, of course!
I’m going to share with you some of the ways I have upcycled my ARCs into decor and art. The benefits of this being: my book opinions stay out of the hands of others, I’m decluttering my space, and I’m not just throwing away a book.
The first DIY I ever made with pages from an ARC was book page bunting. All you need are book pages, scissors, some string, and a hole punch.
I tore out pages of the book that weren’t entirely marked up and cut out triangle flag shapes from them. You can do this in any shape you like, but I stuck with the traditional triangles. Next, it’s as simple as punching in two holes at either end of the top of the flag, and then threading string through it to make a banner.
You can even get a bit festive with these. I’ve made some for Christmas, where I drew Christmas trees on the flags, and Halloween, where I drew on witches hats. Or you can even write out a message. It’s very customizable.
Blank book pages can also make great canvases for art. I’ve seen numerous art pieces that are created directly onto book pages, whether they be with watercolor, ink, or pencil. You can create something totally original, that has nothing to do with the book from which you took the page, or you can create something inspired by the book.
I’d even recommend letting your pages sit in the sun for a while to give them a yellowed and worn look before creating your masterpiece. Add a frame when you’re done and voila! A work of art.
3. Scrapbooking/Art Journaling
I frequently use book pages in my art journal. I use both blank ones and the ones I’ve written on. They add a nice texture to any page and are a good option when trying to avoid an empty background.
You can stick a book page right into your journal/scrapbook and write on top of it with a marker and add some photos, or you can do a more collaged style and rip up the book page even further, so it’s not as easy to read. I enjoy adding layers in my art journal and book pages have really helped me make them shine.
If you think of any sort or surface or item that would look better if it had a book page print, it’s probably possible to do and there’s most likely a tutorial somewhere on the internet of how to do it.
But overall, when in doubt? Mod Podge will probably always do the trick when it comes to pasting book pages onto your chosen surface. I found this blog post detailing how a couple of thrift store coasters were upcycled into cool book page and music sheet coasters.
5. Book Page Wall
If you’re a browser of aesthetically pleasing book page photos, then you’ve probably come across a book page wall or two in your time. These are rather easy to make and adapt for your specific living situation. All you need are a ton of those empty ARC pages and the wall space.
I’ve seen people tape on their pages, staple them, and even wallpaper them on with wallpaper paste. If you aren’t in the business of putting a bunch of holes, tape, or glue on your wall, another hack can be buying some poster board and attaching the book pages to that instead of directly onto your wall. Bonus: If you use the poster board method, you can double use it as a background for flatlay Bookstagram photos!
The possibilities and ways you can use your ARC book pages for DIYs are truly endless. I hope this offered a source of inspiration for how you can upcycle those ARCs you can’t give away or bring yourself to put in the trash.
And if you’re not exactly into DIYs, here is a detailed list of other ways to get rid of the ARCs you don’t want.