The Book Project: Buying the Books

This is the third in a series of posts about designing and building the wall art for my living room.
Read the first post about how I got the idea here
and the second post about building the frame here.

You didn’t think that this project was restricted to great pieces of literature, did you? Okay, we’re on the same page.

Choosing, ordering and preparing the books for this project was the hardest part.

This project could easily be accomplished by going to a library book sale, filling a bag and being done with it. I like things complicated. We were only going to use books that the husband and/or I have read and liked.

Used is Better

All of the books were purchased used for a few reasons:

  • Cost: used books were cheaper and I was trying to keep the cost down.
  • Age: used books, especially really old ones, have different yellowing colors. It would look better than a wall of pristine white pages.
  • Repurpose: I ended up using a lot of library discards and other books that were very beat up. Let’s face it, I would feel better about taking books apart if they lived a full life and were well-loved.

Many of the books used for this project were library discards.

Ordering Used Online is Even Better

I ordered all of the books from used booksellers online because:

  • Price: large online booksellers usually have several versions of a book, some for under a dollar! I bought the most beat up, cheapest version I could find of each title.
  • Selection: I had a very large and specific list of books. I wanted to shop in as few places as possible.

Better World Books

I bought most of the books for this project from an online store called Better World Books. Better World Books has a huge storefront on, which is how I purchased them. They also have their own website that you could order through directly, but I found that the prices and selection were better at their storefront. Plus, if I ordered books from the same seller, I would save on shipping.

Not only did I get great prices and a great selection, the funds raised by Better World Books go toward literacy initiatives and libraries! It’s a win win!

Houston, We Have a Problem

The husband and I made a huge list of books. At least one of us had to have read them and I tried to keep it to one work per author. We made a long list, figuring we’d pick the best after brainstorming.

I ordered a set of books from the list. I ordered more than what I thought we needed.

At least that’s what I thought.

Books have arrived, yay!

Around this time I was building the frame.

Here’s what happened. Draw your own conclusions:

Ruh-roh. There seems to be a lot of extra space.

Yes. You guessed it. I didn’t order enough books.

Here’s the thing: shipping books is expensive. I had these books shipped by Media Mail (a.k.a. ultra slow) in order to save money.

I had to go back online and order more books from our list. No, I didn’t want to reuse books and feature multiple passages. I’m neurotic like that. It took two weeks for the books to work their way through the postal system and get to my house.

Guess what happened next? The second shipment arrived and I still didn’t have enough books. I was really irked by this point. I almost had enough books to cover the area of the frame. However, I wanted the finished design to be a collage of sorts with the books overlapping in places. I had to order more books to compensate for that.

Another two weeks later and we were finally ready to put the thing together.

Update: Visit Part 4 – Taking Apart the Books


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