Want the clock
November 27, 2004 6:26 PM   Subscribe

Too many books? Not enough furniture? Problem solved.
posted by kenko (48 comments total)
Great, except, how the hell am I supposed to read them if they are furniture?
posted by Grod at 6:34 PM on November 27, 2004


No book lover would do that to their books.

That makes me want to cry!
posted by u.n. owen at 6:43 PM on November 27, 2004

Designed with simplicity and purity in mind, the arched bench is meant to be easily reproducible in a short period of time. The only modification to the books is two small holes drilled in each one.

Next they'll be making fireplaces out of books. Hell, forget logs, just use old useless books for heating; it's not like your going to read them.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 6:44 PM on November 27, 2004

People still have books?
posted by srboisvert at 6:46 PM on November 27, 2004

posted by kamylyon at 6:55 PM on November 27, 2004

In DSC_0042 I see Spivak's "Calculus", coincidentally enough I'm using that right now as part of a workout bench.
posted by bobo123 at 7:00 PM on November 27, 2004

posted by rushmc at 7:01 PM on November 27, 2004

Bizarrely, this actually angers me more than that artist who makes the finger-puppets out of the dead white mice. I find violence against books more appalling than violence against animals. Then again, I find violence against animals more appalling than violence against humans, so what does that tell you?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:03 PM on November 27, 2004

I find violence against books more appalling than violence against animals. Then again, I find violence against animals more appalling than violence against humans, so what does that tell you?

Um. That you're a book?
posted by felix betachat at 7:06 PM on November 27, 2004

Actually, I thought the bench, with its two small holes, was one of most book friendly. I'm looking for a encyclopedia set right now to make one for my house. If my internet connection died someday, I could just take apart my bench and my kids could write a book report.

I'm surprised that some of you are so worked up about using books as raw material in art projects... I'm a bibliophile, see nothing wrong with mangling library discards. I mean, The Magnificent Bald Eagle? Probably better off as an "M" than it was a book.
posted by maniactown at 7:12 PM on November 27, 2004

books are the internet for poor people.

I kid, I kid.

I am actually a bibliophile and this distresses me terribly. The bookcase is actually a good idea, in theory, provided it only had crappy books that I wouldn't ever want to read as parts. Plus, it's aesthetically displeasing. All the washers and whatnot.

What gets me upset is that there might be a book there that I would want to read, and I wouldn't be able to.

How about a bookcase/bench/other piece of furniture that had blocks of wood painted to look like books, and then attached in much the same way? A trompe l'oeil thing like this past post ?
posted by exlotuseater at 7:17 PM on November 27, 2004

Um. That you're a book?

Read me!

And upon further reflection:

Too many books? Not enough furniture? Problem solved.

Actually, this doesn't solve my problem at all, since the reason I need more furniture is so I have a place to keep all my books.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:19 PM on November 27, 2004

maniactown - I bought a complete 1970s World Book encyclopedia set off eBay for $0.01 a few months back. One of the books was a year off, but there are deals to be had!
posted by Alt F4 at 7:19 PM on November 27, 2004

Huh. I wasn't expecting this reaction. Am I the only oe who thought it was interesting as a design constraint? And I thought the bench and clock were pretty cool.

Now, you try to do this with any of my books, and I'll wahck you upside the head. But printed and bound paper isn't inviolable just because it's a book.

(Faint of Butt, if you built bookcases out of books you'd not only have fewer books to store, but more places to store them.)
posted by kenko at 7:26 PM on November 27, 2004

F4: That shipping's gotta suck... I'm sure I can some set locally for a song.
posted by maniactown at 7:27 PM on November 27, 2004

*weeps silently in frustration over the thought of having to read around the holes punched in the pages of the books - or the thought of realizing a book she REALLY wanted to reread was trapped in the middle of a piece of furniture she'd have to disassemble in order to get to*
posted by batgrlHG at 7:37 PM on November 27, 2004

We have books at my library that we can't even give away once they've been weeded from the collection. Most we sell at the book sale but some of them [yes, old encyclopedias, and some old trade manuals, and Books in Print from five years ago and the older versions of cataloging books that have been supplanted] just don't have value, don't seem like they'd have historical value, and take up storage space. In a dream world maybe we'd keep them all in some underground salt mine someplace until someone needed them, but in the real world some of them go to the landfill or just hang out on the shelf until they die. I'd love to see some of our books go to something useful and attractive like this stuff.
posted by jessamyn at 7:45 PM on November 27, 2004

very cool. love the bookcase.
posted by poopy at 7:46 PM on November 27, 2004

Faint of Butt, if you built bookcases out of books you'd not only have fewer books to store, but more places to store them.

Obviously, but if I had books I thought sufficiently little of to turn them into furniture, I wouldn't have too many books.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:55 PM on November 27, 2004

I thought it was clever, but if you turn my complete set of Benjamin Disraeli's novels into a bench, there will be hell to pay.

Books can meet far worse fates:

Now Empress Fame had publisht the renown,
Of Shadwell's coronation through the town.
Rous'd by report of fame, the nations meet,
From near Bun-Hill, and distant Watling-street.
No Persian carpets spread th'imperial way,
But scatter'd limbs of mangled poets lay:
From dusty shops neglected authors come,
Martyrs of pies, and reliques of the bum.
Much Heywood, Shirley, Ogleby there lay,
But loads of Shadwell almost chok'd the way.

--John Dryden, "Mac Flecknoe"
posted by thomas j wise at 8:07 PM on November 27, 2004

My family brought me up to treat books with respect. I find that neither respectful nor pretty. If they happened to be romance paperbacks or John Grisham novels, I might concede the point, but they do not appear to be so.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:13 PM on November 27, 2004

F4: That shipping's gotta suck... I'm sure I can some set locally for a song.

Just send it Book Rate.
posted by wolfey at 8:33 PM on November 27, 2004

I think you can do the world much more good by
focusing on the concept of buying and
supporting authors, artists, and musicians
that you find meaningful, rather than having some
talismanic attitude about "respectful book ownership"
posted by MikeHoegeman at 8:38 PM on November 27, 2004

The two aren't mutually exclusive.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:41 PM on November 27, 2004

what an incredibly disproportionate reaction to the re-use of some books. it's admittedly not the best design... but sheesh!

if you love books so much, i have some crappy textbooks from the early 80's you can have for free. save them from the round file.
posted by fake at 8:42 PM on November 27, 2004

Next up: The Bibliophile's Bathroom.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:56 PM on November 27, 2004

This is a whole new category for the used section at Amazon.com

$29.95 new
$21.95 excellent
$15.95 good
$9.95 poor
$1.95 very poor, squashed, with only two small holes drilled through it.
posted by dancingbaptist at 9:01 PM on November 27, 2004

Seriously folks. From looking through the majority of photos it would appear that the books used are mostly old staff directories from MIT, old textbooks and other cast offs.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:07 PM on November 27, 2004

It's too bad that there aren't any how-to instructions. This is a great way to recycle things (like books) that no longer can be used for their function, or that have little value as the original. I'm sure practically every MeFite has a small collection of ancient college textbooks somewhere gathering dust.
posted by Electric Elf at 9:19 PM on November 27, 2004

I think its great - love the bench.

I too don't understand what the big deal is. If someone did that to what I would consider 'treasures' I would whack them over the head with an unabridged version of war and peace or something. But seems to me they're not built with first edition rarities. Would the reaction be the same if the bench was built with 50 copies of the yellow pages?
posted by squeak at 9:26 PM on November 27, 2004

"This is a great way to recycle things..."

No. It's a way to reuse things. The books aren't being recycled.

Am I the only one who finds the whole "wow lookit me! I used books as art material" thing completely uninspiring? Yes, arty people like to repurpose shit out of context. No, it's not unusual enough to pay attention to.
posted by majick at 9:26 PM on November 27, 2004

I actually liked the rocking chair. Is anyone really going to need 98 old staff directories?
posted by SisterHavana at 10:00 PM on November 27, 2004

This reminded me of Nicholson Baker's essay "Books as Furniture," which led me to see if it was online anywhere. If it is, I couldn't find it, but I did find this, which explains how one can go about making these sorts of objects. The designer, Jim Rosenau, is not one of the artists in the original FPP, but I find his designs much more aesthetically pleasing and his reasoning for using books this way reassuring to someone who's gut reaction to this is negative. As SisterHavana points out, not all old books are holy relics: some are clearly destined for the landfill, so why not use them to save new lumber? It makes sense to me.
posted by melissa may at 10:14 PM on November 27, 2004

Look, I get it. And I still think it's not something I think is a good idea for me personally - great for someone else that doesn't see a book, any book, and feel curiosity as to what's inside. Even if I used old textbooks - and I'm the person who goes to those "The Library is selling its old unwanted books for all you can fit into a grocery bag for $1" sales - even if I used only books I didn't think I'd want to read - once I turned it into furniture and had these books in a setup where I couldn't easily read them - I'd then want to look at them. Just because I'd become curious. And I'd have to disassemble the item - probably just to remember, "oh, that's why I used this book in the first place." I'm the exact same way with the art projects where people take books and turn them into art/scrapbooks with paintings and poetry and such - I start to look at the book and wonder what the information under the painting and pasted on materials once was. Especially if I'm not very impressed with the artwork.

Hey I know - let's use a bunch of old comic books from the 70s that mom was gonna throw out - they're just sitting in this box and no one ever reads them - they'd make a great lightweight nicknack shelf for the wall....

Now if this were done with Harlequin Romances - maybe. But the old covers on some of those were hysterical and worth a look just to laugh... So maybe rip off the covers and then build...
posted by batgrlHG at 10:25 PM on November 27, 2004

All right; I'll concede the point on staff directories.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:26 PM on November 27, 2004

someone whose, that is, dang, me am tired. Anyway, I get the distaste, because it was my instinctive reaction too, but I like this a lot better than pulping. I need bookcases for all the books I do love, and I would love to save some abandoned encyclopedias from our library's next book sale instead of buying new wood. That is, if I had the tools, or the talent.
posted by melissa may at 10:28 PM on November 27, 2004

I have a great book from one of those library sales called Adventures in Engineering which still makes me laugh when I read it. Meant to give the thing to my uncle but couldn't part with it - it's hysterical. And of course not meant to be - supposed to lead little boys of the 50s to an exciting career.

Now that I think of it, it's a great idea for old phone books and magazines...
posted by batgrlHG at 10:29 PM on November 27, 2004

I thought it was neat.

I'm not sure what to think about the fact that "book-furniture" seems to have deeply offended lots of folks here. I've read MeFi for years and never before noticed, but this sure can be a weird place.
posted by cribcage at 11:27 PM on November 27, 2004

I thought it would be functional. Like chairs with small bookcases in their backs (the back facing away from where you sit), or a coffee table with a roll-out book case underneath it, etc.

I could never do that to my books (many of which are first editions and/or very rare), but I do have a lot of books and not enough furniture and would love a coffee table and end table as I mentioned above.
posted by erratic frog at 11:43 PM on November 27, 2004

Over here we build roads with books - comes with book domination foot fetish photo.
posted by Navek Rednam at 1:04 AM on November 28, 2004

I second the comment about Jim Rosenau's stuff being really cool and the MIT link's stuff being ugly. I am not offended by using castoff books for new purposes, but I am offended by how ugly those pieces all are.

Also, It seems Rosenau is basically usng book covers as veneer on other salvaged lumber. It seems like you could make a perfectly serviceable slab of structural material by soaking a book's pages in a water and wood-glue mixture for a while, and then pressing it closed until its dry. I assume some experimentation would be required to find the right mixture of glue and pressure to keep the thing from swelling up like a balloon, but I'm almost sure it could be done. Paper is just wood pulp, so at that point you've got a small slab of homemade MDF, and the whole range of traditional wood joinery is open to you.

How cool would something made out of books joined by dovetails be?
posted by rusty at 1:53 AM on November 28, 2004

Why not go all the way and build a house out of books?
posted by booksprite at 3:47 AM on November 28, 2004

I did something like this while I was in college -- turned a bunch of romance novels into shelves (on a variation of the brick-plywood shelves everyone seems to make in college).

They were far more useful being shelves than they were as books.
posted by Katemonkey at 3:58 AM on November 28, 2004

booksprite, that link was so amazing, I'm sorry it's tucked all the way down this thread where fewer people might read it. I love that it's structurally sound enough to house a working kitchen, to read a book to a child...very, very beautiful and dream-like.
posted by melissa may at 7:23 AM on November 28, 2004

Every year, hundreds of thousands of books are senselessly destroyed - perhaps they are too old, or have a funny smell, or their owners just don't want them anymore. There are thousands of local shelters where these books are warehoused in crowded conditions, waiting to be adopted for a small fee.

A used book can provide many years of love. Certainly all books want to be read. But many books would be thrilled just to serve you as a work of art or furniture displayed prominently in your home.

Books: there aren't enough homes for them all.
posted by mechagrue at 8:30 AM on November 28, 2004

I was in a production of Frank wedekind's play "Spring Awakening" many years ago that had a fantastic set - the play is about adolescence and the set was an enormous sandbox (12x25? or so) with the audience on all four sides, with piles of books serving as podiums, seats, soapboxes, etc. To make those pile-of-books pieces of furniture, we had to drill metal rods through stacks of old books. It was an interesting thing to do. One does feel trepidation in setting to such a task, simply because these artifacts resemble other artifacts that are so dear and sacred. But not all books are equal... I have trouble throwing away yesterday's paper as well, but it isn't really rational. Many books far less deserve immortality than yesterday's paper. What often makes them harder to throw out is the fact that they're bound and solid, which is to say, they make better furniture than reading material.
posted by mdn at 8:56 AM on November 28, 2004

Ok, I'm definitely thinking way too much about this - but the idea of using books in a way that might save space is a good concept for those of us who are running out of room for our many books. What I would be interested in is a design for such furniture that doesn't harm the books so that when you dismantled the structure there wouldn't be holes. I mean, I did the standard - "no, it's not several stacks of books - look, it's an endtable! A place to set the tv remote and a lamp!" But there's got to be a better way....
posted by batgrlHG at 4:13 PM on November 28, 2004

You could do something similar to the bench with enough compression on the sides—I don't know if that would damage the books (maybe the spines?) but it seems like it would damage them less obviously than drilling holes in them. You'd need something else on the sides, and maybe guides on the bottom or top, but the chief structural element could still be books.

I think the main problem with doing something like that, after not damaging the books, would be ensuring uniform materials. I used to pack my books away in boxes every year and you notice pretty quickly what different publishers books align with each other, and what ones never fit in. NYRB books are the same height as Vintage International, but different lengths, eg.
posted by kenko at 4:34 PM on November 28, 2004

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