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Recycling Paperbacks as Partitions

Diane spotted this interesting idea from London designer Lucy Norman, who writes:

There is currently no infrastructure set up to recycle the paper from books because the paper is low grade and the glue on the spine must be removed. The Paperback Partition is made from this waste, creating an aesthetically pleasing and interesting divide in a room. It provides both good heat insulation, and acoustic insulation. Research showed that most people felt that books as objects were beautiful and they enjoyed their solidness, colour and texture, which the partition shows off.

I like it as a permanent or semi-permanent addition for an appropriately “bookish” space. I have two comments:

  1. Obviously, it’s going to be heavy, and hard to move. But then, heavy may have advantages: thermal and acoustic insulation are mentioned. Stacks of books probably make for pretty good low-cost ballistic protection, too.
  2. I think horizontal stacking is preferable for this use, as shown in the first image, so no one gets confused and thinks they’re looking at an actual bookshelf and/or possibly tries to remove a book from the “shelf” arrangement.

[via CRAFT]

More:
Top 10: Shelves and Shelving

66 thoughts on “Recycling Paperbacks as Partitions

  1. Wonder how it would look to flip every other book around, so neither side is all pages or all backs. Would seem less likely to be confused with a “real” bookcase as well…

  2. Wonder how it would look to flip every other book around, so neither side is all pages or all backs. Would seem less likely to be confused with a “real” bookcase as well…

  3. As long as it didn’t get wet, I think it would be fine.  Perhaps some sort of sealant could be used to coat the outside edges from accidental spills.  I suppose a normal wall would be ruined by heavy amounts of water or standing water as well though.

  4. Re: our bullet 2, it would drive me NUTS!
    I would be constantly trying to pry one out…
    I get stuck in IKEA, browsing the books on the display shelves, despite there being Swedish!

    Dave

  5. Dunno.  I suppose something has to happen to all that paper, with the advances in eBook sales.  Also, you can consider all of it to be carbon that is sequestered from the gaseous phase, so that’s good too.  I just think about dust mites and silverfish, though.

  6. Dunno.  I suppose something has to happen to all that paper, with the advances in eBook sales.  Also, you can consider all of it to be carbon that is sequestered from the gaseous phase, so that’s good too.  I just think about dust mites and silverfish, though.

  7. Dunno.  I suppose something has to happen to all that paper, with the advances in eBook sales.  Also, you can consider all of it to be carbon that is sequestered from the gaseous phase, so that’s good too.  I just think about dust mites and silverfish, though.

  8. Get to know your local big book store manager. Most pocket paper backs are “strip covers” when they don’t sell the covers get ripped (stripped) and the books ripped in half and tossed away. The store gets credit from the publisher for returning the covers and destroying the books.

    If you could come up with a way to convince the manger that the books where destroyed in such a way to prevent them form being read (a hole through the middle or glued shut perhaps) you could end up with a near endless supply of bad romance and sci-fi to construct your walls with.

  9. Fire hazard anybody?  Books can be flammable, but furniture/building supplies should not.

    Maybe if the books were soaked in a low VOC flame retardant first?

  10. Fire hazard anybody?  Books can be flammable, but furniture/building supplies should not.

    Maybe if the books were soaked in a low VOC flame retardant first?

  11. Right now, there is a housewife in Omaha asking “Why didn’t you simply spend $5 on particle board for your partition and give me those used books? I would have loved and appreciated them, instead you destroyed them (using $100 worth components, to prove how clever you are.) when they would have made such an excellent contribution to the quality of my life. And, just out of curiosity, if your cat gives birth to kittens, do you skin them to show people how you can upcycle a cat? Or do you send them to a good home and let me spend my $5 on a chamois from K-mart?”

  12. Right now, there is a housewife in Omaha asking “Why didn’t you simply spend $5 on particle board for your partition and give me those used books? I would have loved and appreciated them, instead you destroyed them (using $100 worth components, to prove how clever you are.) when they would have made such an excellent contribution to the quality of my life. And, just out of curiosity, if your cat gives birth to kittens, do you skin them to show people how you can upcycle a cat? Or do you send them to a good home and let me spend my $5 on a chamois from K-mart?”

  13. Good effort. Who reads books that was printed in the 1940’s or earlier? I don’t know why so many are giving them a hard time for being more creative than you. Be a supporter of innovation rather than a critic. Yes, there are some good suggestions like possible fire hazards. But please look through your own lens. http://www.youshine.com.au 

  14. Good effort. Who reads books that was printed in the 1940’s or earlier? I don’t know why so many are giving them a hard time for being more creative than you. Be a supporter of innovation rather than a critic. Yes, there are some good suggestions like possible fire hazards. But please look through your own lens. http://www.youshine.com.au 

  15. Good effort. Who reads books that was printed in the 1940’s or earlier? I don’t know why so many are giving them a hard time for being more creative than you. Be a supporter of innovation rather than a critic. Yes, there are some good suggestions like possible fire hazards. But please look through your own lens. http://www.youshine.com.au 

  16. This is truly awesome.  I think they’d make a great alternative to soda can walls in Earthships.  Far more visually appealing, and sound proof.  If the rib side is too visually noisy, one could stack two books and get the same texture on both side, with twice as much sound/energy insulation.  For fire related hazards, one could soak them in Borax. 

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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