Have a hardback book you’re not reading anymore? Why not make something with it? I came across a fascinating group of people on Etsy who are repurposing old hardback books into hidden storage boxes for money and valuables. From the outside, these books look just like the real thing. Open them up and you’ll find that they’ve been hollowed out and refitted with a secret compartment.

I fell in love with this idea and purchased one of the books on offer: a blue Reader’s Digest Condensed Books in which I planned to store my passport, checks and some cash we are squirrelling away for vacations.

I was impressed with the look and feel of the ‘book’ when it arrived. I liked that it was ‘authentic’ and can, of course, pass for a ‘real’ book on the shelf, since it was one.

However, I was disappointed with the secret compartment part. Although the Etsy listing did list dimensions—and I suppose it’s my own fault for not measuring my stuff—the compartment was distressingly small.

I couldn’t fit dollar bills without crumpling them, and it was too small to fit a wallet, a passport, or even one of the Beloved’s plastic-enclosed baseball cards. It just wasn’t practical for a whole lot, and I feel like the seller could have made the compartment bigger—using the same book—and it would have had more utility.

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But I had a serendipitous find in a local Asian market today—a knockoff that, while not constructed of a real book like this one was, had a large and usable inner compartment, lined in a pleasant fabric, with a magnetic closure and of a sturdy wood-esque construction.

But there are some imperfections with this ‘book safe,’ too. It’s not made from a real book, and likely won’t fool anyone who looks too carefully. And they’ve spelled the name of the book wrong! Still, it’s good enough; it’s a more decorative way to store these valuables, and is safer, as far as hiding one’s valuables from would-be-thieves, than the labelled jar we use to store our grocery money.

A true purist would, I am sure, be horrified at the idea of defacing a real, actual book for a transformation such as this. Perhaps for them, the ‘synthetic’ version would be a nice compromise, misspelled book title notwithstanding.

Personally, I’m fine with remaking a real book in such a way, in theory. I just wish the Etsy craftsperson who sold this book to me had made the secret compartment a little more usefully sized.

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Update: Thanks to ‘Reader’ for the heads-up on this video about hollowed-out books:

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


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