Books as purses — the latest way to feed my literary obsession

Please allow me another moment to harp on how much I love my boyfriend (I know, I know — insert the groans and rolling eyes here). In addition to being sweet, smart, funny and considerate, Spencer actually listens to me. And notices things — then remembers them.

Based on my previous track record, this is nothing short of a miracle.

Walking around Eastern Market in Washington, D.C., last month, I noticed a young woman selling clutches. Her stand was nicely appointed and featured bags in a variety of shapes, colors and textures — all made out of old books.

Being the bookish chick y’all know and love, I spent a good, long while looking at the purses. Totally adorable but not entirely practical, I enjoyed checking out the bags and chatting with the nice lady who made them. Much as I liked them, I couldn’t justify shelling out $50-$70 on a clutch I would probably rarely use — and really just wanted to look at.

So Spencer was buzzing with excitement the other night, producing a tall blue bag. Days from my actual birthday, I gave him a quizzical look. He told me it was an early birthday present and I should go ahead and open it.

In it? Book clutches!

His mother is a master quilter — very, very talented — and, together, they developed a prototype of sorts for the book bags I’d seen downtown. Mrs. J found the hardcovers to use and then carefully removed the old pages within, replacing them with quilted bags she’d made. They were shipped to me from New York.

And now? Well, I use the old books to carry my books. The larger, black hardcover bag is the perfect size for carrying my hardcovers (imagine!). And the smaller one is the perfect size for tossing in a few small items en route to a bookish event. I have a feeling they’ll be making an appearance at the next literary event I attend.

I’d convince Mrs. J to start a business and shop these little babies on Etsy, but I know how time-consuming they are to create. The competition is fierce (and pricey!), but I think she’s on to something here!

31 thoughts on “Books as purses — the latest way to feed my literary obsession

  1. Ahhhhhh!!! LOVE IT!!!!

    Funny, because when I saw the title, I immediately thought of the same girl at Eastern Market, as I’ve been known to drool over the bags as well. I really want a Nancy Drew!

    If Mama Spence ever opens an etsy shop, I will be her first customer!


  2. Megan! Those are AWESOME! Lucky you to have such a thoughtful boyfriend and such a talented boyfriend’s mother (is there a term for that? like mother-not-in-law?). Lol.


  3. I remember seeing these and thinking they were so cute and that if I ever had a function that required me to dress up I would buy one. As a day to day bag I tend to carry too much stuff for one of these to be functional, but I do like the look of them.

    Very cool of Spencer to buy it for you! 🙂


  4. I’ve totally seen those stalls at Eastern Market. I think they are just adorable, but, completely impractical (especially given the cost).


  5. Hmmm…I am not sure about these…I love bags but I need to see the inside of them…are they actual books? I am on the fence…so far…but I just bought a bag from planetshoes that is made from coffee bags that I love…so who is to say if I did not see this one in person that I would not love it too…


    • You’re right, Patty — I should have taken a photo of the inside! The interior is actually just a nice, quilted bag. The bag was made separately, then glued to the spine and outside covers of the old book.


  6. LOVE Eastern Market and I LOVE the book purses, but I do think they’re ridiculously overpriced. I always want to say, “This is Eastern Market, honey, not a department store, kthx.” I’ve looked at them a couple times to try and figure out how I could make them myself and have even bought the book I want to make. Go Spencer! This is an amazing gift.


  7. The boyfriend is a keeper! Don’t know if I could use the clutches , I need something softsided so I don’t gouge all the things I run into. Great idea though. I’ve seen some cute purses out of recycled blue jeans too, but I’d much rather carry a book someone has touched with their hands than blue jeans that, well, … ’nuff said.


  8. Oh my God!! I love it! Books to carry books- fantastic idea and your boyfriend might just be the reincarnation of Mr. Darcy 🙂


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