April 2009 | Michael Lieberman

Rebound Designs by Caitlin Phillips

Earth Day, 2009.

Nell Greenfieldboyce's feature Judging a Book (Bag) By Its Cover on NPR's All Things Considered gives us a glimpse into the world of Caitlin Phillips.

For five years now Phillips has been transforming discarded books into functional purses.

Why purses?

"The book kind of pretty much decided what form it was going to be," she says. "The spine becomes the bottom of the purse, because I keep the cover completely intact." She adds handles and a vintage button to match."


Book most often requested - Pride and Prejudice

Books out of bounds-

Phillips "won't cut up the Quran, although she will sometimes cut up a Bible, especially if it's a custom order from someone who wants to commemorate a well-loved copy that has fallen apart after years of use" and "For a long time, she wouldn't cut up Fahrenheit 451, "because the irony was just overwhelming, to cut up a book about destroying books."

Phillips' natural inclination leads her more toward the preservation than the altering of books. "Growing up, Phillips read constantly and was taught to treat books as almost sacred. She would never write in the margins or dog-ear the pages" then "a job at a used bookstore taught her that every year, huge numbers of out-of-date or damaged books are just tossed in dumpsters." Now 500-750 books a year are reclaimed by Phillips.

The NPR piece also includes a video of Philips at work and a 3 minute podcast.

More at Rebound Designs