A book can transport its reader to countless destinations, and when it’s through, its pages can be re-purposed into just as many new uses. Just ask Kimberlee Ferris, textbook manager at St. Mary’s University Bookstore in San Antonio, Texas.
“I’ve always found it somewhat sacrilegious to destroy a book,” she explained. “Before we started donating our no value titles to OnePlanet Books, we would simply write them off and take them out to the dumpster; I hated seeing them go to waste.”
So, Ferris decided to put her love of books on display – literally. With the help of her staff, she created a one-of-a-kind window display, made almost entirely out of used textbooks.
“With the advent of Pinterest and other image-sharing sites, it’s become clear just how much you can do with used books,” she said. “I made a wreath and a swag out of old book pages during the holiday season, and I had a lot of extra pieces leftover. I didn’t want them to go unused, so I thought ‘why not do the same at the store?’ I wanted to create something a little more avant-garde than your typical window display.”
Because the store was in middle of a remodel, the staff members had some downtime and decided to bring Ferris’ idea to life. By incorporating the pre-made pieces from her holiday projects, they had a head start. That meant the only thing left to assemble in the store was the focal point of the display: bookish attire featured on a female mannequin.
“I used to sew as a child, so I made us a basic pattern for the bodice. Then we constructed it out of brown butcher paper, which we sell by the yard at the store,” Ferris explained. “After that, we simply hot-glued each piece on to the dress.”
Although the display may look overwhelming, she insists it’s one that any store could complete.
“All it takes is a little imagination and a lot of time!” she emphasized.
The dress itself was made from just one Cases and Materials Law Book, while the head piece required a few additional titles. All together, the project took staff members the better part of a day to complete, but they all agree it was worth the effort!
“We received a lot of really great feedback,” Ferris described. “It brought people who we don’t typically see into the store. In fact, several stopped in just to ask the cashiers who made the display and to offer a compliment; it really generated some positive PR.”
“I think the key to its success was that it was different,” she continued. “We tend to focus strictly on merchandise in our window displays, and people become complacent when they repeatedly see the same thing. This caught your eye because it wasn’t what you expected to see in front of the bookstore.”
Although the display was taken down a few months later, Ferris simply didn’t have the heart to throw it out. In fact, some of the pieces now hang from her office ceiling and others adorn the shelves.
And, she hopes that a new book-inspired display will be front and center again soon.
“We already came up with a new idea and are discussing how to implement it,” she described. “This one has to do with the holidays and will be up soon after Halloween.”
Until then, we’ll anxiously await the store’s “new release!”