At one time I was a painter and got the idea of painting a decorative picture on the front of old books! I bought dozens and dozens of old books and first painted them with a crackle medium, then a background color, then painted the cover with roses, teddy bears, bunnies and a multitude of other items. I couldn't even tell you how many of those I sold at craft shows and in my shop (I probably need to take up this hobby again - in my spare time!).
Recently, I joined Pinterest where ideas for decorating, crafts, etc. abound - it can almost drive you crazy looking at all the creative ideas available there. If you would like to follow my boards, you can by going to www.pinterest.com/csdorsey . I am just beginning, but finding some unique ideas for vintage decorating especially using items found in my store http://www.hendersonmemories.com/
Old books look so beautiful displayed on a table or desk opened up with a pair of old glasses on them, or a beautiful fringed or lace bookmark to mark the page. It gives the feeling that you were just relaxing there, actually reading a book!
I have also decorated books with old doilies, ribbon, flowers, cameos, old brooches and buttons - the ideas are endless as far as decorating the top of the book for display. Or they can just be stacked up and tied with a pretty ribbon if you don't want to damage the book in any way.
Recently on Pinterest I saw the idea of making shelves out of old books - now that was interesting. They had just purchased pairs of shelf brackets and mounted them on the wall with a book on top as the shelf and grouped them on the wall with pretty vintage items sitting on them.
At Memories we use old books to layer our displays - this would be a great idea in your home as a way to display items at different heights - it helps to show off your collections better than just placing them all at the same level.
After all of this, of course, you could just place them on your bookshelf and actually read an old book every now and then - now that's the best idea of all! We all have them and wonder what to do with them - now go out and get creative!