We have some old medical books and encyclopedias from an auction and nothing to do with them. They looked ugly on the shelf, and took up space for no reason. So, we were looking for something to make a sort of pedestal for a planter that was simple and free (other than supplies that we already had). My mom thought to put books underneath, but not nice books that could get ruined. She found the old medical books and remembered that everything looks better with a coat of paint. So that's what we did.
You can use any color, really, but brown is neutral and matches with our decor. We used acrylic paint, but probably anything would work.
To give the book a worn leather look, we Mod Podged crumpled tissue paper on top. We used spray because it has a faster applying and drying time. First you spray the book, and then the tissue paper after it is layered on top.
This is after the Mod Podge is dry. It didn't look very good so all you have to do is...
Paint a few of mixed shades of the color you are using on top of the tissue paper for more character and depth.
If you want an even more aged look, you can give the outside edge of the pages a thin coat of watered down brown paint applied with a paper towel. As you can see in this picture, you have to be sure to paint the border of the cover.
This is the finished book with some other real vintage books we have. The three bottom books are painted, The black books are just painted black and then the spines patted down with paper towel when the paint was almost dry.
If you have trouble finding real vintage books, don't worry, some of the books featured in this picture are for sale on my Etsy shop, The Tattered Hanky.