Metro, Business, Features, Newton

Newton-Based Business Rebooked Breathes New Life Into Used Books

Elizabeth Miller believes in giving books new lives. 

Through her Newton-based business, Rebooked, Miller recirculates her favorite books and vintage items throughout the area.

Rebooked, founded in 2022, is a project Miller began when she retired. A former practicing attorney with her own law practice and adjunct professor at Boston College Law School, Miller said he has fostered a love for reading throughout her career and life. 

“Books have so much meaning and so many memories attached to them because I’ve always been such a reader,” she said. “I like the idea that you can take out the gems from all of the used books out there.”

Miller dreamt of owning a bookstore, but at this stage in her life doesn’t want the time commitment of a brick-and-mortar store, she said. Resurrecting discarded books at pop-up shops around New England proved to be perfectly simple, according to Miller, and has become the heart of Rebooked. 

“I came up with this idea to do used books, which is less complicated and also has the environmental spin that I like of keeping books from being thrown out,” Miller said. “Books have so much meaning and so many memories attached to them.” 

Miller said she hand picks all of the shop’s recycled books. What makes Rebooked unique is that Miller has read and loved every one of the books she sells, she said.

“I’ve had 50-plus years of reading, so I may not always remember what a book was about, but I will remember that I loved it,” she said. 

This personal connection to the books on her shelves is precisely what inspires customers to flock to Rebooked, according to customer Julie Scaramella. 

“I like the uniqueness of the concept and Liz’s level of knowledge,” Scaramella said. “She is very rare. You could walk into a bookstore and have the person behind the counter say, ‘I’ve read every book that’s here.’” 

In addition to recycled books, Miller sells vintage items that she purchases at thrift shops. Miller said she is still learning to trust herself with this aspect of the business. 

“If I really love an item and I think it’s cool, then I’ll buy it,” she said. “I know there are things that people would buy because they are hot, but if I don’t love an item myself, then I won’t sell it.”

Rebooked’s careful selection of vintage items attracts a whole different community of shoppers. Miller intentionally crafts her display of books and items to reflect the demographic of buyers she expects to attend specific markets. 

“I particularly like the vintage items that Liz sells,” Elizabeth Ryan, a regular at the business, said. 

Miller also sells curated book boxes for interested customers. Customers fill out a short questionnaire regarding their genre preferences and favorite books, which Miller then uses to create a personalized box, she said. 

“I put together a list of six or more books, and then I send them a picture of those books and ask them to tell me which ones they’ve already read so I can take those out,” she said.

Enticed by her thoughtful selection of beautiful books, Miller said Rebooked’s readers have expressed eagerness to see what she has to offer.

“I’ve been really surprised that a lot of young people still read books,” she said. “Everybody buys books, and that has been a really pleasant surprise.” 

Rebooked is motivated by the possibility of placing old stories in new hands, according to Miller. Miller said she hopes that the stories behind the books and items she sells can be reimagined by new generations of people.

“They’re so old,” she said. “Something could be published in 1896, and you’re holding it in your hand. I deal in stories. Both the stories in the books that I knew, and all my vintage stuff.”

October 22, 2023