I’m a natural introvert, and spending hours indoors with a book has been my favorite activity from the time I was a little girl growing up in suburban Minnesota. My dream was to become an artist or a novelist, and I ended up earning my BFA in painting and drawing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. (Plus I happened to take a book arts course while there which would later prove fortuitous). My paintings were mostly images of difficult relationships from the past.


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I didn't feel good about exhibiting my paintings, which I felt were becoming more and more a form of personal art therapy rather than anything I'd want to show or sell. But I continued to love drawing in a sketchbook which could be open when I wanted and closed when I felt more vulnerable. As a struggling artist, I went through years of odd jobs, including horse-carriage driving for two years, selling luggage, stuffing envelopes, a three week stint at The Gap, and of course my last job outside the home, working as a gallery guard at an art museum.

Disillusioned with my own art, I still wanted to get my hands on a project of some kind after coming home from a day of "Please don't touch the art." So, I was surfing the web and came across a hollow book. It just clicked with me and my introverted, bookish nature. Soon I was spending hours making hollow books with just an x-acto blade. On a whim, I put a Nancy Drew one up for sale on Etsy.com. I clicked the refresh button not long after, and it had sold! Other sellers had made hollow books from ugly library discards with titles nobody had heard of. Instead, I started doing beautiful editions and popular titles; soon I found out that booklovers wanted books that meant something to them, to put their treasures inside a beloved book.

In 2010, my husband bought me an electric scroll saw, and after months of trial and error, I figured out how to effectively use it to craft books more smoothly and put all my effort into creating my shop which I named Secret Safe Books. Not long after, Etsy made me a featured seller on their blog which kick-started my business, and I quit my day job to make hollow books full time. As a natural introvert, I finally feel joy and comfort in my current occupation as a hollow-bookmaker running Secret Safe Books from home. (And I still get in plenty of reading time; my latest obsession is the magical realist novels of Haruki Murakami). When my husband got laid off from his job in 2011, he joined Secret Safe Books and now we make our living solely from crafting book safes. Here are some of our favorite ones.

More info: Etsy

#1

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

SecretSafeBooks Report

riley.girl 4 weeks ago

This is beautiful; you have so much creativity! These are obviously made with lots of love!

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#2

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

SecretSafeBooks Report

Kara Witham 4 weeks ago

Want to mention, all of our books have magnetic closure so your secrets won't be leaked, even when your book is upright.

#6

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

SecretSafeBooks Report

Kara Witham 4 weeks ago

Would like to mention that all of our books have a magnetic closure, so your ring won't pop out before you're ready to pop the question.

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#7

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

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Kara Witham 4 weeks ago

btw all of our books have a magnetic closure, but our gun books have one that's stronger than our others, capable of keeping inside a fully loaded Glock with additional full magazine while book is held upside down.

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#8

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

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PyroarRanger 3 weeks ago

I haven't read this book yet, but I have a feeling my younger sister (she's 10) will go NUTS about this!

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#9

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

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d r e a m w o r l d 4 weeks ago

Bookception! Hmm... I wonder if a mini-mini book is placed inside the mini book!

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#11

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

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Beth Velletri 3 weeks ago

Your product photos are beautiful!

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#15

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

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Kara Witham 4 weeks ago

A bride-to-be sent me a pic from Pinterest of an "Unbreakable Vow" ring bearer book, so we made our own version.

#16

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

This is my all time favorite love story, and I love the beautiful clothbound edition here. (Penguin Classics)

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#17

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

SecretSafeBooks Report

Kara Witham 3 weeks ago

Hi Linda, We can't do some books with the movie tie-in cover art, particularly Lionsgate (The Hunger Games, etc). Plus we're not allowed to copy for resale purposes any illustrations or text from the book as that obviously is the very definition of violation of copyright laws. We purchase books, alter them by creating the cutout sealed with archival bookbinding adhesive and a neodymium magnetic closure, then sell our work. We also resell altered (dog-eared/creased/yellowed) books for either greater or lesser profit based upon how rare/mint/wrecked the volume is, like millions do on eBay as well. Many thanks for taking the time to look at my work and to comment, I really appreciate it. Please always feel free to let me know if you have any further questions, and I'll do my best to help make sense of things.

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#19

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

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Kara Witham 4 weeks ago

btw all of our books have magnetic closure, so for example here your "holy spirits" won't leak out of this imbible.

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#20

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

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Kara Witham 4 weeks ago

Hi Eva, I understand your concern. There are gun owners who keep a loaded one in the nightstand and others who forget to lock their gun cabinet. I'm trusting our customers to hide a gun in our book where it will be placed on a high shelf away from children, or behind the locked door to the bedroom or study.

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#22

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

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PyroarRanger 3 weeks ago

I love the herringbone (I think that's what it's called?) pattern made with the books around the hollow one!

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#24

7 Years Ago I Walked Off My Day Job As A Museum Guard To Make Hollow Books For A Living

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Tarah G 3 weeks ago

One book to rule them all!!

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