According to the 2003 Literary Pocket Companion, books can have alternative uses. The following is an extract:
When engineers started searching for a suitably absorbent pulp to lay on the M6 toll motorway in 2003, they found it at an unexpectedly slushy publishing company. The pulp was needed to strengthen the tarmac and create a long-lasting soundproof layer, and the books they found most suitable were Mills and Boon romantic novels.
About 2,500,000 old copies were pulped and mixed into the road’s top layer – that’s about 45,000 books for every mile of Britain’s first pay-as-you-go motorway. Mills and Boon were chosen because of the books’ super-absorbent qualities. “They may be slushy to many people, but it’s their ‘no-slushiness’ that is their attraction as far as we are concerned,” Brian Kent from Tarmac told the BBC.
The BBC account is told here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/3330245.stm. It points out that books used are usually end of line or damaged novels. I’m all for recycling, but I do feel sad at the prospect of only having electronic books in the future. There’s something nice about curling up in bed with a good paperback (thank you for the great idea, Penguin books!) and the feeling of luxury if the book is hardback or a notebook is leatherbound.
And here’s a classic from English Fail Blog.com