I love this idea: "Find a china hutch or curio cabinet on Craigslist, paint it black, and repurpose it into an antique book cabinet." I could do this with my curio cabinet, or the maple hutch in the corner.
More to Your Story centerpiece idea: love the low vase sitting on top of the books. You could always split your tables. Have half of the books standing up and half laying like this. Use 2 different styles of arrangements