Your gonna laugh when I tell you this...
Beat it up with the corner of a brick, and whip it with a section of heavy chain. I'm not kidding -that's how distressed "cargo" furniture is made. But first...
Sauder is made from particle board with a veneer over top -sort of like very heavy duty contact paper. It wears away in time. And if you put that puppy together yourself, you know that its assembled with all kinds of wacky pins and fittings. And so, if you hit it too hard in the right place (where any two boards are joined) you'll break up the particle boards, the fittings will come away and you really WILL have a distressed (and unusable) item on your hands.
Therefore, pull the shelves out and beat them up individually. And attack the other sections on the exposed flat surfaces -not near corners or "joins."
After you've beat the daylights out of it, hit it with a belt sander to wear off SOME of the finish and knock down any splinters. Then paint it using a combination of latex and oil paint. Go to Lowes or Home Depot, and scrounge around the paint mixing area looking for unsold custom mixed paint -usually there in vomitous looking beige colors plus a few wacky day-glo items every now and then. The customer never picked it up, so it is on SALE! Get a quart of something latex and a quart of something oil or alkyd. Mix them together at home -you'll see they don't play well together, swirls of one color running inside swirls of the other. The paint, believe it or not, will actually stick to the bookshelves except where the veneer remains -it will bead up there- but that's part of "the look."
Now get some tissue paper, like kleenex or TP, and dab around the paint you've just applied and make it look absolutely god-awful -EXACTLY what we want. Get a friend to help. Drink martinis while you do this. After a martini, take your plam and put it right smack dab onto the paint -leaving a palm print. Then, your feet!
After everything has dried, spray it with clear laquer, to "seal and protect."
I can't WAIT to see your latest production - I call it "Early Firewood."