I’m doing some tidying up of my unread book piles, pulling out titles that peaked my interest a few years ago, but that I’m no longer inclined to need. Given the rise of the used book market, it isn’t worth posting to half.com, when I’m likely to bring in $1 or less for most of the tomes I want to send on to their next home.
The next best thing to money is another book, which is why I list books in need of a good home at BookMooch. At BookMooch I earn points for each book I send to a fellow member. In turn, I get to use those points to mooch books from other users.
But like any retailer experiences, some books just aren’t flying off the shelves in your chosen location or demographic. Thus, I’ve been looking for alternative places to distribute books in need of new homes.
Your local library
The most obvious choice for donation is your local library, most of which will give you a receipt that you can probably use to write off the donation come tax time. Older books aren’t likely to go into circulation, but they may wind up being sold as part of the regular used book sale fundraising.
For those of you looking for more creative places to donate your used books, there are plenty of options.
Looking to get rid of old college textbooks? Already solved that quarterlife crisis and don’t need those self-help books any more? Look no further than your local prison. While the rules vary from prison to prison, many accept a variety of educational and recreational reading materials, since their library budgets are limited.
We all know the resale value of college text books is limited since new editions with different pagination are constantly being issued. Here’s an opportunity to really pay it forward.
- Books Behind Bars provides information about what types of reading materials are accepted by prisons all around the country and to whom you should ship your donation
Prisons also gladly accept used fiction, particularly paperback since it’s easier to ship.
- Books to Prisoners is a volunteer organization that ships requested titles to individual prisoners nationwide. They send out close to 10,000 books a year are are always looking to replenish their stockpile.
People are still looking for ways to support the troops abroad. Shipping your collection of Stephen King paperbacks to deployed soldiers is one way to go.
Basic literacy will forever be a key component of early childhood education. Unfortunately not all school libraries are well-stocked and not all families can afford to buy books for home. These groups try to put books in the hands of young learners throughout the country. So if you have gently used children’s titles to get out of the house, consider these two groups.
- Books First distributed more than 15,000 books to teachers and their classes in 2007, benefiting more than 2000 pupils.
- Project Nightlight reaches out to homeless children, providing “individual tote bags each filled with a security blanket, an age-appropriate book, and a stuffed animal to children (ages 0-10) in homeless shelters.” They are always looking for like new books to be included in their care packages; if you’re as obsessive about your books as I am about mine, most of them are like new.
When all else fails, Got Books? The group ensures no books winds up in a landfill. Some books they sell, donating half the proceeds to a variety of charities, and others they donate to schools.