Gettin' rid of old books

I’m cleaning-up and cleaning-out this month. I’ve (collected and) moved a bunch of books in the past, but this is the last time many of them are moving. I’m tossing most of them.

Question is… what to do with unwanted books? I’m not so sure they can be recycled (hard covers and all that), and many of them are late 1980’s textbooks. I even have a huge Chilton’s Repair Manual for American Cars up to 1978. I’ll pull out the nice coffee-table (and other) books and donate them, but I’m sure the majority of what I have would be worthless; worth less than worthless, even.

What would you do with them?

If you were in New England, I would say take all of them to Bull Moose. They will pay at least 10 cents for any book, as long its not physically damaged.

You can look the value of books up on Amazon. If they are worth the value of your time you can list them on Amazon and sell them yourself there. If not I would donate most to a libary or other charitable organization (libraries keep a few and their friends organization sells others to raise money). For textbooks it depends on the subject. Most elementary level textbooks from the 1980s are going to be absolutely worthless and you should just put them in the garbage. But an art textbook would still be of interest to a general reader (and thus donated) and there are certain advanced graduate level textbooks (in fields like mathematics) which are still of interest.

The key question about the books is “Are there people around who want to read them.”

The best you can do is either sell them or, if they’re too old or nobody watns them, donate them to some local library.

In my experience libraries only want new hard copies of current bestsellers. Or maybe that’s just my crummy local library.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows in my area takes just about any old book for their book sales. Check to see if the old textbooks are valuable. If not … well, I’ve had a textbook bonfire in my back yard. Can’t just haul 'em around forever, you know?

Get some friends to dress up as Klansmen, neo-Nazis, Good Ol’ Boys, and businessmen. Have some holding signs supporting the Republican candidates, and have others waving the Confederate battle flag. Burn the books. Invite the media. (It would be good to have some Liberal-types protesting them.)

Give them to Goodwill or some similar charity that is interested in taking them. They may not make much from them, but they are set up to figure that out.

Salvation Army. They take everything without question. Load them into boxes and leave them on the dock behind the collection center. We gave away some 20 boxes of books that way after a futile attempt to give them to the library or sell them to a second-hand book store.

Join your local and notso local or go on facebook and find out if your county has a free/trade/buy/sell page. My husband would take the Chilton’s just for the nostalgia value (that and his copy is probably pretty grungy from living in the shop.)

People use old books for crafting if there are any decent photos or they can turn them into planters:

This. My local library system holds a twice-annual sale that makes a ton of money. They collect donations all year long and sell the books out of a warehouse downtown. Folks line up down the street and around the block. It’s madness. They’re going to have to change venues soon. Check to see if your library system does anything similar.

I’d also recommend taking them to the library. I’m a library volunteer and sorting out donated books is part of my job. Very few end up in circulation; we put some in our bookstore, list valuable or rare books on our Amazon account, and send some to, which sells them for us and sends us a check whenever our share of the proceeds reaches $50, which is several times a year. Books that are severely damaged or worthless (20-year-old computer books, that kind of thing) are recycled.

That Chilton’s auto repair book might be valuable, for people who repair old cars.

You can also take things to a used bookstore if you wish; they vary widely WRT what they will take, and what they will pay for them.

List them on one of my favorite sites,

Give books, get books … for free!

The library in my own town had a table made of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. :stuck_out_tongue: They would sell them for 25 cents if somebody wanted one.

Yep. Here it’s organized by the various “Friends of the Library” nonprofits. Very very popular and they will take just about anything.

Our public library does book sales twice a year, too. Sometimes I’ll try one of the local used-book stores first, so I can get some more books for myself, but usually I just donate to the library.

“They burned books. The townspeople made a big pile of em’ out in front of the library and they threw a torch on top, only Big Daddy was outraged. He fought his way through that crowd, clawed his way to the top of that pile, grabbed that lit torch, and turned to that crowd and said: ‘What are you people doin’? This is lunacy! You start a fire from the bottom!’”

I’m going to go against the grain and say DO NOT give them to your library.

We get so many crappy books donated, and people are so proud that they’re helping the library, and preserving literacy, and you know what happens to old nonfiction in the three systems I’ve worked in? The Friends volunteers (mostly old people who shouldn’t be doing hard physical labor) have to take each one, cut the covers and spine off, and physically take the damn things to be recycled. All that takes up time they could be using with stuff that will actually sell, or (god forbid) be new enough for actual consideration on the library shelves. If you are hesitant, then call them, and be honest about the age and condition, and tell them you’re happy to recycle them yourself if they can’t be used by the library. Encourage them to tell you if they can’t use them AT the library, or if they are unlikely to sell or consign for much. (We are supposed to tell people we’re happy to take their donations even when we are crying inside about how worthless and time-consuming they will be for us.)

I can nearly 100% guarantee you that none of your nonfiction will be worth anywhere near the time and effort needed to check the prices on Amazon.

If you have a local bookstore that pays per book regardless of age (and you don’t mind them hating your guts for as long as they remember you), then take them there and be happy for the money. The bookstore will recycle or trash them as soon as you drive off.

If you need to feel you’re contributing to the community, give them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, or save everyone a crucial step and recycle them your own self.

Where is it? Never heard of it.

I’m faced with this problem myself. Have to get rid of a bunch of books before moving back to Hawaii. Some I’ll give to friends who are interested with them, but most will end up at our library, which takes any book you care to give them, hardcover or paperback. It’s the private Nielson Hays Library, which is quite a nice place in Bangkok.
They have stores all over Maine and NH. They are awesome for books, music, movies, and games.