What to do with the books you can't sell and can't bring yourself to throw away

While I’m unemployed, I’ve been cleaning out my bookshelves (something that ought to have happened years ago; we’re always bordering on bibliophibians here at the Neville house). This is always difficult, because for some reason it’s hard for me to throw books out. I can only do it with really ratty old books, and even then it’s hard. ISTR a thread here where some others said they had the same issue. I’d feel kind of bad donating them, because then whatever charity is stuck with something hard to sell, and I can’t help thinking that doesn’t really help them.

Half Price Books has become my favorite place to take them to sell. The reason is, they take any book you sell them (at least, the one near me does). They took a 2001 BritRail Guide to Britain. I have not tried selling them old college textbooks, though. I suspect they throw out some of the books I sell them, but if they do, they don’t tell me about it. It’s the equivalent for books of the farm some people’s childhood pets went to, or (I suspect) the pond my goldfish went to when we moved when I was 10. I get a little money and some shelf space, I get to think that all my books might go to someone else to read, and I’m happy.

If you have some books that you don’t want, can’t sell to a more selective used bookstore, and can’t bear to throw away, this might be a good solution for you. Not that I think any other Doper might have this problem.

(Note: I am not affiliated with Half Price Books in any way, though I wish I were so I could get a discount. But then I might know which books they throw out, so that wouldn’t be so good after all. They are not paying me to say this, but they should.)

A friend just convinced me to join http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php

I have not put any books up yet, and I think that’ll be the problem, time constraints. But if it comes to it I’m ok with recycling books; they aren’t holy objects and none of them are rare, they are just books. If they get shredded no big deal.

My son got rid of a bunch of textbooks for a friend by selling them on Amazon.com. As I recall, he generated over $300-400 for the friend this way when they really needed it. The textbooks need to be reasonably current, of course. If you’re interested, go check them out.

You can sell other books here besides textbooks, of course. There’s a buyer out there for anything if you look hard enough.

I like buying books from the local library. If I don’t think they aren’t worth keeping, I just donate them back for them to resell to someone else. Some of the paperbacks I’ve gotten have been pretty ratty, and one even had a “hidden compartment” cut into the pages. I gave that one to my teeneaged son for his amusement.

My daughter used to work for HPB, and yes, they do throw out some. Usually they put the books on the regular shelves for a while, and then on the clearance shelves for a while, and then they either donate or recycle the books. But the books had a chance to find a new home. I always give the clearance shelves a good thorough look when I go to HPB.

I also donate books to the library, I just removed about $200 (used value, not new) of books from my personal library, as my husband and daughter and I have outgrown some authors.

I have… a lot of paperbacks to get rid of. Decent shape, no idea where to take them.

Some Barnes & Nobles have “book buy-backs”, where you can exchange your books for a certain amount of store credit.

You can sell books by the yard these days. (for people who just want to fill up a bookshelf. Yeah, I know)

I might need to check up on this idea and I’m not yet dead certain how this will work out so don’t lock me down on it, but maybe you could donate them to a hospital/senior citizens/convalescent home, or prison/house of detention.

I’ve always wanted to do one of these, but never got around to it.

Fulfillment by Amazon.

Instead of trying to find individual buyers, you ship Amazon all your old books in once big box and set the prices. Amazon warehouse the books and takes care of all order processing, shipping to buyers, returns and such. Set the prices ridiculously low – a dollar or two or even just a few cents – and you’ll see what people are willing to buy when it comes from Amazon and gets included in their free shipping offers. It works!

Our regional airport has a bookcase full of donated books, for passengers. I don’t know what people do with them when they reach their destination. I left a book at an Amtrak station last summer, but I just left it on a table – I didn’t look around to see if there was a special place for them.

Mostly I donate to the library, and if the mayor ever gets the bookcases up at our community center, I’ll be taking books there too.

I’ll second paperbackswap.com. Been a member for about 3 months; had an offer for one book I requested, but haven’t had any of mine requested yet. I’ll give it awhile. I’ve only got 10 or 12 listed.

Look for a Books Beyond Bars in your city–prison libraries will gladly take them. Or check with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, they do home pickup and take other home goods. Your public library might have a bookstore that the Friends of the Library runs.

Powell’s wouldn’t buy a large handful of my books the last time I sold. I gave the rest to Goodwill.

Not because I’m nice or wanted to do good will…I just didn’t want to throw them away or bother trying to sell them anywhere else.

I take books to Goodwill and to the hospital.

A coworker’s husband works at Goodwill and he says they are very glad to get books. My mom volunteers at the hospital and she says they always need books there. They go room to room to offer books to patients.

I buy my books at a thrift shop.

When I finish I put them in my car.

Next time I go to the thrift shop I give them to them.

Charity and feeds my words in a row addiction.


My technique is simple: only buy books that I will re-read or use as references/sources in the future.

My shelf space sucks, but every single book I own I could grab and re-read. I never had a problem with throwing away books.

A buddy of mine hates owning physical things. As soon as he got an iPad he got a scanner and turned all of his books into ebooks. He cut the bindings off, scanned every page and made them into .pdfs that he then converted into ebooks. Now he still has the books, but not in physical form.

It took him a while, but he’s pretty psyched about the end result.

www.bookcrossing.com - best if you live in an active area.
You could also donate to senior centers or nursing homes, or jails.