Are you ready to figure out the best ways to declutter your books? Maybe Marie Kondo has given you the kick in the pants to get started on it, but now what? What do you with all your books that didn’t spark joy anymore?
As a book lover, it just goes against the grain to throw away books! Especially if they are in perfectly good condition. I mean, it’s not their fault they don’t spark joy in you anymore. But, what to do with unwanted books?
Luckily, there are several ways you can share, sell or even recycle books. And who knows, maybe finding a new home for your books will be what sparks joy in you!
What to do with unwanted books?
Of course, the first thing a lot of people want to do with their unwanted or decluttered books is to try and sell them. Here are a couple of ways to try to get a little money out of your books.
Places to sell your unwanted books
Of course, the easiest way to sell books is to put them on Amazon. Amazon makes it easy to set up a seller account and put your books on there!
But, you’ll need to check and see if your books are even worth anything on Amazon. It’s easy to do, just type in your book in Amazon and see what comes up. If used copies of your book are selling for a penny, it’s definitely not worth your time and effort! But, if you can get a few bucks and shipping is easy, then it might be a good answer for at least some of your books.
Textbooks are always tricky to get rid of. They are expensive and rarely do you get your money back from them. So, your options for recycling these books are somewhat limited.
BookScouter is an online venue for selling textbooks. So, if those old chemistry textbooks are sparking joy (did they ever??), then check out BookScouter and see if this is a good option for those old textbooks.
I go to eBay with either book collections or older books. If you can’t find your book on Amazon, then it might be worth checking on eBay for it.
Unless you’re selling a big grouping, eBay is usually not worth using for popular newer books. But, if you have a bunch of either a genre or an author then eBay is a great way to sell those books.
If you have a rare or vintage book, eBay is a great way to sell that book. But, make sure you do your homework and describe your book well before sending it out there!
A couple of things to remember with eBay, make sure you take lots of pictures and are describe what you have thoroughly. Also, if you use Media Mail to ship your books, don’t put anything else in there. The USPS is very specific about what can go Media Mail. So, check that out before you use it!
4. Yard Sale
Personally, I am not a fan of doing yard sales. But, I know a lot of people who really enjoy them. So, if you are one of the folks that really enjoy hosting a yard sale then, by all means, have at it!
If you enjoy doing yard sales, this is an easy way to get rid of some books and make a little money! Typically, hardcover books go for $1/book and paperbacks go about $.50/book. Children’s’ books vary but are typically about 2-4/$1.00.
5. Local Used Book Shop
Another option for selling your used books might be your local used book shop. We are able to turn books in for credit. Then when we shop there, we are able to get money off on our new books.
What to do with Unwanted Books in Bad Shape
If selling isn’t an option, you may be wondering what to do with unwanted books you can’t sell?
6. Recycling books
If you have a book that is falling apart and isn’t worth selling or donating, then recycling it might be your best option.
Paperbacks are usually not a problem to recycle. You can just put paperbacks your curbside recycle bin.
Hardcovers, however, are a different story. You will need to find out specifics from your local recycling company, but usually, recycling companies don’t want the covers on hardback books. The covers are usually not accepted because of the cloth or amount of glue on the cover. So, if you want to recycle a hardcover book, you probably will need to take the cover off first.
Check with your local recycling company to check what their rules are!
7. Sell to Crafters and Artists
Some books are wanted for their pages. For example, you’ll find all kinds of artists on Etsy who do painting on book pages. If you book is one that might be used for that, you might be able to make a deal with an Etsy seller or artist to buy them.
Where to Donate your Unwanted Books
If selling or recycling your books is not what you are looking for, keep reading! You may be wondering where can I take used books? Well, I’ve got several options for what to do with unwanted books you want to share!
I love donating books to our local library. Our library has a used book store that helps support the library, so I always enjoy giving books to them to help support our local library!
9. Doctor’s Office
Another idea of what to do with unwanted books is to donate them to a doctor’s office. Several of our local doctor and dentist offices have a small “library” table with books you can grab if you want.
Typically they are children’s books. So, if your local doctor or dentist has a table for kids books, this is a great way to recycle books!
10. Vacation home
I love reading on vacation, but it’s such a pain to drag several books there and back. But, I’ve noticed in the vacation rentals that we stay in, most of them have a lending library somewhere in the house.
So, one of my favorite answers for what to do with unwanted books is to take a book (or books) on vacation with me. Sometimes they will be books I haven’t read yet and I’ll read them while on vacation and then leave and just add to their library. But sometimes I’ll bring a few unwanted books just to donate to the cause. And, if needed, I can grab a new book to read from their library.
11. Hotel Library
I’ve noticed that sometimes hotels have lending libraries! So again, if you are on vacation and your hotel has a lending library, bring a few that you can leave and add to their library. And if you need a new book, grab one to take with you!
I’ve just been introduced to BookCrossing, so I’m not super well versed in it yet. But, it is a way of donating books and tracking them. You can sign up at https://www.bookcrossing.com/.
The fun thing about this is you can track where your book goes! If you decide to try recycling your books in this way, you would sign up for BookCrossing and log your book in. You will get a label to put in the book, and then you look up where to leave it!
If you are on vacation, check on BookCrossing and see if you can find a place to pick up a new book near you! Then grab the book and drop it at some other spot along your trip. It’s fun to watch where books go.
13. Little Library
Another really great idea of what to do with unwanted books is to donate them to a Little Library.
Have you heard of the Little Libraries? Do you have any in your town? If you’re not sure, here’s a Little Library Map to check out. This is a wonderful way to declutter and recycle your books and get them into the hands of people who do want them! We have a few of these in our town – even though we’re a small town – so, it’s worth checking your area.
You can also make use of Little Libraries on vacation. Just look up on the Little Library Map to see if there are any near where you’ll be. Again you can donate some of your unwanted books here to a great cause.
What I love about these Little Libraries is that they are free!! Anyone can come and grab a book!! You can’t even do that at a local library, because you need a library card. And, to get a library card, you need an address. So, if your community has a homeless community, this may be a great option to share your books.
If your town doesn’t have a Little Library, you may want to start one. There are plans on their website on how to build one and get it on the map!
14. Book Exchange
A fun idea of what to do with unwanted books is to host a book exchange. This is one of my favorite ways to recycle books. We did this a women’s retreat that I attended. Everyone who wanted to brought books to share. Then, for every book you brought you could get a new book if you wanted.
We also did a book exchange at the elementary school that I worked at. Each year for Earth Day we would have kids bring in books they wanted to exchange. They got tickets for up to 5 books and then they could “shop” the books with their tickets when it was all set up. We sorted them by age level and the kids would get new books to read over the summer.
To host a book exchange, just invite other book-loving friends to join you and bring their books they want to recycle. You can do this through your book club or just invite a group of friends to come over with their books. You can host for adults and/or kids.
15. Donate to Charity
Another great option if you don’t want to run all around town with your books is to just donate the whole lot to a local charity. We have several in the area that supports Hospice and other organizations. They will gladly take whatever books you’ve decluttered and sell them in their shops.
16. Donate to Women’s Shelter
If your area has a Women’s Shelter, it may be worth your while to check if they take book donations. Sometimes they will take both adult and children’s books. But, check with them ahead of time to make sure your books are a good fit for them.
17. Local Preschool
If you have cloth books and board books that you are ready to pass along, I’m sure one of the local preschools would love to have them. Just make sure the books are clean and in decent condition!
Ideas for what to do with unwanted books
There are so many great ideas of what to do with unwanted books! So, whether you recycle them, donate them or exchange them, there are a lot of different ways to get rid of your unwanted books – without feeling guilty.
Do you have other outlets for your unwanted books? I’d love to hear about them and add them to my list!
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Becki is the author and founder of A Book Lover’s Adventures. She has a degree in elementary education, has worked and volunteered in libraries for years, and spent several years in the travel industry. All of this has led to a love of books and travel. Becki loves to share her love by finding literary escapes to share!