Are you a reader? Do you love curling up with a good book? Or, are you a former book reader who’s jumped on the Audiobook bandwagon? Or, is your attic or storage area filled with books that are no longer used?
If so, this is your opportunity to declutter. Dozens of organizations and businesses are happy to receive your donated books. By donating your unused books, you have an opportunity to share them with others who love to read.
Bonus: You’ll have more free space in your house too!
Where Should I Donate My Books?
You might be wondering why you should donate your books instead of selling them or throwing them away. Well, I can think of two reasons.
First, donating your books means they’ll have a chance at being re-used instead of sitting in a landfill. Second, by donating your books you’re encouraging others to read.
This article from Real Simple says there are many science-based reasons to read an actual book. Here are some of them:
- Reading increases intelligence
- Reading can help fight brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s
- Reading can help a person relax
- Reading before bed can help a person sleep
So, by donating your books you are creating a potential to help others in many ways. Here are X different places you can donate books; some local and some via the internet.
Where to Donate Your Books Locally
There are places you can donate your books right in the city you live in. Here are some of the most common places to donate used books near you.
1. The Goodwill
Do you have a Goodwill thrift store in your area? If you haven’t been to it, you should check it out. They have phenomenal deals on clothing, household goods and more.
Shopping at Goodwill can save your family loads of cash. But you can also donate new or gently used items to Goodwill. There are over 150 Goodwill stores in the United States and Canada that will happily accept your books.
Goodwill uses the money they get from selling your books and other items to provide job training and placement for people in the community where the store is located. So, by donating your books to Goodwill, you’ll have a hand in helping people find meaningful employment.
2. Salvation Army
According to their website, the Salvation Army “exists to meet human need wherever, whenever and however it can”. Pretty cool, huh?
The Salvation Army will schedule a pick-up time and date and come right to your house to get your books. They also accept clothing, furniture, appliances and more.
After they pick up your books or other donations, the Salvation Army sells them to other organizations. Then they use the money to fund rehabilitation programs that help people overcome addiction.
3. The Epilepsy Foundation
My mom has had Epilepsy since she was a kid, so we like to donate stuff to the Epilepsy Foundation. Along with books, the Epilepsy Foundation accepts other household goods such as:
- Clothing, jewelry and accessories
- DVDs, CDs, computer software
- Records and tapes (ask your parents – they’ll explain 🙂 )
- Toys, games and puzzles
- Small appliances
- Small furniture items that can be carried by one person
And more. The Epilepsy Foundation will come to your house and pick up your donated books and other items. Then they sell the items to other organizations and use the money for Epilepsy research.
The Foundation also supports organizations that give care and support to those suffering with Epilepsy.
4. Local Thrift Stores
Many cities have local thrift stores that aren’t associated with national organizations. Most local thrift stores are run by some type of local church or charitable organization.
If you have local thrift stores near you, call or visit their website to find out if they accept book donations. I would imagine most do.
5. Your Local Library
Local libraries often accept book donations as well. Libraries generally do one of two things with the donated books they receive:
- They put them on library shelves for members to borrow
- They put them in occasional book sales to earn money that will be used to support the library’s expenses
By the way, if you are interested in buying different books after you donate, the library can be a great place to shop. Our local library always has several shelves of books available for sale at low prices.
Some books are even priced “make a donation”, meaning you can pay whatever you wish for the book. But if you’re not interested in buying more books, you’ll certainly do yourself good by donating some of your own.
6. The Little Free Library
Have you ever heard of the Little Free Library? Those are the little house-shaped boxes that reside in many neighborhoods.
The goal of the Little Free Library is “building community, sparking creativity, inspiring readers”. When you see a Little Free Library, you can borrow a book, or you can donate books.
If you don’t have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood, consider having one installed. They’re a great way to get people reading. And, you could start the collection by donating your own books.
7. Women’s Shelters
Many larger cities have women’s shelters in them. Women’s shelters house women and children that have left abusive or dangerous situations.
Women and children sometimes spend many months at shelters. They’re taught to live independently, get a job and form healthy relationships.
Having books to read to pass spare time and educate themselves is important. Contact a women’s shelter near you to see if they will accept your donated books.
8. Vietnam Veterans of America
Vietnam Veterans of America is another organization that serves our military. When you call to schedule a pick-up, they’ll come to your house and take your books and other household items.
The VVA uses profits from your donations to provide services to veterans. They also provide services to those currently serving.
Note: the VVA doesn’t have locations in every state; check their website to see if they have services in yours.
9. Habitat for Humanity Re-Stores
Habitat for Humanity works to build homes for needy individuals and families. The Habitat Re-Stores sell used goods to earn money to build more homes.
Some of the items the Re-Stores sell are house-building supplies they couldn’t use. For instance, they might sell windows someone had donated that need scraping and painting.
The Re-Stores also sell household items that people have donated. Many of the stores will take furniture, building supplies, dishes, lamps, etc.
Some, but not all, of the stores will take books and similar items. Find Re-Store locations near you, and call first to see whether or not they take donated books.
Your local hospital may take donated books as well. Children’s books are especially favored at many local children’s hospitals.
You might wonder why a hospital would want your old books. Well, some kids and adults have to spend several days, weeks or months in hospitals.
Many hospitals have libraries available so that longer-staying patients can keep entertained. Check with local hospitals near you to find out which ones accept donated books. The hospitals may have parameters around what types of books they accept as well.
11. Paper Retriever
Paper Retriever is a recycling business that uses your recycled books to earn money to help others. For example, if you’ve got a Paper Retriever location near you, they might use the money they get from recycling your donations to help local schools or women’s shelters.
Not all states have Paper Retriever locations. Paper Retriever currently has location in the following states:
Click on the link above if you live in one of these states to find out if there’s a Paper Retriever near you.
12. Your Local School, College or University
Many local colleges have libraries and will gladly accept your donated books to add to their catalog. Call local colleges and universities near you to find out which ones accept donated books.
Some local elementary and secondary schools may accept your book donations as well. Schools in poorer areas seem to be most eager to accept donated books. Talk to school librarians at your local schools. for more information.
13. Local Literacy Programs
Many local cities have specialized literacy programs that will accept your book donations. The availability, terms and conditions change with each program.
Just google “literacy programs near me” for more information. The search should populate a list of programs. You can contact each program to see if they’re interested in your book donations.
14. Freecycle or Craigslist Free Section
You can always advertise your books on the Craigslist Free section or on Freecycle. You might end up donating them to a local school library, or just to some guy who wants or needs books.
Giving away stuff on a free site might not seem like a “donation” per se. But you never know how big of an impact you can make on people just by giving them stuff.
Your freebie books might help a person or family recovering from homelessness. Or they might benefit a struggling community. Just give, and let life do the rest.
Places You Can Ship Your Books for Donation
Other companies that may not be near you allow you to ship your books for donation. Check out some of these options and see if they tug at your heart.
15. Operation Paperback
Operation Paperback is a cool organization that collects books and sends them to our overseas military troops. They also distribute books to troops and veterans here at home.
Serving a tour of duty in the military can be an incredible amount of work. However, depending on where you’re serving there’s also down time.
And many remote areas are free of regular wi-fi service. Your donated books give troops a way to learn and entertain themselves at the same time.
Note: Operation Paperback wants children’s books too.
Tearjerker warning: they send the books to deployed soldiers so they can read them to their kids here at home via a webcam. If that doesn’t make you want to donate to Operation Paperback, I don’t know what will!
16. Reader to Reader
Reader to Reader is a non-profit organizations dedicated to bringing free books to under-resourced schools and public libraries. They focus on serving the nations poorest communities.
If you want to send your books to them so they can give those books to underprivileged communities, just visit their website. You’ll find a tab on the site that says “Lend a hand”.
That tab will provide you with the address where you can send your books.
17. Kids Need to Read
Kids Need to Read is another organization that helps provide books to underprivileged kids and communities.
You can donate cash to Kids Need to Read, or you can donate your books. Note that they only accept books that are in “like new” condition.
18. Books Through Bars
Books Through Bars is a charitable organization that provides books to men and women in prison. The books they collect are sent to people who write letters asking for books.
Books Through Bars may or may not accept the type of books you want to donate. If you go to their website, you’ll find a list of the types of books they do and do not accept.
19. Books for Africa
Books for Africa collects books to send to students living in….well….Africa. Their website says they’ve shipped over 41 million books to 53 African countries since 1998. Wow!!!
If you want to send your books to this great cause, just check their website. The website will share which types of books they accept. Note: they’d really appreciate it if you’d send a donation to cover shipping with your books. However, a monetary donation is not at all required.
It just helps cover shipping costs as sending books overseas is a bit costly. Also, they do have locations in Atlanta, Georgia and St. Paul, Minnesota. You can drop your books off at their warehouse if you live near one.
20. African Library Project
The African Library Project uses book donations to start children’s libraries in African communities. Their website says that most children in Africa grow up without books to read. 🙁
That’s changing thanks to the African Library Project and similar organizations. To date, they’ve established nearly 2,300 libraries in African communities.
You can donate your gently used children’s books to this cause and help kids in Africa learn to read.
21. Books for Soldiers
Books for Soldiers started when a guy had friends in the Gulf War asking for books as they dealt with massive downtime. His arsenal of books soon disappeared, but the requests for books didn’t.
Books for Soldiers turned into a non-profit mission to get books to soldiers all over the world. If you want to donate books to military troops, just head over to their website.
On the right sidebar you’ll find a tab that says “Click here to enter our forum where the troop requests are”. From there you can find information on where to send your books. You’ll be shipping your books directly to a person or group.
Bookmooch is a cool site that allows you to give away your books. For each book you give away you’re awarded points. You can use those points to “buy” books from others. Or, you can specify that your books go to certain charitable organizations.
Just mail your books in and choose whether you want to donate or receive points. Note: you get points for donating books too.
Other Options for Your Books – Sell Them
So, what if you’re in a position where you really need some extra cash? If money is super tight or if you are trying to reach a financial goal such as paying off debt, why not sell your books?
Here are some places you could sell your used books and potentially get some cash for them.
Decluttr is a cool site where you can sell your stuff directly to them.
Note: Decluttr only accepts textbooks. So if you’re recently out of college and want to sell old textbooks, this could be the way to go.
Here’s how it works: you go to the website and punch in the ISBN (barcode) number on the back of your book. Decluttr will give you an immediate price quote for the book.
If you accept the quote, they’ll send you a shipping label and you can box up and ship your books. And, it’s FREE. Decluttr pays for shipping.
Bonus: Decluttr will also buy other items from you, such as:
- DVDs and CDs
- Video games and video game consoles
- Tech stuff such as cell phones, iPads, etc.
After you ship your stuff to Decluttr, they’ll analyze it. If it’s in the shape you indicated it was, they’ll deposit your cash into your PayPal account.
Bookscouter is another site that will buy your books from you. Again, Bookscouter primarily buys textbooks. One cool thing about Bookscouter is that when you enter your books ISBN number, it’ll populate a list of buyers.
You get to choose the buyer you want to work with.
24. Half Price Books
Got a Half Price Books location in your area? Half Price Books will buy fiction and non-fiction books on the spot. Simply bring your books into a store, and the employees will give you quotes on each book.
Or they’ll give you a quote on the whole bunch. You can get your cash immediately, or get a gift voucher to buy stuff from Half Price Books.
25. Sell Back Your Book
Sell Back Your Book is a site that will buy just about any type of book. There are parameters, such as that the book has to be in good condition. But they do buy fiction as well as non-fiction books.
Just like with other sites, you’ll enter the ISBN number of your books and get a price quote. When you accept the quote, they’ll send you a free shipping label.
After you send them the books, they’ll assess their condition and make sure it’s as stated. You’ll generally receive your money within seven days of the books being assessed.
Choose PayPal for payment in order to receive your money the quickest.
26. Your Local Independent BookStore
Some independent bookstores will buy used books IF they’re in good condition. Check the Net for “local bookstores near me” or “bookstores near me”. Look for bookstores that are non-chain types of stores.
Many of these types of shops have used book sections where they’ll resell books they bought from others.
Again, most bookstores want books that are in good condition. This means free of scribbles and damaged pages and with bindings intact. Think about what you’d expect to see if you were shopping at the stores. Then go from there.
Make a Difference
I’m a big believer in donating books if you have some you’re no longer using. Literacy is a powerful tool for overcoming many of life’s challenges.
You can change a person’s life with the right book. For me, my financial life started to change when I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. The book was “donated” to me by a friend.
One book can truly change a person’s path in life. Consider donating your unwanted books to one of the places or charities mentioned here.
And don’t feel bad about making a difference in your own life by selling your used books. If you’ve got some serious and important financial goals, sell the books and earn some cash.
It might not seem like those small steps of selling a few books will make a difference in your financial life. But I’m here to tell you that all of your pennies and dollars will add up when used correctly.
Make a commitment to designate this type of unexpected income toward your financial goals. Then watch as you move closer and closer to achieving your dreams.
Have you ever donated books?
If so, which organization did you choose? Have you ever sold used books? Tell us about the process and how it benefited you. Share in the comments below.