Are you the type of reader who likes to clean out your shelves periodically? I definitely am. I LOVE having books and I want to have a library in my house someday, so I don’t mind owning tons of books. But I figure there’s no point in having books I read and didn’t like. I tend to buy my books cheap, so I don’t mind getting rid of books too much, but sometimes I don’t know what I want to DO with those books. And sometimes it is hard to let go of a book, even if I disliked it from the very beginning. In the end, though, I want books I love on my shelves, and getting rid of books I dislike or won’t read again makes room for the books I will love.
Back in March I did a feature on a few book trading programs. What I really wanted to do was to use this post to compile a list of ways you can trade, exchange, donate, or gift books in every possible way. This was inspired by a post on Good Books and Wine that April wrote about culling your books. I wanted to make a list of all the things you can do with the books you culled! I’m sure I’ll miss some, no matter how much I try to make this *the* definitive list, so feel free to post suggestions in the comments.
So if you’re not looking to clear out books because of shelf space, necessarily, but instead are just getting rid of books you don’t want or disliked, a trading or swapping program may be the best way since you get to take a book off your shelf and then (hopefully) put a new great book on your shelf.
1. YA Book Exchange
I featured YA Book Exchange before, but I decided it was worth featuring again. They only take YA titles & select MG and NA titles, so the book you’re looking to trade might not fit, but otherwise it’s a great directory. I really love the way the system for YA Book Exchange is set up. If you’re interested in listing books for trade, you can fill out a simple form, link to a wish list, and they’ll update the site with the information. Then, if someone is interested in your book, they’ll contact you directly and you can negotiate a trade.
My Experience: I’ve had a pretty great experience with YA Book Exchange. I’ve done several exchanges, and I’ve really only had a problem with one(which was on my end and was the post office’s fault–a book got lost, but we got it taken care of in the end). Other than that, it’s been really great. You do need to keep the site updated, though, if a trade you’ve posted is claimed, which can be hard to remember sometimes. I’ve had to turn trades down because I forgot to send that quick updating the directory email. If you don’t want to list books, you can still browse through the available ones.
I found out about paperback swap actually through the comments on the last post I did on book trading programs, and I’ve since signed up. Instead of trading, it works like this:
Step One. When you sign up, you list ten books you’re willing to send and you get two credits(basically the site currency) for books. It’s okay if you don’t have ten–I only had five when I signed up, so I got once credit instead of two, which was fine.
Step Two. If someone’s interested in a book you have listed, you can accept or decline the request to send the book. If you accept, you can print off Paperback swap paper at home, wrap the book, and send on it’s way. You get a credit for sending once the book is received.
Step Three. You make your own wish list and when a title becomes available, if you have enough credits, the system automatically ask the book owner if they are willing to send the book to you.
My experience: I don’t have a lot of experience with this yet, but I like what I’ve seen. I just sent my first book off, so as soon as it arrives my account should receive a credit. The waiting list for some titles are incredibly long, though, so be aware if you’re the type to want instant gratification.
I haven’t used BookMooch so far, but it seems fairly similar to paperback swap. You list books, receive points for mailing, and requests books from others. I will say that while I know people who have used BookMooch, I have to admit that paperback swap appeals to me a lot more. If you’re used it before, feel free to tell us more about how it works in the comments.
4. Informal Trades
These sites are great, but you can always just trade informally. I’ve seen this work before. You can do it on your blog, twitter, etc. Just post a list or picture of books you’re willing to trade and link to a wish list, and see if anyone offers. I haven’t actually done an informal trade myself(I just prefer to go through something like YA Book Exchange, though I’m not opposed to these informal trades), but I’ve seen other people do it with great success.
If you’re not interested in trading your books, but just want to get rid of some, there are multiple ways to donate or to give them away. When making this list, I tried really hard to think outside the standard ones we all know(though I’ll include those as well), and to see how many ways I could think of to donate or give books.
Obviously, you can do a giveaway. If you have a blog, that’s a pretty easy platform to do one on, but you could also do one on twitter, Facebook. etc.
2. Donate to the public library
I know not every library takes donations, but there’s no harm in asking, right? My library doesn’t take donations for books to place on the shelf but they do take donations for the friend of the library book sale that takes place every November. I love donating my books to this because I know the money made off the books will go right into the public library, which is a system I use a lot.
3. Donate to a classroom library
If you have the ability to do so, you can donate books to a teacher’s classroom library. Both the school libraries & public libraries can’t take ARCs, but if you know a teacher who has some sort of unofficial classroom collection, they may be able to take them. It’s a win for everyone–you can get rid of books you don’t want, and the students in the classrooms will get more access to reading material.
4. Free Book Tables & Little Free Libraries
This will depend on your location, but if you know of a place that offers a free book table, you can always drop them off there. I know my hometown library used to have a table like this. If you live by a college, I can almost guarantee that they’ll have a free book table or multiple free book tables. Just drop your books off and wait for others to pick them up.
Your community might also have a little free library in the area. If you’re not familiar with little free library, here’s their introductory paragraph from their website:
It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!
I really love this concept. I’ve never seen one in action, but I believe I remember reading a newspaper article about one in my area I might have to check out. There’s a map on their website that shows you where all the different little free libraries are located, so you can see if there’s one in your area.
5. Set it Free via Bookcrossing
I haven’t used bookcrossing, but it seems fairly simple. It’s a way of releasing a book into the wild–you print off a label on the site, stick it on the book, and then leave it in an area like a coffee shop or somewhere that gets a decent amount of traffic. You could do this without book crossing, of course, but the cool thing about bookcrossing (from what I understand) is that you’re able to track and see where the book goes as it continues along it’s path.
6. Donate it to a charity
This will depend widely on where you live, but I can almost guarantee that there’s some charity that would gladly take your books. If there’s a shop like Goodwill or Salvation Army nearby, they’ll take books, but you can also think outside the box: Are there any non-profits in your area that focus on literacy? If you’re looking to get rid of children and YA books, think of any charities or non-profits that you know work with children. Don’t be afraid to ask them even if they don’t focus on literacy necessarily.
7. Donate it to ARCcycling
ARCcycling is a program where you can donate books(ARCs and finished copies), and other reviewers can request them. This system is really only for reviewers, bloggers, teachers, etc. –the goal is to make review books more accessible to people–so it’s not for everyone, but it’s a great program if you’re looking to get rid of some newer titles. Since there are only a few places that take ARCs, this might be a good option.
8. Donate to Little Bloggers, Big Ambitions
This is really only for ARCs, but since I’m trying to make this list as comprehensive as possible, I thought I’d include it anyway. Little Bloggers, Big Ambitions is run by Cuddlebuggery, and is a program in which you can donate unreleased ARCs that are given to newer/small bloggers. The full rundown of the program is on the webpage.
9. Give to a friend or relative
If you’re lucky enough to have friends or relatives who love books, go ahead and give them one! I have a friend who I sometimes give books too because I know we have similar taste. Also, if you feel up to paying for shipping, you can also give to a blogger or reader you’re interacted with. I know one of my favorite memories of blogging was when I realized I had an extra copy of a book I found on a friend’s wishlist and was able to send it to her. I got a book out of my space, she got a book she wanted, and everyone was happy.
You can always try to sell your books(though this will depend greatly upon the condition of the original book, and of course, ARCs are not to be sold).
1. Your traditional online selling sites
You can always open up an Amazon or Ebay store and try to sell books through there. I haven’t tried either of these, so I’m not sure how great they are. I do remember I was going to try and sell some of my old college textbooks through amazon and decided it wasn’t worth it in the end. For some books, however, you can trade in directly to Amazon, which is a lot less stressful in my opinion, though you’ll probably get less for the books.
2. Sell to used bookstores
This is one I hardly ever see anyone suggest, and I don’t know why. If there’s a used book store in your area, they have to get their used books from somewhere. Many will buy your books from you and give you store credit(sometimes I’ve seen up to 50% of sticker price for a book in great condition), or cash(though they’ll most likely give you less cash than what you would have earned with store credit). There’s a few used bookstores in my area, and I know one only takes books that are in great condition, while the other takes books in all sort of conditions. Also, if there’s a Hastings entertainment store in your area, they also have a book buying program.
Sometimes you’re not getting rid of books because you don’t want them, but because they have simple reached the end of their bookish life. It’s always a sad day when that happens, and I should know, because I recently recycled my collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. The spine was bent, pages were falling out, and it was a mess all around. I can handle a book with a LOT of shelf wear, but I finally had to admit that this particular copy had reached unreadable levels. I recycled it, but I took to twitter and asked for suggestions of more creative ways to handle books that are no longer readable.
Okay, this is probably the most boring way, but at least something new will get to come out of that book’s life. In a way, it’s like the story will be resurrected through notebooks and new books and all sorts of things we make with recycled paper. It’s not ideal, but it sure beats the book going off to decay in a landfill.
2. Make Bookish Crafts
I started to list every single suggestion I could find but then this post would have been a mile long. Pinterest is a perfect place to find tons of bookish art and crafts. On a single search, I found a bookish picture frame, a kindle cover for a old hardcover, and book flowers(I plan on doing this on one day!). You could make cards, frames, etc. I am not the most crafty person, but I can think that almost any craft you would be able to use book pages to spice it up if you wanted!
Do you have any more ideas on what you can do with old books? As you might be able to tell, I have TONS of ideas how you can give away or donate books, but as not the most crafty person, it’s hard to think of suggestions of ways to create with old books. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments or if you got any ideas from one of these.