15 Places to Donate Your Used Books and Get Rid of Clutter

Looking for ways to rehome your used books lovingly? Whether you are moving out, decluttering, or would love to let someone else make good use of your books, this post has you in mind. 

According to NordSense, 320 million books end up in landfills every other year. In another study by WordsRated, 787.7 million new books were sold in 2022, while 843 million copies were sold in 2021. 

Clearly, there is a big gap between books being sold and those being disposed of every other year. If only people knew how to rehome their used books, they could help save the environment, all while saving other bibliophiles money. 

 Are you looking to share the love of words with someone else? Here are the best places to take your used books. 

Read on. 

1. Public Libraries 

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One of the best places to take your used books is by donating them to public libraries. Most of these libraries will add your books to their collection or resell them to raise funds for their new collections. 

Start by calling your library or checking their website for information about their book donation policies. Remember, libraries have different acceptance criteria, so it is essential to check this information out. For instance, some libraries will only accept books that have a historical significance to them, those that add value to their collection, those in specific subjects and genres, or those in good condition. 

When all is set and done, you can plan drop-offs. Some libraries accept both mailing and physical drop-offs. 

While at it, ask for a donation receipt because some library donations qualify for tax deductions. It is a win-win for everyone!

2. Charities

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Donating your books to charities is a great way to give your collection a new place. Start by identifying organizations that accept book donations near you. These could include the Vietnam Veterans of America, The Salvation Army, or even local branches of national organizations. 

The Salvation Army primarily sells the donated books in their thrift stores, and the money goes to their social aid operations, such as funding rehabilitation centers. 

Some of these organizations offer pick-ups, making everything much easier for you. You may have to check their sites and organize and schedule a pick-up. 

Keep in mind that different organizations may have different acceptance criteria. For instance, some may not accept heavily damaged, torn, or moldy books. 

Such donations typically qualify you for tax deductions, so keep the documentation where necessary. 

3. Bookcrossing 

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Bookcrossing entails releasing your used books in the “wild” for someone else to find them and make good use of them. The new user can then read it before releasing it for the next person to find. 

The most common places to leave books include bus stop seats, train stations, airports, park benches, or anywhere it is likely to get picked. 

People are now “free-styling” in book crossings. However, if you want to track the movement of books you have used, you could use the official book crossing site, which allows users to acquire codes and track the book’s journey. 

4. Reading Initiatives in Communities 

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Many communities have reading initiatives that seek to promote reading culture in young children and adults, improve access to books, and enhance literacy levels. 

 Such communities can make good use of your used books if you are looking to declutter. 

These could include local book clubs, summer reading programs and camps, literacy workshops, and mobile libraries. 

 Start by finding whether you have such initiatives in your community, then reach out to their organizers and schedule a drop-off or a pick-up. 

You may also want to go for organizations such as Operation Paperback, which sends books to troops overseas, or Books For Africa, which collects and donates novels and textbooks to children and young adults in African countries. 

Choosing this path will not only promote reading passion in your community but will also enhance a shared cultural experience from one community to another. 

5. Prisons

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Correctional facilities are almost always looking for books. While most prisons accept fiction and nonfiction books, you can be sure they would accept and appreciate any self-help books you would like to dispose of lovingly. 

Contact your nearest correctional facility and inquire about book donation procedures, acceptance policies, and drop-off schedules. 

Their acceptance procedures may be stricter as there are a good number of books banned by prisons. Also, many of them will not let you donate hardcover books due to security reasons. Ensure to have such information beforehand before getting started.

Donating books to prisons can allow inmates to expand their knowledge, gain new skills, and find solace in literature. Additionally, some books can contribute to their rehabilitation and personal development. 

6. Goodwill and Other Thrift Stores

Goodwill Industries International Inc. (Goodwill) is an American nonprofit organization selling donated items.
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You could also give your books a second chance by donating them to Goodwill and other nearby thrift stores

Goodwill depends on the sales of these items to run their programs. For instance, the Goodwill Community Foundation offers free courses in computer, math, reading, etc. They have over 750 self-paced online courses that help people get the upper hand in their self-development and the job market. 

They also help people acquire employment in renewable energy industries, impart older people with skills relevant to their job security and well-being, etc. For instance, their 2020 annual report states that their courses helped 89,551 people earn employment opportunities outside Goodwill, all while internally employing 122,738 people. 

 Simply put, donating books to Goodwill is an environmentally friendly way to declutter your home, support a charitable organization, and ensure your books find new readers. Plus, it’s an opportunity to contribute to the organization’s broader efforts in helping individuals in the community. 

7. Rehab Centers

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Donating books to rehabilitation centers is a simple yet great way to directly contribute to the well-being of people recovering from physical, mental, and substance abuse. 

Books can play a crucial role in the recovery process. According to Renaissance Recovery Center, Bibliotherapy is a guided reading practice that can help patients work through their problems as they enable self-examination, connection, and needed perspective. 

Additionally, it has been found that reading, whether fiction or nonfiction, can help retain cognitive function and heightened relaxation during the recovery process. 

 Start by contacting rehabilitation centers near you and inquiring about the book types they may accept. This can vary depending on the center’s focus, whether physical therapy, mental health, addiction recovery, or a combination of these. 

Donating to rehab centers can help make a difference in patients’ lives by offering comfort, inspiration, solace, perspective, and even valuable distractions. 

8. Senior Centers and Long-term Care Centers

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A study published by Wiley Online Library revealed that about 61% of seniors living in senior homes described themselves as “moderately lonely,” while 35% described themselves as “severely lonely.” 

Donating books to senior homes can help provide entertainment and distraction from the world. 

Generally, depending on the quality and content of the books, your donations can help enhance their quality of life. 

Besides this, reading can help contribute to their mental and emotional well-being as it provides cognitive stimulation and other social engagement opportunities through book clubs. 

Some senior homes also accept children’s books for when their members’ grandchildren come to visit. Therefore, donating books can help make the bonding times between grandparents and their grandchildren more valuable. 

9. Set up a Free Table 

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Another good way to rehome your books is by setting up a “free table” outside your residence. It is a good way to let your neighbors and passers-by pick what they would make good use of. 

Choose a suitable location that is easily accessible and visible to anyone. Then, set up a weather-resistant space and organize your books. 

You can then add up a sign that invites people to take whatever they want to. People who resell, or those that would love to restock their home libraries may benefit from you setting up a free table. 

You may also want to publicize it in online spaces and let people know that you have set up a free table for anyone who would love a new book collection. 

A free table is a fantastic way to foster a sense of community and reduce waste. 

10. Bookselling Services 

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Looking to declutter and make money while at it? Disposing of your books via bookselling services would be the best way for you. 

There are a lot of online services that facilitate the distribution of used books from one user to another. You may want to resell the books on sites such as eBay. Be sure also to consider Alibris, ThriftBooks, Better World Books, BookScouter, BooksRun, SellBackYourBook, Powell’s, etc. 

These services will give you a prepaid shipping label to ship your books to them. All you may have to do is to scan the barcode and get a quick quote. However, one downside is that most of these would only accept books that are in stellar condition. 

If your book has been heavily used, you may want to consider other avenues. Either way, this is a great way to get money off your used books. 

11. Coffee Shops

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Don’t we all love those cozy coffee shops that have books you can read while waiting for your order and as you have coffee? A lot of these coffee shops’ book collections are obtained from donations. 

Some of them even allow readers to exchange books. 

Reach out to such coffee shops and talk about their policies. A lot of times, they accept books that are relevant to their themes and those that are gently used. 

Your donations to such businesses will not only help people have a calm time sipping their coffee but may also allow them to have more meaningful distractions while at it. Also, you may think of it as helping small businesses around you offer more valuable customer service. 

12. Churches

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Some churches organize book drives within their congregation to help distribute books, promote a reading culture, and promote book ministries. 

Book ministries in churches offer lending services to their congregations, allowing people to read books without spending a penny. 

 If you are part of a church that does not have such a program, you can always propose an idea to start and manage one. The books donated by you and other members can help cultivate a reading culture and keep people well-engaged during church camps and ministries. 

13. Homeless Shelters

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Check out local homeless shelters in your area, as they would be a great place to rehome your books. They are almost always welcoming donations that can help make the homeless people’s lives less complicated. Books are a great distraction members of the shelter can use. 

A lot of homeless people may not have adequate access to leisure activities and entertainment. Your beloved books may serve as a much-needed source of entertainment, inspiration, and distraction, especially in the face of difficult times. 

14. Book Swapping 

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Online and physical book swap programs are a great way to dispose of books you do not use in exchange for other copies. 

This is an especially great way for people looking to cut costs of acquiring new books. 

In a book-swapping community, you can get to ask for a book you have been looking for in exchange for something you no longer need. For instance, online platforms such as BookMooch, PaperbackSwap, or ReadItSwapIt allow you to create accounts and list the books you would like to give away while listing those you would like to receive in exchange. 

 You could also take a step and organize a local book swap or a yard sale of your books. 

 It is not only a great way to reduce clutter and embrace minimalism but also an ideal way to save money that you would have spent buying new books.  

15. Children’s Hospitals

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Looking to dispose of your children’s books? Children’s hospitals may be a great place to get started. It is a heartwarming and compassionate way to bring comfort and distraction to young patients who may be going through challenging medical experiences. 

Reach out to the hospital and inquire about their donation policies, their acceptable book categories, and drop-off schedules. 

You may even volunteer to read books to the young patients if you have the time to. Alternatively, donating the books in gift wrappers is a great way to add a personal touch to these donations, especially during the festivities. 

From Your Shelves To Theirs

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One of the most challenging things for book lovers is getting rid of their beloved books. It is just so difficult to let go, especially after developing an emotional attachment to them. However, having a huge collection of books often ends up becoming a challenge when it comes to storage and space. 

In such cases, ensuring the books end up in new, loving hands would be the best way. Instead of allowing them to head directly to landfills, the initiatives discussed in this piece would be helpful to another bibliophile, all while saving the environment and money. All you may need to do is make that phone call, pack the books, and drop-off to locations that need them.

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