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Getting Rid of Books - Selling, Donating and Other Options

Updated on October 17, 2011

Is your home overflowing with books? Maybe it’s time to get rid of some. First you have to decide which books go and which books stay. In my house I have a finite number of bookshelves and they are always full. When I go to put books away and there’s no room to put them, then some books need to leave the house.

Sometimes it’s easy to go through your bookshelves and pull a handful of books. Ask yourself why you are keeping your books. You may want to lend your books to a friend, you may want to read them again, and a certain number of books on your shelves will be reference books.

One trick I use is to pull 10 books. I find it easy to pull just a few books at a time rather than go through the whole of the collection. I can also tell my children to go and find 10 books they don’t want. That is also easier for them than telling them to sort all their books in one go.

Here are a number of suggestions of ways you can get rid of books if you feel you have too many.

Sell them online

Many people sell book on Amazon, eBay, half.com and other online book selling sites. This is a good method of getting rid of a lot of books, but if you are getting rid or just a few it may be more annoying than it’s worth. You will have to get some packing materials, and either work out how to print shipping labels online, or be prepared for a trip to the Post Office. When you do sell a book you are expected to ship it within a day or two and if you are not able to respond quickly to a sale, then listing them online may not be the best for you. It’s best not to list books for only a few dollars. If you are going to interrupt your day with a trip to the Post Office, you want to get at least $10 for each book.

Fulfillment by Amazon

If you have a few books that would sell for a good price and don’t want to ship them at a moment’s notice, you can use Fulfillment by Amazon. This is where you list your own books, and then send them to Amazon in one parcel and they ship them for you when they sell. Apart from the fact that you are not rushing to ship a book one it has sold, the advantage of this is that your books are eligible for Amazon’s free shipping with Super Saver Shipping and Amazon Prime.

Ask someone to sell them for you

Many small online booksellers will do consignment sales. You can often give a box of books to a seller and they will sell what they can and donate the rest for you.

Sell them locally

Some bookstores, including Half Price Books, will buy your used books from you. If you are having a garage sale, you can put your books in your sale.

Online Book Swapping Sites

There are a number of online book swapping sites, including paperbackswap.com. You have to list the books you are offering and then ship them when requested, but other people will ship books to you that you request. This ensures that you don’t gain books, but lose one each time you gain another. Paperbackswap also works with CDs and DVDs.

Give them to a friend

Maybe your friends would be blessed with the books you don’t want. Just offer that they can choose what they want and leave the rest, don’t give them a huge box of books they really don’t want.

If I’ve read a book and I give it to a friend I always tell them not to worry if they forget to return it. Most times I lend a book I don’t get it back.

Donate them to your library or thrift store

Most libraries collect used books and then have a book sale once or twice a year to earn money for new library books. You can get a tax receipt if you donate books to a library or thrift store. Sometimes local organizations such as women’s shelters and children’s hospitals will be grateful for your donations of books.

Box on the curb

I live in an area that has a lot of foot traffic. I will often put a box of books on the sidewalk with a big sign saying, “Free”. The box is usually gone within an hour.

Freecycle them

Freecycle is a method of getting rid of anything you don’t want, including books. You post an ad on a yahoo group, communicate with someone by email and then they come and pick up what you don’t want. Usually I leave my stuff on my porch and someone comes and takes it. I think it is about the easiest method of getting rid of stuff, especially for something heavy such as a box of books.

Throw them in the garbage

Old college textbooks that are 20 or more years old don’t have any resale value. Also books that have mold on them, the only thing you can do with them is to throw them in the garbage.

Think before you buy

When once you have reduced your pile of books try and think before buying more in the future. You can get books from the library, buy books on Kindle or the Nook e-reader in order to reduce the amount of books in your home.

Bring books home, let some leave

Each time you buy books then let some others leave the house. If you buy three, get rid of three. Then the number of book you own will at least not be going up.

Videos and DVDs

You can apply the same methods to videos and DVDs. Although now with many places offering instant download, it’s easier to not buy DVDs in the first place.

Just realize that while stuff if good, too much stuff is bad and that goes for books as much as anything else.


Please let me know in the comments section how you get rid of the books you don't want.

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