How to Get Rid of Old Books

Four Methods:Donate Your BooksSell Your BooksTrade Your Old BooksUse Other Methods

You may be an avid reader, but the dusty pile of books in your room is starting to be a nuisance. You don't have the heart to throw your old books away, but you don't have much of a use for them anymore. To get rid of your old books, you can either sell them, donate them, or use a few other handy tricks.

Method 1

  1. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 1
    Donate books to people all over the world. You can make a big difference in the lives of people who are desperate for some books. You can look through a variety of International book donation program websites to find the one that's right for you. You can try this International Book Donations Program web site. The page lists institutions, organizations, and town or village programs that have no other way of acquiring reading and educational materials.
    • Choose from the geographical index, or go to the International section, which lists very large agencies that collect and redistribute to many countries.
    • Subjects, language, and level of books requested are listed, along with contact information. Be sure to get in touch with them first, to make sure they need your materials. For overseas shipments, you will need to get a customs form from the post office.
  2. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 2
    Donate books to your local library or a Friends of the Library Group. Most libraries have yearly book sales. They'll resell to raise money for the library, and you'll get a tax write-off. Make sure your donated books are in resale condition. If your books are moldy, stained, filled with personal information, or missing some pages, then they won't be accepted.
  3. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 3
    Donate your books to a thrift shop. Most thrift stores have book departments, and they would be happy to take on your old books, as long as they're in good condition. Check out the thrift stores in your neighborhood and see if they have a need for your old books. They may be more likely to take them if you also have some clothes or other items to donate.
  4. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 4
    Donate your books to a church. Many churches accept donations of books, which they give to the less fortunate or sell to raise profits for their establishment. Check out the churches in your area and see if any of them are accepting used books.
  5. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 5
    Donate your books to another charity. Search the internet for charities in your area that are accepting book donations. There are a lot of countries trying to rebuild their libraries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
  6. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 6
    Release your books "into the wild". BookCrossing is a website that allows you to register your books and to leave them somewhere for a person nearby to enjoy them.
  7. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 7
    Set up a "Free Books" box. Find a location where people wait--a laundromat, hospital waiting room, bus stop, and the like. Place a box saying "Free Books" on your street. At your work or school, place a box saying "Free Book Exchange" in an alcove or eating area. Just remember that you may need to get permission from the staff in the location first.
  8. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 8
    Donate your books through a free online merchandise page. There are a variety of pages that allow you to donate your books for free. Visit Freecycle or Sharing is Giving to find a group in your area. These groups list many sites tailored to your location where you can post listings of things you want to give away.
    • People who want the books will come to your home or workplace to pick up the books. Make sure you're comfortable with giving away your home or work address if you're using a web site with this particular feature.

Method 2
Sell Your Books

  1. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 9
    Sell your books online. Sell books yourself on a site such as eBay, Half, and Amazon. Expect these sites to take a commission of at least 15% of the sales price. Be willing to lower the price over time if the book isn't selling.
    • To sell your books online, you'll have to set up an account at a website, provide some basic information about the book, and wait for an interested customer to come along.
  2. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 10
    Sell your college textbooks to the college book store. If you used the textbooks recently, you may be able to sell them back for a fraction of their original cost. You can call the store in advance to see if this is an option. You'll most likely have to sell the textbooks to the same campus bookstore where you got them, though you could get lucky and find that the textbook store of a different campus is also buying and selling those books.
  3. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 11
    Sell your textbooks to students who will need them. Find college students who will be taking a class that you've just finished taking and see if you can sell them your books at a fraction of the cost -- both people will benefit from this exchange. You can ask your friends if they know anyone taking the course in the future, or even stand outside the course after the first day and approach some students who might not have had a chance to buy the books -- just don't be too aggressive.
  4. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 12
    Sell your books to a used book store. Used bookstores typically buy back or give trade credit for selected books in good condition. Most used bookstores will price current titles at around half the cover price and pay around 15% of the cover price in cash, or 20% in trade credit. The store will also look up book values, so if you've priced your book online, that's what a store would expect to sell it for, not what they would pay you for it.
    • If you want the most money possible, sell the book yourself online; for speed and convenience, offer the books to a used bookstore.
  5. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 13
    Sell your books at a garage sale. You can hold a garage sale to sell these books as well as a few larger items to hook some customers. If you're selling some furniture and have some interested customers, you can direct them to your books. You can advertise for the sale through a sign or even by alerting your Facebook friends or friends on other social media that you'll be having a sale -- just make sure you only tell the friends who know well enough to tell your address to.

Method 3
Trade Your Old Books

  1. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 14
    Host a book swap. Invite a few of your friends over and tell them to bring a box of old books. Then sit around and look through each other's books to find books that might appeal to you as you encourage your friends to take some of your books. Just make sure you don't end up with even more books than you started with.
  2. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 15
    Host a books-only White Elephant party. During this fun type of gift exchange, all the wrapped books (or "gifts") will be placed in the middle of the room. People will take turns selecting gifts and will compete to swap for more desirable gifts. Make it clear that you'll only be swapping old books. A minimum of six people will make this a fun gifting game.
  3. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 16
    Trade your old books for new books. There are a variety of websites that allow you to trade your old books for new books that you are excited to read. Visit BookMooch, Green Textbooks Recycling, PaperBackSwap, orTitle Trader. For every book you send to someone else, you get a credit towards getting a new book.
  4. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 17
    Trade books for video games, CDs, or movies. Swap is a web site that allows you to trade your books for other products that may interest you. This is a great way to build up your CD, movie, or video game collection while getting rid of your old books.

Method 4
Use Other Methods

  1. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 18
    Give away your books at a party. Throw a party for a group of your favorite book-loving friends. After an hour or two have passed and a few drinks have been consumed, place a box of your old books in the middle of the room and tell your friends your books are up for grabs. Your friends will rush toward the box and will furiously select a few of your books. You'll be surprised by how quickly the box of books will be empty.
  2. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 19
    Give the books to friends who would like them. Go through your books and put post-its on the cover that mark the person who would most appreciate them. Then distribute the books to the few friends you thought of. This will look like a thoughtful gift instead of an attempt to get rid of something. Just tell your friends something like, "This made me think of you" or "I know you'll love this book," and they'll gladly take the books off your hands.
  3. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 20
    Make a hollowed out book. If your book is so old and worn that you and anyone else can have no use for it, have fun by hollowing out the book and using it as a treasure chest to hide your secret things. Here's how you can hollow a book:
    • Find an old book with a relatively sturdy cover and glue the pages together with Elmer's glue. Wait for them to dry for at least 15 minutes.
    • Use a pencil to mark the rectangular area at least 1/2 an inch (1.2 cm) within the perimeter of the book.
    • Use an Exacto knife or a box cutter to cut through a chunk of pages at a time.
    • Continue to cut through chunks of pages until you've hollowed out the book.
    • Enjoy storing your favorite items in the book.
  4. Image titled Get Rid of Old Books Step 21
    Recycle. If your books are so decrepit that no one can have a good use for them, it may be time to throw them away. If you do want to throw your books away, recycling is the best and most environmentally-friendly option. Some city recycling programs allow you to put paperbacks into your single-stream recycling bins, and other municipalities will recycle books if brought to a solid waste deposit. Check with your local council website to find out if your books can be recycled.


  • If donating your books to a 501(c)3 nonprofit (charity) agency, ask for a receipt so you can get a tax deduction.
  • If selling at a garage sale, be creative (and cheap!) with your pricing. Starting with 50 cents each, or 5 for $2.00, encourages people to take more books. Especially if you have lots of books, remember the goal is to get rid of as many as possible, because books are hard to store and heavy to tote to the resale shop. Make the price hard to resist and you will have better sales.
  • Check the condition of a book before you sell it. Worn, marked-up, stained, or broken books are in low demand and, if you're selling books to a store, will make the buyer look askance at your other books.
  • File cardboard boxes work well for hauling books. Local bookstores are usually willing to give away empty boxes, but call first.
  • Grab a bag and wander around your town/village with some of them, and don't set prices; get people to offer so they think they're getting a bargain!


  • Don't give a book away before researching its value.
  • College bookstores are notorious for only paying out small amounts in their buyback programs.
  • Garage sale books do not always sell well.
  • Some bookstores charge tax on items when you use your trade credit.

Things You'll Need

  • Old books
  • Packing materials - envelopes, packing tape, stamps (if using a website which will involve your packing and shipping)

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Books