What to do with unwanted books: How to sell, donate, or get rid of used books

by Anousheh

Have you decided to downsize your life and declutter your home? And now you’re trying to figure out what to do with all the stuff you want to get rid of?

I know that for some people this can be one of the hardest parts: Trying to figure out what’s the best way to deal with the things you decluttered. Especially books are usually still in great condition, and it would be a shame to just throw them away.

That’s why today I’m going to show you what to do with unwanted books. You basically have two options (other than throwing them away):

  • Sell them.
  • Donate them.

I will go more in-depth on those two options you have when figuring out what to do with unwanted books in this post.

what to do with unwanted books

How and where to sell used books

Selling books is a great way to repurpose your books but also still get some value from them. It is my go-to option when I’m deciding on what to do with unwanted books, even though it takes a little more effort. The effort depends on how you sell them and doesn’t have to take that much time. I’ll go into detail about some great options.

Book Scouter

The best way to sell books, in my opinion, is through BookScouter. You can look up all the books you want to sell, and they will automatically search through 30 book buyback vendors with a single search, for the best price.

You can then send your books, usually with free shipping, to the buyback vendor all at once, and get the money a few days later.

It’s such an easy service and a great way to get rid of a lot of books fast while still making decent money. You’d actually be surprised how much you can still get for some books. My boyfriend and I recently wanted to sell a few books we already read, not thinking that we would get that much for those few used books. We ended up selling them for 120$ by simply sending a box full of all the books out.

Now that’s what I call easy money! You can check out your sell back price here.

Craigslist

open book

Craigslist is not only a great option for figuring out what to do with unwanted books, but to sell pretty much anything. It’s a little more effort since you have to take pictures of all of the items and send them out individually.

But you can usually get a bit more money out this way. So if you don’t have that many books to get rid of, or you want to make as much money as possible, Craigslist could be a great way.

eBay

The same goes for eBay. You can sell pretty much anything here, from books to clothes, electronics, etc. However, eBay will take a (small) commission if you sell your items.

Some items sell a little better through eBay. I personally feel like electronics can work better here. Even though you might be able to make a bit more money, you need to consider the commission cost.

Amazon

Amazon will also take commission, but some books might be easier to sell there (especially more expensive ones). But again, you should see how much you will get in the end, once shipping and commission have been subtracted, and see if it’s worth the hassle.

You also have the extra effort of packing everything and shipping it, so keep that in mind as well.

Do you still have a hard time letting go of your books because they have sentimental value to you? You can find out how to deal with those in my post on how to declutter sentimental items.

Facebook Marketplace

bookshelf with plants on it

Facebook Groups or Facebook Marketplace can be a great and easy way to sell your unwanted books. A lot of people also categorize their books (by genre, for example), and sell them in bundles. This minimizes your efforts as well.

There’s no commission for selling on Facebook, and you can make use of the huge community that’s active on Facebook every day. There are also Facebook Groups specifically for selling used books. Either you have them picked up or you could also ship them.

If you offer to ship, you’re more likely to sell them soon since the audience is bigger. But this will also require more effort and shipping costs.

However, you shouldn’t pay the shipping cost yourself. If somebody wants the books shipped to them, they should also pay for the cost.

Garage Sale

If you also want to sell a lot of other stuff along with your used books, a garage sale could be a great idea. While you might not make as much money as you could with other ways, garage sales are perfect for selling a lot of different things in a short amount of time. You also don’t have to take your stuff very far.

You could also start with a yard sale, and then sell whatever didn’t get sold on another platform.

What is the best place to donate books?

When figuring out what to do with unwanted books, donating them can be your way to go for a lot of reasons. Either your books are pretty old and not that valuable. Or maybe you have a lot to get rid of and don’t want to take the time to sell each one. Or maybe you just want them gone immediately and give them to someone who will put them to better use. Either way, you have a few options if you want to donate your used books.

Your local library

old library with many books

You can usually donate your used books to your local library. Just call and see what the conditions are. Some libraries will also accept magazines.

This is also a great solution for those of you who think “What if I ever want to read this again?”. Your books will always easily be accessible to you while also making them accessible to others.

Better World Books

Better World Books “collects and sells new and used books online matching each purchase with a book donation. Each sale generates funds for literacy and education initiatives in the UK, US, and around the world. Since its launch in 2003, Better World Books has raised more than $27 million for libraries and literacy, donated over 26 million books, and reused or recycled over 300 million books.”

You can find your nearest dropbox here. The great thing is that you can simply drop all of your books in one place.

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Charity

If you want to find out what to do with unwanted books, you can also choose to donate to charity centers like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. This is also a great option if you not only decluttered your books, but also other items. You can simply collect everything you want to donate (clothes, household items, books) and drop them off at your nearest dropoff.

It’s an easy one-stop-shop and is perfect if you want to get rid of a lot, fast.

Local nursing homes or kindergardens and schools

Depending on the type of book, donating to your local nursing home or kindergarden/nursery school can also be a great way to get rid of used books. You can sort your books in suitable categories, like childrens books, and donate them accordingly.

Release them

little free library

Putting a box on your sidewalk with things you want to give away for free is not only a great way to get rid of unwanted books but pretty much anything. If your city allows it, just set them free and they will probably be gone within a few hours.

A more exciting way to set your books free is with BookCrossing. You can register your book and then leave it in the wild. Now someone else can go find it, read it and release it again. You can track the whole journey your book makes and can go book hunting as well. While this is a little more effort, it’s a really fun way of repurposing books you read and loved.

Maybe you even have a “little free library” near you. Those are little bookshelves where you can bring used books and then (if you want to) take one that you want to read.

What to do with old textbooks

Textbooks are usually extremely expensive, which is ironically also why some people have a hard time letting them go. But that’s actually good news! Textbooks are easy to sell and you can usually still get pretty good money for them.

Plus, by selling your used textbooks, you help out students who have to spend a lot of money on textbooks, just like you once did.

textbooks stacked on top of each other

You can use BookScouter for textbooks as well, and you will usually find the best price available.

Alternatively, eCampus is a buyback service, especially for textbooks. Simply scan all your textbooks and ship them off. You could also ask the campus store you originally bought them from if they have a buyback service.

Let’s recap!

The best two options when dealing with what to do with unwanted books is selling or donating them.

Go for selling if you don’t have that many books to get rid of, have some time on hand, or still want to get some money back.

Donating is your way to go if you want to get rid of a lot of used books fast and enjoy the thought of passing on your reads to someone in need.

If you still need some help getting started in your decluttering journey, why not check out the 30-day decluttering challenge?

What is your favorite way to get rid of unwanted books? Share it in the comments below!

Do you want to revisit this guide once you have decluttered all your books? Pin it to your Decluttering Board for later!

What to do with used books: 11 ideas to get rid of old books and make some money

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