getting rid of books
October 28, 2008 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Best ways to get rid of books

I recently got a Sony eink book reader (PRS-505). Its fantastic. I would currently like to start to get rid of books that fill my house, as I slowly accumulate electronic copies of them. What ways would you recommend to give out/sell books, including fiction, non-fiction, technical, non-technical and textbooks ?
posted by blueyellow to Writing & Language (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
donate to your local library
posted by pinksoftsoap at 11:46 AM on October 28, 2008

2nd the above, after letting your friends/family/neighbors take first pick in (free) yard sale type situation.
posted by oblio_one at 11:47 AM on October 28, 2008

This previous question may be helpful.
posted by box at 11:48 AM on October 28, 2008

But yeah, donate 'em to your public library.

(As with most selling things secondhand, there's a balance between how much money you wish to make and how much time and effort you want to put into it. If you have anything that's legitimately valuable, it might be worthwhile to list it on Amazon, eBay, Abebooks or Alibris. List 'em at exorbitant prices and be prepared to wait a long time to actually sell them. If you don't care about profit at all, just leave 'em in a box somewhere near the library, or just leave 'em one at a time in transit stations and indie coffeeshops and the like. If you've got a Half-Price Books (or another store that buys used books) nearby, this might be a good middle option.)
posted by box at 11:52 AM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Donate to goodwill or library for the good feelings and tax benefit. Try book crossing if you are getting rid of them in very small batches, for the fun of it. Otherwise use freecycle if you can spare the time and want to see it go to someone who might use it. Textbooks are probably going to be the hardest to get rid of unless they are very new!
posted by Joh at 11:52 AM on October 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Library, retirement home/center, local coffeeshop (mine has a free book exchange), hospital, rehab center, Ronald McDonald House, anyplace where people do a lot of waiting around and worrying.
posted by headnsouth at 12:01 PM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

First try donating them to the local library. For any books that won't be accepted or that are inappropriate, list them in the local Craigslist or classifieds site or paper for sale at a ridiculously low price and let the eBay traders redistribute them to the public.
posted by MaxK at 12:03 PM on October 28, 2008

When I whittled my collection from about 500 down to about 100, I sold a lot used on After that, it was diminishing returns, so I donated them to my local library, got the tax write off, and I can go visit them whenever I want.

For some of your technical and textbooks, it might be well worth hitting amazon and eBay just to see if they're worth selling.
posted by willmize at 12:03 PM on October 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Another previous question.
posted by Knappster at 12:03 PM on October 28, 2008

Take them to your local used bookstore if they're good books in decent shape. The standard for most places is between 1/4 and 1/3 of resale. So on most paperbacks you'll only make a buck or two, but, if there's lots of books you stand to make a bit. Donate the remainder to the library. Or, weather permitting, a free box on the curb.
posted by melgy at 12:25 PM on October 28, 2008

I suggested both these things in a previous question, I'll suggest 'em here:

If you wanna try making some cash first, try selling them on Amazon. Unless you sign up with a regular "storefront," this costs you nothing up front -- you only post the book up for sale, Amazon takes care of billing the customer, lets you know where to send it, and then Amazon deposits the price and a small reimbursement for the shipping directly into your account (taking a small cut for themselves, of course). You can set the price, but a lot of people undercut the price Amazon suggests, so you may want to pick some kind of arbitrary figure (say, a dollar) under which you will not sell a book, and if you look up that book and see that 100 people are selling it for a penny, you can just not post it.

For books that are in really good condition but aren't worth selling on Amazon, there is there, you post a list of the books you want to get rid of -- if anyone sees anything they like, they email you, and you mail it to them. You do have to pay for the shipping yourself, though. But -- for every book you mail out you get one point, and you can take that point and look at other people's lists -- and if you see something you like, you can use that point to claim it, and then THEY have to mail it to YOU for free.

Whatever you don't get rid of either of those ways, unless it's really dirty or stained, donate it to the library, or put it all in a box on the sidewalk marked "Free!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:27 PM on October 28, 2008

Bookmooch. You give away books, you get points that you can use to get other books or give them away to schools and libraries and such so they can get books.
posted by signal at 12:30 PM on October 28, 2008

Bridge to Asia takes textbooks, although getting the books to them is up to you (shipping or taking to one of their drop-off locations).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:42 PM on October 28, 2008

In my area, there are a number of organizations that hold annual book sales as fundraisers. Some of them are quite huge, and they don't seem to be too picky about what kind of books they take. I presume they get the books from people like you.
posted by greenie2600 at 1:23 PM on October 28, 2008

paperbackswap, freecycle, craigslist, your library, a local school.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:30 PM on October 28, 2008

My problem with donating to libraries is that they go to library sales. Nothing wrong with that, except that at the end of library sales, things can go to the dump. Nothing wrong with that except for the several times I saw books that I did not want, could not store, but know for a fact were great books, unlikely to be republished, and would have been cherished by the right person. Just not by me.

Moral of the story is, consider your role as custodian when de-accessing. Choose a method that ensures they go to people who value them.

(assumes we are not talking John Grisham or Stephen King here.)
posted by IndigoJones at 1:31 PM on October 28, 2008

Please don't give crappy books to the library. This is a pet peeve of a librarian in my family. Donations of mainstream, popular titles can be sold by volunteers to raise money for local projects (new shelving, signage, etc.) but a good library doesn't just slap random books on their shelves. They're constantly "weeding" their collection to free up space for new books and extra copies of popular ones: what stays or goes is determined by circulation count. So, while it might feel good to give to the library, please don't make your problem their problem.
posted by woodway at 1:31 PM on October 28, 2008

Sell them to AbeBooks. It's set up for textbooks, but they'll actually take a lot of things. You just type in the ISBN and they tell you what they're worth. Once you agree to their price, they'll send you a printable FedEx label. Send the books to them, and they'll send you a check. I just did this and made an easy $20 on books I didn't really want anymore.
posted by jrichards at 1:40 PM on October 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

I've sold a lot of books on ebay's It's a smooth process.
posted by PueExMachina at 1:43 PM on October 28, 2008

I'm going to be moving soon, so am looking to reduce the clutter. I listed about 70 books last Friday, which took me a couple of hours. So far I've made £90 after their cut (which does include selling one book this afternoon for £55).
posted by cincinnatus c at 2:04 PM on October 28, 2008

you could see if Books Through Bars could use them
posted by jammy at 2:20 PM on October 28, 2008

personally, i've made hundreds of dollars selling books on and amazon.
posted by hipersons at 6:25 PM on October 28, 2008

If you're just looking to get rid of them, call around to all local libraries, schools (if there is anything appropriate for elementary through college students), goodwill-type stores, and used book stores. They might even be able to suggest local charities that would pick them up at your house. Definitely call ahead, though, to see if your local options are accepting books at this time and if they would be interested in what you're looking to get rid of. My local library, for instance, is a bit pickier about what books it accepts, but I live in a well-to-do area, so they can afford to be picky. There are many libraries, schools, and charities that have nothing and would be a lot more gracious about donations.

If you want to make money, Amazon, eBay, or Craigslist would be viable options. They're the old standbys, but that's because all three are easy, satisfying options. It really depends if you want to sell the books individually, in small lots, or all in one go.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:20 PM on October 28, 2008

Yeah, lots of folks do well selling at amazon; check what your books are going for there and ask yourself if getting the lowest price you see for a comparable copy seems worth your time (you're always competing with the lowest price, otherwise your stuff will just sit there). Sell any of those online and take the rest to a local used book store for cash (probably best to call first, some stores aren't always buying). Then donate the rest - but not if they're falling apart. Few places want books that are water damaged, torn or in pieces.
posted by mediareport at 8:27 PM on October 28, 2008

For textbooks, use There are usually pretty good prices offered for recent books.
posted by oceanmorning at 9:16 PM on October 28, 2008

« Older Pliny the Elder   |   Computer detecting nonexistent second monitor Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.