Help me give my books to people who really need them.
April 9, 2009 12:52 AM   Subscribe

How do I donate a bunch of books to a prison? Bonus for Washington state based resources.

I'm in the process of getting rid of most of my book collection in preparation for a move. I'd like to do something useful with them, and as I recently spent a couple nights in jail with nothing at all to read I thought that giving them to a prison would do the most good for the most people. The problem, I've got close to a thousand books to get rid of and no automobile. Does anyone know of a charity that might be able to pick them up and bring them to a prison for me? Any other ideas on how to get them into the hands of someone that needs them more than I? Thanks in advance for any help.
posted by Jawn to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sorry. Prisons generally accept only new books sent in a sealed package directly from a dealer.
posted by atrazine at 1:16 AM on April 9, 2009

Best answer: I suggest you contact these folks (they are in Seattle), explain your situation, and ask if they are willing to pick up your books. If they are not, ask if they know of another charity who is willing to do so. They will probably know.

These people (in Tacoma) will also probably be hooked up with prison literacy programs and know whom to contact.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:16 AM on April 9, 2009

The Books to Prisoners site (first link in my previous comment) does specify they only accept paperbacks as most prisons do not allow hardcover books.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:18 AM on April 9, 2009

For those that can't be donated, maybe you can get someone to take them to a used bookshop and split the proceeds with you (or a prison books program).
posted by barnone at 1:25 AM on April 9, 2009

If you can't find a prison to take them: powells buys books online and so does abe books: here They both pay postage, just be aware that both are super picky and both will keep any book they claim doesn't meet their standards. Abe books will also survey new books as used if it suits them...but if you look at it as found money it's a lot less annoying.
posted by legotech at 3:18 AM on April 9, 2009

Left Bank Books sells used books and donates the proceeds to Books to Prisoners, the organization mentioned by hurdy gurdy girl above. They are conveniently located in Pike Place Market, so you could just donate your books to them with that arrangement in mind.
posted by halogen at 6:01 AM on April 9, 2009

You could use Bookmooch to do this in a round about way. You can list your books, and as people mooch them, you get points. You can then donate those points to any of the prison related book programs registered through Bookmooch. You do have to pay the cost of shipping out the books to other members, though.
posted by kimdog at 6:13 AM on April 9, 2009

BetterWorldBooks is another good option, proceeds would go to global literacy.

You can do a local drop off, or donate them through their online buyback program.
posted by susanvance at 9:42 AM on April 9, 2009 does not disclose the percentage of its profits that go to charity. That, to me, is unacceptable.

Also, I have ordered from them as a customer (before I learned of their dubious reputation) through, and my book took eight weeks to arrive. I'm through with them as a buyer, and I would not consider selling to them, either.
posted by Lizzle at 12:48 PM on April 9, 2009

Try your local Friends of the Library organization. I just became a board member of mine, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that some books that aren't sold at the book sale are donated to prisons & hospitals. And even if you'd rather not give the books to them, they may know who to talk to where you are.
posted by epersonae at 3:00 PM on April 9, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for great answers. I will be contacting Left Bank Books/Books to Prisoners to try and work something out with them.
posted by Jawn at 9:25 PM on April 10, 2009

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