What to do with old college textbooks?
October 14, 2005 4:52 PM   Subscribe

I have some older college textbooks from the early to mid 1990s; is there conceivable market for these, or should I just throw 'em in the recycle bin? (They're mainly communication studies/theory, if that matters.
posted by keswick to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Try looking them up on Half.com or ABEBooks to get a sense of the market. I doubt there'll be much.
posted by Vidiot at 4:59 PM on October 14, 2005

posted by wackybrit at 5:03 PM on October 14, 2005

It's probably not worth the trouble to sell 10 year old textbooks. I'd give 'em away through freecycle, or (as is common in my neighborhood) by putting them in a box labeled "free books" in front of my house.
posted by Eamon at 5:19 PM on October 14, 2005

Formerly an employee at a top 3 textbook publishing company we were instructed to destroy all superceeded editions of old books. I even asked about sending them to the developing world and my boss at the time (a very nice person) said that we had to destroy them.

So if you're at all concerned with the profit margins of the large textbook conglomerates...I'd say just burn 'em ;-]
posted by prettyboyfloyd at 5:24 PM on October 14, 2005

Look on Amazon and see for yourself what they're selling for. To make sure you're comparing the same books, type in the ISBN number instead of the title.
posted by wryly at 5:40 PM on October 14, 2005

Not worth the bother of putting them on ebay or looking up prices. Bin 'em.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:42 PM on October 14, 2005

It depends. Are they classics of the subject, like Marshall McLuhan texts, or are they just general textbooks? Like, are they actual books that you bought for class and that exist outside of classroom settings, or are they things with multiple authors and for intro classes?
If they're real books, there'll be a market for them. If they're just anthologies of "current" theory or something they'll be pretty well worthless.
When I see neat textbooks around town during move-out, I like to take the pictures and use them for mix cd liner notes.
posted by klangklangston at 6:43 PM on October 14, 2005

If you are willing to pay the postage (cheap if you use book rate) you could consider donating them to prisoners/prison libraries. Here's a list of some of the orgs, there are probably others.
posted by cushie at 7:07 PM on October 14, 2005

Prison libraries have some pretty specific guidelines, so if they're hardcover you may be out of luck, but I'd try them first. I'd go the routes others have suggested, or if you're just going to recycle them anyhow, you can roll the pages [if they're not color printed] soak them in parrafin and they make great firestarters.
posted by jessamyn at 8:47 PM on October 14, 2005

I doubt there worth selling, but don't just throw them away. Donate them somewhere. I know the college library here in Denver has a donation bin. I'm sure thrift stores would take 'em too.
posted by teece at 10:39 PM on October 14, 2005

Why would you destroy perfectly good books? That's insane. At the very least donate them. Around here you can just drop them off at the municipal recyclying facility, where they have a "book recycling" area where you can rid yourself of and/or acquire unwanted books for free.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:25 AM on October 15, 2005

No, don't donate them. If you donate them, what you will in all probability be doing is forcing a charity (or cash-strapped government agency) to spend money storing the books for a brief period, sorting the books, and disposing of the books. This is not a nice thing to do, and boils down to saying to the library or whatever "Here, you throw this away so I don't have to."

Just chuck them, or turn them into firestarters, or make furniture out of them.

If you must donate nearly-useless and totally unsellable items, also donate some amount of money with them to compensate the charity/agency for taking them off your hands and helping you feel warm fuzzies.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:56 AM on October 15, 2005

I actually had pretty good luck selling some old (early-mid '90s) textbooks on Amazon last year -- most of them were in communications/cultural theory. Not all of them sold, by any means, but I'd say a good half of them did.
posted by scody at 2:46 PM on October 15, 2005

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