A lot of us have skeletons in our closets (or bookshelves, or cellars), sometimes those skeletons are more entertaining than they are useful. Some of us have piles upon piles of unwanted, paperback, bodice-ripping, sword & sorcery, skeletons that we have no idea what to do with. So we just let those old romance novels, westerns, dramas, detective novels, college textbooks, and public speaking guides stack up, until we begin to wonder if it would just be easier to light the place on fire and collect the insurance money. But that is illegal, and there are easier ways to get rid of your unwanted books. And yes, by get rid of books, I mean get rid of not only your old college textbooks for organic chemistry and Chaucer, but even those paperback murder mystery novels, whose main character needs the help of his two Siamese cats to solve the crime and bring a sense of closure until the next novel . . . not that I own seventeen The Cat Who series books or anything.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Books
Get rid of old books by selling them to a used bookstore.Most college students are already long since familiar with this concept. Selling books back can get you some, or sometimes all, of what you paid for them originally. Many college campuses have bookstores on campus that will buy back textbooks. If you’re looking to get rid of your old bodice-ripping romance novels, westerns, or various fiction books, many chain stores will buy your hardcover and paperback books. Stores such as Half Price Books and various local bookstores will assess market value for your books and will usually give you cash up front. It’s like free money…and everyone loves free money!
Sell books online to get rid of them. For those selling unwanted books or used textbooks, selling them online can sometimes bring better prices than selling them to a used bookstore. Websites such as Abebooks.com and Amazon.com are two common places to sell your unwanted books. There is the possibility that you could be offered a better price for your books and end up with some more money, but there is a bit more hassle involved than having a used bookstore do the work. For instance, you may need an account with the website, a PayPal account or a linked checking account, and have to deal with packaging and shipping the books. But the upside is that you may end up getting more buck for your effort.
Donate unwanted books to a local charity. Either locally or in large chains, there are many charities that accept used books. Places such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill are good places to start. But be sure to check out churches, shelters, schools, senior citizen centers, and various other nonprofit groups. While the seven dollar paperback you picked up at the airport the last time you flew to Vegas may not be much to you anymore, it could provide a good deal of relief to a single parent in a one-bedroom apartment, without even a radio. A few hours of comfort with a book can help stave off boredom or worry for those of us without TiVo.
Old books can be donated to a book drive to get rid of them. Many organizations—local, state, national and even worldwide—accept donations of unwanted books and either donate or hold book sales to raise funds for their organization. Check your phone book and local bulletin boards to see if any places are accepting donations of used books. Consider donating to churches, schools, daycares, libraries, shelters, correctional facilities, or literacy foundations. Worldwide, there are relief organizations that can redistribute books to schools lacking funding to purchase any. Just be sure that the right kind of book goes to the right place. Dr. Seuss’ Hop on Pop may not be right for a local correctional facility’s education program, and Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs may not be right for Susan’s Sunshine Daycare program.
Get rid of books by re-gifting them. While it may seem tacky at first, give this idea a shot. I mean, I’m not suggesting it as a gift for a formal wedding or anything, but something thoughtful and non-traditional for any old occasion. Also, it works well when you’re broke. So consider buying a big jug of red wine and wrapping it together with your old copy of Gone With The Wind for your friend that just lost her job or got laid up. Send a box of tissues and that tattered copy of All Creatures Great and Small to a friend that just lost a pet. Books can often provide more entertainment, comfort, sentiment, and distraction than a couple of flowers that will wilt in a few days. Plus, you can just pluck a book off your shelf instead of trying not to wake the Doberman sleeping in your neighbor’s garden.
Be creative to get rid of books.
While the best way to get rid of a large number of books is usually to sell, donate, or give them away, there are other, more creative ways to get rid of just a small number of books. Title pages and chapter titles make good clippings for collages and scrapbooks. The hard covers of books make excellent box tops, wall hangings, and sides to handcrafted purses. Paper can be recycled and bleached at home for making your own paper or paper-based projects, like that old vinegar and baking soda volcano. There are a lot of projects for science class, indie fashion, and home decorating that could have their beginnings in unwanted books, just as long as you’re sure you never wanted to read Helter Skelter or The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern again (if you’ve not read them, you can find them on Amazon).
If you want to get rid of old books by selling or donating them, always be sure to check them first for a musty smell or molded pages. Moldy books can cause breathing difficulties and allergic reactions. Worse, moldy books can contaminate other books stored nearby. Moldy or musty books should be separated from clean books and either cleaned up or disposed of but never donated, gifted, or sold.