When you're ready to donate used books as part of the decluttering process, here's the top 13 places to consider, with suggestions for textbooks, kids books, novels, and more.
I'm a bibliophile so the thought of parting with books makes me a bit sad. Sniff.
But donating books to charities and other good causes makes me feel better about doing it, because they will go to someone else who will appreciate them.
And with the increased popularity of e-readers, like the Kindle and the Nook, many are finding that physical books are just taking up space.
Plus, as a bonus when I get books out of my home then I have more room for other things, like . . . more books. Oh wait, we're decluttering books. Sorry, I have a book problem. :)
Not every place takes every type of book. So the list below breaks it down into book categories so you can find the best home for each type of books you've got to donate.
Plus, unless you donate locally and can drop them off in person there may be shipping charges involved to get the organization your books.
Keep that in mind when deciding where you'd like to help out.
Most libraries have a Friends of the Library group that helps to raise money for the library. They collect used books and then sell them to help the library with their fundraising.
Typically, books that are newer are preferred, but it is hard to generalize since each group is different. You will need to call your local library to see if they have such a program and any specific criteria they have for what they accept.
In addition, my local library has specific book drive times where they actively solicit donations, but you can donate at any time.
I'm personally a big fan of my local library and my kids and I go generally once a week. Because I feel it helps a place I already patronize this is my personal favorite place to donate old books.
Books for Africa is a non-profit that collects gently used novels written within in the last 15 years and textbooks that have been published since 1998 and ships them to Africa.
I've provided a link to their website for more specifics of what they do and do not accept as donations, plus information on how to get your donations to them.
They collect book donations by drop off at either their Atlanta, GA office or their St. Paul, MN warehouse. You will need to pay for the shipping to get the books to their offices if you don’t live near a drop off location.
United for Libraries is a subgroup of the American Library Association. They have partnered with Better World Books to sell books that are donated. Proceeds will benefit United for Libraries.
The website provides a list of what they accept. You will need to pay the shipping to get your books to them.
Better World Books has partnered with other groups who receive book donations and sell those books to raise money for those groups, like with United for Libraries mentioned above.
Better World Books sells their books on their website and on several other websites, trying to reach the broadest group of people.
When you buy a book they donate a book to a partner organization, such as Books for Africa, to try and help spread literacy around the world.
They even pay for you to ship your books to them when you register a donation on their website here.
DonationTown.org organizes book pick-ups for a variety of charities.
When you enter your zip code to arrange a pick-up time, a list of charities that DonationTown.org has partnered with will appear. You can select which one you’d like to support with your donation. Pick-up is free.
Some of these places are a bit picky about what types of books they accept, but this one has one of the most liberal donation policies for many types of books.
Operation Paperback is a non-profit that collects books and sends them to our troops overseas.
By registering for free on their site you’ll be able to tell them what genres of books you have to donate. They’ll give you names of soldiers and an address or addresses to send the books.
This is a great way to show support for our troops that are deployed and missing some of the comforts of home.
Organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army will take book donations for all genres of books. They turn around and sell them for a low cost, helping them to make money.
Just drop off at your local store and you can even get a tax deduction receipt.
Homeless shelters are often times looking for new books to hand out to those they serve.
Check with your local homeless shelter to see if they’d like your donation.
BookEnds is a Los Angeles based nonprofit that accepts donations of used children’s books.
They collect books for infants through 18 years of age and give them out to children who have a need through local charities with a proven history of helping youth.
If you live in the LA area, you can drop them off at their office. Otherwise you can ship your books to them. Check the website for instructions.
Children’s Book Project is a San Francisco based non-profit that collects and distributes gently used children’s books for youth of all ages.
They are committed to improving literacy and a love of reading amongst children.
You can donate in person in the San Francisco area or by shipping your books to them.
Check with your local or regional children’s hospital to see if they are in need of any children’s books.
If they are accepting donations, make sure your books have lots of pictures, are clean with no water damage and are in good condition.
Your local public and private schools, as well as daycare centers may be in need of children's books.
However, just as with donating to a children's hospital, make sure they want and will appreciate your donation before you just show up with a big box for them.
Plus, just as before, make sure all donated materials are in good condition.
Donate Textbooks accepts books that are up to 20 years old. They donate them worldwide, helping promote education around the world.
You do need to pay to ship your books to them.
As you can see there are many ways to clean out the piles of books that you want to donate. From supporting local groups to international organizations that promote literacy around the world, there are many options available to you.
If you do need to ship your books it is generally cheapest to ship by Media Mail at the Post Office as long as there is nothing but books in the package.
After quite a few readers have repeatedly mentioned Little Free Library I'm adding it as an honorable mention to this list. Originally I hadn't put them on the list because they are book swapping program -- give a book, take a book.
While as a bibliophile I absolutely love this idea, it really isn't quite the same as just getting books out of your home completely, since while you get one out, you bring one in. But it is a great program and you don't have to receive books, you can just donate, so here's more information about it.
LIttle Free Library is a non-profit organization with the goal of making books accessible to all. The group encourages people to build small structures to house the books, such as in the front yard of their home, and then to allow people to both add books and take books to read.
A reader, Windy, sent in the photo below, saying, "Don't forget to give your children's books to a local Little Free Library, such as this one."
While the program encourages people to both give and take books, if you're looking to donate you certainly can just give them books.
Click the web link above to find the map of participating locations near you, or to create your own Little Free Library.
In addition, while children's books are often what is thought of with the Little Free Libraries, technically other books, such as for adults, can also be donated as well.
If you decide, however, that you want to sell, instead of donate, your books, make sure to read my top 10 places to sell books for cash.
I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!