How To

What to Do With Used Books

If you are a bookish person like me, I bet you have shelves full of books. I also bet that sometimes, you need to de-clutter your shelves and get rid of books you don’t need anymore–maybe you’ve already read them, maybe you read them and hated them and need them out of the house. I’m not judging! There’s tons of things you can do with used books you don’t need anymore, from crafting them into decor for your house to finding community projects to donate them to.

If you are craft-inclined like I am, here’s a few things you could do with used books. The upside of this crafty re-use of books is that you can decorate your house to make it quite expressive for your love of literature! If you are NOT craft-inclined, please skip to my tips on donating books below. Here’s some of my favorite crafts with books:

Make bookmarks out of spines

This one is pretty simple and the directions can be seen here. Just cut the spine from a (hardback) book you no longer want, punch a hole on top and tie a ribbon to it. Voilá, you have a customized bookmark.

Hidden storage/drawer

I like this one because it’s so mysterious. It basically consists of cutting off spines and gluing them to a wooden crate that will fit in your shelf or work space. If you do it aptly enough, no one will know that’s your secret compartment for things you want to hide! Instructions can be seen here.

Invisible Bookshelf

This may or may not encourage you to buy more books, but at least you’ll be recycling one used book! This DIY endeavor looks like a floating bookshelf in the end and I really love it. It’s super easy too, instructions are here.

Make Cute Rosettes out of Book Pages

I haven’t tried this one, so I don’t know how complicated it is to actually make the rosettes. They look awesome though and could be a good craft to decorate weddings cheaply. Instructions are here.

Pinterest has a vast database of old books things you can make yourself, so make sure to browse before you decide how to upcycle your used books!

Donating books: How to do it ethically

If you simply aren’t interested in making crafts out of books (and are appalled at the fact I would even suggest butchering books), but want to donate your books so they spread knowledge and escapism, keep reading!

I believe that even when people donate money or things to charity, they should be mindful of the organization they are aiding. I tend to stay away from LGBT-exclusive organizations, for example, or organizations that have dodgy employee policies. A good way to screen organizations is to use Charity Navigator, which rates charities in the US on transparency and accountability.

One option is to donate your books to your local thrift shop (an easy way to search for this is typing “thrift shop+[your location]” into Google). I am a huge fan of this because it means I am directly helping my local economy and am contributing to making books (and knowledge) more accessible in my own area! Libraries sometimes accept book donations too, but giving your local library a call to see if they need your donation is a way to be mindful of your area’s necessities.

If you’re looking to branch out, Book Riot has previously published a how-to guide on how to donate books to prisons. This piece discusses why sending books to incarcerated women in particular is helpful to their lives and well being. I would recommend reading through the wishlists in both of those posts to see if your pile of used books could go to incarcerated people who need specific genres of books and struggle to get them easily.

You could also put your book collection up for grabs on Freecycle, where people search for free things they need. You can specify if the new owner of the books will have to pick them up from your house, so this could be done with the least hassle possible. The upside of this is that Freecycle is extremely chill so you don’t need to specify what books you’re giving away. I’ve seen people post vague titles like “Book Collection” on there, so this could be an easy way to get rid of your extra books if you don’t have a car.

Selling your books for extra money: Virtually or locally?

It is possible to make some money off your discarded books. Depending on the condition they are in, you could sell them onto secondhand bookshops in your area or you could try to sell them on Amazon.

If you’re more of a physical person rather than a virtual one, you could host a garage sale to sell your books and other discarded items you don’t need anymore. Make sure to tell all your friends to bring people along to your garage sale and to affordably price your books.

Book Santa: Re-gift your books

This is something I have been considering myself: sending off or giving the books I am done with to friends and family I know would enjoy them. I have the fleeting thought that someone I know would benefit from reading a book all the time, and I would rather give the book a good home where it will be enjoyed than making money off it. I also think that, as gifts go, a re-gifted book with a nice note about why you think they would enjoy the book is really sweet and considerate. It means you thought of them when reading, which I always personally appreciate.

Host a Book Swap Event

Are your friends into books and reading like you are? Why don’t you check to see if they are looking to get rid of some dead book weight like you are? Then you can host a book swap party where everyone brings their discarded books and leaves with new, promising reads! Throw in a bottle of wine and some cheese and you have the best event of the year by my standards.

These are all the methods I could think of to get rid of books you don’t need anymore. Did I miss anything? What do you do with your used books?