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Jeruba's avatar

Is there anyone who actually welcomes large quantities of used books?

Asked by Jeruba (50614points) April 16th, 2016

What’s your preferred way to dispose of a whole lot of books?

I have to move hundreds, if not thousands, out the door.

I’m not going to carry them all outside in order to sell twenty at a yard sale, nor can I box them all and tote them to the library. The library will not want dozens of boxes of old fiction and nonfiction paperbacks and literary hardcovers (many of them heavily annotated), old textbooks, or outdated reference works.

I couldn’t bear to just toss them all in a Dumpster.

I’m not going to live long enough to list and sell them all on Amazon Marketplace, where they can probably all be had already for .01 plus shipping, whereas I would wind up losing money on every sale. (Learned that lesson already.)

Some of them are old and possibly valuable. But I can’t keep them all.

And I can’t pack and store them or move them all either.

It would take forever to try to find the “right home” for each one or even for scores at a time.

Most of them are inaccessible enough right now that I couldn’t even invite people over and say “Take your pick. Help yourself.” Impossible. (And I would cry a lot.)

I know some places would take donations of contemporary fiction, and I have plenty of that, but who wants the letters of Nabokov or the novels of Thomas Hardy or several translations of Plato’s Republic?

Unfortunately I don’t even have a working fireplace at the moment.

How does one do this? How do you do it?

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22 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I find a friend who needs a library of books. That ls where I got my first few books. You can donate them to Value Village or Goodwill. Library’s sometimes take gently used books. My bookstore takes gently used books for trade in.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Also self serve book nooks take donations. You can stick them all in a storage shed and forget decide not to pay and have someone auction them off.

Seek's avatar

Well, my local library system raises money for ancillary programs by selling donated books. That would be my first thought.

It might be worth it, if you’ve got a convenient location near you, to phone a public high school or community college – or even a university. They may have a need for books to flesh out their school libraries or student shops.

Perhaps (and now I’m just brainstorming) an assisted living facility or nursing home might be interested for their libraries?

stanleybmanly's avatar

Call a used bookstore that you like. Those people just drool over opportunities such as this. Or at least they used to. Those folks usually know people craving esoteric topics, and I’m thinking now that you certainly must have considered this route already. Where’s the flaw? Am I living in the past?

Jeruba's avatar

@stanleybmanly, that’s a route worth exploring, and there’s such a bookstore only a few minutes from me. But I am physically unable to pack and carry heavy boxes of books. The last time I dragged a load of books in there, they took only about half, and I had to drag the rest out again. I can’t even manage that now because of back problems. And I’m not prepared to compile long lists of titles and editions. I need some sort of global solution and not just someone who’s interested in two or three.

And of course e-books have diminished the demand for physical books, so some of my wonderful older volumes are just destined to be orphans.

But I’m wondering if someone who does do online sales would make a bid on the lot and take them away. Ever hear of anyone doing this?

dappled_leaves's avatar

I have the same problem! It’s never-ending. My collection is vast, and most of it is no-longer-current, but pristine hardcover and trade paper non-fiction, with occasional literary fiction in various conditions. For what it’s worth, this is what I do:

1. List certain items on Amazon marketplace. Only if my copy is pristine, and the competing sellers (in the New category) are charging over $20 – not worthwhile otherwise. I will sometimes price my copy higher than the best price for comparable copies, because pricing it lower simply triggers competitors to lower their prices. No point. Give brief, but explicit details about condition. People like that, and will pay a little more to know what they’re getting.

2. Anything scholarly (your philosophy books), esoteric, etc. (no mass-market stuff) should be boxed up and brought to a good used bookstore. Try phoning first – are they looking at new books? No point carting them around if they’re going to say no (they are definitely not all drooling for new stock. Many are overflowing as it is).

Be prepared to describe some of what you have. You may want to visit more than one shop in one day, but some will expect you to leave the box(es) and come back another day, if they remember to call you. You can ask them if they’d like to give you a price on the whole box. That way you don’t have to bring any home. But do this in person, and not on the phone.

The whole process requires some patience and some preparation for heartbreak – they may not want much of what you have to offer. And if, as you say, it’s physically difficult for you, you should bring someone to do the carrying – just be sure to tell them not to talk during your transaction (trust me). But you certainly don’t need to make lists of titles. They’ll need to physically handle the books anyway, and likely won’t want your list.

3. Garage/lawn sale. I haven’t done this yet, but will probably resort to it this summer. If you don’t want to tend it, perhaps bribe hire a young person or family member to do it? Put out boxes marked $1, $2, etc.

4. This works best in a big city like mine: put books out on the curb in a small pile marked “FREE!” They will typically disappear within an hour.

So, yes – an Amazon marketplace is tedious to set up, but the thing I like about it is that I can list a book and ignore it for literally years and then have it sell for $50 even if it isn’t worth a tenth of that. The other options are all annoying in their own ways, though you’ll know almost right away whether you can get money for them or not.

I have only just started trying eBay, and have not seen any action there yet. Their listing process is many times worse than that at Amazon marketplace, but you can bundle your books (as you asked), whereas you cannot do that at Amazon.

I will also add that although @Seek recommends libraries, there is not a single library here that would welcome used books. I’m sure this must vary regionally, so see what it’s like in your area. For pure donations, I agree with the nursing home suggestion, and you might also try homeless shelters, or churches (though that would not be my first choice).

Stinley's avatar

I get rid of stock from my library and we give it to Better World Books. We get a small percentage of what they sell it for but they take any book with very few exceptions. They collect from you too if you have a lot

LostInParadise's avatar

I also have a problem with having far more books than I will ever be able to read, so I am checking the advice being given.

@Stinley , that link does not work but I did a Web search and found them here I did not see anything about having them collect the books from you, but I saw that they have a lot of drop boxes.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Stinley Oh, neat! I’ve ordered quite a few books from BWB.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’ve bought books from BWBs too. Quite a few because there are no postage charges.

I’ve thought about selling books I don’t need anymore, but I rarely have the time to go through the process. I usually box them up and take them to a charity shop that also sells books.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit They have a lot of obscure academic titles, which puts them on my list of sources to check routinely.

Stinley's avatar

I did find their website and they have a Donate page. The usual way is these drop off points but there is an email address if you have a lot to donate. We send off 6 boxes as a minimum and each box holds 15 textbooks or more for smaller books. They send us the boxes too. When we had a big clear out last summer we had them pick up pallets of 40 boxes at a time. Look at the library donation pages to see what you might expect. The site is different for me as it is the uk site.

canidmajor's avatar

As far as packing up and hauling goes, call the local high school and ask if they’ve got a club or organization that does “good works” for a donation. We have a couple of such groups at ours, I have been able to hire strong kids for yard work and snow removal,; I bet you could get a couple to pack and haul books.
Good luck with this!

jca's avatar

Amazon Marketplace seems like a lot of work and I didn’t see you writing that you cared about or wanted money for them, @Jeruba. I’d go with calling a local used book store and seeing if they’d pick them up and take them. If you are interested in the money, or think you have some valuable ones, you can take those out and try to sell them separately, either thru Amazon or to a bookstore.

If the bookstore is local, I’m sure he’d be willing to come over and look at what you have without a commitment.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Prisons often want books too.

basstrom188's avatar

Have you tried a local charity?

LuckyGuy's avatar

You have taken the first step! Would you consider allowing a (well-known-to-you) jelly to help you?.I’m confident there are several in your area who would be honored to help you. You should not be hauling hundreds of pounds of books to and from book stores.
If you want to remain cloaked and stay anon I’d go the local bookstore route and tell them what you want to do. They will know someone in the area willing to help. Bring pictures of your shelves.

I recently heated my house with some useless books that I bought as discards from the library decades ago. 20 pounds of books and paper is worth about $2.00 in heating oil right now. My Lopi Freedom wood burners extracted their latent heat and reduced them to ash which I spread in the woods.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

There are a few charities that will take your books. Some pick them up gratis, others want a monetary donation, others have drop boxes strewn around the country. Here are a few (I haven’t checked any of the following with ”:
Charity Navigator

PickUp Please The books go to needy American veterans. They obviously pick up. arranges free book pick-ups for a variety of charities.

American Library Association accepts book donations in California.

The Salvation Army Family Store say they accept book donations through their Bay Area centers in their ad on Google, but their site has no mention of it. They have free pick-up.

Friends of the Berkeley Library say they accept paperbacks and hardbacks in good condition. It is unclear by their initial pages whether or not they pick-up.

Friends of the San Francisco Library

Better World Books. Good outfit, but the problem here is that they have no drop boxes in California according to their map. Still, you might want to give them a call to find out if they can refer you to anybody in your area that will pick up the books and get them to needy hands.

JLeslie's avatar

My dad buys and sells used books for a living.

Some of my suggestions are already mentioned above.

Your library might have a location that sells books, they likely will take the books. I have no idea if they have the ability to pick then up.

A used bookstore will probably take them.

Salvation Army and Goodwill both sell books.

Churches have book sales.

My dad buys books from all of these places to sell on Amazon.

You could advertise a book sale or garage sale with books (if you have other items besides books) and spend one day in your yard selling stuff. Maybe get a neighbor to join in.

janbb's avatar

Decorators might want books to put in pubs and restaurants. See if you can find some commercial interior designers to ask.

GSLeader's avatar

Discover Books.

longgone's avatar

Do you have anyone in your circles who might welcome some extra cash? My grandma helped sell her friends’ used books and got to keep the profits as a reward.

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