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LuckyGuy's avatar

What should be done with 20 year old college textbooks?

Asked by LuckyGuy (38684points) 1 month ago

I know they are worth about 10–15 cents per pound in heat if I burn them in my stove.
Does anyone want old college textbooks? Isn’t everything found online now?
The books were so expensive when purchased 20 years ago but now they seem like boat anchors. Should I discard them in the recycle bin?
The library says they do not want old hardcover textbooks so I can’t even donate them.

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26 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

This is the saddest question ever.

jca2's avatar

Since textbooks are updated every year they’re not even worth much on the resale market, especially twenty years old.

Maybe one or two years old, you could sell them, although then you’d have to deal with shipping or having people meet you to exchange money and the books.

I have clothes that I can give to friends, but was recently thinking if I do that, I have to drive them down to the friend’s house, and then it’s going to be a half hour of chatting, and so the whole thing is going to end up being two hours out of my life that I’ll never get back. I scheduled a pickup with the Vets instead.

As for the books, winter’s coming. I’d burn them.

janbb's avatar

Trash ‘em. If you can burn them, that’s good.

There is a group called Better World Books that will send used books to African countries but I don’t think it would be fair to send 20 year old textbooks. And I don’t know if they would take them.

gondwanalon's avatar

Try the Goodwill. If they don’t want them then recycle them. Burning them to heat your house is a good option if you have the courage to do it.

I’ve got a pile of botanical, biology, geology and zoology textbooks from college that I can’t let go of.

Just got an idea. When they cremate us, why not put our college textbooks in with us to burn.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Crying. Books are sacred.
Y’all just lucky Auggie isn’t here.

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III No, they really aren’t. And I’m sure that Auggie knew that some get past their sell by date. Information gets outdated, pages get moldy, ideas are wrong. One of my jobs at the library was weeding books that were in bad shape or had misinformation.

kritiper's avatar

Sell them at your next yard sale.

canidmajor's avatar

No, @Dutchess_III, accss to books is sacred. The existenxe of books is sacred. Miscellaneous, outdated textbooks are not sacred. Mass market trashed books are not sacred. And so on.

Probably best value to convert them to heat.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Chill you guys.

janbb's avatar

Happy Thanksgivng @Dutchess_III ! Hope your food tastes great and you get some drop-ins!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thanksgiving….when you have salmon dip, port wine cheese and almonds for breakfast!
I’m ahoping for drop ins.

jca2's avatar

@Dutchess_III: If I was in Kansas, I’d invite myself over.

zenvelo's avatar

It really depends on what kind of textbooks. There are some subjects (calculus, physics, some chemistry, some English textbooks) that don’t change over 20 years.

But have you used them, or have they been in the garage for the last ten years? If you use them as reference, keep them. Otherwise let them warm your house.

The only textbook I still have is The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare which I bought in 1978 and keep handy. I used it earlier this week to check the opening of Merchant of Venice.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Burn them. Or recycle, but take off the covers.

The have zero resale value.

janbb's avatar

^^ The librarians have spoken.

JLeslie's avatar

My dad buys and sells text books for a lot of profit. Especially engineering books that are not online. Did you check what they sell for on Amazon? He has people even buy them in other countries.

He’ll buy a book for $1 and sell it for $100 no kidding. Just depends on the book. Could be worth nothing, could be worth a lot.

You can scan the ISBN number in the Amazon app and see what’s listed for sale already.

What kind of text books?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

You can sell for $0.01 on Amazon.

Zaku's avatar

The “burn them, zero value” answers are not accurate even for old textbooks. There are people who would be happy to look at older textbooks, especially people who are not needing them for a current class, and especially in the many fields where knowledge doesn’t change all that much over time. Some people are even interested in what old books used to say. Old textbooks also have aesthetic value as decorations and amusements.

And there are people who actually make money selling things online and collecting the shipping & handling fee for them, though the shipping fee on a textbook these days is quite high.

You could put them in Little Free Library boxes, if you have those where you live.

doyendroll's avatar

If they were old bike maintenance and zen texts then you could recycle them.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Addeyman Books in Europe ( near Cardiff border wales buys used books internationally.
Hay on Wye
link to Addyman Books:
Check if they are still interested in they cater to collectors as well.

AYKM's avatar

Don’t toss them. They’re valuable to the right person. New textbooks are made to fall apart but twenty years ago they were not. They’ll hold up better than anything made today. I’m assuming they’re old engineering textbooks right? Those were gold to me when I was in school. I started using my fathers old textbooks to find different ways to solve assigned problems. If something was not clear in the assigned textbook I could usually find a better explanation in an older or a different one. You can’t google some of this stuff. It’s just not all there. I have a bookshelf where I proudly keep all mine and that’s where they stay. I still reference them from time to time. Most of mine are around 20 years old too. Almost all of the information is still good. Recently I have been building tube amplifiers and the old RCA guide books and old electronics texts from 60+ years ago have been invaluable. They’re getting hard to find. A papermill I worked at used to pulp old books from early 1900’s and I’d cull them first. It was sad but you can’t save them all. I’m sure a lot of first editions and knowledge were lost in those paper pulpers.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@AYKM Arrrgh!!! Guilt! You’re killing me!
Yes, they are engineering textbooks.
I’ll think about it.

JLeslie's avatar

My dad was making over $50K a year selling used text books for many years, as I said many were engineering books. More recently it was down to $20K a year just before covid when he shut it all down.

If you want to take a couple of photos of the binders on a shelf, if the titles are visible, and send them to me I can have him glance at what you have, but in the end the only way to know for sure what they are worth right now is to actually look them up on Amazon and whatever else he uses.

Dutchess_III's avatar

See what you might get for them on a Facebook Buy / Sell / Trade. $5.00 each?

LadyMarissa's avatar

Contact the Library of Congress. They like having historical books available for those still enjoy doing their own hard copy research. I bet that IF they accept them that you could also get a tax deduction that would be greater than the15–20 cents a pound to burn them. There is NO way that I would choose to burn a book!!!

janbb's avatar

@LadyMarissa As a librarian, I can guarantee you that the Library of Congress will not take a donation of 20 year old textbooks.

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