Monday, June 03, 2013

Book Giving Ten

Ten Things You Can Do with Unwanted Print Books

Donate Them: Every public library I've ever visited accepts donations of any type of book; most sell donated books to library patrons and/or to the public during regularly scheduled book sales. The funds raised by these sales go to benefit the library, so it's a good cause. Many libraries also accept donations of used magazines, for those of you who don't like to throw them away.

Give Them to Patients: Contact your local hospital to see if they have a patient library and/or accept donations of books for patient use. Many veteran hospitals also maintain a library of donated books for our wounded and recovering soldiers.

Make Them into Art: Librarian Lindsay White has a very cool page on Pinterest here with plenty of ideas on how you can turn old books into new artworks.

Pass Them Along to Students: Budget cuts are depriving our public schools of many things, including much-needed reference books and fiction appropriate for kids, so check with your local public schools to see if they accept donations. Also, if your kids have outgrown their preschool books, call a daycare center and see if they can use them.

Release Them into the Wild: defines itself as "the World's Library. It's a smart social networking site. It's a celebration of literature and a place where books get new life. BookCrossing is the act of giving a book a unique identity so, as the book is passed from reader to reader, it can be tracked and thus connecting its readers. There are currently 1,882,717 BookCrossers and 9,734,339 books travelling throughout 132 countries. Our community is changing the world and touching lives one book at a time." To use this site, you register, print out and attach a tracking label for your title, and then leave the book in a public place. You can then track your title as others pick it up and pass it along (assuming everyone who does registers with the site and updates the book's travels, naturally.)

Sell Them: Sites like Cash4Books will buy some of your unwanted books and even provide you with a free shipping label to send them along. Note that they will not buy everything (you usually need to punch in the ISBN and see if they're buying the title), and for most books they offer only small/token amounts -- but something is better than nothing.

Swap Them for Something You Want: Book trading sites like allow you to swap your unwanted books with other readers. I think this is an especially neat service because your book goes to someone who really wants it and you get something you want to read in return, which is the best kind of book win/win.

Turn Them into Bookends: Transform your unwanted titles into a pair of interesting bookends -- Design Sponge has all the DIY instructions for this project here.

Use Them for Interesting Craft Projects: Here's a slideshow of 21 craft projects made from old books; I really liked the birdhouse and table runner (I bet you could make a neat party table covering from book pages, too.)

Work Them into Clocks: With an hour, a drill and less than $10.00 in supplies you can turn an old book into a wall clock; Design Dazzle shows you how here.

Do you have any ideas on or links to interesting ways to recycle old print books? Let us know in comments.


  1. I work for a Library Foundation that accepts book donations. In the 25 years or so our book sales have been going on, we've raised more than $4.5 million (realize this is at $.25/paperback, $1/hrdback rates). Schools and nonprofits get to take what's left at the end of a sale, FOR FREE and then whatever's left gets professionally recycled. So, three cheers for book donations!

    1. Holy Toledo, I had no idea you could raise so much money via what amounts to pocket change! That's incredible -- and what a great cause, too. Hip hip hooray! X 3. :)

  2. In terms of donations, I've donated to a couple libraries, but by far the most welcoming group for used book donations was a local assisted living apartment center. I practically built their library for them.

    1. That is a great suggestion, Mark, thanks for letting us know. And thank you for providing books for these folks; I know they must really appreciate your efforts on their behalf.

  3. Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, when I was a world traveler, I had some experience with passing books along, so it was very cool to discover BookCrossing! Thanks for that...oh, and I couldn't resist--I joined! ;D

    1. I've been thinking abut joining, too, Terlee -- it's just figuring out where to leave the books. I was thinking a mall food court might be an interesting place to try it.