What to do with Used Books

If you're a book-a-holic like me, you likely have a multitude of used books. Fortunately, books are one of the easiest things to declutter because you can donate, sell or trade them. Here are some resources and ideas for lightening your load of books!

Selling Used Books

Cash4Books is an on-line service that pays you for used books. You simply enter your book's ISBN into their system and they'll tell you whether or not they buy that book and how much they'll pay you for it. Once you register, check out the page of book titles they typically accept. You'll have the most luck with current, popular books and text books. As a bonus, they'll pay shipping costs! 

Ed McKay Used Books - If you're lucky enough to live in North Carolina, check out Ed McKay Used Books. Not only does this store offer one of the best selections of used books, movies, electronic games and music, they'll purchase your used books and other media! This store was a favorite of my husband and I when we lived in Raleigh. I have yet to find a similar store in our present location.

Consignment Sales - If you participate in consignment sales, don't forget to include your used books. Consignment sales are typically popular for children's merchandise. They're a great place to sell used parenting and children's books.

Garage Sales - A garage sale is an ideal place to declutter books! The only drawback is that you'll have to price your books to sell, which means they'll need to be priced low. If your main goal is to declutter, this is a quick way to get rid of several books at once.

Amazon - The popular on-line bookstore, Amazon, also has a book-selling platform. Enter your used books into their system, set your own price and ship when the customer pays Amazon. You pay a small fee when you sell.

Trading Used Books

Paperback Swap - Post your used books on-line to trade with others. You pay media-mail shipping when you send a book to someone else. Each book sent earns you a credit. Use your credit to "buy" another book, which will be sent to you at the shipper's expense. (Editor's note: Approach with caution. I've had a bad Paperback Swap experience and a few others I've spoken to have, as well. I suggest you read the forums before you get too heavily involved.)

Book-trading Party - Host a book-trading party. Each guest brings a used book to trade for another book. Book-trading parties are a great addition to a book club or can be piggy-backed onto another party theme. They're fun at end-of-the-year school parties, as well as holiday parties.

BookMooch - Their motto is "Give books away. Get books you want." BookMooch works with a points system to trade books. You need to give away 1 book for every 2 you receive, otherwise you won't have enough points to mooch books.

Bookins - This site claims to take the least effort to swap books. You can swap books and DVDS. You only pay shipping when you make a request. They give you free shipping for all outgoing shipments.

Donating Used Books

Books for Africa - Donate used books to children in Africa. See the requirements for donating books on the Books for Africa website.

Local Donations - There are many local organizations that may take your used books. Typically, libraries will accept used book donations, both for adding to their collection or to sell in fundraising sales. Check with preschools, mother's groups or hospitals to see if they will accept used book donations. *edited to add: If you live in an area that's been affected by a recent natural disaster (i.e. the floods in Upstate NY after Tropical Storm Irene), you may want to check with public schools and libraries who may need to rebuild their collections after damage.