April is Earth month. Being conscious of the environment has become a bigger priority in people’s lives. I can remember when it seemed a complete fad that no one would take seriously. Thankfully, our world and issues such as global warming have become mainstream.
Libraries often face the dilemma of unwanted books, those that have become damaged beyond repair, those that are out of date and no longer factual or relevant, and sadly, those books that no one really wants to read and are taking up space for books that are more desirable to check out.
It is a subject that readers also find in their own personal bookshelves. Books that you picked up on the bargain shelf at Barnes and Noble because they were only $2 and then hated the story, books someone may have given you, but that you have no interest in reading, or maybe you found yourself simply with books you’ve read, enjoyed, but don’t want to keep anymore. Myself, I had a stack of cookbooks that I just never used and tons of non-fiction and novels from that bargain bin. I now understand why they were in the bargain bin. In college, I was sometimes stuck with textbooks for gen-ed classes and had no idea what to do with them once class was over, and I couldn’t sell them back because a new edition came out every year.
What do we do with all these lonely, sad, unloved and unwanted books? There are many options that are friendly to the environment, the reader and the book too! Instead of just dumping the book in the garbage can so it can fill up a landfill and never find its true reader love, consider one of these options:
Donate. Places such as Goodwill, AmVets, and Vietnam Veterans will take used books and magazines, and you can get a receipt for a tax write-off. Plus, you’re supporting a worthwhile cause. I would encourage you not to donate to your library unless you know they will end up in the book sale room, should a library have one. Libraries are often trying to find places themselves to rid their weeded materials.
Sell them! Places such as used bookstores take books off your hands and sometimes will pay you for them! I always take my cash, and instead of running, end up buying books. (More books!) One of my favorite bookshops called Half-Price Books is an independent seller, has stores around the country and buys used books, cds, games, etc. I’ve also found several smaller, local used bookstores and thrift stores that may not necessarily buy them for more than 25 cents, but the shop owner will put them on the shelves for someone else to discover. Having a garage sale this spring or summer? A box of books is often the first place I go. I’ve scored some steals for a dollar or less, sometimes even free because the seller just wants them gone! Ebay and other sites like CraigsList are decent resources for selling, but I’ve only had luck with series of magazines. Ebay and other sales sites seem to work better when you have a hot collectible that you know is worth money or a very expensive textbook that is in good condition.
Recycle. Unfortunately, the big question of what to do with your old set of encyclopedias may be as simple as recycling them. I know, it pains me to write that because I love them! Yet, unless you can find a museum or historical society of some kind that will want them for archival or preservation purposes, the material in them is not always useful to an everyday user. When all else fails, and you don’t know what to do, don’t dump your books in the garbage to end up in a landfill. Recycle.
Pass Them Along! Hospitals, nursing homes, gyms, hair salons and other places with waiting rooms or reading time often love free magazine and books! Just make sure you ask before you dump a pile of Martha Stewarts on the end table. Not everyone appreciates the act of sharing. Sites such as Paperbook Swap, BookMooch and BookCrossing are also a fun way to trade books and join a community of readers. They are often free or have a small nominal fee to cover postage and shipping charges. When buying books, check out sites such as Better World Books who then donate a book to someone else across the world!
Be Creative. Books as arts and crafts are ever so trendy and fashionable! There are tons of ideas online and on Pinterest for turning old or unwanted books into works of art! I thought this blog post was pretty interesting and had some great ideas.
Have you found yourself stuck with a pile of books and don’t know what to do? Have you tried any of these and found successes or failures? Do you have any resources you’ve used other than those shown here? I would love to hear them in the comments.
This post was written by Jennifer Peterson. Contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org
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