5 Best Ways to Get Rid of Your Old Books During the Pandemic

updated on 05 November 2020

There are still many of us that have a sizable amount of print books on our shelves. At times we need to make more space or want to get rid of old books we no longer read. Of course, we can't just toss them in the trash (we hope you don't do it!), so lots of people decide to look for a nearby place to donate books. But donation is not the only option! You can swap, trade, sell, or recycle them.

To help you answer the "what to do with my old books?" question, we put together a list of 5 different options for getting rid of books. Keep reading to find websites and resources that will help you with decluttering your shelves.

1. Keep the Story Going — Swap Your Books

Offering up your books for swap/exchange is a great way to send your book off to its next adventure with another reader! Plus it’s a fun, inexpensive way to get rid of books you’ve already read. Many people out there would love to get a hold of your book(s). Plus, it’s like you are sending a gift you know they will enjoy!

You can check out some Instagram, Reddit, and Facebook groups to start off. Readers come together to hold their own version of “book swap clubs”. We spoke with people actively swapping on social media and found there can be some downsides. The most common ones are that communication with book owners can be tricky, and book availability is not always the best. Regardless of that, they still found it to be enjoyable enough to continue swapping books!

If social media groups aren't your thing, try to look into platforms that are dedicated to book swapping. BookMooch or BooksFreeSwap, and of course us — SwapReads — can help you offer your books up for swap. The gist is that you list the books you’re looking to swap and we will help match you with a person looking for your book. We can’t speak for the other platforms, but with us, the person who requests your book is the one that pays for shipping. All you have to do is print the label, pack it, and then mail it! Easy Peasy!

The fun part of swapping books is that you can always get creative with your own random act of kindness. We’ve seen readers include handwritten notes or bookmarks within the book. This is also a great way to make a connection with the next person in your book’s journey!

Feel free to learn more about SwapReads or go ahead and sign up here to get started.

2. My Free Little Library — Book Trade

If you like to contribute to your community, try rounding up willing neighbors to help. You can build and set up a My Free Little library in your neighborhood with their help. It’s a small wooden library that houses books others are willing to trade. The awesome thing is you have different options on how involved you want to be in setting it up. Ordering a pre-made one from their catalog is the easiest. Or if you know someone in your city that does woodworking, they can build it for you. And of course, if you want to go all-in and are feeling crafty, you can build one yourself (don’t forget to register it)! Once it's installed, you and members of your community can trade books with each other at any time. The premise is that if you take a book, you leave a book for others in your community to enjoy. It’s a wonderful way to find a second home for your books and creates opportunities to become more involved within your community! It’s a win-win!

Check out their website for more information and how to get started.

3. Donate Your Books

We all know donating books is the most common way to get rid of old books, but how and where can we take them to? Not to worry!, I’ve found some great options to choose from!

Library - Find your local library and check their website to understand what their book donation guidelines or requirements are (be aware some libraries may have stopped accepting donations due to the pandemic).

Schools - Local Schools are always in demand for books, just make sure to also contact them to understand when or how they can accept your book donations. Here is a handy tool to help you lookup schools near your house along with their contact information.

Goodwill/Salvation Army - Just as how you can donate your used clothes, you can also donate your previously loved books. Find your closest Goodwill or Salvation Army location to coordinate a drop-off. Make sure to choose Donation/Donation Drop in your search.

Better World Books (BWB) - BWB can be super convenient as they have drop bins you can drive to and drop off all your ‘good condition’ books. Find a drop bin near you here.

4. Make a Little Cash — Sell Your Books

We all enjoy making a few bucks here and there! Half-Price Books (HPB) and local Indie bookstores can “pay you” for your previously loved books! You can find both HPB and Indie bookstore locations near you by inputting your zip code here. Take note that HPB does pay more for current bestsellers and certain classic novels. All books will have to be physically reviewed by an HPB employee as with most other book stores, in order to give you an offer!

If you don’t want to go to a brick-and-mortar store try looking into joining Facebook groups. Some are dedicated to selling books (just make sure you’re honest with the book condition).

5. Protect the Environment — Recycle

If you can’t swap, trade, donate or make a few books from your already read books, you can always see about recycling them! Better World Books also take books that can’t be sold or donated. They recycle them to make pulp for new paper products. To find the nearest drop bin located near you, click here.

If you can't make it to the nearest BWB bin, check to see if your city's recycling center can take your books. Check out Earth911, as they maintain one of the world’s biggest recycling databases. Use their search feature to help you find a recycling center near you.

No matter which option you choose, we hope you consider the best one for you and other book lovers!