I love books. I stop at every bookstore I pass and usually pick up at least one new book, if not more. My love of books is no secret, and friends and family always know what to get me for Christmas and for my birthday. The result is that I have an enormous collection!
Though I love hoarding them, I realize I won’t read many of these books ever again. Moreover, my collection now takes up too much space and I can’t stand the clutter. But I hate the idea of throwing anything remotely usable into a landfill. So to strike a balance between my love for books and dislike of clutter, I’ve decided to spread the joy my beloved books have brought me by donating them to worthy causes.
You can donate old books to a variety of places, while also receiving tax deductions for charitable contributions. Best of all, your unwanted pile of books can help others who enjoy reading as much as you do.
Where to Donate Books Locally
Donating your used books locally saves you the shipping costs of mailing your books and benefits charities and needy families in your area.
You can donate books at a variety of locations in your community, including:
1. The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army accepts used goods donations, including hardback and paperback books. The donations go to stock the Salvation Army store, or to provide reading materials for Salvation Army’s homeless shelters. You can find drop-off locations in your community on the Salvation Army website.
Goodwill accepts used book donations for their resale stores. Proceeds from the stores fund job training and placement programs for those who face unemployment challenges, such as the disabled. You can find a drop-off location near you on the Goodwill website.
Most libraries have a Friends of the Library Society. These societies hold book sales and other fundraisers to benefit the libraries. The groups use donated books to stock library shelves or resell the books at fundraising events. Typically, library societies accept like-new and gently used book donations.
4. Local Thrift Stores
Local second hand thrift stores can use your donated books. Before you donate, though, check out the store’s policies; some thrift stores don’t operate as nonprofit organizations. However, you may want to donate your books to these stores just to increase the availability of affordable books in your community.
5. Got Books? Fundraisers
If you have an idea for a fundraiser and a few friends with piles of unwanted books, you can start your own book drive. Got Books? provides crates you can use to collect donations from your neighborhood. The group purchases your used books and cuts you a check, which you can give to the charity of your choice.
6. Reading Tree
Reading Tree has book donation centers throughout the U.S. The charity collects used books and donates them to underfunded libraries and schools, both in the U.S. and overseas. If Reading Tree doesn’t have a donation center in your area, but you know of a good place to put one, you can request a crate on their website.
Where to Ship Your Books
While you have to pay for the cost of shipping, these charities work for really cool causes:
7. Books for Soldiers
With Books for Soldiers, you can create care packages with your used books and send them to deployed soldiers overseas. After signing up as a volunteer on the website, which is required for security, you can browse through the soldiers’ book requests. Some soldiers request specific books or types of books, but most just ask for anything. You can also add CDs or DVDs to your care package.
8. Books for Africa
Books For Africa sends freight containers full of thousands of books to students in Africa. The charity looks for reference books and recent textbooks, both primary and secondary educational levels, but you can also send fiction and nonfiction books.
9. Books Through Bars
Books Through Bars, as well as Books To Prisoners, collects donated books and distributes them to inmates. Having access to reading material helps prisoners who aspire to higher education and helps them adjust to outside life at the end of their sentences. You can find a list of the most wanted materials on the Books Through Bars website. The list includes dictionaries, Spanish books, study guides, textbooks, history books, drug and alcohol recovery books, and spiritual books. Paperbacks are preferred since most prisons do not allow hardcover books.
10. Better World Books
Better World Books sells donated books through several online marketplaces. The proceeds go toward funding the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations, a charitable organization that supports public libraries.
Before you donate your books, check out the charity’s book donation policies. Every charity needs certain types of books, and you may have to donate to more than one organization to get rid of your entire stash.
If you donate your books, get a receipt and keep track of which books you donate, as well as their condition, for tax purposes. While you do not need to submit the receipts to the IRS, it is wise to retain them to determine the size of the donations tax deduction you can claim. You may also want to have them handy in case of a tax audit.
Where do you donate books? Can you recommend any other charities not listed here?