Things to Do with Old Books

I realize that I may get some hate from this post, but it’s on my mind today. If you love books, you typically tend to have so many that you are having trouble finding places to store them. This is especially true for me since not only do I love books and have a few hundred, but my fiance’ loves books and has around a few thousand (no, I am NOT kidding).

So the question is, what do you do with some of the old books that you know you’ll never look at again? What about ones you didn’t enjoy? What about books that unfortunately got so damaged that it cannot be sold or even given away? Here’s a few things I suggest, other than tossing them in the trash (I think this should be a last resort!).

Suggestions for getting rid of Used/Unwanted/Old Books:

1) If you have books that are in great/good condition that you either didn’t care for or know you’ll never read again, my first suggestion on getting it out of your house is to try selling it. You can sell books on Amazon, Ebay,, Craigslist, and an assortment of other websites. Or you can sell them locally, to used bookstores (you won’t get too much this route), or at a yard sale you may be planning.

The reason I suggest you sell, especially if it’s a book that may be hard to find or is popular, is so other readers searching for the book can add it to their collection. There are several books on my wishlist that I am having trouble finding so when I finally find a copy of one of these hard-to-find books online, I’m so grateful to the seller.

2) If you don’t want to sell the book, I would next suggest signing up for a book swapping site. I use BookMooch. Basically you sign up for the site, enter your mailing address, and list the books you no longer want. On BookMooch, you get points for adding books. You also get points when someone “requests” one of your listed books and wants you to send it to them. This is a good way to help people find books they want and help you find books you want.

This option isn’t fantastic for getting great quality or popular books most of the time (I have gotten a few “jewels”), but it’s a great way to get those books out to people who will read and love them. The only thing you pay is shipping.

As much as I like BookMooch, I have found problems with it.

One, it’s hard to find popular books. Two, some users fail to send you the book you’ve requested (I’ve had to cancel a lot of my requests because the users never responded and it had been MONTHS). Three, some of the books aren’t in great condition. I received a book the other day that was pretty yucky but the owner never even hinted at this possibility. I try to describe a book as accurately as possible.

Four, sometimes books get lost in the mail. I sent two books out not too long ago and the post office sent me back the envelope saying they had been lost. Of course, there was nothing I could do about it (and the post office wonders why they aren’t doing so hot? Hmm) except tell the person what had happened to their books.

3) Give your books to friends/acquaintances. Let friends know that you have books you want to give away. Someone may be looking for one of the titles. Maybe you can even swap books between a group of friends.

4) Donate them to the library. The worst the library can do is trash them OR sell them at their library sales. Or donate them to Goodwill, Salvation Army, thrift stores, schools, or other organizations that accept used books. Freecycle, Craigslist, and similar groups may also be able to find them a new home.

5) Use them for craft projects. Here’s a few ideas that I really like (and want to try) below. I know some people won’t be too keen on “destroying” books, but honestly, if it’s a really old/weird book that no one wants or already destroyed (stained/missing pages/no cover/messed up cover/just plain yucky), I don’t see why trying to find ways to recycle a book is wrong when most people would just toss them out. Most people do not want books that are in terrible condition.

80 Awesome Ideas for Old/Used Books (Some of the below links are from this page)

Turn Books into Artwork

Make a Hymnal Angel

Make A Hardcover Book into a Bag!

Create “Floating Bookshelves”

Make a Hollow Book to hide things in

Turn a Book into a Clock

Make a Book Headboard

Make a Double Picture Frame

Make Pumpkin Decorations

Make a Christmas Tree

Make a Book Hedgehog

Tardis Hidden Book Box

Anyway, these are just some ideas. We just took a bunch of books to the used bookstore but a lot of them were so damaged (my fiance’ is hard on books/weren’t stored well) that the store wouldn’t take them. They also wouldn’t take several good ones. I’m going to see if the good ones can be listed on book swapping sites or before donating them to Goodwill.

I may try to use the really damaged ones for craft purposes. Especially the book purse, hedgehog, Christmas trees, and Tardis.

What do you think of this post? Is it ever acceptable to “recycle” books into craft purposes in your eyes? Why or why not?


3 thoughts on “Things to Do with Old Books

  1. I give old books a gifts or send them to the library. Helsinki Airport has just opened a book swap which I think is fantastic. I just have to give the books to someone who’s flying so they can leave them at the swap.
    I can’t remember the last time I threw a book in the rubbish… that’s the last resort in my book! Pun fully intended.

    1. Throwing them out is a last resort in mine, too, BUT unfortunately some of my fiance’s books have/will go there because they are so yucky (food stains/animal waste stains/torn up pages). Ugh.

      Lucky he has me to help him to properly store his books now. A few of mine that he borrowed back when we were living separate unfortunately got ruined as well. Grrrrr. It bothers me because I try to keep my books in the best condition possible. I feel like crying for the books. But the torn ones I will probably use for some craft and I will throw out the ones that are unreadable or just too nasty to be read now ._.

      That’s so cool about the airport swapping thing. Sounds like a great idea since people need to be occupied on the plane 🙂

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