stack_of_books2Jerry Seinfeld once did a routine about keeping a personal library so you can show off and say “look at all I know!” (Sorry, couldn’t find it on YouTube.) My lovely wife is not amused by this and warns me to keep my decluttering paws away from her bookcases. So I do. If you, however, are at a stage where you want to or need to get rid of some unwanted books, here are some helpful options. Unfortunately there’s no single option that is low effort, big money, free shipping, and any condition, so I have broken these options down by their best features.

Best Money, Most Effort: is a division of eBay and works in much the same way. You can post many books at once, but you have to wait for interested buyers one at a time and take care of the shipping one at a time. I have used and have gotten some decent money for my unwanted books. I have found it worth doing as a first pass.  It’s pretty easy to get started.

Less Money, Free Shipping: claims to be the top online book buyer in the world. Online since 2004, Cash4Books™ has purchased over one million used books nationwide. They seem to be a particularly good source for textbooks and newer books. You send them your books’ ISBN numbers, they let you know what they will take, and they provide you a label for shipping and send you a check. I haven’t tried them personally, but it looks pretty easy.

Collectible and Antique Books:

If you’d like to sell old and rare books, this is a service recommended by The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America was founded in 1949 to promote interest in rare books and foster collegial relations.  We maintain the highest standards in the trade; members must meet certain requirements in order to join, showing a minimum of four years in the business of selling books, a knowledge of cataloguing, and a sound financial footing.

Book Barter:

I learned about this option from a client who loves this service.  BookMooch is a community for exchanging used books.  BookMooch lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want. Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you’ve read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish. There is no cost to join or use this web site: your only cost is mailing your books to others. Learn how to bookmooch.

Easy Donation: your local library

I have to say this option is easier at some libraries than others, so it’s worth checking out your local websites for details. Usually your books are sold to raise money for special programs and needed books. In Stamford, CT you can find out how to donate books at the Ferguson Library.

Easiest Donation: The Salvation Army

The easiest book donation I ever had was with the Salvation Army. They do take books and some locations offer a pick up service, but of course you have to schedule it in advance and be prepared to wait. I once donated 40 boxes of books from a client’s apartment. For the record, the driver informed me that 40 was over the limit on book donations, but it would be OK if we labeled the boxes as something else. I was happy to do so.

No matter what sales option you choose, good condition always yields more money, so if you want to get in the habit of circulating your books more, you should also get in the habit of treating them well. This usually requires a shift in thinking, but it’s a healthy one. Books can represent a heavy burden from the past and relinquishing them can open up new possibilities for your future. (Including new books!)

Do you have a favorite way to circulate unwanted books?