Unwanted books – how to deal with them?

Unwanted books – how to deal with them?

unwanted booksBookworms find the problem tough. However, the truth is that we do not often want to keep all the books we own. Our shelves are stacked with unwanted gift books, books we bought on impulse, or highly-rated bestsellers that left us cold.
We have a few suggestions that can help you solve the problem of redundant books.

1. Classified ad websites and auction sites

The Internet has made it very easy to dispose of any books we don’t want or need. More and more people look for second-hand items and only visit a bookshop as a last resort. When you put up your book for sale make sure you provide an accurate description and upload good photographs to reflect the actual condition of the item. The price matters too! Don’t expect to sell a pre-owned book for the cover price. Check the current selling price of the book with other sellers. Remember that most buyers sort listed items by price. The lower the asking price the higher your book ends up in search results. In this way you might not make a fortune but some of the money you spent will come back to your pocket.

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2. Social media

This is a perfect place to find new owners for your redundant books. Looking for buyers on social media sites, among your friends or followers, is usually very effective. If you want to increase the reach of your advertising posts you can share them in special local groups where people sell, swap or give away things, such as the Facebook Marketplace service. Facebook users also form hobby or interests groups, so if you have got rid of your fish tank and still have some books on goldfish or guppy breeding, you can find buyers in aquarium enthusiast groups. It’s always good to include clear photos of the books and ask an adequate price. Don’t be lazy and just say ‘PM me for price’ or you will slim your chances. Also, check the shipping costs, if envisaged.

3. Giving away to the needy

Before you rush with boxes full of obsolete books to the nearest hospital or care home, please check what they really need (and if they are interested in such giveaways at all). Remember – your goal is to make somebody happy, rather than to dump your old stuff. Taking out-of-date textbooks to a retirement home is nothing but decluttering your place at someone’s expense. So, call the institution or email it with a list of books to give away and ask if they are interested.

4. Charity auctions

Online charity collections are often backed by auctions. You could give your books away in return for donation certificates. The money your items attract in an auction will support a charitable cause and will be given to people in need. The books you donate should be in decent condition. They are not likely to make heaps of money but for the people who hold such events every penny counts.

5. Bookcrossing, or pay it forward

Bookcrossing is an interesting way to promote reading which involves leaving books in public places for anybody to pick up and read. These places are usually designated and found, for example, in cafes or other public buildings, such as libraries or local government offices. Bookcrossing shelves are increasingly common in urban spaces. You can leave your unwanted books there and set them free, so to speak. Instead of gathering dust on your shelf, the books are swapped among readers.

6. Libraries and unwanted books

Naturally. However you must be aware that not each and every book will be willing to take everything you want to dispose of. Of course, a crime novel by a best-selling author, or required reading books are always welcome. Most libraries will be grateful for newly published books, as there are often waiting lists to borrow a trendy title. If you have a bestseller to give away, somebody’s waiting time could be considerably reduced.

7. Second-hand bookshops

Views are divided on this matter. Some people like the idea but others complain that second-hand booksellers tend to either pay pittance for valuable collections or be totally uninterested in buying. Be aware of that and if you have antique or rare books, have them valuated by an antiquarian.


8. Recycling

The last hope. If all the other solutions have failed, you can simple take your redundant books for recycling. Destroying books is a dubious practice, we know that. We can hear bookworms gnashing their teeth. But we must face the fact that some books become obsolete. For example, a nursing handbook from the 1970s is just evidence of the old state of knowledge, if anything. We don’t like to find ourselves in the care of a nurse relying on outdated information, do we? Such books are more like curiosities than sources of practical knowledge, which they used to be. The same goes for old calendars, filled-in workbooks and so on. Or any books chewed by your dog or fished out of the bath. If the contents or condition of the book make it unlikely to find a new owner, recycling is the way out.


We know it’s sometimes really hard to part with books, even if we won’t ever read them again. But if you have books just sitting there on the shelf, making your frustrated, you can use them to make somebody else happy. Saying goodbye to the book can give it another life. So, next time you dust your bookshelves pause and think if you are happy with all the titles in the library.

lidia piasecka

Lidia Piasecka

Graphic designer at Totem.com.pl. She writes because she enjoys it, but only when she isn’t busy drawing. Enthusiast of vintage furniture, she restores them to their original glory. Lover of cats, moths and the Moomins.

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