16 Best Places to Donate Books

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If you can’t find an empty shelf because they’re lined with your beloved books you will never open again, you should consider donating them.

Although it can be tough to let go of books, think of it this way: The place you donate them to will help ensure they get into the hands of people who will actually use them.

So, now that you’re finally ready to let them go, the next step is to find the best place to donate them.

This is a list of some organizations that will accept your book donations — from the well-known second-hand shops to lesser-known nonprofits.

Where to Donate Books

If you want to understand what your options are to donate books, check out the following places where you can share the gift of knowledge through your old books.

Also, don’t forget that donations are tax-deductible, so make sure to get receipts and save them, come tax season.

1. Salvation Army

The Salvation Army homepage

One of the best places to donate used books is the Salvation Army. This organization helps 25 million Americans and serves 128 countries around the world.

Most major cities have a Salvation Army since it’s one of the world’s largest social aid resources designed to help the needy, poor, homeless and jobless.

When you donate books or other items to the Salvation Army the company sells the items at rock bottom prices in order to give more people a chance to buy what they need.

There are plenty of children and adults who can use the books you would donate to the Salvation Army. What a great way to find a good purpose for your books!

Check their website to find the closest location to you.

Pros

  • Many locations
  • Easy process

Cons

  • Books are sold and not given away

2. Goodwill

Goodwill homepage

If Salvation Army locations are lacking in your neighborhood, check out Goodwill.

They accept donations of all kinds and even have a Value Guide that tells you how much your donated items are worth.

It is one of the best places to donate used books due to its philanthropic focus.

As with Salvation Army, most donated books and other goods are sold at Goodwill thrift stores at super affordable prices.

Proceeds from thrift store sales go in part to helping fund job training and placement programs for people who need jobs.

Also, job training is geared particularly to those who may be in greater need due to a disability or other challenge.

This long-standing non-profit organization would benefit greatly from your used books, and would pay it forward right in your community.

Pros

  • Many U.S. locations
  • Wide variety of books accepted

Cons

  • Books are sold and not donated to recipients

3. Your Neighborhood Library

Public library image

Did you know that many neighborhood libraries will accept book donations?

If you have children’s books, your local library can be a great place to donate them since the library can use them for things like literacy programs.

Kids need to read, so this is a great way to help make that possible.

And donating books that are written for adults is important too. Reading is just as important of a habit for adults as it is for children.

Note that it’s wise to call or stop by your local library and ask about donation guidelines before you actually stop by to drop off your books.

This is important because most local libraries have a list of what they will and won’t accept.

However, once you determine what books you have that are acceptable to your local library, donation is quite easy.

Just drop the books off at your library’s front desk. Some libraries even have donation bins that make it easy to get rid of your books.

Pros

  • Books will be used for free
  • Many library locations throughout the world

Cons

  • Limited list of books accepted

4. Homeless Shelters

homeless shelter reading

As with many nonprofits in need, homeless shelters often need books to provide for those in need of their services. If you are looking to donate books, this is a great option.

Many homeless shelters provide short or long-term housing for residents.

For that reason, donations of books can be valuable as they provide healthy entertainment for residents.

Call or email your local shelter to see if there is a list of requirements that need to be met before you donate.

There are more places you can contact in your local area to see if you can donate your books.

These include:

  • Children’s hospitals
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Churches

Most homeless shelters or any of these other options will accept gently used donated books, and you can find these places across the country.

Bonus suggestion: Consider donating books to local women’s shelters too. There are many in need in most all major cities.

Pros

  • Books will be put to good use for those who don’t often have access
  • Wide range of book types accepted

Cons

  • Not all shelters will accept book donations

5. Books for Soldiers

Books for Soldiers homepage

Another way to make good use of used books is to support our troops by sending them your used books through Books for Soldiers.

The nonprofit was founded in 2003, and has shipped $30 million in care packages, which include books.

The company operates 100 percent on donations, so their site asks for donations in through PayPal.

If you want to donate books through this organization you need to mail them directly to individual soldiers.

Pros

  • Good way to support our troops
  • List of approved books is vast

Cons

  • Process for donating can be tedious

6. Operation Paperback

Operation Paperback homepage

There’s also Operation Paperback, which has been around since 1999 to help collect gently-used books to send to American troops overseas and vets and military families in the United States.

The site gives you the option of making a monetary donation or you can send the books directly to the soldiers, covering the cost of shipping along with the books.

This organization has a number of other projects that take advantage of book donations that are sent to alternate programs.

These include:

  • Wounded warrior programs and veterans hospitals located in the U.S., as well as USO centers at airport transit points.
  • Supplying children’s books to deployed soldiers who read to their kids via webcam or on video
  • Supplying books for an annual book giveaway for service members and their families

Books donated to our troops help them to stay encouraged and entertained as they provide safety for people around the world.

Pros

  • Supplies books to service members and their families
  • Shares books with injured and hospitalized service members
  • Shares books with veterans

Cons

  • Contributors must ship books and pay for shipping

Related Post: Legit Ways to Get Free Books For Kids

7. Books for Africa

Books for Africa homepage

Help someone in Africa get their hands on your books by donating them to Books for Africa.

The nonprofit, founded in 1988, accepts all kinds of fiction, nonfiction, and textbooks and has delivered over 40 million books to Africa.

They accept books via mail (it costs 50 cents to ship each book to Africa), but also accept books via drop off if you happen to live in the St. Paul, MN or Atlanta, GA area.

Here’s a brief guide for what to donate:

  • Books that are less than 15 years old
  • Textbooks from K-12 to college, less than 15 years old
  • Reference books that are less than 10 years old
  • Medical, nursing, IT, and law books less than 10 years old

Books for Africa encourages you to also donate in order to help cover the cost of sending the books.

Just follow the information on the site to learn more.

You can get information about where to ship the books on their donate page.

Pros

  • Accepts a wide variety of book types
  • Also accepts school supplies such as paper, pens and pencils

Cons

  • Does not accept encyclopedia sets or music books for children

8. Books Through Bars

Books Through Bars homepage

Books Through Bars provide books to those serving time in jail. Because you’re donating to a prison, the rules for what you can and can’t donate are more stringent.

Keep in mind this option is best if you happen to have a lot of the books that are on their high demand list.

If you have a variety of paperback books that pertain to the following subjects, donate them to this organization.

In addition to having an Amazon Wishlist, they are always in need of the following certain kids of books.

These include:

  • Paperback dictionaries
  • Instructional art that teaches you how to draw or paint
  • Tattoo art
  • Historical studies
  • Urban fiction
  • How to books (how to learn a trade or skill, such as plumbing)
  • Puzzle books
  • True crime

Books they don’t want include:

  • Hardback fiction
  • Romance novels
  • Out-of-date textbooks
  • Books in bad condition

See the website for more information. If you have books in good condition that are not out-of-date, this could be a way for you to donate them.

Pros

  • Amazon wish list available
  • Long list of needed/wanted book types accepted

Cons

  • No hardcover books allowed

9. Books to Prisoners

BookstoPrisoners homepage

Seattle-based nonprofit Books to Prisoners has a clear mission to “foster a love of reading behind bars, encourage the pursuit of knowledge and self-empowerment, and break the cycle of recidivism.”

This organization prefers paperback books of specified topics.

These topics include:

  • Dictionaries
  • Thesauruses
  • African American history and fiction,
  • Foreign language books (especially how to speak Spanish)
  • Business and personal finance
  • Drawing/art instruction
  • Fiction books such as western, sci-fi and fantasy

Before you donate, make sure to check the condition of the books. Otherwise, they might not be able to use your donation for their literacy programs.

Here are more requirements:

  • The condition must be good
  • It shouldn’t be too outdated
  • Check the content to ensure it’s appropriate

Books to Prisoners also has a donate page that uses PayPal, if you’re interested in making a monetary donation.

Pros

  • Can donate cash via PayPal
  • Accepts most instructional books

Cons

  • No spiral bound books

10. Better World Books

Better World Books homepage

They call themselves “The Online Bookstore with a Soul.” Better World Books collects and sells books online and then donates the profits to fund literacy initiatives around the world.

The company has over 8 million new and used books in stock and their mission is to promote literacy.

If you’re ready to donate your used books to Better World Books, visit their donate page and mail your books to the address listed.

Make sure the book donation meets the requirements for acceptance.

Once you get the itch to buy more books, consider using Better World Books to actually purchase your books too.

Pros

  • Pay it forward philosophy
  • Works to fund needs globally

Cons

  • Site isn’t clear about types of books accepted

11. Pickup Please

Pickup Please homepage

If you’re sitting on a monster pile of books and would like some help getting them picked up, Pickup Please might be worth considering. Based on their site, it seems like Pickup Please is a bit more flexible in what they will accept.

This company will take:

  • Textbooks
  • Magazines
  • Hardcover books
  • Softcover
  • Children’s books
  • Fiction, nonfiction

Your books will help support U.S. veterans, specifically Vietnam Veterans of America, and general initiatives around reading and literacy.

You can schedule a pickup from their site and expect to get your books picked up within a 24-hour time frame (depends on your location). After you make a schedule, put your books inside of a box or bag, but make sure they are clearly labeled.

You don’t even have to be home, just leave the labeled box or bag outside of your house. Once your books are picked up, the driver will leave you a donation and tax deduction receipt for you.

They emphasize that they’ll pick up no matter what — rain or shine. If you are committed to donating books, they are committed to picking them up.

Pros

  • Widest variety of accepted books
  • Pickup service
  • Accepts other items as well

Cons

  • Limited service area

12. Donation Town

Donation Town homepage

Similar to Pickup Please, Donation Town will pick up your books for a variety of charities. You need to put in your zip code to schedule a pickup time, and whichever charity that has partnered up with DonationTown will show up. Pick up is free.

Pros

  • Drop-off or schedule a pick-up (depending on location)
  • Wide variety of books accepted

Cons

  • You won’t know what type of organization your book ends up at

13. Little Free Library

Little Free Library

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that has over 100,000 boxes worldwide. They call themselves the largest book-sharing movement in the world.

You can leave your book in one of their little free libraries (which are essentially boxes) and even take a new one to read. It’s essentially like swapping books with strangers at no cost.

To find a box near you and start donating books, you can download their app.

Pros

  • Your books help local residents
  • Start your own if you can’t find one near you

Cons

  • Could be a more labor intensive option

14. African Library Project

African Library Project

This program is dedicated to promoting literacy and developing libraries in Africa. Book drives are held in the United States, then books are sent overseas to help promote literacy in various regions.

To date, the African Library Project has established over 3,400 libraries in schools and other organizations across Africa.

They’ve shipped over 3 million books as well. It takes just 1,000 books and $650 to establish a library in an African community.

Pros

  • Cost effective way to provide books to an entire community
  • Even one donated book will help many people

Cons

  • Only accepts children’s books

15. Local Schools

School library

Did you know you can donate books to schools in your area? You can donate books to public schools, private schools and more.

Note that you need to contact the school–specifically its library personnel–to find out which books you can donate and which you can’t.

Because schools serve children, it’s important to be sure you’re donating the types of books the school library personnel will approve of.

Donating books to local schools will help give more kids a chance to brush up on their reading skills.

Contact schools in your area for more information.

Pros

  • Make a difference locally
  • School tax dollars can be used for other things

Cons

  • Limited types of books accepted

16. Area Daycare Centers

Daycare center reading books

Another idea is to donate books to area daycare centers. Obviously, children’s books would be the best choice when donating to daycare centers.

If you have children’s books (preferably for readers under 8 years of age) that you no longer need, contact a daycare center near you.

See if they would have need for your unused books.

Hint: There are adult daycare centers that may want your unused books as well. Contact centers in your area for more information.

Pros

  • Promote reading for younger children
  • Many daycare centers in nearly every city

Cons

  • Young children’s books only

Summary

There are many great places to donate old books. Check with your local nonprofits, schools or other organization to see if you can donate used books.

Pick a cause to support and declutter your home all at once. At the same time, share the gift of reading with someone who can benefit from books you no longer use.

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