{Bookish Babble} What to Do With Your Old Books

Posted August 2, 2016 by Rachel Lightwood in Memes & Features / 12 Comments


Bookworms are pretty well-known for their hoarding capacities. Oh, come on, don’t deny it. You know it’s true! *casually moves in front of mountainous TBR pile*

But as much as we collect books, occasionally we also like to have clean outs and declutter our shelves to make room for all the newer, shinier books. The biggest problem with this? No, it’s not parting with the books like it should be, it’s knowing what to do with these books! Getting rid of books is hard enough, but when you don’t know where they are going it can be even harder to part with them. If you’re like me at all, you like to know that your books are going to good homes. They are my babies! I don’t like giving them away to just anyone. It has to be to someone/where they will be appreciated and cared for.

I thought it might be a good idea to have a post collating some of the things you can do with books you know longer want on your shelves… so here it is! Hopefully, this is just the slightest bit helpful.

1. Give Them to Friends & Family:

If you have friends or relatives that love reading, why not spread the love? My family always share our books around, It’s good to know that your books are going to homes that will love, respect and appreciate them. Afterwards, the two of you can discuss the book! It’s a win-win – you get rid of books that you don’t want or need anymore and your friends and relatives gets one they do!

2. Donate Them:

There are literally so many ways of giving back. Obviously, the where and how of this is going to depend on where you live and what organisations operate in your area, but I have no doubt that there’s some sort of charitable organisation in your neighbourhood. I personally adore this method! I give a lot of my books to op-shops (or second-hand/charity stores – not sure if that’s just an Australian term or not). You can choose a shop that supports a charity you also support. I use Savers a lot (their funds go to diabetes research), but there’s also Salvos, Red Cross, Goodwill, St Vinnies, and more. You could also donate to shelters or hospitals. I’ve never done this myself, but I’ve heard that children’s hospitals always accept donations of picture books. Schools and libraries also accept donations of books with obvious expectations and limitations depending on the individual school/library.

3. Sell Them:


If you are a little bit stingy and don’t want to simply give away your books – don’t worry, it’s not as selfish as it sounds. There’s some situations where I’m like this too! – there’s still a lot you can do. I use Gumtree to sell my books (I’ll talk about that more below), but if you’re not Australian than I’m sure they’re are other websites that offer similar services. I know that Amazon and Ebay have secondhand programs, but I’m not sure how they work. It’s definitely worth checking them out though if you use those websites. Many second-hand bookshops also take donations in return for store credit. Check out what’s around you and support local businesses if you can.

4. Gumtree:



I love Gumtree! I use it all the time to buy and sell things, especially books. I got my complete Ranger’s Apprentice series – yes, all 12 books – for only $12 and the American hardcovers of the Divergent trilogy, brand new, for only $30. It’s literally heaven! There’s no shipping costs if you don’t want there to be. It’s reliable. You can check out the items without buying them. It’s actually quite versatile. It’s free to post an ad (you can buy add ons if you want to, but you don’t have to – I never do) and you can choose whether to sell, trade, or give away your items. You set the prices. You set the details – pick up only, negotiable or fixed prices, etc. You can even post ‘wanted’ ads if you’re looking for something. It’s perfect. I think it’s only an Australian site, though? That’s the only downside.

5. Trading Rings:

Check out trading sites near where you live. There might be a book exchange in your local shopping centre or your office/workplace. My mum works at a school that has a cute little half-bookshelf in their staff room/break room where you can drop off books and pick up a few in exchange. If you don’t work or this isn’t an option, maybe set up a trading ring in your book club? I did this and I have two trades planned for our next meeting. Best part of this option? You can discuss the books once the other person has read them! It’s a conversation starter – which is super useful for awkward peeps like me.

Twitter & Instagram Hashtag:

There’s the #BooksForTrade, #BooksforTradeUK and #BooksforTradeAU hashtags on both Twitter and Instagram. People post a picture of a stack of books they are looking to trade and you can respond with books you are interested in receiving and what you have to offer. Now, I’ve never used this before because shipping is expensive but I’ve honestly heard no horror stories (though I’m sure there are some, obviously). It’s a great way of dealing with unwanted ARCs since it’s completely legal! You’ll need to check the specifics of the trade with the individual trader but a lot are US only because of shipping costs and there’s general rule of tit for tat – one book for one book, two paperbacks for a hardcover, new ARCs for new ARCs etc. There’s also a #SwagForTrade hashtag if you have swag to trade rather than books.

… well, was that helpful? I hope so! There is so much you can do with your old books and it’s such a refreshing feeling to clear your shelves out every now and again. Get rid of the old, bring in the new. I’m planning on doing a massive clean-out and reshuffle at the end of the year – once school and exams are over and done with and a have a couple of months off. Yes, I’m probably going to need that long… I’m bad at making decisions.

I do need feel the need to point out the fact that it is illegal to sell ARCs so please be careful with what you do with them. I didn’t specifically mention that above really, but I obviously do not support selling ARCs or even donating them to op-shops (because they will end up selling them as the poor volunteers working there don’t know about our book laws – and it really your responsibility, not theirs). Please just think about the poor authors and publishers.

Let me know in the comments how often you clear off your shelves or can you not bear to part with your books, ever? If you do, do you donate them? Sell them? Trade them? I’m interested to hear.
Rachel Lightwood


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12 responses to “{Bookish Babble} What to Do With Your Old Books

  1. Becca

    I donate mine to my local library, they have a used book store inside that helps to fund the library so I think its a good cause 🙂

  2. The last time I really did a clean-up of my bookshelves, I actually sold them to Half Price Books. And ended up buying enough books that I LOST money on the trip. Sooo … Not doing that again. If I ever convince myself to get rid of some older books again, I’ll probably make a library donation or trade with other bloggers. *shrugs* We’ll see 🙂

    • Oh, I’ve heard of Half Price Books before – it’s American, right? I wish we had something like that in my city And that’s hilarious! I would so end up doing something like that.

      Trading is a good idea. I do that with my book club friends etc. It’s a good way of making sure that you don’t buy more books that you give away as well.

    • You’re lucky niece! I wish I had more readers in my family. My mum and aunt read Kathy Reichs-like books but that’s about it. And I’m so, so lucky that my library is amazing. They have so many books that they don’t accept donations, lol.

  3. If it’s favorite books of mine, I keep them because I want to look at them, pet them and reread them LOL! If it’s books I know I won’t reread, I either give them away or donate them! I love the idea of paying books forward and allowing someone else to discover what might be a new favorite 🙂

    • Oh, don’t worry, I’m so, so bad at actually getting rid of books myself. If the book has a nice cover, I tend to keep it. Even if I read it and loathed it… oops? I”m just really sentimental with books! But the books I do give away, I tend to donate if they were books I received for free or bought second hand myself. If I bought a book brand new and only read it once or didn’t even read it, I do try and sell them on Gumtree… it is a nice feeling to donate and do something good for a charity though. Maybe I should do it more often!

  4. I give to family/friends, I put some in the little free library by my MIL house, I don’t my ARCs to my local library for their Graffiti in the Margins program and some I’ve traded at the used book store.

    I do a purge every 6 months or so.

    • It’s a good idea to do purges every now and again to keep your shelves fresh. I’m so bad at letting go of books so I should really be stricter like that too! I don’t have friends/family members that read so I cannot do that myself, but I honestly think that’s the best way to get “rid” of books – share the love and all that.

  5. Thanks for this. I have a ton of books to get rid of and these suggestions are some great ones. I didn’t know about Gumtree so I’m going to check that out. Great post!

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