The Definitive Guide to Where to Donate Books

April 15, 2021

Whether you’re a believer in the minimal, joy-sparking book collection Marie Kondo stresses or you’re a book connoisseur who regularly cleans their shelf to make way for new reading material, the next big step after deciding what books to donate is getting them from your trunk to a donation center.

At this point, you might be asking yourself:

  • Are there time-saving services that will pick up my donation pile after notifying them online, or are there quick and easy drop off bins near me?
  • What if I want my donation to help those in my local community (can I donate to my library, maybe?) or benefit a great cause (like sending the books to third world countries)?
  • Can I get something in return for my generous donation?
  • What if my books are so worn and torn that no one else will want them?

Since we’re believers that, as Walt Disney once said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island,” we’ve compiled the ultimate list—the definitive guide to donating books—to help you easily find the perfect donation spot for you, whether you have children’s books, academic textbooks, or novels, and whether you live in Brooklyn (NYC), Los Angeles (CA), or somewhere in between.

The Most Convenient Donation Spots

Check your local area to see if these organizations can pick up your pile of book donations (many have easy drop-off location spots, if you’d rather swing by!).

Pick Up Please will pick up your donation within 24 hours in most locations to help US Veterans and their families. They accept textbooks, magazines, hardcover and softcover books, children’s books, and both fiction and non-fiction.

  • The Salvation Army resells donated items to fund their Adult Rehabilitation Centers.
  • Goodwill resells donated items to create jobs for those in need and helps recycle items through your community. Online you can find the nearest Goodwill, and you can call and ask if they offer pick-up services.
  • AMVETS supports the veteran community. Check their site to see if there’s a location near you to schedule a pickup.
  • Donation Town allows you to search for local charities near you that are willing to pick up your donation.
  • Search online for “pick up book donation near me,” as there may be some local options available to you. For example, if you live on the East Coast, GreenDrop is a charitable organization that can either pick up your books or receive your donation at a drop-off center. If you happen to live in Northern Utah, Tabitha’s Way has multiple drop-off bins around the area.
  • Ask your friends and family if they’re interested in the books you no longer want to keep. There’s no shame in asking them to stop by and pick them up, or simply take them to your next get together.

Donate Locally

It’s best to call ahead and double check whether these nearby sites are accepting donations.

  • Your local library (some list online whether they’re accepting donations, too)
  • Local thrift stores
  • Local schools
  • Retirement Homes and Assisted Living Centers (may also welcome children’s books for Alzheimer and Dementia patients)
  • Daycare centers
  • Dentists (might accept newer children’s books)
  • Your pediatric doctor’s office (might accept new children’s books)
  • Search Google for “donate books in [city, state]”
  • Your local church (might welcome donations for the young children who attend)
  • Refugee centers
  • Animal shelters (there are reading programs with dogs to get them ready for adoption)
  • Homeless shelters
  • Freecyle (think craigslist, but for free!)
  • Local theatres (they sometimes use old books as props)

Benefit A Cause

While many of the convenient donation spots listed previously also go to great use, here are a few options for larger causes your books can contribute to.

  • Pay for shipping, but support a cause:
    • Books for Africa allows you to ship up to 50 lbs of books to send to students in Africa. You have to pay around $0.50 per book you want to donate as well as for the shipping. They accept hardcover and softcover fiction and non-fiction books and college textbooks, though books should be 15 years old or newer.
    • Operation Paperback provides the opportunity to send your gently-used books to American troops overseas. You’ll need to become a “Volunteer Shipper” and input genres you’re willing to donate. They’ll provide you with address information, and you’ll pack up the books and pay to ship them.
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore uses proceeds from reselling donation items to fund Habitat’s home-building projects throughout the world.
  • Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit that encourages families to read aloud together and incorporates books into pediatric care. To donate books for kids up to 15 years old, you’ll fill out a form on their site about your donation and they’ll get back to you with your local Reach Out and Read site within two weeks for you to drop your donation off at or ship your donation to.
  • Reader to Reader is a nonprofit that places donated books in deserverving, "under-resourced school libraries and public libraries across the United States."
  • Better World Books resells donated books, using the proceeds to fund literacy initiatives across the world.
  • Prisons often accept donations of approved paperback books. Make sure your donations align with approved books, and check with your local prison beforehand to make sure they’re accepting donations. Here’s a list with some locations throughout the US you can donate to.

Get Something in Return

  • BookMooch allows you to donate your books to receive points, which you can use to ask for others’ books.
  • Half Price Books might buy your used books, and they’ll either recycle or donate books they don’t resell.

More Creative Ways to Share Your Loved Books

  • Host a book swap party, but leave empty handed. Have everyone place their books in the center, choose new (to them) books to take home, and then let others choose from your pile (and what others bring). Donate any remainders to one of the options in this article.
  • Create a little free library (a neighborhood library spot where you can leave or take a book).
  • Put on a book sale to sell your used books, or raise money to donate to a good cause (many of the organizations listed above allow monetary donations, too!).

Are your books so well used that they’re basically torn apart, but you don’t want to throw them away? Ask your local recycling center if you can bring your books by. If any of these services have worked well for you, let us know! If you have favorite or trusted options for donating your books that we haven’t covered here, please share them with us.

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