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14 Places to Donate Your Used or Unwanted Books

Share your favorite books with those in need by donating them to these great causes.

Stacks of books in the boxes for donationAlexander Spatari/Getty Images

Where to donate books

Every reader knows that books can change lives. Children’s books shape our childhood. Self-help books inspire us in difficult times. Photo- or art-filled coffee table books double as home decoration and fill us with a sense of wonder. So it’s no surprise that parting with our favorite tomes can be a difficult task. But it can also be a win-win. Once you learn where to donate books, you can share their beauty, knowledge, and wisdom with others.

If you’ve mustered up the courage to part with a portion of your home library, whether the best books you’ve ever read or classic books that have been collecting dust for ages, you’ve already taken the hardest step. And in case you’re still wavering, consider this: Not only will donating books free up space on your bookshelf for new titles, but it’ll help the environment too.

When you’ve sent the last book to its new home, consider what other possessions might deserve a second life. Here’s where to donate almost anything, how to recycle anything, and how to recycle old clothes.

How do I get rid of books?

You can sell valuable books on eBay or Facebook Marketplace, but there are a variety of thoughtful ways to donate them. No, you won’t get cold, hard cash, but you might be reimbursed with good karma and the assurance that your books will find their way to a good home. There are many organizations that will gladly take your books, not only sharing great reads with others but also using donated books to raise money for great causes. Keep reading to find out where to donate books to make an impact.

The entrance to the Goodwill Retail & Donation Center in Naples, Florida.Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

Goodwill

Accepted books: New or gently used paperbacks and hardbacks

Wondering where to donate books from a variety of genres? Head to your local Goodwill. The store accepts all types of books—as long as they are new or gently used—and proceeds go directly to Goodwill’s outreach programs. The company provides job training, employment placement services, and other community-based programs for low-income families and individuals. With thrift stores located throughout the country, it’s a great organization to consider when donating your books and buying used goods.

How to donate

Bring your new or gently used books to a local donation center, which you can find on the Goodwill website.

Little Free LibrariesAndy Cross/Getty Images

Little Free Diverse Libraries (Diverse Stories)

Accepted books: Diverse books

Maybe your kids have outgrown their favorite diverse children’s books. Or maybe you’re just making room on your shelf for more diverse stories. Whatever your reason for sharing the literary love, we know just where to donate books written by and for people of color. Founded by a New York City school counselor and book lover in 2020, the nonprofit organization Diverse Stories is on a mission to amplify and empower diverse voices. Gather the books in your collection that center around Black or Brown characters or are written by Black or Brown authors, then leave them at Little Free Diverse Libraries in your area.

How to donate

Add books to a local Little Free Diverse Library, start your own diverse little library, or mail books directly to Diverse Stories at 50 W. 72nd, Apt. 506, New York, NY 10023. Or, you can donate money or buy new books for the organization.

Donation box for Books Better World BooksVia Betterworldbooks.com

Better World Books

Accepted books: Any

Better World Books is a for-profit global e-retailer that collects and sells new and used books online, matching each purchase with a book donation. Think of it this way: You donate a book, Better World Books sells it to a fellow bookworm, and the sale supports funds for literacy and education initiatives in the United States, United Kingdom, and around the world. And talk about gifts that give back! This is a great place to buy books (many in just-like-new condition) for your literary-minded pals.

How to donate

You can donate directly to drop boxes located in the United States and United Kingdom. If there isn’t one near you, you can send books to one of four addresses closest to your location. For more information, visit the Better World Books website.

Salvation army storefrontLoop Images/Getty Images

Salvation Army

Accepted books: Paperbacks and hardbacks

Next time you’re debating where to buy and sell old stuff—yes, including used books—consider the Salvation Army. It accepts pretty much any type of reading material, sending donations to both its stores (where they’ll be sold) and its homeless shelters. There are drop-off locations throughout the country, so you don’t need to mail the books.

How to donate

Bring your books to a Salvation Army drop-off location.

Multiracial woman wearing uniform reading book while sitting at the sofaYakobchukOlena/Getty Images

Books for Soldiers

Accepted books: Requests only

A great way to honor and support our troops is to donate to Books for Soldiers. This nonprofit allows users to sign in to a database and receive book requests from individual soldiers. Mail-call days are some of the most highly anticipated events for deployed soldiers, so you can really brighten a troop’s day with your literary gift. Since all military packages must be requested (due to legal regulations), Books for Soldiers is a great way to keep soldiers reading without compromising anyone’s safety. And while some soldiers request specific tomes, others are open to anything, so go ahead and send your collection of used books.

How to donate

Register for a Books for Soldiers account. Once you’re set up, you can view requests and send books directly to soldiers.

cropped image of african american prisoner reading bookLightFieldStudios/Getty Images

Books to Prisoners

Accepted books: Needs vary, but the nonprofit lists requested categories on its website

Books to Prisoners has been bringing reading materials directly to incarcerated individuals since 1973. The Seattle-based organization distributes books to inmates throughout the country, with the intention of fostering a love of reading behind bars. It receives about 1,000 requests per month, which are fulfilled directly by donations.

The most popular categories are dictionaries, thesauri, African American history and fiction, Native American studies, legal materials, genre fiction (such as fantasy and horror), and foreign-language learning materials (particularly those in Spanish). Check the current needs before mailing the books, then send an email to [email protected] to make sure your books are usable.

How to donate

You can drop off your donation at Left Bank Books in downtown Seattle or email the organization for its volunteer location’s address and availability.

young girl reading a book on her bedIsrael Sebastian/getty images

Reader to Reader

Accepted books: Children’s and young adult books

Reader to Reader is dedicated to bringing books to under-resourced schools and public libraries across America, and its impact has been far-reaching. The program specifically benefits the nation’s poorest communities, from inner-city schools and Native American reservations to impoverished, rural towns. By donating your books here, you’ll make a huge difference in America’s struggling cities. One note: Reader to Reader doesn’t accept textbooks, encyclopedias, magazines, or out-of-date reference materials. But it does want children’s books suitable for grades pre-K through high school.

How to donate

Send boxes under 35 pounds directly to the organization. When your books are boxed and ready to go, contact Reader to Reader by emailing [email protected] or calling 413-256-8595.

Two small girl friends lying on bed, reading book.Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

Pajama Program

Accepted books: Brand-new and unused children’s and young adult books

Pajama Program supports children in unstable and uncertain living situations. This New York–based nonprofit generously donates books and pajamas to kids living in shelters, group homes, and temporary housing facilities. Nightfall is the most vulnerable time for these children, but by donating books to Pajama Program, you can help them feel safe, important, and loved.

Keep in mind: The organization only accepts brand-new or unused books that aren’t focused on violence, death, terminal or serious medical issues, religion, holidays, or divorce. And don’t send any that use provocative language or images (such as curse words, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, sex, and partying) or that focus on family roles (such as parents or siblings). Instead, send books suitable for children in grades pre-K through high school. Want to do even more good? Before you upcycle all your old clothes, set aside kids’ PJs and donate them with your books to Pajama Program.

How to donate

Complete the Pajama Program donation form. Upon receipt, someone from a local chapter or the national office will get in touch to coordinate the delivery of your donation to the appropriate location.

Two African boys with book in schoolJasmin Merdan/Getty Images

Books for Africa

Accepted books: Any

Books for Africa creates a culture of literacy and provides tools of empowerment for students, parents, teachers, and community leaders in Africa. By donating used books to this nonprofit, you’re helping mobilize communities eager to gain an education. As the website declares, “When the books arrive, they go to those who need them most: children who are hungry to read, hungry to learn, hungry to explore the world in ways that only books make possible.” The organization spends 50 cents per book on shipping to Africa, so as you pack up your book donation, consider making a monetary donation as well. Reduce your waste even further by learning how to conserve water.

How to donate

If you live in the area, you can drop books off at the Saint Paul, Minnesota, or Marietta, Georgia, location. Otherwise, send your donation to the Books for Africa warehouse at 1491 Cobb Industrial Drive, Building B, Marietta, GA 30066. After dropping off or mailing in your books, send an email to [email protected]; the organization will send you a thank-you letter for your records.

Young woman in casualwear listening to her little son with open bookshironosov/Getty Images

Project Night Night

Accepted books: Brand-new children’s books

Donate new books (for newborns and kids up to age 12) to Project Night Night, which benefits at-risk, homeless children under the age of 12. Each year, the charity sends more than 25,000 Night Night Packages to homeless shelters across America. Each package contains children’s books, stuffed animals, and a security blanket, all wrapped in a canvas tote. The organization’s mission is to distribute these care packages to every homeless child in the country, promote education, and provide comfort for children in stressful and uncertain living conditions.

You can donate books in a variety of children’s book genres, but avoid sending religious books, heavy books (like large, hardbound anthologies), and books with batteries. Don’t have books to donate? You can also order them on Amazon and send them directly to the organization.

How to donate

Send books to Jessica Bryan at Project Night Night (1026 Kensington Avenue, Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230) or email [email protected] for California delivery instructions.

Woman Packs Books for DonationGrace Cary/Getty Images

DonationTown

Accepted books: Any

Wondering where to donate books without having to pay for shipping? DonationTown is a great resource for placing your books and other household items in a worthy home, and it provides free book pickup and delivery. Once in hand, your used books head to nearby charities, like the Humane Society, Hope Services, and Rescue Mission. Your donation may also go to a school, county library, prison library, or nursing home. In short, DonationTown knows which local places are in need of books and will take them off your hands to make sure they get there. And don’t stop with books. There are plenty of things in your home you probably didn’t know you could donate. Send them to DonationTown to give them a second life.

How to donate

Fill out the donation form with your zip code and personal information. DonationTown will direct you to an organization that can pick up your unwanted items.

Schoolgirls reading books in school libraryKlaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Local schools

Accepted books: Age-appropriate books in good condition

Local schools are great places to rehouse your favorite books. Because stocking libraries and classrooms with books costs schools money, many welcome donations as long as books are age appropriate and in decent condition. Before you drop off a load, contact your local schools to find out what’s accepted and the best way to make the donation.

How to donate

Contact your local school for specifics.

A library aisle of book shelvesrjmiz/Getty Images

Libraries

Accepted books: Any

Where better to send your unwanted books than a place that shelves thousands of them so people in the community can read for free? Generally, libraries will take all books, but check with your local library for details on specific needs. If they can’t use them on their shelves, they’ll usually sell the books to raise funds, donate them to various charities, or recycle them.

How to donate

Visit your local library’s website for specific details on how and where to donate books, plus whether there are any restrictions on the books you can drop off. There might be limits on how many titles you can donate at once.

Books on display in the corner of a second hand bookstoregeorgeclerk/Getty Images

Secondhand bookstores

Accepted books: Needs vary, but books should be in good condition

You can sell books to secondhand bookstores, but if you don’t need the extra cash, consider making a donation instead. Used bookstores often need support, especially because many of them struggle to sell enough books to stay open. Some secondhand bookstores specialize in specific topics, such as science fiction, textbooks, and children’s literature, and preferred genres differ from store to store. So check before donating.

How to donate

Check your local secondhand bookstore’s website for a list of book needs. If the information isn’t available on the website, contact the shop directly to ask about donations.

Additional research by Aubrey Almanza.

Leah Groth
A general lifestyle writer, Leah covers everything from cleaning hacks and consumer products to travel and pets for RD.com. When she isn't working you will find her chasing after her four children (two humans, a Vizsla and a German Shorthaired Pointer) or working on her 100-plus year-old-home outside of Philadelphia.