6 Ways To Recycle Your Used Books, Because You Know You Have Too Many

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Got some used books you want to get rid of, but feel bad for throwing them out? I've picked out six ways to recycle your used books, so you never have to feel guilty for thinning out your personal library.

Readers know that used books are the best, simply because they're more affordable than new hardcovers. As an added bonus, used books come to your home with their own personalities. After all, who among us hasn't found an interesting photo or note secreted away inside a old, nearly forgotten book?

If you're like me, however, you might love a used book sale a little too much. I own hundreds of books, and, although I do make at least one winnowing pass through them each year, I have a very hard time parting with any of them. As a child, I was convinced that the people who got my books wouldn't take good care of them, so I should keep them for their own good. Now, I know that the people who buy used books are other book lovers like me, but I still have to ask myself whether they'll love my books as much as I do.

That's all a roundabout way of saying that I get you, book nerd, and I understand your anxiety over what to do with your used books. To help make parting with your used books a little bit easier, check out the six recycling methods on the list below.

1. Donate Them to Your Local Library

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Before you do anything with your old books, call up your local library and find out what their policy is for donations. Most libraries sell donated books to generate revenue, and some will even put good-condition copies they receive into circulation.

2. Start Your Own Little Free Library

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There are more than 75,000 Little Free Libraries across the world. For a minimal investment, you can put up your own Little Free Library in your community, and stock it with the used books you no longer want.

3. Use Them to Fund Literacy Initiatives

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There are a number of charities that take used books, but Better World Books re-sells the volumes it receives and donates the money to worldwide literacy initiatives. Unsold volumes are donated to other charity partners or recycled. Also, donating to this organization is super convenient. You can either drop off your donations at one of Better World Books' many U.S. drop boxes, or mail them, if there's no box near you.

4. Give Them to LGBTQIAP+ Inmates

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For 10 years, LGBT Books to Prisoners has delivered books to queer inmates across the U.S. The organization accepts books in a variety of categories, such as alternative spirituality and books by authors of color, and takes both softcover and hardcover copies.

5. Send Them to Book Deserts in Africa

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Since its inception in 1988, Books for Africa has "shipp[ed] over 42 million books to all 55 countries on the African continent." Books may be donated at the organization's warehouses in St. Paul, Minnesota and Atlanta, Georgia, or may be mailed to Books for Africa's Atlanta location.

6. Recycle Them For Real

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If all else fails, there's always good, old fashioned recycling. According to Earth911, both books and magazines may be placed in the "mixed paper" recycling category. Books that have been water damaged or turned brown with age cannot be recycled, however, and should be thrown out with your regular garbage.