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What to Do with Old Textbooks? Here’s What…

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If you ever went to school, it’s almost certain you had to buy some textbooks.

And regardless of how you purchased them, 99% of the time, you won’t want to keep them on your bookshelf.

Whether you want to make cash or simply donate them to a good cause, I wanted to explore the many things you can do with your textbooks.  Yes, some can make you money, but in the case you can’t sell your textbooks, then there are other options that can make you feel good as well.

So if you have some textbooks in your hand and ready to get rid of them, then strap in and check out this post to see what you can do with them right now.

What to Do with Old Textbooks  (Even If You Can’t Sell)

Attempt to Sell Them

You may be coming to this page because your book has no value, but you may be surprised as to how many companies actually want to buy your textbook instantly.  A simple ISBN search can often yield whether or not a company wants to buy back your textbooks instantly.

ALWAYS make sure you know your textbook’s true value before you even consider the other options I mention below.

I wrote about the many companies that want to buy books in the past, but I will include the many I listed before right here…

It may seem like a lot of options, but it doesn’t hurt to at least check out a few of them to see if any want to buy your books right now.  Many will offer you an instant quote.

If you’re happy with the price, then it’s as easy as printing the shipping label, mailing it out and waiting for the money to arrive, usually via PayPal.  Again, it’s a great option if you don’t want to sell on your own.

If you don’t mind waiting and posting your textbooks for the most money possible, I also wrote a pretty in-depth guide as to how you can successfully sell on Amazon.  Amazon, being the powerhouse that it is, can’t be beaten in terms of eyeballs and getting the best bang for your buck.   This is the best option if your textbook is of value and you don’t mind selling on your own.

NOTE:  If you have a Half-Price Books nearby, they can offer you a store credit if they want any of your books.  The same can be said about local independent bookstores as well.

Donate Your Books

Okay, if your book has no value and you know it, then we can go on to the many other ways you can get rid of your textbooks in a snap.

A wide variety of organizations are more than willing to take your textbooks, even offering you a tax write-off if you want it.

Some of the more popular places that come to mind include Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and even an organization by the name of Better World Organization, which is essentially a drop off box that’s open 24/7, located throughout the United States.  To find a box near you, refer to the official website.  It’s a great option if you simply want to drop and go without having to deal with any people.  Of course, other thrift stores do exist, so be sure to check out your local listings to see which providers are in your area.

You can also check out your college campus as some have donation bins as well as research smaller named charities in your area.

If you do prefer the Salvation Army and Goodwill route, just be sure to check with them ahead of time to know what they are and aren’t accepting at the time.  Also, be sure to get a receipt if you plan on using your donation as a write-off.

Your Library

This kind of falls along the line of donating your books, but the key difference is that your library may actually use the books to put on its shelves for the community to enjoy.

While this isn’t always the case, your library may sell your book if they feel the library can’t use it.   Twice a year or so, your library will often hold a used book sale, taking the profits to help the library operate and grow.

Regardless, this is another option if you want to do good for your community and especially if you love supporting your local library.  I mean, who doesn’t?

Again, just make sure you check with your library to ensure that they are accepting donations and what kind of donations they are accepting.  There are usually restricts.

Ship Your Books

Don’t want to go to your local thrift store or even the library?

Then, you’re in luck as you can even ship your books to organizations in need.  This is the same as donating but you only have to find a way to your mailbox.

Some of the most popular options include:

Of course, as already mentioned, these organizations do have guidelines, so, again, be sure to read what you can and can’t send as many don’t want outdated textbooks.  Your results will vary.

In many cases, all you need to do is box your books up and ship it to the organization’s address.  Yes, you do need to pay for a shipping label, but it’s a great way to help someone in need.

Swap It

This one could be quite the challenge, especially if you have an older edition textbook, but it’s worth a shot if you’re willing to swap your book for another.   You won’t make money nor will you be helping a charity, but you could help someone else who needs your book for one reason or another.

Popular websites, such as BooksFreeSwap and, are free to join and list your books.  You just need to pay for postage when you ship the books out.

In the end, it’s a great option if you have a particular book in mind and want to swap your book out for it.

Leave It in the “Wild”

No, I don’t mean throw it out your window and hope for someone to find it.  I don’t promote illegal activity here.

A website, known as BookCrossing, allows you to simply “release your books” into the wild and allow strangers to find it and use it.  The cool thing about it is that you can actually track people who pick up your book and start to use it.

To learn how to “BookCross” and get started, you can do so via the company’s official how-to guide here.

Give Them Away

The Craigslist “free” section, as well as, are both great places to give away anything for free.  These are your two most popular freebie websites, but you could also try a local Facebook Group as well for even more action.

As long as it has some value to at least someone else, there’s a good chance someone will come to take it off your hands.

This is one of the better options if you want to help someone and get rid of your books as soon as possible.  The only downfall is that you need to arrange a meetup time.


If all else fails and no one wants to buy or even accept it as a donation, then your last bet is to simply recycle it.

This can be done either via your own recycling bins, or if you don’t recycle at home, you can consider finding a drop-off location by using popular recycle search engines such as Earth911.

Like donating, if you do decide to recycle, just make sure your textbook is in decent condition, generally free of stains. In almost all cases, a recycling center will ask that you remove the hardcover since this material isn’t readily recyclable.  In this case, you can view this video to see how it’s done.  It’s a lot easier than you think.

Be Creative?

If you don’t want to get rid of your books, that’s fine as you actually turn any old textbook/book into a pretty cool project.

If you’re creative, then here are some of the many ideas to transform your book into something cool…

Of course, there are many other ideas, but I would only consider these options if you feel you can get use out of it or even resell it if you’re creative enough.

For more ideas, I would recommend checking out Pinterest to see what other people are doing with their older books.  There are a ton of cool ways to transform a book, you may be surprised!

Final Thoughts

No matter how old your textbook, there are still many ways to get rid of it.

Sure, you won’t make money using some of these strategies, but you’re at least putting it to use, essentially helping someone else in need.  Sometimes, this feeling can almost be as great as making money.

Even if you don’t want to donate it, at least consider recycling it as an alternative to keep it from sitting in a landfill.

In the meantime, if you have any books rotting in your home, not just textbooks, consider one of the many options above to successfully get rid of a textbook you no longer need.  No matter how old your textbook is, one of these options are bound to work.

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Tom Nathaniel

Hi! My name is Tom Nathaniel, and I created LushDollar to help share my honest thoughts on everything money. You won't find gimmicks here. It's the Internet's most honest money site after all. I graduated from Arizona State University, and I have worked in the finance industry since 2006, consulting with multiple Fortune 5000 companies.

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