A few weeks ago the Friends of the Seattle Public Library had one of the two massive book sales they hold each year. Picture an airplane hangar filled with table upon table of books, yours for $1 a book, or slightly more for an author autographed or book in exceptional condition, and you have a picture of book lover euphoria.
Driving back from the sale with eight books in hand and only $10 out-of-pocket, my Dad phoned. Like me, both of my parents are book fiends, so I told my Dad about the rows upon rows of books I perused and of my great bargains. He was surprised. “Do libraries still accept book donations?” “Yes,” I replied. “Huh. I usually just throw my books away once I’ve read them.”
As my brain screamed “Dear God” and I narrowly avoided running into the curb, what inexplicably came out of my mouth was “Did you at least recycle?”
The concept of throwing books away is simply impossible. Books are sacred. You may lend or give books to friends, donate them to the library or even sell them on half.com, but as the daughter of a woman who hoards the written word in all its forms, throwing a writing away is heresy.
I quickly educated my Dad on the fact that yes, to my knowledge all libraries accept book donations and thanked God he mostly buys electronic books these days thanks to the iPad and Kindle. Then I thought, do other people do this too?
For those of you looking to streamline your bookshelves, here are some ways to save your books from the recycle bin and put them out into the world for the benefit of others.
The Seattle Public Library will accept donations of three boxes or less at any of its branches. Have more to donate? Take your books to the Friends Book Sale sorting room, located at 6310 NE 74th St., Seattle, WA, 98115, within Warren G. Magnuson Park. Donations are accepted at Magnuson Park on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Not in Seattle? Check your local library for its donation policies or contact your local bookstore for the names of charities seeking book donations. Many children’s shelters are in constant need of children’s books.
My girlfriends and I regularly swap books. Reading books your friends have chosen automatically gives you someone to discuss the book with and is an interesting insight into your friends.
Have more books than your friends can read? Bookins is an online trading source for books and DVDs. You list the books and DVDs you are willing to part with and when someone picks one of your offerings you ship it at no cost to you (you print out a prepaid mail slip). In exchange you get points which you can use to choose a book or movie someone else has listed. In addition to your points you pay $4.49 for shipping. There are over 50,000 readers on Bookins so the selection is pretty large.
I have a friend who leaves books she’s read on long flights in the airport gate area with a post-it that says they’re free for the taking. A nice gift to the traveler who finished their reading material before their next connection.
What do you do with your already read books?