There are some commonalities when it comes to donating books anywhere, so have a quick read through this short guide to figure out how to best prepare your books for a smooth donation.

With organizations like library friend book stores and literacy nonprofits often run by volunteers, following these simple guidelines can make things super easy for them, as well as speed up your overall process!

Image credit: chicagoismyboyfriend (picture is Books4Cause in Chicago)

Check the Condition

Though you may think you can give any old book away, organizations won’t accept books in bad condition. This means that books with mold, water damage, or broken binding won’t be accepted. Believe me, I’ve featured over 1,000 organizations on our book donation map, and they almost always have this caveat!

Check What’s Accepted

As a general rule of thumb, organizations generally won’t take:

  • Encyclopedias
  • Textbooks
  • Old specialized books (law, medicine, facts)

Every place is different though, so just be sure to check the website of the place you’re thinking of donating to, as they usually have a robust set of books they take, and books they don’t. Some places like used book stores can specialize in textbooks, and some nonprofits may only take children’s books.

On our donation roundups, we try to link out directly to these pages on the websites of the organizations we feature.

used book library

Bag or Box!

We recommend boxing up your books into a robust cardboard box to make the process of handing over as easy as possible. Many organizations will also accept books in a simple brown paper bag if you don’t have a box at hand.

If you have a ton of books that fill up a number of boxes, it’s a good idea to call ahead to ensure organizations have the space for the volume of books you wish to donate. A lot of places are already stacked to the rafters, which isn’t a bad thing!

The general point is, places like library friend book stores and literacy nonprofits are often run by volunteers. The easier you can make this whole process for these kindhearted people to operate, the better!

Find a Place to Donate Near You

Check out some of our popular city guides, or search by your state.