What to do with your unwanted books when moving - Moving Tips (2022)

What to do with your unwanted books when moving - Moving Tips (1)

by Ethan Greenfieldon Jan 15, 2019.

Moving your entire book collection from one home to another is seldom a good idea. Why?

Books become very heavy when packed together in a box, which automatically means higher transportation costs when moving across the country. Also, more books to pack will mean increased packing expenses and loads of wasted time for you.

The solution? It’s simple enough: take only the books you love and intend to read again someday.

That’s great advice but what are you supposed to do with all the books you’re not moving with you? Throw them away? Definitely not.

Read on to learn what to do with your unwanted books when moving house.

Again, why is moving ALL your books a bad idea?

One thing you should understand well before you initiate the packing process is that books become EXCEEDINGLY HEAVY when packed tightly in a small container – a cardboard box, for example.

One book won’t really weigh much but get 5-6 books together and you’ll immediately feel the substantial increase in weight. Get 10-12 books in one moving box and you’ll start worrying about how you will handle the total shipment weight of your entire book collection.

When moving across the country, the price you pay for the professional moving service will be based on the overall shipment weight, meaning that you will be paying extra for each book you do decide to move to the new home.

Believe it or not, spending more money than you absolutely need won’t be your only concern when packing and moving books without optimizing your book collection first.

  • Transportation costs. As mentioned above, taking more books with you will increase the final moving price.
  • Packing expenses. More books to pack will require more packing paper and cardboard boxes to protect your volumes on the road.
  • Packing time. More books to protect for the upcoming move will mean extra valuable time wasted.
  • Storage space. You may not have enough storage space to keep all your books in the new residence – a classic issue when you’re downsizing your home.

By now, it should be perfectly clear what you should do – go through your complete book collection and sort your books into 2 piles:

1) BOOKS you’re taking with you no matter the cost and efforts, and

2) BOOKS you’re NOT moving with you for one reason or another.

Now, let’s focus on what you should do with the books you’re not moving with you simply because it’s just WRONG to simply throw away lightly-used books into the recycle bin. Besides, as you will see in a minute, you’ve got plenty of good options when it comes to the books you’re leaving behind.

Read also: How to declutter your home before moving

Option 1: GIVE AWAY your unwanted books to family and friends

What to do with the books you no longer want?

Give them away to your friends.

The option that will make the most sense under the circumstances is to offer your unwanted books to family members and your close friends before you move away. That’s a great way to emerge a winner on several levels:

  • You’ll save money on your move;
  • You’ll know that your books will be in good hands;
  • You’ll have those books as the perfect goodbye gifts – hopefully, your pals will think of you each time they pick up one of the books you’ve given them as tokens of your friendship.

The easiest way to offer your used books to your buddies is to make a quick list (Book title + Book author) on your computer or smartphone, and then share that book list online with your Facebook friends or via email. This way, anyone who wants a book out of the list can easily reserve it with a single message.

Another great way to make sure your unwanted books fall into the best possible hands is to organize a farewell party for your friends before the move, and then, at one point during the get-together, to show them all the books you won’t be moving so that they can have the ones they want.

Option 2: SELL the books you no longer want

As long as some of your books are in good condition, you can try to sell them – a viable option that will make a lot of sense when you’re moving on a budget.

You may be thinking that selling one book won’t make a difference. Well, while that may be true, imagine the profit you’ll make if you manage to sell 20, 30 or more of the books you’re not taking with you anyway.

Remember that when moving house, every extra dollar counts more than you think.

Where to sell books when moving house?

  • Garage sale. If you’re organizing a yard sale before the move, then it’ll be your greatest opportunity to sell your no longer wanted books. Price them reasonably to have a better chance of selling them quickly. /How to organize a garage sale before moving/
  • Sell online. If you have enough time, you can use well-known online e-commerce websites such as Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, etc. to sell your lightly-used or like-new books for cash.
  • Half-Price Books can purchase your used books against cash or store credit, which can work great in your case as they have more than 120 stores across the country. Half-Price Books will also donate or recycle the books you couldn’t sell, making your job even easier.
  • Independent bookstores are another great option to get rid of the books you won’t move with you with a profit. Such indie booksellers will often give you a good store credit or cash, whichever you prefer. Visit personally those independent booksellers in your town or city to get more information.
  • Facebook book clubs. If you’re a member of a Facebook book club or an online book club, then you should seriously consider posting a group message to all club members with the books you want to sell before the move. If you feel like you won’t be able to sell some of those books, then you can always offer them at no cost to other avid book readers.

Option 3: DONATE your no longer wanted books

What to do with the books you don’t want anymore? The easiest way to get rid of the books you’ve decided not to move is to donate them. After all, books are valuable and they can continue to bring joy to other people long after they’ve stopped serving you any good.

Remember that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

So, where to donate books when moving house?

  • Local libraries. Needless to say, most local libraries will accept book donations. Think about it: you must have used libraries to get free books to read, so now it’s the perfect time to give back to them.
  • Local schools. Some local schools may welcome your gesture to offer them lightly-used books, especially children’s books. Think about how satisfying it must be to have some of your own books into a local elementary school library.
  • Nursing homes. Call local retirement homes and see if they will be willing to accept book donations and if yes, whether your used books will qualify.
  • Prisons. Has it ever occurred to you that prisons desperately need used books? Books of all genres are welcome there as they provide a valuable source of information to the inmates and keep them connected to the rest of the world. Learn more at the Appalachian Prison Book Project.
  • Freecycle. Freecycle is a non-profit organization whose mission is to keep usable items off the garbage dumps. With 9 million registered users, the books you no longer need will surely find a new home.
  • Charitable organizations. There are numerous charities that will accept books in good condition. Do something good for the community or bring a smile to a stranger’s face on the other side of the planet.

Here are some of the charitable organizations that will accept used books.

Good to know: Where to donate things when moving house

Option 4: RECYCLE your old books prior to Moving day

It’s wrong to throw away used books just like that. However, if some of your books are in bad condition – too beat up to be used again, have battered covers, torn pages, or written notes, then the best thing you can do is to take them to be recycled.

As a general rule, books are not supposed to be thrown out for recycling with other paper products due to the glue in the bindings, so your safest bet is to contact the nearest recycling center and see what they have to say about the best way to recycle books.

See also: How to pack books for moving

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