Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What Do I Do With Your Donated Books?

I have been blessed with many generous folks that stop by and say "We have a lot of books that we don't know what to do with. Will you take them?"


As we begin our third year I am now feeling buried in used books.  We do buy some books but we are beginning to be more selective in what we will pay for and we are going to need to develop some guidelines so our customers know that we cannot buy back used books that we previously sold at a deep discount and that we need to restrict our purchases of books from other used paperback stores.

But that is not the purpose of this post.  We have the policy of always accepting donations of used books, and that won't change -- I can't bear to see books thrown away when there are so many less fortunate for whom a book is a treasured luxury.  My problem has been deciding how to get my ever-expanding and towering piles of books to those in need.


That is where Better World Books and the Reuse First Internet Service comes in.
Reuse First: Making sure books get to readers – wherever they are!
The Reuse First Division collects tons of unwanted books to help fund literacy initiatives locally, nationally and around the world. We have raised $8.6 million dollars for global literacy by capitalizing on the value of so-called “no-value books.” Whether you are an individual, student group, library, or bookstore, we have a program that is perfect for you.

As a for-profit social venture, Better World Books’ success is measured by the positive impact that we make in addressing specific social issues; for us, that issue is literacy. Our collected books benefit five major nonprofit literacy programs as well as 80+ other literacy-based nonprofits.
I signed up with this company last year and sent a box of books to them.  The great thing is they handle all the shipping and so the donation to them does not cost us anything.  My main objective was to try and make sure that the books our customers gave to us, that we could not use, would go to support literacy in our own country and abroad.

So anyway, I boxed up some books, sent them away and forgot about it.  Then, today, I decided to check out what had happened to this box of old, less than pristine and well-used books.  That was when I discovered the "Green" part of what Better World Books achieves. The environmental impact of recycling these 14 books resulted in saving 1 tree, 82 gallons of water, and reduced landfill space by 1 cu. yd. Okay, I know that isn't much but when you look at this program on a national basis the results are phenomenal

Since its founding in 2003, the company has raised over $7.3 million for its non-profit literacy and library partners; diverted more than 29 million pounds of books from landfills; achieved 11,000 tons of carbon offsets through carbon-neutral shipping, and created more than 200 full-time jobs with meaningful benefits.

Better World Books diverts books from landfills by conducting book drives on 1,800 college campuses, and by collecting discards from over 2,000 libraries nationwide. It then sells those used books and contributes a portion of the revenue on each sale to its non-profit literacy and library partners. Books that cannot be sold are frequently donated to at risk communities in the U.S. and African schools by the truckload..

So my next project is to see how we can arrange to have a Book Drop Box set up at Paragraphs.  But, until I get that done I will be sending some of those books you all have been kind enough to donate to us to Better World Books.  And, I encourage each of you to consider transferring any of your online buying from Amazon to Better World Books. Of course, we prefer you shop with us, but, please consider using Better World Books for some of your book purchases because at Better World Books every purchase you make helps to change the world.

But, don't worry, we will always have plenty of used books to pick from on our shelves. 

4 comments:

Debbi said...

What a wonderful program. Thanks for sharing this information Joni! I love buying used books when I can...and then I pass them on. I used to sell to Half-Priced Books in Austin...but it got to the point where it wasn't worth the time and energy - and I just felt better donating my used books. Whether it is to a wonderful independent store like Paragraphs or a service like Better World Books or a Seniors Center or Goodwill - sharing books is a wonderful thing!

Joni said...

I completely agree. We do love having people drop of their used books for us -- I just can't resist the urge to look at each one and see what great authors or incredible information I have missed. And we do our best to make sure these books are cleaned, repaired and returned to the community via some reader looking for that special title. It also allows us to have something available for every pocketbook -- you can find a good book for an afternoon escape for a dollar or so. We have also been known to pass on some of these books to others just because we know they will like a certain book and we just want them to have it.

So the books that the public donates to us are greatly appreciated and well-tended and shared. But, there are always those times when we end with 10 of a single title or something even we can't find a home for. So it is nice to know that Better World Books can ship this "worthless book" within a boxcar load of others to some community where it can be used or recycled in an efficient manner.

This will probably remain a last resort measure for us -- simply because I am a book hoarder and it is hard to send books off to the great unknown. When I sell or give away a book I can appreciate the joy in the readers face at having found something they didn't expect, and that is what makes my job a labor of love!

Bookshop UK said...

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Marc Rohde said...

Great information!

I cleared my shelves a couple years ago and found that my local library was more than happy to take my entire collection. What they didn't shelve they sold to raise funds for local reading programs.

Since clearing my collection I have been using http://www.bookcrossing.com/ and http://www.goodreads.com/swap/ to keep my books moving.

Whatever the means I am a huge fan of seeing books set free!