“What should I do with old textbooks?”

Ah, old textbooks. Something many people have lying around. But what should you do with them? Can you donate college textbooks? Of course, you could hold on to them to remember that ill-fated semester when you took paleo-anthropology despite being a biology major, or that time you took a seminar on human memory and then, ironically, promptly forgot everything you learned from it. You can use the textbooks from classes that you majored in as references, pulling them out at parties to prove that you are right. You could use them as doorstops, or to raise your computer monitor a couple of extra inches. Or you could get rid of them. Here’s how to get rid of old textbooks…

In This Article

  • Where to Donate Textbooks

  • Where to Sell Textbooks

  • Where to Recycle Textbooks

Where to Donate Textbooks

Many organizations will be very glad to have you donate old textbooks. Donating your textbooks makes sure that they go to those in need, and don’t end up in landfills. Textbook donation can be a gratifying and quick way to give to others. As you’ll soon see, there are may places to donate used textbooks.

1. The Library at the University of Buffalo

  • Who Runs the Program: The Health Sciences Library at the University of Buffalo runs an International Donation program.
  • Who the Donation Helps: People in Africa, Asia, Australia, Central America, and the Middle East, among many other regions. The type of book you donate will determine where the book goes, as different regions have different needs.
  • How to Donate Books: Using USPS’s International Mail Service is the cheapest way to send books internationally. The International Donation Program also works with some programs that ship to multiple countries, and most of these companies have a U.S. address where you can ship your books. You will have to find which location your books are a match for.
  • Compensation: None.

2. Goodwill

  • Who Runs the Program: Goodwill is a national organization to which you can donate used books, clothes, and household goods.
  • Who the Donation Helps: Those who shop at Goodwill will have the opportunity to purchase the books at very reduced prices. The money made off of the books will help create jobs and provide job training for those who are unemployed due to personal or societal factors.
  • How to Donate Books: Use the Donation Center locator on Goodwill’s website to find the nearest donation center to you.
  • Compensation: None, but it is possible to get a tax break for goods donated.

3. Salvation Army

  • Who Runs the Program: The Salvation Army is a national organization that accepts donations of books, clothes, household appliances, and even cars.
  • Who the Donation Helps: Those who shop at Salvation Army stores will have the opportunity to purchase the donated books at a very steep discount. The Salvation Army’s profits are used for multiple services including adult rehabilitation, combating human trafficking, providing meals to those in need, providing services to the elderly, and providing camps and recreational activities to children.
  • How to Donate Books: You can use the Salvation Army’s website to either find a donation center or schedule a free pick-up.
  • Compensation: None, but it is possible to get a tax break for goods donated.

4. Books for Africa

  • Who Runs the Program: Books for Africa is a non-profit organization based in the U.S. that sends crates of books to African students.
  • Who the Donation Helps: The donation provides learning materials to students in Africa who do not have the ability to access these books normally.
  • How to Donate Books: You can mail your donations to
    Books For Africa Warehouse-Atlanta
    3655 Atlanta Industrial Drive, Bldg. 250
    Atlanta, GA 30331
  • Compensation: None.

5. Books to Prisoners

  • Who Runs the Program: Books to Prisoners is a non-profit that mails books to incarcerated individuals throughout the U.S.
  • Who the Donation Helps: The donation goes directly to prisoners who have requested the books.
  • How to Donate Books: Contact michelle@bookstoprisoners.net to coordinate a donation. As of the writing of this article, Books to Prisoners is at capacity for most books, with the exception of dictionaries, thesauruses, Spanish-English dictionaries, and a few other things. Be sure to contact the organization before making your donation.
  • Compensation: None.

6. Better World Books

  • Who Runs the Program: Better World Books is a non-profit that accepts donations of used textbooks.
  • Who the Donation Helps: Better World Books sells the donated books to raise money for programs which promote literacy, teaching kids, supporting families, building schools, and filling libraries. If the book cannot be sold, it is either donated directly to an affiliated non-profit or recycled.
  • How to Donate Books: Use the search feature on the Better World Book’s website to find a donation center. If there is not a donation center near you, you can mail your books to
    Attention: Donations
    Better World Books
    55740 Currant Road
    Mishawaka, IN 46545
  • Compensation: None

7. DonateTextbooks.org

  • Who Runs the Program: DonateTextbooks.org is an organization that takes all used textbooks and either donates them to other programs which can use them or recycles them into other paper goods.
  • Who the Donation Helps: The donation will help provide books to several different groups that promote literacy, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, World Literacy, and Reading Tree.
  • How to Donate Books: You can ship your donations to
    DonateTextbooks.org
    1871 East Wild Willow Lane
    Sandy, Utah 84093
  • Compensation: None

8. Pickup Please

  • Who Runs the Program: Pickup Please accepts donations, including used textbooks, nationwide.
  • Who the Donation Helps: Your donation supports U.S. veterans and reading and literacy in general.
  • How to Donate Books: Go to the Pickup Please website to schedule a pick up of your donation.
  • Compensation: None

Where to Sell Used Textbooks

You now know where to donate old textbooks. Though if you want to get some money for your textbooks, selling them can be a good option.

1. Amazon

  • Who Runs the Program: Amazon will buy back used books, textbooks, phones, video games, and other electronics.
  • How to Sell Books: You can search for your book by ISBN, title, or author, and receive an offer. If you accept the offer, you can sell your book to Amazon.
  • Compensation: Compensation depends on the book. You will be paid in Amazon store credit applied directly to your account.

2. BookByte

  • Who Runs the Program: BookByte will buy your used textbooks.
  • How to Sell Books: Search for your book by ISBN. Once you find the right version, the company will offer you their price of compensation, and you then can decide whether or not you want to sell your book.
  • Compensation: Compensation depends on the book, how old it is, and what condition it is in. Once you have entered this information, you will be told how much the book is worth, and you can print out a shipping label. You can get your money via check or through PayPal.

3. eCAMPUS

  • Who Runs the Program: eCAMPUS will buy your used textbooks and will pay the cost of shipping.
  • How to Sell Books: Operating on the same principle as BookByte, you can search for your book by ISBN. Once you find your book, the company tells you what they will pay in exchange, and you make your final decision.
  • Compensation: Compensation depends on the book, how old it is, and what condition it is in. Once you have entered this information, you will be told how much the book is worth, and you can print out a shipping label. You can get your money via check or through PayPal.

4. Cash4Books

  • Who Runs the Program: Cash4Books, similar to both BookByte and eCAMPUS, is a company that will buy used textbooks.
  • How to Sell Books: You can search for your book by ISBN. Once you find your book, the company will offer you some money, and you can decide whether or not you want to sell your book based on that. You can consider searching your book on all of these websites to see if they have competitive pricing.
  • Compensation: Compensation depends on the book, how old it is, and what condition it is in. Once you have entered this information, you will be told how much the book is worth, and you can print out a shipping label. You get your money via check or through PayPal.

Where to Recycle Textbooks

If you cannot donate or sell your textbooks because they are too old or damaged, you can recycle old textbooks. Keep in mind that many places will not accept hardcover textbooks because the glue in the binding makes them difficult, if not impossible, to recycle. Most paperback textbooks, however, are perfect recycling candidates.

1. Local Recycling Programs

  • Who Runs the Program: In some municipalities, you can put your old textbooks out with your normal recycling. In other cities, you’ll have to find a recycling center. Check your city’s specific regulations to see if this is an option for you by searching “Textbook Recycling Regulations [Your City]” or by looking at your local government website.
  • How to Recycle Books: To locate a recycling center, search for “Recycling Center Near [Your City]” or search the Earth 911 database to find local municipal recycling programs. You can also check your local recycling regulations, using the search listed above, to see if you can recycle textbooks in your normal pickup or if you need to find a recycling center. These regulations will also specify if you need to remove the covers first. For example, in New York City and Chicago, you have to go to a recycling center. In most of LA, textbooks can go out with the recycling, though some counties require you to remove the cover first.

In Summary

You now know what to do with old textbooks. You can do tons of things with old college textbooks. Even though you aren’t using them anymore, many people would be grateful to have these resources. By donating, selling, or recycling your textbooks, you are keeping them out of landfills and giving them a new purpose!