Still as most book lovers will attest, books just seem to find us and our collections grow and grow.
So at times my need to simplify outweighs my love of being surrounded by books and that’s where I find myself today.
What Books to Keep
This is really the heart of the matter, isn’t it?
I like having some books (okay a lot of books) around because I feel like they help “warm” a home. We literally have books in every room. From cookbooks in the kitchen to coffee table books in the living room to novels in the bedrooms. (Does anyone else find it hard to go to sleep without reading at least a paragraph or two?)
I even decorate with books on mantels and tables, so deciding which to get rid of can be hard.
Generally speaking, there are three categories of books I almost always hang onto:
- Nonfiction or reference books, because these are the books I actually re-read.
- Fiction favorites, because it makes me happy to have them around. Sometimes it’s individual titles, but often it’s books by a favorite author. When a new Maeve Binchey, Elin Hilderbrand, or Nelson Demille novel comes out, I usually indulge.
- Favorite children’s books. They represent sweet memories with my kids, who are now also book lovers.
Everything else is up for consideration. The stack of books that’s going to the thrift store today includes:
- Books I read once, but didn’t love.
- Books I couldn’t get into.
- Non-fiction books that are out of date or represent an interest I had that I no longer have.
Where to Get Rid of Your Books
Once you’ve decided on which books to let go, you essentially have two choices: sell them or give them away.
Here are four places I’ve used to sell books:
- eBay – I found eBay to be best for vintage, collectible titles or books sold in groups (eBay calls them lots).
- Amazon – Great for text books and other non-fiction titles. Popular fiction titles probably won’t bring much.
- Used book stores – If you have an independent used books store near you, it probably buys books. If not, look for a chain like Half Price Books.
- Cash4Books (referral link) – With Cash4Books, you can tell what you’ll get for your books before you send them in and they pay for the shipping.
Because most used books don’t bring much, you might consider giving them away, which is what I find myself doing these days. Here are some people who will take them off your hands:
- Friends who are fellow readers. I think a big book swap among friends would be fun.
- Libraries often take donations of used books, not so much to use on shelves, but to sell themselves to support their operation.
- Some schools, daycare centers, and retirement homes accept book donations.
- Thrift stores will always take book donations.
Writing Off Book Donations
If the place where you’re donating books is an eligible charity and will provide a receipt, you can write off your donation on your taxes, provided you itemize.
It’s Deductible – the program I use to value my charitable donations – recommends the following amounts for valuing donations of used books:
- Hardcover: Medium Value $3 and High Value $7
- Softcover: Medium Value $2 and High Value $5
- Textbook: Medium Value $16 and High Value $23
- Children’s Board Book: Medium Value 75 cents and High Value $1
- Children’s Hardcover: Medium Value $2.50 and High Value $4
- Children’s Softcover: Medium Value $1.50 and High Value $2
- Children’s Cloth: Medium Value $4 and High Value $6
- Audio Cassettes: Medium Value $2.50 and High Value $3
- Audio CDs: Medium Value $3 and High Value $4
- Magazines: Medium Value 50 cents and High Value $1
How to Keep Your Book Collection Under Control
Now that your book collection is streamlined and simplified, how do you keep it from mushrooming out of control again? There are two great possibilities:
The library. Even though our library has cut back on hours and some services due to budget issues, it’s still the best resource going for both saving money and reducing permanent book clutter.
I make full use of the request feature, which delivers the books I want to a branch near me. I just run in and pick them up.
E-readers. Investing in an e-reader, like a Kindle or Nook, may not be as cheap as using the library, but it’s a great solution for book storage. And many books, such as the classics, are actually free in electronic form. Can you say Jane Austen?
Are you a book lover? Have you had success in paring back your collection or is it the more the merrier? What strategies do you use to simplify your books?