You've decided you're ready to part with some books - now what do you do with them? Green America does a great job of laying out the alternatives: sell, donate, swap or "set them free."
Here's a perspective from organizer Margaret Lukens (from an e-mail, quoted by permission):
For what it’s worth, my experience with Amazon has not been wonderful. They do everything right, but from my perspective, here’s what happens:I'm with Margaret; for many of us, Amazon is too much effort for too little money. Of course, another alternative is selling to a bookstore dealing in used books - a local one, or an online one - as commenter Michelle notes on Unclutterer:
I list a dozen books, or a hundred, whatever.
After weeks or months, someone buys one.
I have 72 hours to drop everything else and correspond with the buyer and wrap and ship the book, for which I will get about $7 on average, unless it’s a paperback, in which case, it won’t buy a latte.
Meanwhile, I’ve still had the box of books to store.
Several weeks or months later, someone buys another.
It’s a heck of a way to earn $7! I’d rather donate them, get the tax benefit, and be done with it.
I had a great experience selling my books online to Powell’s. Just enter the ISBNs, they bid on the books they want to buy, and if you accept the bid they give you the shipping label. You get store credit in exchange, which is quite handy in my grad-student household.Other people are fans of various book-swapping sites - including Kirk McElhearn, who is especially fond of BookMooch. His whole essay is worth reading, but here's one little part:
Like most used-book stores, Powell’s will reject some titles on Tuesday but offer to buy them on Wednesday, so I checked back with them several times to see if they’d take any that they’d passed on the first time.
What is especially interesting about BookMooch, compared with some of the other book trading services, is its international aspect: there are members from 44 countries, and this is increasing daily. For me in France, this is excellent: there are plenty of members in the EU, so I can swap without incurring overseas postage costs. ...One thing swappers say is that when getting books, be sure to filter out those that come from smoking homes, or those that are marked up, if these things matter to you. And be sure you know the condition; some people got books that were practically falling apart.
I’m mostly interested in finding homes for my books – the idea of throwing books away is anathema to me, but I’m fast running out of room. If I can give books away, and get other books in exchange, especially books that I’ve wanted to read, this is perfect.
And then some people are extremely happy with Bookcrossing, where people register and label their books, give them away or "release them into the wild" - and then follow each book's journey as recipients log in to give updates. You can read the raves over on Lovemarks; here's part of what Corinne in the Netherlands had to say:
Bookcrossing has changed my life. That may sound dramatic, and while it isn't dramatic, it HAS changed my life. In my whole life I have never before met so many warm and generous people in just one year, in just one group, joined by just that one idea of sharing one's books.Personally, I've sold books to a local bookstore, given them away on Freecycle, and donated them. Bookcrossing sounds intriguing, so I just may have to give that a try. Anyone want to share what YOU'VE done with the books you're done with?
10 Ways to Find New Homes for Your Books
[photo by anna_t of Stockholm, found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons]