3 Ways to Get Rid of Your Old Textbooks

By Alicia Geigel on May 21, 2019

Every semester, students are confronted with many necessary evils, one of them being the outrageous price for textbooks. Unfortunately getting textbooks is unavoidable unless you happen to get lucky and find a PDF online (which I have done a couple times). If this is not an option for you, then you are forced to consider some alternatives: renting used, buying used, eBooks, or if you must, buying new.

While we as students can’t avoid purchasing textbooks for the semester, we don’t have to be suffocated by piles of old textbooks at the end of the year — we can do quite a few things with them! There are three main options you can consider when wanting to part ways with your old textbook friends: donate, sell, or recycle.

Have you been staring at a pile of textbooks, not knowing what to do with them after your semester ended? Worry not, I got your back. Check out my comprehensive guide below on how to get rid of your old textbooks and potentially put a little cash back in your pocket!

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Image by Alicia Geigel via Canva.com


Perhaps the easiest avenue to go when you’re dealing with unwanted textbooks at the end of the semester is to simply donate them! Donating takes little to no investment of time or money, and you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping out a fellow student get a better price than you once did! While donating make cause you to lose some money on books you purchased for the semester, I recommend donating books that were the least expensive and to consider selling the books that were more of an expense. Here are some useful tips on donating your old textbooks at the close of the semester!

  • Donate Local: Donating your old textbooks in a local area not only cuts down any shipping costs of mailing your books, but it also helps people in your surrounding town by giving them new resources, like your old textbooks! If you’re worried that you don’t know any places to donate your books, don’t be discouraged! Here are 4 places you can donate your old textbooks to locally.
  • Salvation Army: The second-largest U.S. charity, the Salvation Army is a great place to start donating if you don’t know another place to go to. Simply search for a Salvation Army location in your area to begin the process! After you’ve found a spot, you can get information on drop off locations which get your closer to donating! Donations can go to both the Salvation Army store or the Salvation Army’s homeless shelters.
  • Goodwill: As a second option, goodwill is a great choice to donate your old textbooks to. All it takes to donate to goodwill is to find your closest store and drop off your books, it’s just that simple! The best part of donating to the goodwill is the proceeds made from someone purchasing your donation goes toward job training and placement programs for individuals who face unemployment challenges, such as the disabled, according to Angela Colley of MoneyCrashers.com
  • Libraries: Another option to consider for donating your old textbooks is to your local library! Libraries may seem a bit outdated in this day and age, but plenty of people still use them, especially the elderly or impoverished communities. Consider donating to your local library to help your community with great materials! Libraries typically accept lightly worn, used books.
  • Thrift Stores: If you didn’t want to or didn’t have the chance to make it to the other potential spots for donating your books, there are always thrift stores! Providing your old textbooks to thrift stores also gives your community affordable resources to use, it’s a win/win situation!

In addition to donating locally, you have the option to donate outside of your area as well! While the process may take a few more steps (and a couple bucks to ship), the reward of helping others with your textbook materials is definitely worth it! There are plenty of great organizations to donate to, here are just a few!

  • Better World Books: Better World Books is a non-profit organization that can accept your old textbooks! Through donations, the organization helps raise money to “promote literacy, teaching kids, supporting families, building schools, and filling libraries.” Check out their site here!
  • Books for Africa: Books for Africa is a non-profit organization that helps provide reading materials to African students who don’t normally have access to books. Read more about their work and your impact, here!
  • Books to Prisoners: If you are passionate about rehabilitating prisoners in the U.S., Books to Prisoners is a great organization to donate your old textbooks to. The organization is a non-profit that provides reading materials to prisoners who request books. For more information, check out the site here!
  • Pickup Please: Our veterans are so important for a number of reasons, and Pickup Please is a great organization to help pay them back for all of their sacrifices. Pickup Please is currently in 13 states in the U.S., and donating helps U.S. veterans get proper social, economic, psychological, and health service, in particular, homeless and disabled veterans.
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Image via Pexels


Sophomore year, I had to get a special edition of a textbook that was not available online at all at my university’s book store, and I ended up spending a whopping $119 on one textbook, for one semester. Do you know where that textbook ended up after my final for that course? Sitting on a shelf, slowly accumulating dust for months. I was stumped on what to do with this burdensome block of pages and ultimately ended up donating it. Even though we as students cannot avoid getting textbooks, we don’t have to suffer along the way. After your semester is completed, you don’t have to eat all the money you dropped on those textbooks, rather, you can take the route of selling your textbooks! Keep these things in mind during the semester to ensure you’ll get the best return of your money!

  • Maintain Good Condition: One of the first things to do when you get a textbook is observing its condition. Some textbooks are practically falling apart with notes, highlighter lines, and crinkles out the wazoo- in this case, you most likely did not spend a whole lot on books like these. Some textbooks, on the other hand, are in almost perfect condition with very little wear, this is the textbook you need to guard with your life. Avoid taking notes, highlighting, etc. in these books because it will decrease their value when it comes time for you to resell them. If you find yourself wanting to take notes, use post-it notes- they peel off easily and will keep your notes in the book without ruining the pages! The bottom line here is, the better condition your book is in, the more money you are likely to get out of it.
  • Research, Research, Research: Before you just go and set the price of your textbooks online, be sure to take the time to carefully research what each textbook is selling for. Some book that you may think has little to no value may actually be worth more than you could have imagined! Let the internet be your number one tool for determining the price of your book(s). Jane McGrath of Money.HowStuffWorks.com notes, “a quick search on Amazon.com, for instance, will give you an idea of what a particular used book is selling for. Chambal.com is another good resource. It lets you plug in the author and title or ISBN and will present you the lowest going prices across many different Web sites.” While you use these tools, note that prices vary on a few conditions such as: condition (used/new) and edition, so be sure to be aware of this when considering your book!
  • Selling Books Online: Perhaps the most common way to get money for your old textbooks is to sell online. Amazon and eBay typically are the top two places to sell used books, but they are not the only ones. When selling your books to sites like these, the condition of your book is going to be the most important detail. McGrath comments on this stating, “[book] conditions range from ‘new’ to ‘poor,’ with other descriptions such as ‘like new’ and “acceptable” somewhere in between. Of course, you don’t want to hurt your chances of selling a book by describing it in worse condition than it is. But you also don’t want to hurt your credibility as a seller by describing it in better condition than it is.” If you decide to sell your books online, just remember that you are responsible for shipping the item, and in that case, you should consider making the buyer pay for shipping.
  • Selling Books Elsewhere: Another alternative for making fast cash on your old textbooks is at a yard sale. While you most likely will not make as much money from selling at a yard sale, it is a way that you can get money in your pocket quickly!
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Being environmentally friendly is becoming a larger trend today, especially when it comes to recycling. If you don’t want to donate or sell your books, recycling is a great option for you! Not only are you giving back to the environment, but you’re also getting rid of your old textbooks! What more could you ask for? Not sure where to start? These few tips will get you started!

  • Old-Fashioned Recycling: At a very base level, you can simply recycle your old textbooks in your own recycle bin! There is nothing wrong with letting go of a textbook you had and helping out the environment at the same time! When doing this, just double check to make sure there aren’t any weird restrictions or limitations on the kinds of materials you can recycle! In an article by Earth911.com, they note the deep impact recycling has on our environment, stating, ”Each ton of paper recycled saves 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 380 gallons of oil and 17 trees, not to mention 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water.”
  • Into the Wild: This tip sounds a bit scarier and intimidating than it actually is. You might be thinking, “what is my book, a caged animal?” No, I promise it isn’t! Basically, there is a site that allows you to “release” your old textbooks into the wild for a stranger to enjoy. Wendy Gabriel of RecycleNation.com writes, “BookCrossing.com is a website that allows you to register your books and then leave them for a person nearby to enjoy.” Their own site states, “BookCrossing is the act of releasing your books ‘into the wild’ for a stranger to find, or via ‘controlled release’ to another BookCrossing member, and tracking where they go via journal entries from around the world.” 
  • Repurpose Your Books: If you are just at the end of your rope and have no clue what to do with your old textbooks, an interesting way to recycle is to repurpose and use them for something else!  Maybe you’re the artistic type or perhaps you enjoy doing crafts as a hobby, regardless upcycling can be for anyone and everyone! This process is commonly referred to as ‘upcycling’ and there are so many creative ways to find new ways to use your old textbooks! For instance, you could make a headboard, jewelry box, or even a table lamp! Channel your inner DIY artist and get to creating!
books, textbook, pages, pile, stack, book

Image via Pexels

No one wants to have to deal with old textbooks at the end of the semester, I get it. However, there are plenty of simple ways to get those dreaded books off of your hands, perhaps get a little bit of money and even give back to your community in the end! After you’re done with getting rid your books, hopefully you can treat yourself to a drink with your friends this weekend — cheers to spring cleaning!

By Alicia Geigel

Uloop Writer
Temple alum | columnist at Uloop News | photographer | food blogger if you want to learn more about me, visit my profile and check out my articles!

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