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35 Fun Things to Do with Old Books – Donate, Upcycle, Decorate!

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Calling all book lovers!

Is your house overrun with too many books?

Or have you had an unfortunate mishap that has damaged some of your old books?

This post is all about what you can do with your old books including:

  • places to donate them to be read again
  • ways to sell your unwanted books
  • craft projects for those to damaged to save; and
  • ways to help you hang on to your old books by decorating them!

Here is how we are going to organise these ideas. Scroll down or click for the section you are interested in!

Part 1: Donating and Selling Books

Part 2: Crafting & Decorating with Old Books

things to do with old books

If your books are in a good condition and you are really just looking to move them on to a new home to free up space in yours then this list of places that might want your old books should help.

Local Libraries

Your local library is always a great place to start, especially if you aren’t that interested in selling your books and you just want them to end up somewhere where they will be enjoyed.

Now your library may not be interested in all your books because space will be at a premium and their is an admin cost to sorting through lots of old books – BUT – if you read popular fiction or have lots of children’s books to donate they might be super grateful!

things to do with old books
Photo: Rebecca Kohn

Community Center

Is there a local community centre or seniors center in your area that has (or would like to have) a book lending or book swap area? It’s worth dropping in and asking if they would like to take some or all of your unwanted books.

Book Drives & Book Drop Boxes

Some non-profit organizations and charities do book drives where they will publicise that they are looking for donated books. There will usually be a drop off point and a set deadline. Look out for these or mark them on your calendar if they are annual events – they can be a great reminder to do a clear out!

Here where I live in the UK there are also charities and non-profits that have a drop box for books that can be donated to all year round. Where I am these are located next to the big recycling bins in supermarket car parks.

Thrift Shop

Local thrift stores or charity shops (what we call them here in the UK), are often great places to donate boxes of books. Especially fiction and paperback books which sell well in these kinds of shops.

Larger thrift stores and charitable organisations sometimes also can arrange free pickup!

old books upcycling ideas
Photo: Stephanie Harvey

Other places that might accept Book Donations

These are some other places you can check to see if they would take a donation of a pile of books or even just a couple well chosen favourites.

  • Local Hospitals
  • Literacy Programs
  • Local School
  • Local Church
  • Local Coffee Shop
  • Book Clubs
  • Mom & Baby Cafe’s (children’s books)
  • Family Member (but I’m guessing you started there!)

Selling Books – especially Old Textbooks

Obviously if you know of a college student who could use your unwanted textbooks it would be super nice of you to just gift them to them, but if you don’t there is a very strong market for used textbooks so these are usually some of the easier types of books to sell (assuming they aren’t 50 years out of date!).

Here are some places to try:

NOTE: these suggestions work for all types of books but textbooks, and other how to style hardcover books generally go for a more reasonable price then do paperback fiction books:

  • Ebay
  • Amazon (you would need to open a vendor account which would only be worth it if you have a lot of books to sell on a regular basis)
  • Book Selling Apps – there are people who base their whole business on buying and re-selling books and textbooks, they tend to buy books cheaply from folk like you or I and they will adjust the price they will pay you based on how much they can mark them up to resell elsewhere. Just search ‘sell books’ in the app store on your phone and you will find lots of options (but the money you get will be on the lower end just so you know!)

Garage Sale

If all else fails there is always the tried and true garage sale. Just set up your books (and other unwanted items) on your lawn, set up an eye catching sign and get selling!

Upcycling Old Books

35 Fun Things to do with Old Books

If you have exhausted your routes for donating old books or you've had something unfortunate happen to your books, like a spilled cup of coffee or a tear happy toddler you might like the ideas below for crafting and decorating with your books.

Obviously the upcycling and crafting ideas are best for books that have some damage or are just so unpopular that you can't find anyone who would actually want to take it off your hands to read them (I'm not in favour of tearing up perfectly good books just to be clear!).

But there are also loads of great decorating ideas that keep your books in tact and readable!

Scroll further down if you want fun ideas for using books to decorate for the holidays!

Upcycled Book Ideas for the Holidays

From Christmas to Halloween and Valentine's - if you like getting in the holiday spirit here are some fun ways to use your books in the process!

If you are an avid reader I hope you have found a good idea or two in this list of creative ideas to help you decorate and hang on to more of your books or how to give new life to your old and damaged books.

But for the love of books! – Please don’t tear up good books for these craft projects!

Instead have a hunt around family and friends, flea markets and even the recycling bin if you are looking to find books that are worse for wear that are in need of upcycling.

I’d love to hear what you’ve done with your old books – did you decorate them? donate them? or turn them into gifts and wall art? Leave me a comment or find me on social (links above and in the footer) to let me know!

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