Question: What Do You Do With Your ‘Read’ Books?

Posted March 19, 2015 by Carmel in Challenges, Question / 47 Comments


It’s inevitable. Anyone who’s been a reader for any amount of time accumulates books, and this is doubly true if you’re a blogger. My shelves aren’t as overcrowded as they once were since e-galleys have become the norm, but physical advanced review copies (ARCs) are still common, not to mention the titles that I purchase for myself, and those that I win from giveaways. Unless a novel is a personal favourite of mine, I rarely re-visit it twice, so eventually I run out of room, and must clean house.

All of my books score a coveted spot in my bookshelf for a little while, but most of them don’t stay there for long unless they are signed, part of my ‘keepers’, or too pretty to justify getting the boot. I keep a box in my closet of novels that don’t fit into any of the three aforementioned categories, and whenever a fellow reader drops by, I let them pick through my stash. My mother and sister-in-law reap the rewards of my addiction the most, however it’s first-come first-served, and if I’ve been especially lazy sometimes there are several boxes to dig through, including a few in the shed. LOL

What doesn’t get snatched-up by family, and friends either finds a home with blog followers via a contest (I wish I could do this more, but shipping in Canada is expensive!), or gets donated to my local library. They don’t necessarily keep all of the titles for their collection; however they do host several sales throughout the year, so I know that my babies are going towards a good cause. I’ll occasionally sell some to a used book store, or tradeβ€”which doesn’t exactly solve my excess problem, but what can ya do? I don’t do this as often as I used to because 1. I rarely leave empty-handed which is NOT helpful, and 2. brick and mortar shops are disappearing.

I might get some hate mail for this last one, however every now and then NO ONE wants my gently loved paperbacks, so I’m forced to chuck them into the recycling. This might sound like a horrible death for a book, although really when you think about it, the materials get re-used to print more titles! I worked at Chapters Indigo when I was in college, and they used to send only the covers back to the publishers to get refunds on unsold merchandise, the rest went into blue bins.

What Do You Do With Your ‘Read’ Books?

ICYMI: Nicole from Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon from It Starts at Midnight are hosting the 2015 Discussion Challenge, and I’ve decided to join by linking-up my weekly Question posts. There’s a monthly prize giveaway for participants, plus it’s a great way to meet other bloggers, and increase your traffic. Full deets can be found by clicking the button:

2015 Discussion Challenge

Have a bookish question you’d like Rabid Reads to weigh-in on? E-mail me, and be sure you include your blog URL (if you have one), so we can give you credit!

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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47 responses to “Question: What Do You Do With Your ‘Read’ Books?

  1. I do almost the same thing. I’m still clearing out books. Some series I started collecting, especially in hardcover and now I now longer collect as it became to expensive or the series is no longer a favorite. Those I offer to fellow readers first and then donate.
    I have to say, I never recycle, they all get donated in one way or another. My favorite thing to do is take them to a used book store and ask them to add the credits to one of their customers that may be financially unable to buy many used books. I trust the folks at the store to be honest about that.
    As reading is a passion I love sharing with other readers!!

  2. My writing group brings in gently used books and we swap in/out. I do the same with my girlfriends. I usually have a bag/box of books in the car and when I’m carpooling my friends’ children I’ll drop some books off…and often pick up a few from friends as well. And I’ll donate to our library. I don’t think I could ever throw out a book. I have a hard enough time removing them from my Kindle πŸ™‚

  3. If they aren’t “Felicia” loved then I donate them to either a hospital, shelter, or nursing home. If they are “Felicia” loved then I let me friends take them or I take them to half-priced books where they pretty much take any condition. I am about to do a second sweep through my books and get really hard nosed about what I want to keep because I am having a garage sale in June!
    Felicia The Geeky Blogger recently posted…Library Review: Tiger Magic by Jennifer Ashley

  4. I guess I mostly stash mine in boxes and boxes and I really need to find out what to do with them. I have been trying to do a spreadsheet of all my books and even the ones I haven’t read if I don’t think I am going to ever read them to put them and the read ones in boxes and either do some giveaways or find places to donate them too. Something I need to research and see what is available in my area.
    Stormi recently posted…Audiobook review of Murder at the Book Group

  5. Shannon

    I go through all those channels too. Then, before the last resort of recycling, I post them to, an a online book swap, of sorts. I say “of sorts” because it’s not always a one for one swap and you don’t have to have a book to get a book, as long as you have points from previous swaps.

    You post your inventory and an automatic process matches your inventory with a “moocher” who has those books on their wishlist. An automatic email is generated if a match is found.

    The only downside is that you pay for mailing to the moocher but I find that it comes back to me in international (non-US) mooches or in bundles (which some people prefer).

  6. You mean you get rid of books? Gasp! Actually, I wish that I was better at this, but it’s so hard to part with books. I am a terrible book hoarder. I have five floor-to-ceiling bookcases and many, many boxes of books.
    *Whispers* Don’t worry, Precioussss. I would never give you away. *pets books*
    E.J. Stevens recently posted…Q+A with Lori Sjoberg

  7. I have been told by many non-blogger that I should sell the hard copy audiobooks that I get. I just couldn’t bring myself to do so, just didn’t seem right.
    As a matter of fact I am running a giveaway for some audiobooks on CD that were review copies right now!
    Thanks for the heads up on the discussion challenge, going to check that one out.
    Paul (Audiobook Reviewer) recently posted…Control Point (Shadow Ops Book 1) by Myke Cole

  8. Sounds about right. The school I work for has a book recycling program for textbooks and I’ve been known to chuck a few of my lost souls in there as well. If I won’t be re-reading the book and no one I know wants a copy, it’s really the best thing to do. Otherwise it just sits in a box and that’s just very unproductive all around – especially those ARC copies that you can’t sell or donate, but ended up being stinkers. I’m lucky to have a HUGE library with 10 full sized bookcases. But that means when I clean house, I have a lot to clean out.

    I tend to keep anything I would rate a 4+ or if they are part of a series/author that I have kept because of other 4+ books in that group (and yes I do have a few that I kept just because they were soooo pretty). Anything else non-ARC gets brought to school/work and I donate them to our library for their book sales.

  9. Lucia from Reading Is My

    I never get rid of my print books. They are my treasure! To be honest I do not own them THAT much yet, so maybe I will think differently after 10-15 years. But at the moment I keep all my “read” books I own in print. I would give some away on my blog occassionaly but otherwise I keep all the books for myself πŸ™‚
    Lucia recently posted…TWO QUICK REVIEWS: YA Contemporary Fiction

  10. I fully admit to having recycled a book or two as well Carmel, you’re not alone! A friend of my mother-in-law does a lot of work with underprivileged kids, and she is always first in line to take books I’m looking to get rid of. I love knowing they’re going to a good home! There are of course hundreds more that I hoard like a dragon with his treasure, but I can’t help it:)

  11. All finished copies go to the library, unless I know someone who wants a particular book.

    I put most of my ARC’s up on the ARCycling website once a month or pass on to other bloggers who would like to review the tile.

    I just threw my first few books into the recycling bin this year. Man that was painful at first! I thought someone would find out and come to my house and punish me. lol

  12. I used to own many books, but when I moved here I couldn’t bring many of them, I just shipped a box with my favorites and the shipping of that box was freaking expensive. I think it would have been cheaper to buy them new. The rest I gave to family and friends and what they didn’t want I donated to my local library. Since living here 98% of my books are ebooks, so I don’t have many physical copies… Still I have enough to fill couple of bookcases. When I’m done reading them… I pet them, admire them and lend them to my friends if they want them… but they always come back to mama… My precious… πŸ™‚
    BookaholicCat recently posted…CATS-ilicious Thursdays

  13. I hate to say it, but this is one reason I like ebooks–no storage problems πŸ˜‰ For print books, I used to do giveaways from time to time, but now I donate to places like charities, organizations and libraries. I don’t miss the days of student textbooks and figuring out what to do with those πŸ˜‰ I have sold some books to used bookstores but mostly for fiction. Oh, and I still keep in touch with my Chapters/Indigo colleagues so I’ll drop by with some books for them on occasion, too, which they always appreciate.

  14. I’ve had to put some in recycling before too, but I do try and donate a lot of them to the library so they can sell them and get money back for themselves. I have sold some at Half Price Books before too. I also like giving books away to friends and family when I can – share the love!

    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Theming Thursday: Easter Madness

  15. It’s pretty bad. The amount of books I have overflowing in my bookcase. I love reading and I love my books but I don’t have it in me to give my books away. It’s only recently that I’ve been thinking about finally making some space in my bookshelves and either give away some of my books to fellow bloggers or donate some to libraries. That being said, the idea of parting with my books is just too sad to think about for long. Great discussion post Carmel πŸ™‚
    Lily recently posted…The Last Time We Say Goodbye: Review

  16. Jessica from a GREAT read  

    Oh that is a most difficult question! I still hoard 99% of mine. Though every once in awhile I do go through them and will either host giveaways, donate them to the library or book drive if one is happening or sell them somewhere. But generally? I just keep them all and hoard them! LOL! It stinks for I still live at home and my room has been exhausted with shoving bookcases in. One is even in my closet and I’ve done multiple “reorganzings” so now that 3/4 of my top closet shelf holds more books that cannot fit on the shelf.

    Plus, I have taken one shelf of a bookcase in our family room and another case in our basement family one, I’ve taken over as well. It’s hard. I’ve gotten lots of signed books, so naturally those will never leave. But then there are other titles that I know I loved. I have wayyyyyy too much that re-reading is never possible, but I still treasure each and every book I’ve read. I can remember a piece of two of it, a part that I loved or something and I smile.

    All I can hope is that whenever I do move out and my future BF/hubby won’t mind my hoarding/addiction. If not, that’s gonna be a problem! LOL! Plus there will be a whole home to decorate with bookcases! And hopefully a room where I can finally hang all my bookish posters!

    Sorry for the long winded comment as well! This topic really got me talking I guess!
    Jessica recently posted…Review–Switched by Amanda Hocking

  17. Every time we move (and we do that every few years) I sell what I don’t really love. And I’m trying not to buy as many paperbacks as I used to, which should be easy, but it’s not… I’m a sucker for the smell of a book. Sadly, my Kindle just doesn’t compare… Great post, Carmel.
    Ramona recently posted…Author’s Voice Vs. Character’s Voice

  18. I wish I could give away more books, but yes shipping is costly. For that price I can get a new book.

    But I give the away to friends, people on FB (there are these buy/sell/give away groups). I have also given away a LOT at the library cos they have this take one leave one table. Seriously by give away ration to take one is like 99/1.

    I also sent a huge box to someone two times.

    But mostly they stay on my shelf. I wish I knew more readers in my town
    blodeuedd recently posted…Author Post and Giveaway: Sierra Dean

  19. Usually when I have books that I have already read and I don’t mean to read again, then I would sell those books to other people who want to read some books (unless they were books that I really enjoyed or I want to keep in my “keepers” pile, then I try to keep those books)!

  20. Mogsy from BiblioSanctum  

    I keep ALL my books! I think I might have been scarred in my youth, constantly having to move around. Of course books being the bulkiest and heaviest things to move, they’re also the first things to go when you need to cut down the load. I’ve had to say goodbye to shelves and shelves of books over the years, how sad! So now that I have a house and I won’t be moving again, I’m hoarding them all.
    Mogsy recently posted…Audiobook Review Bites

  21. I do a variety of things with my read books too. Lately, I get lots of e-books particularly when I’m trying a new author or series so its not as pressing an issue as it could be. However, I still end up with piles of paper copy finished books and arcs that I just can’t or don’t want to keep. I do all the things that you do with them and still my shelves are jam packed. πŸ˜‰
    Sophia Rose recently posted…HeartMates by Robin D. Owen Narrator: Noah Michael Levine #Review #AudioBook

  22. When my mom was alive, I would give them to her and she would pass them around to her friends. I’ve donated a few boxes of books to the local library but for the most part I keep them all and put them on my bookshelves. I have around 2000 print books on bookshelves and in 2 gigantic boxes in my closet. There are some that I just cannot get rid of or that I have entire series to and I just really want to keep. because one of these days I will have a bigger apartment with more room for double the bookshelves.
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…Police Dogs: Vicious Animals Or Helpers?

  23. Lately I’ve been donating mine to my city library. I have a bag that I use to collect my print books I bought or received for review and CD audio books for review and when it’s full I drop it off. They love seeing me come in. LOL

    I do stick a few back for blog giveaways but since the shipping cost comes out of my pocket I don’t do many giveaways anymore since I’m trying to cut down on my out of pocket blogging costs.
    Jennifer recently posted…3 Reasons to Read Beautiful Bastard & Bitch by Christina Lauren

  24. Nicole from Feed Your Fiction  

    Glad you decided to link up with us, Carmel! I’ve really been loving all the discussions going on for our challenge!

    As far as what I do with my books – the really good ones go in my giveaway/trade stash and the rest go up on Paperbackswap. I often get books for my kids on Paperbackswap, so I don’t ever feel like it’s a waste to have credits there! And you’re right – the idea of recycling makes me cringe (though I know that sometimes that’s where the books do end up anyway). πŸ™‚
    Nicole recently posted…Numbers Game by Rebecca Rode – Excerpt & $50 Gift Card Giveaway

  25. I generally do the same as you. I have so many books that unless I think I’m going to read them again / they’re keepers, they have to go. I’m a little more active about giving away books; sometimes, I’ll bring a box with me when I see friends, or I’ll sort out a stack of books I think a specific friend will like and give it to her. For the books I really don’t want and don’t think I can give away, I usually leave them (in bags) in the car until I finally get around to dropping by the used bookstore.
    Kris recently posted…Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

  26. Well, I don’t buy THAT many physical books… I mean, I must buy like 50 per year but, well, it’s not that much. Is it? Naaah. So, anyway, if it’s a book/series I love, I will keep it, place or no place for it. Usually what I do, if I REALLY have no space is that I put them in boxes and store them, but I like keeping my favorite books in my room. Also, if a book I own is not one I enjoyed THAT much, I gift it to some friends of mine. πŸ™‚ I wish I could do giveaways like everyone but I don’t have a job. Sucks to be a high school student. LOL! Anyway, that’s a great question!
    Lola recently posted…My 2015 ”Did Not Finish” Titles #1

  27. Some fantastic ideas to get rid of books Carmel! Gosh I can definitely relate to book hoarding and overcrowding. I periodically sweep through my shelves and pick out the ones I can bear to get rid of, and often donate it to other readers/bloggers, hold a giveaway or when it gets too overwhelming, donate it to Lifeline Bookfest or the library. The feeling that our books are going to a loved home makes us feel a bit more relieved!
    Jeann recently posted…Insurgent Movie Review: Cheesy and Illogical

  28. I used to take my books to a second-hand dealer, but the monetary return was very small and they rarely had anything of interest that I could use store credit for. I finally decided to donate my babies to charity when I have one of my periodic culls. There’s not much I’d part with now, though, after several big clearances over the past few years.

    I was hoping that my books would be given to people who were unable to purchase books but, unfortunately, I learned that the charity sells them. I remember going to a different second-hand dealer a number of years ago and finding one of my books there! I was so disappointed. I can understand charities needing to raise money to help others, but I wasn’t happy about someone else in business benefiting (although I’m a strong supportor of all small businesses). I’m still more comfortable doing this than selling my books, though, in the hope that people in need can enjoy them. Perhaps donating them to a library, as you’ve mentioned Carmel, would be a better way to achieve this. I sure hope libraries don’t go the same way as bricks and mortar bookstores any time soon!

    Thank goodness for e-books! I’ve accumulated nearly 900 and there’s absolutely no way of fitting that many printed books into my humble little apartment!

  29. I seem to have turned into a book hoarder somewhere along the way and it’s really, really hard for me to part with my books. I’ve run out of room on my bookcases and have started stacking them on the floor, but still can’t bring myself to get rid of any of them. It’s a problem, so need to cull my collection soon or I’ll start tripping over books! I already have a ton of unused credits on Paperbackswap, so that’s not an option. Thinking about holding a contest or two, then maybe take some to the library or Goodwill. It’s going to be really hard to choose which ones to let go though because of, you know, the whole hoarding thing….
    Terri recently posted…Spring Bloggiesta 2015

  30. I am pretty happy I haven’t yet had to decide what to do with my read books, mostly I kept them so far because I am still pretty young and only blogging for two years, which means I haven’t yet acquired too much books. And indeed I read a lot of e-books and never received paperback ARC’s so far. So far the tactic of buying a new bookshelf still works. Although I have a shelf with books that I migth eventually want to get rid of, but not sure. It feels so harsh to throw them away, but I hardly know any readers in real life to donate them to and I don’t know if our library would be happy with english books. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, for now I’ll still keep all my books.
    I think it’s great you let your mom and sister go through your boxes of books you don’t want anymore. That sounds like christmas has come early!
    Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

  31. julie from m5monkeys  

    I usually save the books I love in my closet or box of my favorites. I then donate the books to my kids middle school or high school. I also donate to the library too. I only keep my favorites also on my kindle ..I also go through and get rid of those too.
    julie recently posted…Insurgent Movie

  32. *gasps* Recycling??? Just kidding. You do what you have to do, right? I usually keep all my physical books. But occasionally I have to clean off my shelves for the sake of space. I either donate them, give them away, or sometimes I take them to my local used book store for credit. And no, I don’t use the credit on myself. Well, at least not always. πŸ˜‰ I do have 3 other avid readers in my household. And they have similar space issues! *haha*
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Release Blitz & Giveaway ~ Coda ~ CD Reiss

  33. I hoard them! Well, if I didn’t like the book, I do try to sell it or give it away. I’m surprised you have some books that the library doesn’t want! We have some drop boxes for better world books where we can unload books we don’t want, and also I like to add some to little free libraries that I come across.
    Julire recently posted…Book Review – Wicked

  34. I recently did a HUGE clean-up of all of my physical book copies and now have one shelf of keepers, the rest were split between my cousin and best friend who are just as obsessed with reading as I am, I have previously sold a few copies (that way I can justify buying more books) or donated them to the hospital where I work. I mostly buy books on kindle now so it’s so much easier to store without hubby complaining about my book piles πŸ˜‰

    A great post! I’m always curious about what other do.
    Sharon – Obsession with Books recently posted…What are your thoughts? Reviewing / Blogging can be daunting!

  35. To be honest I’m pretty selective with books I buy. If I have books I no longer want, including ARCs, I tend to give them to other people who want to read them. I actually gave a ton of books to my ex-best friend. My shelves now are pretty much just ones I want to keep.
    Kelsey recently posted…The Sunday Post #4

  36. Well – I’ve only ever gotten 1 physical arc and it was signed by one of my favorite authors so that baby isn’t going anywhere. And I rarely buy books in physical formats unless I love their covers or love the content so much that I’m going to have the authors sign them. So I’m keeping those too. The only exception is really when I win books. Typically I do want to read them, but I don’t necessarily need to own them after. In which case, if they’re in good shape they go into my giveaway pile for COYER. Otherwise they go to the library. And I recently learned that nursing homes like to get books too, so I’m going to start donating to them from time to time too!
    Berls recently posted…Sunday Post | 78th Edition

  37. I think all of your ways of cleaning your shelves are great and I’m sure that there are some out there that will be upset with the recycling idea, but since you’ve had the behind the scenes look at bookstores, it makes sense. I had no idea that they did that, but it now makes sense when I’ve seen books without covers at yardsales (I bet they were salvaged from dumpsters and recycling bins of bookstore).

    I love these posts by the way.
    Chrystal recently posted…Reading on vacation…

  38. Mary from BookSwarm  

    I keep the books I will reread. Those stay on my shelf, no matter what. The other books, I bring to school and give away–the YAs stay on my shelf until the end of the year, when I offer them up to my students and the adult books get put in the mailroom.
    Mary recently posted…Comfort Reads

  39. There have been a couple of books in the past that were SO old, there was really no use for them. So like you, I recycled them. I do hate doing that though. For the books I want to get rid of, I generally either give them away to family and friends or I donate them to Goodwill.
    Cynthia recently posted…Musing Mondays – Censorship