What to do with my unwanted books

Terry Goodkind - Sword of Truth Series

Over the past few weeks I have been walking past the family bookcase and thinking that something has to be done with it. We have books stacked ontop of other books. Paperbacks wedged into tight spaces in an effort to contain all of our reading material to one space.

Staring at this form of ordered chaos, I got to thinking. Am I ever going to re-read some of these books? First on my list of questionable re-reads was the Sword of Truth Series. This set is made up of twelve books (eleven novels and one shorter novella). When I read this series in 2009, I enjoyed it very much. It was a tale that got me back into reading and immersed me into the fantasy genre.

Since wrapping up the series I have read a variety of other books. Some of these books I enjoyed much more than the Sword of Truth, others not as much. What it boils down to now is that I feel as though I have been reading a higher caliber of books. My concern is that going back and re-reading the series will not be as enjoyable as the first time.

The thought of not getting as much enjoyment out of re-reading these novels has left me wanting to clear them off of my bookcase. The clear shelf space would go a long way in organizing my ever growing pile of to-read books. In order to make the space, I need to determine what to do with the books.

Gently Used Books

Gently Used Books is a second hand bookstore in a shopping center near where my parents live. I have been to this store a couple of times and they appear to be growing at a steady pace. In the couple of years I have been aware of the store, it has moved to a larger location and expanded twice.

Rather than pay cash for gently used books, you are given store credit in trade. The idea of taking my books to the store and turning them in for credit is not a bad idea, however, it does have its drawbacks. The largest being their small fantasy section. Since I read little outside of the genre, I would not benefit from the large selection of other novels in stock.

Aside from limited selection, I want to take advantage of my Nook and switch to digital. Rather than continue to purchase more paperbacks, I’m trying to limit my physical books to hardback. By doing this I hope to save a bit of money and shelf space by purchasing fewer paperback novels.

The one appealing aspect of trading in my books is that store credit does not expire. Instead of limiting myself to their fantasy section, I could turn the credit over to my daughter when she starts reading. The idea of her having an entire bookstore to choose from puts a smile on my face.


Behind the connivence of dropping my books off at the local used book store for credit, I toyed with the idea of selling them for cash. The first site that comes to mind is eBay. While you can sell practically anything there, I simply don’t see it producing a decent amount of money for my paperbacks. Selling each paperback for less than it would cost to ship the items seems like more trouble than it is worth.

After more or less ruling eBayOpens in a new tab. out, my next thought was to utilize AmazonOpens in a new tab.. Coincidentally, it is where I purchased the books to begin with and selling used books seems simple enough. From the looks of it, all I would need to do is create an account, list the item, and assign it a price. My concern here is holding onto the books for long periods of time while I waited for someone to purchase them. Normally I wouldn’t mind holding out to maximize my return, but I’m trying to make space, not call my unwanted books inventory.

Paperback Swap

A couple of years ago I was sitting next to Brian HewittOpens in a new tab. at a Cigar Seminar in New Orleans when he began using his Blackberry to arrange a trade on Paperback SwapOpens in a new tab.. Before that moment I had never heard of the website. The concept sounded interesting but I never took the time to setup an account or read into the details.

The concept seems simple enough. You create an account and list all of the books you are willing to swap. Another member can then request your book, at which point you package it up and mail it to them (you pay postage). When they receive the book you receive a credit to request a book of your liking (same goes, person with the book pays to ship it).

If I were looking for more physical books, this option would be ideal. One book sent out translates into one book received. There is the cost of shipping books but it appears to be minimal (Less than $3.00 per book seems about right). While this option does not save me space in terms of going digital, it does keep the content on my bookshelf fresh.


The last and simplest solution would be to take my books to the local library and donate them. I have never donated anything at a library before but I would imagine that they would accept whatever books I was willing to give them. While this option won’t save me any money in the long run, it would help a system that seems to be declining.

My Decision

The truth of the matter is that I’m really not sure what to do with my books. I have signed up for a Paperback Swap account and think that may be the best solution for exchanging old reading material for fresh books. The inventory of available books changes constantly and seems far richer than my local used bookstore. There is also the plus of getting a book for a book, not a percentage of the books cover price to put towards a purchase.

I have a dozen books that I plan on listing to test the waters. If it doesn’t work out as well as I hope, then I’ll simply be back here once again weighing my options.

What would you do
in my situation?


Hi There, My name is Walt White and as the name of this blog suggests, I am a Pennsylvania resident. In addition to having numerous hobbies that I discuss on my blog - I’m also the father of three little girls and a pitbull.

4 thoughts on “What to do with my unwanted books

  1. I would more than willingly take them off your hands. I live on the island of Crete and love to read but have no opportunity of purchasing books in English here.
    At one time I owned in excess of 5000 books, most of them hardback and leather bound with gold leaf tooling.
    Unfortunately, through a chapter of incidents I lost the lot.
    A great loss to me as I had saved every book I ever received even from my childhood.
    I had every copy of the ‘Eagle’ annual for example – plus lots of Rupert the Bear annuals!
    Most of my books came from auctions.
    I would be willing to pay for postage/shipping and packing if this is acceptable to you.
    I can be contacted on submerger@windowslive.com
    Many thanks
    Jim Rogers

  2. If the SoT are hardbacks, I’d be interested in taking them off your hands.

    I have switch to audiobooks and Kindle/Nook books. They take up zero space and are more convenient. However there are some books that no matter what, I will be buying (Star Wars books, mostly, and hardcover at that).

    The books for soldiers is a really cool idea. Probably what I’ll be doing with some of mine soon.

    1. Ben,
      The SOT novels were all mass market paperback (with the exception of the last book, that was hard cover). I bought them in sets to save cost (Price of a boxed set of 3 paperback books was something along the lines of $12.00).

      Even though I have a Nook, my digital collection hasn’t grown much since I posted this article. I’ve managed to trade away practically all of my unwanted books via Paperback Swap and fill my bookshelf with new reading material.

      Thanks for commenting.

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