"When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes." ~Desiderius Erasmus
I'm a book person. Books are my friends, mentors and teachers; every book that entered my home found its own special place. I didn't loan out my friends or give them away. My books were always at my fingertips in the event I wanted to research a favorite passage or look for an illusive quote. Well, before on line bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Amazon, I discovered a marvelous bookstore in London. I was attending classes at Cambridge University and I was euphoric over the ideas and concepts being discussed in my classes. On my return journey home I bought books instead of clothes and accessories. I stuffed my suitcase with so many books that I had to pay an overage fee when checking my bag.
As with most things in life, my attitude towards my books evolved. I started to feel selfish that all my books were just resting on a self or stacked on the floor collecting dust. My enlightening and stimulating friends had transitioned to the role of interior decor joining the ranks of the lamp and sofa. I made the decision to start giving away my books and the first one to go was Reader's Digest Complete Do-it-yourself Manual. My anthropomorphic feelings about that book gave way to guilt that I had sent my friend away. That was the one and only book I gave away until my mother died.
My mother and father didn't collect books on the scale that I did. They read a variety of novels regularly, particularly after my dad retired, but instead of purchasing books they borrowed them from their local library. Mom was a docent at the Jacksonville Art Museum* and she collected large, heavy and stunningly beautiful coffee table art books. As my sister and I were closing down my parent's home after my mother's death, letting go of the books because a struggle. We took more than we really wanted but we did let many go.
The introduction of the iPad and Kindle helped start me down the path of letting go once again. In my research to find a good home for my friends, I learned of several outstanding opportunities to share my friends. Here are a few ways to find new homes for your books if you are ready to let them go.
BookMooch-These guys let you give away books in exchange for books you really want. There is no cost to use the site.
The Home Based Bookstore- You can sell your books on Amazon, eBay or on your own website. The highlighted link is a book that tells you how to get started.
More Than Words-is a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless or out of school to take charge of their lives by managing their own retail and online book business.
Donate to your local library- Not all libraries want donations all the time. The American Library Association keeps a running list of who is accepting books. Also I would encourage you to just call your local library and ask about their donation policy.
Books for Troops-was founded to send "care packages for the mind" to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq by providing a variety of books.
International Donation Programs-This program looks really interesting because it helps institutions and programs that have little or no money to post their need for education material. Textbooks and other hard to place books might find a home here.
bookcrossing.com- This is a kooky but engaging concept. Put a BCID label in your book and then release it into the wild. Leave it on a table in a restaurant, on a park bench or give it to a friend. Then plug in the BCID number in the bookcrossing website and watch your books travel the world.
Finally, my daughter shared this idea with me. Kathryn and her friends have a book exchange. They meet over a glass of wine and exchange books. They are all young mothers whose budgets are tight and this is the perfect way to keep a new book on their nightstand.
I would love to hear any ideas you might have about finding a new home for your treasured books.
*The Jacksonville Art Museum has been renamed the Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art.