How to Donate or Sell Books in the Twin Cities

2013-11-06 17.01.25

Books to Donate!

I have decided to cull down my book collection and donate some books. This only happens once a decade and is a big deal. I’m donating 56 books, to be exact. Getting rid of any book is a painful choice for me but I finally decided to get rid of books I will never read again, I didn’t like, I will never read at all (usually well-meaning gifts). Many of these are children’s book from my Children’s Literature and How to Write Children’s Literature classes or books that I read and I liked as a teenager but I will never pick up again. Let’s face it, there’s only so many times a person can read Rainbow Road before they’re done. Some of these books (I’m looking at you, Cheese Monkeys) I hated the first time through and some of them I couldn’t get past the first page (I love Jasper Fforde but The Eyre Affair is so not my thing.)

But I’ve never donated books before, last time I got rid of books I just left them at my ex boyfriends house and didn’t have to deal with them. I have some ideas of where to start, the library or Good Will. But are there other options? Maybe more specific places? Where will my children’s books benefit the most children? Where will my GLBTQ literature end up?

So I’ve decided to make a list of ways you can donate or sell books in the Twin Cities.


The Library


Hennepin County Libraries will accept any and all books in good condition except Reader’s Digest condensed books and textbooks. To donate just call ahead to your local library to make sure they’re currently accepting donations and then drop them off!

But if you’re expecting your books to be put on the shelves to benefit other readers, think again. HCLib instead sells the books or puts them on a “Free” table during book sales and events. According the HCLib website, processing new books for the libraries is often more expensive than the books themselves.

All proceeds of these events go back into the library system, so it is still a good way to support your local library.

Learn more here.

Good Will, Savers, The Salvation Army, or Arc’s Value Villages 


For personal and political reasons, I do not donate to The Salvation Army. But it is one of several places around the cities where you can easily drop books off and know they will be sold for low prices. I personally like to donate to the Bloomington Good Will and Savers because they have large and well cared for book sections. I know it’s silly, but I want to make sure my books will be treated well. If you want your books to be really affordable for low income families to buy after you donate, I would recommend donating to a Good Will or an Arc Value Village. Books here are generally more inexpensive than at a Savers.

Books for Africa

books for africa

BFA is a international program trying to end illiteracy in Africa. The program started in 1988 and has shipped approx. 28 million books since then.

What Books for Africa is looking for:

  • Hard and Soft cover popular fiction and non-fiction
  • Books no older than 15 years
  • Primary, secondary, and college textbooks published in 1998 or later
  • Reference books, encyclopedias, and dictionaries published in 2003 or later
  • Medical, nursing, IT, and law books with a 1998 or newer publish date.

BFA also accepts religious texts and bibles but asks that they be dropped off shipped in a different box as religious materials are only sent at the request of the African recipient.

One thing to know before donating to BFA is that it costs 50¢ to send each book from the US to Africa. So consider making a small monetary donation along with your books if choosing to donate to BFA. It’s not a large expense, my 56 books would cost $28 and it goes to a good cause.

Learn more here.

Women’s Prison Book Project

women's prison book project

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has never before considered donating books to a prison. But I think it makes good sense and after reading their website I think at least a few of my books will be going here. They are the only place so far that has said they are looking for GLBTQ literature. They are looking for a variety of books from alcohol, drug, and abuse issues to mystery and horror novels.

Other genres include:

* Fiction and non-fiction by people of color

* English and Spanish Language Dictionaries

* Health books


*Arts & Crafts book

And donating is easy, simply drop your donation of at Boneshaker Books in South Minneapolis.

Learn more here.

Minnesota Literacy Council


So, you probably didn’t know (because I didn’t know) that 61% of low-income families have no children’s books in their homes. On a similar scope, where middle-income neighborhoods have a 13-1 book to child ratio, low-income neighborhoods have a 1-300 book to child ratio. Any reader like me can see that’s a problem.

The Minnesota Literacy Council is responsible for putting 10,000 books into the hands of low-income families every year. This year they are looking for non-fiction children’s book and bilingual books, specifically English & Spanish, English & Hmong, or English & Somali.

To donate please contact Emily SieKiewicz at or 651-251-9063

Learn more here.

Junior League of Minneapolis associated with Read Indeed

read indeed

Along the same lines the Junior League of Minneapolis’ “Book 4 Kids” program has donated 250,000 books to inner city children in the last six years. They have recently merged with Read Indeed, a program started by 8 year-old Maria Keller who had a goal of collecting 1,000,000 books by her 18th birthday. Five years later and five years early she has collected 1,020,799 books.

Donations can be dropped off at the Hopkins Read Indeed warehouse on specific dates each month. For more information about drop off dates contact Maria at

Learn more here and here.

Sell or Get Credit

PaperBack Swap

paperback swap

This is an awesome website and if I wasn’t planning to donate my books, I would put a lot of them up here. How it works is you post books you no longer want but are willing to ship to other people. For the first 10 books you post, the site gives you 2 credits as a gift. Every time someone chooses one of your books, you get another credit once they receive the book. With every credit you earn, you can order a book of your own. It’s free of charge and yours to keep.

The only cost associated with the site is shipping. Rather than paying for shipping when you order a book, you only pay for shipping when one of your books gets ordered. Seems fair to me.

There are literally thousands of books to choose from, new and old, and almost any author you can think of. It’s a pretty awesome site.

Learn more here.

Half Price Books


HPB is probably the most well-known thrift bookstore in the country. They buy used books at low prices and sell them back at half the listed price, sometimes cheaper. HPB is organized, the staff is friendly, and they have a very wide variety of old and new books. However, you don’t get a lot for selling your books here. Most books, depending on condition and demand, will only fetch a seller 50¢ to $1. The one time I sold here I brought in a all stack of Manga and got about $3 in exchange. And since then HPB turns around and makes a profit on what I gave them, I am not super stoked to sell here again. But, they are convinent and kind and you can turn around and spend that $3 on books or pocket it, which is the difference between PaperBack Swap above and Paperback Exchange below.

Paperback Exchange

paperback exchange

This is a new & used bookstore in Minneapolis that offers a credit for traded in books. The way I understand it is that when you bring in books you get a store credit equal to the original cost of those books. You also get a 70% discount on used books and a 25% discount on new books. This bookstore does prefer only paperback books but will take hardcovers if they haven’t been released in paperback yet or are children’s books.

If I were going to trade in my books for credit, this does seem like the best option. You can get a lot of book for your traded in items with the trade credit and the discount. I would definitely come here over Half Price Books.

Learn more here.


I’ve decided to donate my books to three different places. The majority of my books will be going to the Women’s Prison Book Project. I honestly think this is a really great place for my books to be going. I know a lot of people enter prison illiterate or under educated and if I can help with that even a little I’m happy to.

My children’s books will be going to Read Indeed and the rest of the books, which are more genre specific, will go to Good Will where hopefully they’ll find a home.

2013-11-06 17.05.19

My Sorted Books!

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