How do you get rid of books that you’ve been hoarding for years? And should you let go of novels you don’t read anymore? What about magazines? Or old textbooks collecting dust in the corner?
What if we told you that there’s an easy way to recycle and downsize your book collection?
If you’ve never heard of little free libraries, this one is for you. Breaking your sentimental attachment to books doesn’t have to be a struggle.
Listen: How Do You Get Rid of Books?
Watch: How Do You Get Rid of Books?
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
How Do You Get Rid of Books?
How do you get rid of books? Now recently we’ve been talking about decluttering, downsizing and organizing your home because many of us have cooped up inside during the COVID pandemic.
And lots of us are going through closets, bookshelves and things that we can get rid of. And one of the Humpty bumps that we’ve come upon, are books and people are scared to get rid of books.
So they say, “Angela, how do you get rid of books?” And it’s a question that’s near and dear to my heart because I’m an avid collector of books. When I moved to the house that I live in right now, I had over 10,000 books.
I Love to Read
I love reading. And then between the time that I moved in and right now, Kindle Unlimited became a thing. It costs about $10.17 per month, which is far less than I was paying for books.
But I can carry electronic versions of the books on my smartphone. So instead of housing and warehousing the books, and then trying to keep them in a climate-controlled environment, then it saves a whole lot of money. And as a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can check out 10 books at a time for free, and then you give them back and you get 10 more. And if you want to buy the books, often they’re 99 cents, $2, $3. It’s a very low price for an otherwise expensive book. So, it’s a great bargain.
Books Can Be Very Expensive to Keep
So, speaking of bargains, when I moved to the house that I lived in, I had to have a special climate-control room built for my books. And I want to talk about the expense of books for a minute, which goes into why we need to get rid of books. I live in North Carolina and the humidity is a lot.
And there are lots of little animal creatures where we live. There are frogs, lizards, snakes and all kinds of things like that, that kind of creep into my garage. Even if I were to keep boxes of books in my garage, they would chew through those and make nests in those which would ruin my books.
So, I had to keep my books inside, which meant I had to make a special room just for my books that was climate-controlled, that would house all of my books.
Books Can Be a Burden to Store
And so, the books that you have that are not on bookshelves, it becomes a burden to try to store as many books as I had. So even though I love books it’s not bound paper to me. The books are ideas, resource material, whimsical, magical stories that are life-changing.
And so, to get rid of those books, I don’t feel like I’m getting rid of bound paper. I feel like I’m getting rid of the resources, the ideas and the whimsical stories that change lives. Now, I know a lot of people that collect books feel the same way that I do. And so, I had to come to a term and a realization for myself that it was just in fact bound paper.
You Can Replace Paper Books With Electronic Ones
The books that I’ve become so fond of, I could replace with an electronic version that’s on my smartphone, that’s in my pocket at all times. So, if I’m at the doctor’s waiting office, I can sit there and I can be reading.
And if I’m the passenger in a car, I can be reading. And if I’m stuck in the line at the grocery store, keeping my six-foot distance, I can be reading. Instead of having those physical books with me, they’re now on my smartphone. So, to me, it was a great trade-off.
I was able to release the emotional impact of getting rid of the ideas and the whimsical stories that change lives by having them added to my phone. So, it was a switch from here, over to here. But now what you do with the physical copy of the book?
You Can Give Books to Outdoor Libraries
Well I want to let you know that there are little tiny libraries. They’re outdoor libraries all over the United States. It’s super fun. They look like little birdhouses and there are people that make them in all cities, and you can do a search on your phone and find them.
But what happens is you go, and you open the little door, you add a few books, you take a few books. There are public libraries where you can donate your books.
I started asking companies that I work with, whether they were clients or vendors of mine, do you have a bookstore or a bookshelf in your business? And lots of people have them in the break rooms of their businesses. So, every time I would go to visit or every time, I had a client appointment, I would bring a box of books.
I Donated Many Books to Different Companies
So, I just put a label on the front that said, “Donated by,” and then it would be “Angela Brown, Savvy Cleaner.” And then every time I showed up, people would say, “Hey, what books did you bring us today?”
I would bring 10, 20, 30 books every time I came because there are people that are looking to up-level their lives. And maybe you have resources that are self-help books, or you have books with great ideas or books that will help them work smarter, faster, better, whatever. So, every time I would bring these books, everybody was like, “Hey, wow!” And they would go through it like it was Christmas and they would take a donated book.
And then when they were done, they would swap, and they would share with each other. It was kind of fun. Even at my gym they had a bookshelf where if an elder person is waiting for their partner to do physical therapy, they can sit there and read. So, every time I would go to the gym, I would take a few more books, not to overwhelm them, but I would take a few more.
Have a System to Get Rid of Books
So for me, this system was having a box at the top of my stairway and every time I would go into my library because I have an amazing library that’s floor to ceiling wall to wall shelves of books, and I would go through and I would stand in front of a bookshelf.
And I would say, “Which of these two or three books can I get rid of that I just absolutely don’t need that I’m willing to let go of?” And I would pull a few out and then I’d say, “But I can also get rid of that one. I can also get rid of this one. That’s one that I don’t need anymore.”
I Tried Selling Books on eBay as Well
Now I tried selling them on eBay. Didn’t make a lot of sense for me because, by the time I made a few dollars on the book, I had lost the few dollars in the packing and the shipping costs. It was a lot of work for a couple of dollars. So, I said, it’s not worth that.
But there are people that do online book sales for a living. And so you can also put a box of books at the end of your driveway and put a note on nextdoor.com and say, “Hey, I have a book collection that I’m putting at the end of my driveway. If any of you want the books, or if any of you resell the books, they’re yours for the taking.”
And then of course do it on a nice sunny day when there’s not a lot of humidity in the air and within moments, people will come, and they will just take the books and they will be gone.
Find Creative Ways to Get Rid of Books
So, my suggestion is to find creative ways that you can donate the books that you can send them on their way without creating a great big bonfire and burning them up.
Find a way that you can let go of those and free up space in your home because it is expensive to store and warehouse books that you are not going to read. Or, if you are going to read them again, you could actually do it electronically.
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