Things to do with those textbooks you can’t sell back

By November 14, 2011Writing about Writing

Did you spill coffee on the pages of Wuthering Heights? Did the campus book store clerk reject your pristine copy of Intro. to Biology, claiming that a new and improved edition will be used next quarter? Many of us have been there. After groaning, sighing, and lamenting the lost possibility to recoup some of that chunk of change you spent at the beginning of the term, just what do you do with that book that can’t be resold? Here are a few ideas:

  • Try Amazon.com’s Trade-In store. They’ve taken years-outdated MLA style guides off my hands, so it’s worth a shot for any book that’s in good shape. The upsides: you don’t have to wait for someone to buy your book, and they cover shipping costs. The (possible) downside: payment only comes in the form of an Amazon giftcard. However, the possibilities for using it are nearly limitless–I’ve even used it to buy textbooks the following semester, so it’s not a bad system. Other trade-in or book swap options include bookmooch.com and bookcrossing.com.
  • Benefit others: donate your books. You may even get a tax credit in return! Here are some organizations in Chicago that accept donated books. Their websites give more detailed information about what they are looking for and how to donate.
    Open Books
    Chicago Books to Women in Prison
    Books4Cause
    826CHI (accepts award-winning fiction for early readers through high school students)
    Newberry Library book fair
  • Make some paper crafts. Those glossy pages would make nice origami and the text adds a decorative element to paper snowflakes. If you feel like really dedicating some time to a project, try book sculpting.
  • Balance a wobbly table or chair leg.
  • Use it to organize your other books: Make a floating bookshelf or, with a pair of heavier books, bookends. If you find the covers unattractive, paint them or cover them with wrapping paper.
  • If all else fails (to appeal), recycle it! The trash is not the place for so much paper. Think of the trees, writers and readers, think of the trees.

Do you have another idea? Post it in the comments!

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Joe O. says:

    Well, it is getting colder here in Chicago, and if you have a fireplace… just joking. But what about giving books away as Christmas presents to friends and family? While I wouldn’t be such a Scrooge as to wrap up used textbooks, I can think of several novels I never really got into that a certain friend or relative may enjoy.

    I really like the floating bookshelf suggestion you’ve included here, Jess (I mean jblock52). It seems easy enough to do. And if you’re someone who hangs on to scrap paper, you can always make your own notebooks. Now, only if I could figure out how to transform my old inkjet printer into an e-reader.