Organisation and Productivity

18 Things To Do With Books After You’ve Read Them

Do you love reading? If you’re a book lover, chances are you have a lot of books in your home that you’ve already read. You might even consider that your home is being taken over by books! If this is the case, how many of them are you really going to read again? Could you make better use of the shelf space, and give those books a new life elsewhere? In this post, I am going to share 18 things to do with books after you’ve read them.

18 Things To Do With Books After You’ve Read Them

1. Keep them

This is one of the few suggestions here that doesn’t involve parting with your book! Personally, I only keep books if I think I am likely to read them again. This tends to apply to non-fiction or self-help books more than fiction. Another reason to keep a book is if it was a meaningful gift or a family treasure.

2. Give them to a friend

A large pile of self-help books.
Photo by Shiromani Kant on Unsplash

Sometimes, I finish a book and I think, “So-and-so would like this book”. In these cases, I will often keep the book until I am next seeing that friend, and give it to them. Unless I want the book back, I usually tell them they can keep it or pass it on again when they’ve finished it. The fun thing about passing on your books to friends is that you can discuss the book together once they have read it too!

3. Give them to a telephone box library

Telephone box libraries are popping up all around the UK, especially in rural areas. I have one just a 30-second walk out of my front door, which is very convenient for my book-finding and book-clearing-out needs!

If you haven’t heard of telephone box libraries before, they are mini community libraries housed in old, disused telephone boxes. Usually, they operate under the simple rule of ‘donate a book, take a book’. Of course, if you have several books to clear out, there’s no reason why you can’t donate them to the telephone box library even if you don’t want to borrow any books in return. Why not have a walk around and see if there are any telephone box libraries in your local area.

A red telephone box in the countryside, filled with shelves of books.
Photo by Abi Nash on Unsplash

4. Give them to a charity shop

An easy way to clear out books you have read is to give them to a charity shop. Oxfam bookstore is specifically for books but most normal charity shops take them too. By donating your books to a charity shop you’ll be helping out the charity, so it’s a feel-good way to clear out your books.

5. Donate them to The Children’s Book Project

The Children’s Book Project is a charity that accepts donations of used children’s books and redistributes them to schools, organisations and families where they are needed. If you have children’s books that you or your children have grown out of, consider donating them to this charity. It could make a difference for disadvantaged children across the UK.

6. Donate them to your local library

Many libraries accept donations of used books – have a look and see if your local library does. A library is a great home for your books where they will be read over and over again. Some libraries might also have a recycling or redistribution scheme, even if donated books don’t go into their collection.

Library shelves filled with books. There is a ladder leaning against the shelves.
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

7. Donate to a stall at a fete

Do you have a school fair or village fete coming up soon? These types of events usually have a book stall (if not, could you volunteer to run one yourself?) so they are a great place to donate your books and help make some money for the school or organisation running the fete.

8. Donate to a second-hand book shop

This one hardly needs explaining. If you know of any second-hand book shops in your area, that would be a great place to donate your books so that they can go to a new home. It might be worth contacting them first to check if they are currently accepting donations because I know that some second-hand book shops can get overrun with books!

9. Take them to a book swap

Do some research and see if there are any book swapping events happening near you. Also, some shops, banks and cafes have ongoing book swaps where you can donate a book and take one. You can also find an online book swap here.

A small stack of personal development books on a white table.
Photo by Jeroen den Otter on Unsplash

10. Host a giveaway

This is a good option if you are a blogger or social media influencer. Everyone loves a giveaway, and hosting one is a good way to gain followers and exposure, and get your book(s) to a new home. You could do this for a single book (combined with a book review?) or wait until you have a bundle, which might draw even more interest. Make sure you specify that you are giving away used books, not brand new ones!

11. Sell them on eBay

Why not make a bit of money from your old books? eBay is an easy place to sell them. I recommend setting your prices low in order for your books to sell. You are unlikely to make a fortune from selling books on eBay, but if you sell a lot of books then the pennies will add up.

A woman sitting cross-legged on the floor, with a laptop on her lap. She is surrounded by piles of books and there are bookshelves in the background.
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

12. Sell them on a book-buying app or website

I have never tried selling books this way before, but I keep seeing adverts for Ziffit coming up within other apps! Ziffit is a website and app where you can scan or enter the barcodes of books and it will give you a quote for them. They offer a free courier service to get your books to them.

In researching for this blog post, I discovered two other book-buying sites that are similar to Ziffit: We Buy Books and Zapper. To compare the three sites, I entered the barcodes of a few of my books. Overall, I found that Ziffit gives the best prices, however, this wasn’t true for every book so I’d recommend trying all three to see which site gives you the best quote for your specific books.

I have never tried out any of these sites (apart from just entering barcodes) so I can’t personally vouch for how well they work but they do sound like an efficient way to clear out your books and make a bit of money too. If anyone reading this has tried any of these apps/sites, please do let us know your experience in the comments below!

13. Sell them on Depop

Depop is known as an app for selling clothes, but did you know you can actually sell books on there too? If you don’t already have a Depop account, it’s probably not worth setting one up just to sell books, because most people are on there to buy clothes. However, if you happen to already have an active Depop account with lots of followers and sales, why not pop your books on there as well and see if they sell?

A woman looking at her mobile phone as she walks along.
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

14. Sell them at a jumble sale or car boot sale

If you are having a clear-out, why not sell some things including books at a jumble sale or car boot sale? You won’t make much money per book but it’s a good way to get rid of them especially if you were setting up a stall anyway.

15. Use them for crafts

It’s probably best not to cut up perfectly good books and use them for crafts! However, if you have any old books that are in bad condition or are simply boring or outdated, and you don’t think anyone else would want to read them, why not make a beautiful craft out of them. Pinterest is a great place to find craft ideas using old books.

16. Recycle them

If you have outdated or obsolete books but you aren’t feeling crafty, you could simply recycle the paper. You’ll want to remove any parts of the book that are not recyclable, such as possibly the spine.

Scrunched up book pages.
Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

17. Compost them

It’s also possible to compost the paper from books. Likewise, you’ll want to remove any un-compostable parts and shred the paper as small as possible so that it breaks down faster.

18. Throw them away

This should be the last resort for parting with your books. In the case that your books are mouldy or mildewed, throwing them away may be the only option because you shouldn’t recycle mouldy paper.

What do you do with books after you’ve read them?

Whether your books are looking pretty on a shelf or cluttering up your home, is it time to consider a book clear out? If so, I hope this post has given you some ideas for what to do with your books.

What do you normally do with books after you’ve read them? Do you keep them, give them away, sell them, recycle them or a combination of all the above? Let me know in the comments below!

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18 Things To Do With Books After You've Read Them


  1. These are all great ideas! We also have tons of little “take one, leave one” library boxes in our area and I just love the concept so much x

    mia //

    1. Sophie says:

      I love them too, I was so excited when the phone box just outside my house got converted into one! x

  2. Barbara says:

    Granddaughter has dibs on them as they are series she reads, and for the ones she does not want one of my girlfriends takes and it goes to five different people after her and then to the second hand store

    1. Sophie says:

      That’s great that you’ve got a whole chain of people to read your books after you!

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