I was a book junkie, I bought new books every time I finished one. I kept every book I ever read (and some I hadn’t yet). Saved every college textbook I had. I went crazy over antique books as decorations. I had hearts in my eyes over the magnificent library in Beauty and the Beast. There was something about the feeling of the paper and having stories at my fingertips. My books were my treasures until the day we had to pack boxes upon boxes of books and lug them down three flights of stairs to move. We did MANY flights.
Then it dawned on me. Those stories I had to have at my fingertips? When was the last time I touched them?
Yes, SOME of the books I loved dearly but a large percentage of them did not hold any special place in my heart. I am also not the type of person to read a book multiple times.
Why hoard these books to never be used again when I can pass on the love to someone else AND reduce the unnecessary clutter in our new home?
Reduce Clutter. Donate. Reuse Resources.
First up: college textbooks. Here is the first lesson I learned to help save you some time. If you are more than a few years out of college like me, you are probably too late to sell them back. Textbooks are so frequently updated to new versions that they quickly become outdated. If you are currently in school or recently graduated, most campus bookstores will have a buyback program. The prices they offer will vary but you have different options if they don’t offer much. There are a ton of online options such as Textbook Rush, BookFinder, Chegg, and Campus Books. If you are further out, visit Textbooks for Change. As soon as I read about this mission I was in. Books published in the last 15 years are accepted (in usable condition) and are either sent to libraries in East Africa, resold at affordable prices, or recycled appropriately if out of date, damaged, or unusable. Win, win, win, in my eyes.
The remaining books I went through and picked out my top 10 favorites and/or those that had meaning to me. This was surprisingly easy. The remaining books I hadn’t touched or thought of since I finished them and knew there was no sense in locking them away for eternity. Similarly to the textbooks, you can sell used books on places like Amazon but I preferred to donate them to local libraries. Libraries well stocked? Better World Books also accepts donations of books of any type.
Creating Greener Book Habits Going Forward
With the clean out done, I realized how many items I had acquired and not used again. In the purchasing moment, I tell myself books to read are much more productive than another shirt I don’t need or frivolous decoration. In reality, there is no difference in terms of spending. Yes, the pastime can be seen as more productive but bottom line I was still spending around $20 each, consuming resources I didn’t have to, and adding to the production of books I would read once.
I took a leap of faith and bought an Amazon Fire three years ago. I bought the cheapest model for $35 figuring I didn’t want to waste money if I missed the feeling of a real book. Originally, I had thought I was a book hound and reveled in the smell of paper. I learned quickly how much I LOVE my tablet to read on. Now I am no longer consuming items and creating more clutter, I am simply downloading files.
I still read every day but I have changed up my habits on how I acquire my reading materials (and what I do with them after).
Support Your Library
Growing up my mom always brought us to the library to pick up books and participate in the programs they offered. I have noticed though that as we grow older libraries seem to fade in our usage. For no real reason I stopped going to the library and started going to bookstores, why??
I wish I had an answer.
Libraries are severely underutilized. Once I had my e-reader, I was so pleasantly surprised to learn that local libraries around me offer a huge selection of e-books through the app Overdrive. I use it just like I would a paper book. Plus, I can search what is available, place holds and request books they don’t have.