Gut sortierte Bücherkisten, um alte Bücher zu entsorgen.
Culture & Society

How to recycle old books? 3 tips for giving away (instead of selling)

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It often hurts a bit to recycle old books – at least that’s how I feel. That’s why I asked myself, what to do with my old books. These tips, which make gifting easier to take even for book lovers, are a good alternative to selling.

Why do I want to recycle old books – and not just sell them?

When I walk into an apartment and my eyes fall on a large bookshelf, I immediately like it. But whether that’s because of my minimalism-enhanced neuroses or the thought of the next move: I regularly (and lovingly) sort out my books.

Of course, there are the classic places like flea markets and book bazaars – or online providers like Rebuy and Momox – where you can sell old books for a little money. However, this is a bit more inconvenient and the purchase price of the books is low. When you’re in the privileged position of not needing the money, it’s even easier to part with books you’ve already read if they’ll bring joy to others in the future, right?

Wohin mit alten Büchern? 3 Tipps zum Verschenken statt Verkaufen
Book boxes are a quick way to recycle of a lot of books. ©Viktoria Vokrri

3 Ways to recycle old books – and give a little happiness

First things first: these three tips have been tried and tested by myself and either confirmed or enthusiastically received in conversation with other book fans.

  • A personal and honest gift for friends, family members and colleagues:
    There’s a book on your shelf that you really liked, but you’re sure you’ll never read it again? Go through your circle of friends and acquaintances in your mind: Who might like it? Instead of a verbal book recommendation, simply bring it to the next meeting. It will be even more personal if you write a little message into it.
    Tip: It doesn’t always have to be something profound or a quote. Sometimes a common inside joke will do as well.
  • A well-stocked book box brings good mood to walkers:
    When I’m out for a walk and spot a box of books in a driveway or entryway, I can’t pass by without taking a peek. Often, though, it’s a disappointing mess – and I move right on. However, a neighbor of mine got the hang of it and puts together his boxes so expertly that not only do people constantly stop to browse (I’m an eyewitness), but the boxes are empty in no time at all. Two points are crucial, which I have already tried out successfully: You should sort books neatly (and not put other items with them) and place classics as well as bestsellers in a way that walkers see them quickly and stop … and continue browsing.
    Tip: Book boxes are the perfect way to easily get rid of as many books as possible at once. However, pay attention to the weather and place the box best when no rain is announced for the next one or two days. If showers are in the forecast, it’s best to put the box somewhere out of sight.
Bücher aussortieren im öffentlichen Bücherschrank
Bookcases often contain many curiosities – classics or bestsellers are always quickly sold out there. ©Viktoria Vokrri
  • Donate some “quality” to the public bookcase:
    Speaking of bestsellers and classics, these are also highly desired in public bookcases, which can now be found in almost every city. You can often find children’s books or comparatively unknown curiosities there. If there’s a dusty classic on your bookshelf that everyone in your peer group already knows and you don’t want to read anymore: Take the book with you on your next walk and give someone a treat.
    Tip: If you haven’t yet discovered a public bookcase on your walks, you can check online to see if there’s one near you. Even Wikipedia now has lists of them (of course, no guarantee of completeness). The Wikipedia list for an overview of public bookcases in Germany can be found here.

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Right out of her art history studies, Viktoria Vokrri started out into the colorful media landscape and wrote her way through agencies and newsrooms for a few years until she turned to her current job as SEO Manager for Condé Nast - where, surrounded by numbers, she rediscovered her passion for words - but above all for books.