We couldn’t exist without book donations! However, there are certain kinds of books we always need and others we don’t. Before you donate, please check the guidelines below.
Book Donation Guidelines
Our needs are always changing and our storage space is limited. Contact us before donating in order to
ensure that your donation fits our current needs and to arrange a convenient donation time.
In your email or phone call, please specify:
- How many books (approximately) you intend to donate
- The condition of the books
- The subject matter/genre of the books
Read this before donating:
- We accept books only in new, good condition, or lightly used. (Please do not donate a book to us that you would not gift to a loved one.)
- We do not accept hardcover books. Many prisons do not accept them and they are expensive to mail.
- Please review the topics we are in need of (listed below). Other than the topics listed below, we will accept books on a case-by-case basis.
- Please donate books in a box or bag that you do not need returned to you.
Books We Always Need:
Books on our Thriftbooks Wishlist
Drawing and how-to art
Fantasy (especially contemporary)
How-to auto & mechanic manuals
Investing & financial literacy
Manga & Anime
Medical & pharmaceutical dictionaries
Paperback carpentry guides
Paperback plumbing guides
Puzzle books (unused)
Real estate & house flipping
Starting a business & small business management
Sustainability, living off-grid & farming
Weightlifting & bodybuilding
Books We Don’t Need:
- Out-of-date nonfiction books (for any computer or marketing books should be no more than 5 years old)
- Hardcover books
- Old magazines (except for National Geographic or similar history & science periodicals)
- Books advocating racial animosity, sexism, homophobia, or white supremacy
- Books with notes or underlining
- Heavily worn books
- Outdated books
- Books with any mold, yellowing, or torn pages.
Hold a Dictionary Drive
Soft cover dictionaries are our #1 request and we send them out as quick as we can get them!
General book drives/donations can also be great but too often we get too many outdated, hardcover books that we can’t use. We then have to sort them for hours and they take up valuable space in our limited storage. Please help us avoid this! If you’re interested in holding a general book drive please e-mail email@example.com first for rules and limitations.
We’d love your help and we want to ensure your hard work is appreciated.
Be aware: we may not be able to accept your book drive donation if we are not notified prior to holding your book drive.
Groups: more info on collecting and delivering books
- If you’re a teacher or administrator and want to offer textbooks, please email us. If the books are suitable, it may be possible for us to pick them up.
If you sell new books and have advance copies you’d like to donate, we’d be happy to accept them. If you’re a used bookstore, there are several ways we can help each other:
- Redirect books you don’t need to us. Books customers bring in that you can’t sell may be of great value to us. Please send them our way!
- Enrich your collection. We sometimes get wonderful books on topics that prisoners rarely request. Make an appointment to look through our collection for books that would be useful in your store, and we can trade you for books that we need.
We’re happy to receive shipments of donated books from publishers or authors. However, before accepting multiple copies of a single title, we like to review it. Please send a review copy to Books Through Bars, 4722 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143.