Where to Donate Used Books in Brooklyn (It's Tougher Than You'd Think)

10 Places to Donate Used Books

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Brooklyn is a literary city, but if you have some books cluttering your home or if you'd like to donate the book you've brought on your trip to NYC, here are places where you can donate your books and also make a difference in the world. 

If you'd like to sell your used books, many of these used bookstores buy books. 


Edited by Alison Lowenstein

  • 01 of 10

    Branches of Brooklyn Public Library

    Although the Brooklyn Public Library doesn't take donations, you can still donate to specific book sales to benefit the libraries through the local book sales. For instance the Friends of Carroll Gardens library has a biannual book sale. There will be one on May 20th, 2017. 

    Where to donate*: Pick a local branch and locate a Friends of...group for that branch and reach out for the donation date for their upcoming book sale. 

    At a Glance: Brooklyn residents benefit hugely from the chronically underfunded Brooklyn Public Library, so in terms of "giving-back" this seems a good choice. But there's a drawback: You can only donate when the libraries ask for donations for an upcoming book sale.

  • 02 of 10

    Housing Works Thrift Shops in Brooklyn

    You can drop off at the Brooklyn (or other) Housing Works stores during their business hours (usually 11-7 Monday thru Saturday and noon till 5 PM on Sundays). If you want a tax deduction of over $500, they recommend you itemize your donation. All books except encyclopedias, text and course books accepted.

    At a Glance: One store is conveniently located in Park Slope, Brooklyn, open normal hours, and profits serve a good cause. No pick ups.

  • 03 of 10

    If you're looking for an easy solution, drop your unwanted books off at a local Goodwill Industries location. Where to find Goodwill in Brooklyn.

    At a Glance: This is an easy solution, but you have to transport your books to the Goodwill drop off location.

  • 04 of 10

    Many people find it easy to drop off books at the local Salvation Army. Here's a list of Where to Find Salvation Army in Brooklyn.

    At a Glance: This is another easy option, but you must transport the books yourself.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    You can donate paperbacks to prisoners through a national program that's based in Manhattan, but, as of this writing, is collecting books in Brooklyn at Freebird Books on Columbia Street. Books Through Bars, spurred in NYC by ABC No Rio, the progressive community-based organization on Manhattan's Lower East Side, is an all volunteer collective which helps prisoners nationwide get reading materials. They painstakingly match requests that prisoners have sent by mail to the books that have been donated, and then mail book packages to imprisoned individuals, not to the prison libraries. Until ABC No Rio can house the project, it's operating out of Freebird Books in Brooklyn.

    Where & When to Drop Off

    123 Columbia Street between Kane and Degraw Streets, in Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
    Sundays 5 to 8 pm
    Mondays 7:30 to 9:30 pm,
    Thursdays 7:30 to 9:30 PM.

    What Kind of Books the "Books Through Bars" Program Takes

    • African-American history, especially 20th century
    • Native...MORE American and Latin American history
    • Radical politics
    • Social sciences and psychology
    • Dictionaries, thesauruses, and Spanish-English dictionaries
    • Learning world languages
    • How-to (drawing, chess, sign language...)
    • Mayan and Aztec history
    • Memoirs and fiction by people of color
    • Mythology
    • Poetry anthologies

    There's also a long wish list of books.

    About Freebird Books: As Brooklyn as Brooklyn gets, Freebird Books is a small independent bookstore servicing the community. They depend on the kindness of volunteers so if you'd like to volunteer, contact info@freebirdbooks.

    At a Glance: A worthy cause, but you must sift through your books and remove hardcovers and items that are not of use to the target audience. Also, limited drop off hours. If you like the social mission, a great opportunity to reach out on individual basis to prisoners. 

  • 06 of 10

    Book Recycling Special Events: Project Cicero

    Every so often, a non profit organization will announce a book drive. For instance, the annual Project Cicero, founded in 2000 and held in the spring, is a partnership of independent, public, and parochial schools, private and public organizations and corporations whose primary goal is to supplement or create classroom and school libraries for children in under-resourced New York City public schools through an annual citywide book drive. It also brings books to homeless shelters, juvenile detention facilities, community centers, pre and after school programs, and wherever else there is a need. 

    At a Glance: This is a fabulous opportunity to help city schools. However, the donation period is just once a year, and as with other donation destinations, it's the donors job to transport the books.

  • 07 of 10

    Housing Works Cafe (Deliver or Ship to Manhattan)

    Many Brooklyn bibliophiles love the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe — even if it is located on the wrong side of the East River! You can donate to a Brooklyn Housing Works store in Bklyn, or you deliver or ship your books to the nonprofit Bookstore Cafe; all of its inventory is donated.

    They do accept: Books, CDs, DVDs, and LPs in sale-able condition. They cannot use: Books with markings, heavy wear, water damage, missing pages or covers, mildew, or "strong odors," VHS, audio cassettes, magazines (except for literary magazines), encyclopedias, or any dated material such as travel guides that are more than a year old.

    Where to donate:
    Bookstore Cafe
    126 Crosby Street,NYC, 10012 212-334-3324
    Donations accepted 10 AM-8 PM weekdays and 10 AM-4 PM on weekends.
    Call ahead to make sure the bookstore cafe is not closed for a special event.

    How to Ship the Books to Housing Works Bookstore Cafe: Books can be shipped to the above address, Attn: General Donations. If you’d like a tax receipt,...MORE include a note requesting one. Note: Housing Works actually prefers to have the books shipped; it saves staff time.

    At a Glance: A great cause and well known. They do not pick up books from individual donors, so you must mail or somehow transport them to Manhattan.
  • 08 of 10

    This organization likes to think of itself as "the World's Library," where social networking meets books, anonymously, and then readers meet readers, somewhat randomly. It sounds confusing but it's not. Basically, through BookCrossing books travel from stranger to stranger, reader to reader. A given book's journey can be tracked (like a UPS parcel)thereby connecting its readers. 

    At a Glance: If you love social media — if you've dreamed of sending a bottle with a message in it out onto the high seas and then meeting the person who finds your message — this may be the book donation program for you. However, it's labor intensive. Their mission is "to connect people through books."

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    If you are driving to Long Island or New Jersey anyway, you might be able to find a drop box for books near to your destination. Look for drop boxes organized by the social enterprise called Better World Books. Better World Books is an organization that collects donated books and then sells them online. They donate some of the profits to non-profit literacy organizations that are "changing the world through teaching kids, supporting families, building schools and filling libraries." Cool. But you have to get them the books, as they don't pick up in NYC.

    At a Glance: For profit organization that with a non-profit social mission. You can drive your books to their drop boxes outside the NYC area. No pick up.

  • 10 of 10

    Alas, this newish Chicago-based organization is not operating any more in New York City; they were overwhelmed with donations from Brooklyn and the Big Apple. Every three months, they do pickups for books and electrics in Manhattan

    What it is: Books4Cause is a for profit organization that has a social mission. They collect books and run campus book drives, and then send textbooks to libraries and education programs in Africa. As anyone who has tried to sell an expensive bio textbook that's a tad out of date knows, these books have no market, so it's an appealing idea.

    At a Glance: This is a young for profit organization dedicated to a non-profit social mission. You can schedule a pick up in Manhattan on their website