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Selling and Donating Books in NYC

Posted on Mar 20, 2014 by in Life, New York | 4 comments


I am a major bookworm. Ever since I was a kid, I would enter reading programs and spend my days happily immersed in the latest adventure or comedy. At one point, I was speeding through a book a day. But to me, reading was hardly a chore. Reading opened my eyes to new possibilities, cultures and ways of thinking. Even now, I still keep a log of all the books I have read. You never know when that information could come in handy.

It’s crazy to think how many books I’ve accumulated over the years (I lost count after 100…). I went back to my parents’ house recently to retrieve some books and figure out what to do with them. Books and CDs (yes, those existed once) were spilling out of my shelves and onto my floor: I knew it was time for some spring cleaning!

I grabbed about 40 books in Very Good or Like New condition and carefully packed them in my luggage, intending to sell what I could to the Strand Book Store and donate the rest to Housing Works Bookstore Café, which I know takes most books in good condition, regardless of “resale value.” I felt like a book peddler from olden days, lugging along my wares.

Unfortunately, the Strand only took seven of my books.

“You’re not doing so well, miss,” said the bespectacled older man behind the selling counter, with a rueful shake of his head, as he examined each book individually. The genres of my books ranged from classics to ethnic literature, some in better shape than others. It’s true that they weren’t all in “New” condition, which was what the Strand was seeking. Since this was my first time trying to sell books at the Strand, I didn’t come with any preconceived notions of what would sell or how much I would make.

In any case, the selling process was swift. At the Strand, you enter from the entrance on Broadway and 12th Street and unload your books on the selling counter, where a buyer will look through each book separately and offer an amount. You can either take it or leave it. Then, you move on down the line to the cash register to have your receipt rung up. You can redeem your payment for either cash or store credit. You’ll get about 10% more if you choose store credit, but I wanted the cash.

My next stop was Housing Works Bookstore Café. You can choose to fill out a tax-deductible form, where you submit your name and contact information, a brief description of the items you are donating, the quantity, and the “Fair Trade Value” for each item. Basically, you decide how much your goods are worth and write that down.

I found it a bit awkward trying to deduce the worth of my books on the fly, especially with a saleslady hovering over my shoulder (she just needs to be present while you complete the form – no pressure intended, I’m sure). No matter what price you scribble down, you can feel good that your donation will go toward helping to improve the lives of the homeless and those with HIV/AIDS in New York City.

For guidelines on what kinds of items you may sell/donate, as well as store hours, check out the Strand’s Sell Your Books page and Housing Works’ Donate page.

If you’re moving or looking to go digital, and you reside in the Manhattan area, the Strand Book Store and Housing Works Bookstore Café are two options to consider. Avoid the hassle of dealing with selling books online and give ‘em a try!


Strand Book Store
828 Broadway (between 12th & 13th St)
New York, NY 10003
Neighborhood: East Village
(212) 473-1452


Housing Works Bookstore Café
126 Crosby St (between Prince St & Jersey St)
New York, NY 10012
Neighborhood: SoHo
(212) 334-3324



  1. Sounds like what I do with my old clothes =)

    But I can totally relate with the part about growing up loving to read… sigh… i wish i could still sit for hours with a book and not worry about due dates and other adult things… 😉

  2. Yes, isn’t reading books fun? 🙂 Hope you still make time to enjoy the little things in life! Out of curiosity, where do you sell/donate your clothes? I’ve also heard about clothing swaps among friends…

  3. I sell my clothes to Beacon’s Closet and I donate my clothes to Housing Works, both locations in BK. =P

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