Going Green: Recycling Books and Other Green Book Tips

With all the talk of books lately (and more coming—I still have some more reviews I promised to publish!), I thought now would be a good time to tackle the concept of going green regarding books.

Here are some green tips, including ways to reuse and recycle books:

Kindle1. Read e-Books.
Probably the greenest course of action regarding books is to turn away from physical books all together.

You can download books directly to your computer or other reading device like Kindle from the Internet and save money as well as trees; to compare reading devices, check out eBook88.com.

Other online options for use without a reader include NetLibrary.com, Gutenberg.org, or DailyLit.com, which deliver books right to your inbox. And remember, you can share your downloaded copies, making this already green choice even more green.

But if you’re like me and still enjoy the feel and smell of a real live book in your hands…

2. Take part in online book swaps or selling.
Over the last several years, the Internet has absolutely exploded with sites set up just so you can exchange or sell books.

Each system runs a little differently, so check out places like Bookmooch.com, TitleTrader.com, PaperBackSwap.com, Bookins.com, and Cash4books.net, and choose which you prefer.

3. Share with others—in person.
Before the Internet, there were always groups of like-minded people who enjoyed books and lent them to one another. Oprah started a craze with book clubs, but there’s no reason you can’t start a book-swapping club.

Ask around and you may find that your co-workers or fellow parents are interested in book swapping, which can also save you a good bit of money on books as well.

LibraryThing ten million books contest entry by EclecticLibrarian on Flickr4. Share with others—anonymously.
Donate to your old books to your local library or used bookstore, where you’ll likely also get credit on the purchase of other used books. Speaking of which….

5. Buy used books.
Many true booklovers can’t throw away (but if you do, recycle!) books, so you can always find plenty of used books for sale at cheaper prices at used bookstores, thrift shops, garage sales, and library sales.

Another option is on Amazon.com; just below the Amazon information, you’ll often find private sellers who have less expensive, used copies.

What are your green tips for booklovers?

P.S. I was recently named this month’s judge of Scribbit’s Write-Away Contest. The topic is FOOD, the deadline is Sunday, June 21st, and the prize is an ubercool picnic basket full of goodies. Get writing, and see full rules for submissions here.

21 Beans of Wisdom to “Going Green: Recycling Books and Other Green Book Tips”
  1. 06.05.2009

    Of course, none of the money exchanged in a used book sale ever makes it back to the author through royalties, while much of the payment structure for eBooks (those still under copyright, not those on sites like Guttenberg) is similar to that of paper books, providing at least some income for the authors.

    Very true, Jacques; I always feel a little sad for authors when I just give away my books, but better for the environment, even a little…it’s a tough line.

  2. 06.05.2009

    Hi Michelle….I don’t like this idea at all…first of all, you do have to have the Internet, that could go wrong…connection etc…the Kindle it self could fail, then nothing to read!!!! The whole thing of reading in bed would be different, I love reading in bed, or even the bath.. 🙂 I swap books too..

    I love going to bookshops….browsing for hours, having a coffee….!

    anne’s last blog post..Feeling Flowery…..

    Oh I *so* miss bookshops…probably one of the top 5 things I miss indeed.

  3. 06.05.2009

    I always buy second hand at book fairs for my hoilday reading. The beach bar where I go to at Positano has a stand where people leave their books that they no longer want to read for others. I exchange them with the ones I bought so I have endless material to read.
    I just wish that teachers would not have us buy books for our kids at school which are never opened. They get left in their plastic covers and are no use to anyone. Nor are they sellable for students in the following years as they always want the updated edition.

    Scintilla’s last blog post..The Scum Bags

    I’ve found lots of school books in P’s parents’ house that clearly were never used. Very sad 🙁 I’m hoping that we’ll get something like that book exchange in Positano started here…we’re starting to get enough tourists to do it, I think 🙂

  4. 06.05.2009

    You can read e-books also on palmtops and PSP, Palystation portable! I use both and ok, it’s not like a “real book” but if you have space and allergy problem it’s the solution.

    Pip’s last blog post..Bocconotti di ricotta

    Great tip, Pip! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. I’m old school. No Kindle for me (at this point. I know better than to say never).

    Nothing I love more than going to the bookstores here and talking to the salespeople about their suggestions. I prefer to read hard copies of books and magazines.

    I used to donate some books to the library. The rest I had a hard time parting with. I had to donate a bunch when I moved to Rome. I still brought over six boxes of books.

    I hear you…I won’t say never either, but at this point, I’m content with the hard copies of English reading material I can scrounge up 😉

  6. 06.05.2009

    What about the library folks? It’s THE BEST resource for books, films, magazines, newspapers. My library will even order something for you if they haven’t got what you want. They’ve also got cushy chairs to sit in, computers for internet connection and a fireplace. The kids’ floor (yes a whole entire huge floor) has all kinds of toys, computers for kids, fish tank, etc. in addition to lots of books. Private meeting rooms can be reserved if you want a space all your own or if you are tutoring someone. There’s even a small cafe. Princeton Public Library rocks!

    Ciaochowlinda’s last blog post..Peach or Plum Cake

    I thought I had mentioned that in the post, but it must’ve gotten edited out somewhere…anyhoo, unfortunately many of us abroad don’t have good public libraries accessible. Very sad 🙁

  7. 06.05.2009

    I am a voracious reader. It’s a lifelong thing. There’s something about holding a book that appeals to me on a really fundamental level.

    I’m also an iPhone user. Two months ago, my younger brother (another voracious reader and iPhone fan) convinced me to download the Kindle for iPhone app. The app is free and he swore to me that it would make a believer out of me. I was skeptical, highly skeptical, and I downloaded the app anyhow. I bought my first ebook immediately and started to read it that night.

    The idea of a backlit display is pure genius, you don’t need a reading light. It took aboutan hour to get used to the smaller page size, but you flip through a Kindle ebook the same way you’d turn the pages in a traditional book. You can even dog ear as many pages as you’d like to come back to later or to make where you stopped reading the day before. Pretty neat!

    What sealed it for me though was my experience after I finished reading my first Kindle book. It was one o’clock in the morning and I’d just finished the last page of the book I was reading. I wanted to keep reading, but alas I was in bed already and I didn’t feel like dragging myself out to the living room to root through my bookshelves.

    I hit the button on my Kindle for the Amazon store and it logged me in automatically. A minute later, I found a book I wanted to read and bought it for $7 through Amazon’s 1-click purchase. Two minutes later the entire book was already downloaded into my iPhone and I started to read. Four minutes after I finished one book I was already on another, all without getting out of bed.

    This sounds indulgent and lazy, but you know what? So what? Ebooks are a game-changer. Not only is the whole process fast and painless, I now carry whatever I’m reading with me at all times and it’s in my phone. I don’t need to carry a book with me when I leave the house. The Kindle app made a believer out of me.

    Paul Anater’s last blog post..Are my counters giving me a headache? Part two: radon and granite

    *Excellent* info, Paul! Thanks so much for sharing! I don’t have an iPhone and probably never will, but I know lots of readers do–so thank you on their behalf 🙂

  8. 06.05.2009

    Hi michelle. I agree with the first comment for some reason I am very anti Kindle and in general not a fan of e-books. I have tried to download e-books via my mobile phone but no go, I just cant get into it, I need to hold the book in my hands.
    Being an expat myself (in greece) I find myself paying insane euro prices for english books. I have made friends with a local bookstore owner and he tries to find me books I want but is not able to do so all the time.
    My other option is ebay, or try I try to rely on the kindness of friends and family and ask for a book now and then but never a hardcover book. Would not want them to pay the insane shipping fees, I feel too bad already asking for the books themselves. So, if I REALLY want to read the book either ebay or friends in the us is the way for me

    Another option that is available is: http://www.bookcrossing.com/.
    Many people in greece (athens ) do it and there are many who read english books. Unfortunately I have moved to the north and I have no other english speakers around me to share my books.

    I do miss having a library ( my hometown library was the best – Seattle Public Library REPRESENTS !! haha) and wish I could find used books.

    I did not know about book sharing sites and I am very happy that you mentioned them, I will check them this weekend since I do have some books in mind that I want to read.
    again thanks for the info.

    So happy to provide some info…and hopefully you’ll find some English speakers for bookswaps near you!

  9. 06.05.2009

    Awesome review of options. I am going to add some to my index of sites at textbookpower.com … actually if you have experience with a site like BookMooch.com, please leave a review for it at my site … you can login with your Facebook account to post the review: http://www.textbookpower.com/bookmoochcom/#comments

    Thanks for the comment!

  10. 06.05.2009

    I’ve also participated in bookcrossing.com. It’s a wonderful movement. Then again, though, the authors don’t see royalties, and that bothers me tremendously. At least with library books they’ve received a higher royalty already.

    This is definitely an advantage of e-books. Reading your readers’ comments I learned about the kindle app for iPhone – we don’t have iPhones, but I do have an iTouch, so that should work – I’d love to try it. Great topic and post!

    Also, I wrote on something today that might be of interest to you…

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..Local Love Fridays: “Return to Your Senses” – RoosRoast Free Speech Coffee

    Great comment, Jen…so full of info! Yay!

  11. Blake

    I will have to recommend the book swapping suggestion also. I have actually gotten a textbook or two through such a service. The edition is usually one year prior though, but it usually does not make a difference. Another way to get them second hand is through book price comparison sites like Compare-Books. There are many variations of these (use google). Basically, it searches across a lot of different used book sellers, including Amazon. A lot of the time, Amazon is actually not the cheapest!

    I’ve found that as well, Blake (about Amazon)…thanks for the tips!

  12. 06.06.2009

    I love buying used books. I pick them up from flea markets, yard sales, or Amazon. Pretty much the only time I actually end up with brand-new books is when it’s an anthology I’ve had a story published in; otherwise, I’m pretty green in the book department! 🙂


    Michele’s last blog post..Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips For Better Writing Contest Giveaway!

    Oh how I miss yard sales….

  13. Gil

    This great invention has kept people reading books that might otherwise have stopped long ago. A friend of ours has bought her 86 year old Mother one as she no longer has the strength to carry and hold large books. I also know people that constantly travel away from home for their businesses and this solves some of the weight and space issues. I’m not an attorney but I’ve never heard of any legal proceeding, in the US, of an author suing a used book seller for a commission on the resale of his work. Finally, their would be claims of unpaid commissions if someone were to make copies of the book that they purchased. Sorry for the long rant!

    Excellent points, Gil…I hadn’t thought of older people as a market for the Kindle (although I’m sure the Kindle people have) 😉

  14. casalba

    Join a library!

    Or, learn to read people. Sometimes funnier and sometimes sadder, but always more fascinating and interesting.

    If only I could find a library! And yes, reading people is definitely fascinating….

  15. 06.07.2009

    Michelle , my husband has a Kindle and loves it. I got it for him for Christmas. It is particularly fabulous when traveling. I, however, love having the book in my hand, and on my shelf.

    marge’s last blog post..Dog on Donkey Smoking Pipe

    Yes, I’ve heard for traveling it’s fabulous…unfortunately I don’t do nearly enough of that for it to be the best reason to get one 😉

  16. 06.08.2009

    Ciao bella! I am making the rounds in the blogging world again. I have really missed your blog and appreciate you checking in on me. What a perfect post for me who is sitting on way too many books. Thanks for the info! And by the way, congrats on the kids. I think I am going to get some one of these days too, now that we have some property on which to put them. I’ll write to you for advice first!

    Will be happy to share what I’ve learned, Jeni! Great to “see” you 🙂

  17. 06.08.2009

    Michelle, Thanks for the brilliant collection of green book tips! I love the idea of sharing books with others. For special mountain hotel friends, I donated all my travel lit books and set up a small library for their guests. Happy reading!

    Sonya’s last blog post..Free Audio Walking Tours

    Great idea! Thanks so much for coming by 🙂

  18. 06.11.2009

    My favorite local bookstore is shutting its door. I feel sad; the Big Box Bookstores just aren’t the same. I respect authors’ rights to make a living, but I need to be frugal. My solution is this: Buy my books new, then trade them on Paperbackswap.com. Rather than buy them all used, where the author never sees a penny, at least this way my money is an investment in the author and the bookstore (sniff, sigh).

    This sounds a lot like what I do as well; I definitely buy some new books (and love hosting giveaways to spread the word for authors!), but I also share 🙂

    [rq=3267,0,blog][/rq]Fun in the park with kids

  19. 06.15.2009

    We have a great library system here in San Jose.

    I found out about a site called BookScouter http://www.bookscouter.com that will tell you where you can get the best price for selling your used books.

    Excellent, Nate; thanks for sharing!

  20. 10.06.2010

    Green can mean many different things to different people. For some it means simply environmentally friendly and other means to live a life that is not hazardous to the health of humans or animals.

    Thanks for commenting!

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Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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