Secrets of What To Do With Excess Books

Excess Books

A question that clients often have: what to do with excess books? You know that books you’ve read (or maybe didn’t read) but no longer want. Do you hesitate to let go because you paid good money for them? Do they have any resale value or should you just donate them? Where’s a good place to donate or sell? There are many options out there to consider.

To sell books the first thing you need to know is if they have value. Click To Tweet


To sell books the first thing you need to know is if they have value. I recently started using an app called BookScouter. It scans the ISBN number on the back of a book and tells you what its value is. In addition, you can then sell the books to them. They offer free shipping.

If you don’t want to do the work to ship your excess books, I would recommend Sharon Bliss is local and comes to your location, reviews your books, and pays you on the spot for the books she will resell. She’ll even take the books that won’t sell and she’ll donate them for you for a small fee. What could be easier?

If you want to visit a shop, try McKay’s Used Books in Manassas, Virginia. It’s a huge store with a wide range of materials. As a lot of used book stores do, they offer a credit option for your books, if you want to spend the proceeds of your sales on more books.


However, if you use the BookScouter app and find that your collection is of donation quality, then consider taking them to your local library. All Fairfax County libraries accept donations, as well as Arlington County libraries and Loudoun County libraries. The Washington DC library system does not accept donations but offers some options on its website.

Don’t have a library close by? Most charities and thrift stores take book donations. If you have unique collections like kid’s books, cookbooks, travel books, textbooks or encyclopedias there are always options unique to them as well. Let us help you figure out the best option.

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Seana Turner on May 11, 2020 at 9:14 am

    Thanks for this tip about Bookscouter. I just downloaded it and will give it a try. At the moment, donating anything is a challenge. Nice to have a quick way to get a general idea of a book’s value when I am with a client!

    • Janet Schiesl on May 11, 2020 at 6:58 pm

      When I use Bookscouter, I always find that the books are not worth much. But you can always hope.

    • Ladan Madresehee on May 12, 2020 at 9:33 pm

      I have such a hard time parting with books. I need to finally do this and your blog has motivated me to do something starting tomorrow.

      • Janet Schiesl on May 13, 2020 at 9:30 am

        Great Ladan. Check to make sure the local shops or donation locations are open. You may have to wait until our stay-at-home order is lifted.

  2. Sabrina Quairoli on May 11, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Great resources, Janet! I’m going to try BookScouter app. Sounds great!

  3. Lucy Kelly on May 11, 2020 at 10:29 am

    Thanks for mentioning BookScouter Janet, I hadn’t heard of it but will definitely be checking it out.

  4. Janet Barclay on May 11, 2020 at 11:45 am

    This is great! In the last year or so, a few Free Little Libraries have shown up in my neighborhood. They’re a great place to leave books I no longer want, and to replace them with new (to me) reading material.

    • Janet Schiesl on May 11, 2020 at 7:01 pm

      I love those Free Little Libraries. There are none in my neighborhood. I wish there was. When I see them elsewhere, I never have books with me to donate.

  5. Donna Matthews on May 12, 2020 at 11:22 am

    Oh, books…my last great frontier!

  6. Julie Bestry on May 12, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    We’ve got McKay’s here in Chattanooga (and up in Knoxville), and it’s always a delight. I try to persuade my clients who have an overabundance of books to take the cash rather than the trade, but it’s all very tempting. BookScouter doesn’t often offer much for my own books, so McKay’s makes better sense, but it’s been a boon for many of my clients.

    And the best thing about letting go of books? More room for more (new) books! ūüėČ

    • Janet Schiesl on May 13, 2020 at 8:45 am

      I think McKays is easier to do, even though you have to transport the books there. I use BookScouter to show clients what their books are worth – usually not much.

  7. Amy Slenker-Smith on May 13, 2020 at 11:49 am

    Great advice as always Janet! I assume BookBliss is local to Wash Metro? My clients who have large book collections would definitely benefit from this service!

    • Janet Schiesl on May 13, 2020 at 8:30 pm

      Yes Amy. Sharon Bliss is wonderful. She is in the DC area. Working with her is so easy. Payment on the spot and she offers the service of taking away books she can not sell for clients how want to donate.

  8. Gina Weatherup on May 13, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    I love McKays – a friend took me out there a year or so ago and it was just a lovely experience. There’s a new “2nd and Charles” place that’s closer to me now, but the one time I visited I was less impressed. I’ve got a few (three?) books now that are in my donate pile that I might be able to sell!

    • Janet Schiesl on May 13, 2020 at 8:32 pm

      I have visited 2nd and Charles too. I like McKays better as well. They have been around forever. It’s like a treasure hunt there! It’s a lot of fun to browse for books.

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