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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

Friends of Libraries: Book Sales

Information, resources, and advice for library friends groups in Massachusetts.

What to do with leftover books?

After a book sale, many friends groups are left with unwanted books. The following ideas and pickup services come from friends groups around the state.

  • Donate unsold materials to local organizations that could use them such as schools, churches, or recreation centers. Just make sure the items are in good condition, current, and are wanted by the organization.
  • Some books are in poor condition or too outdated to donate to a school or organization. Consider giving them to groups that could use the books in recycled art projects. There are many fabulous examples of book art online!(Courtesy of Robin Brenner /



There are a number of organizations that will work with libraries to collect unsold/unwanted items. Some organizations will make arrangements to pick up books from your library! Here are a few that other Massachusetts libraries have used:

Dealing with Dealers

Used book dealers can be some of your best book sale customers! Sometimes managing the rush can get a little overwhelming. Here are some ideas, compiled from suggestions made by friends members, that may help.

  • Consider charging dealers a "business" membership fee to the friends group (for example: $25/year). That way, they can attend the preview sale and you benefit with more membership income.

  • One library that has a business membership also gives out a sticker to the dealers at preview sales. "We give them a sticker that they need to place on their scanner or shirt that says New Business Member. I Support Libraries! This does two things: it identifies quickly that they have paid the business membership, and the other shoppers feel better knowing they paid."

  • Develop a list of rules for ALL customers. This helps things run smoothly but also treats everyone fairly and with respect. Example rules may include: All sales are final, no hoarding (look at one book, keep or set down), don’t argue with volunteers, etc. Develop rules that work with the way you run your particular sale.

Book Sale Prices

Curious how other towns price their materials? Check out this helpful list.

Collecting Books

Find out how others collect and store books for sales (taken from a recent inquiry on our email discussion group).

Join Our Email Discussion Group!

Have suggestions of your own regarding book sales? Join our forum for members of friends groups to share your ideas!