Jenny Wells: Help! What do I do with all these books? |

Jenny Wells: Help! What do I do with all these books?

Spring cleaning season is upon us, and trying to figure out what to do with all those books can be a challenge.
Submitted art

Last week the sun peeked out and books from you for trade credit poured into my store.

Spring cleaning is on your mind, I can tell! I hear all the time that you just have too many books! I also hear so much guilt around that. “I should get rid of some of these.” “Sigh. I loved these books, but I know I’m never going to read them again.” “What am I doing in here? I already have so many books!” So today I wanted to help answer the question you, reader, often ask. “What do I DO with all these books?”

Here are several ideas.

Scenario One: You feel an emotional attachment to your books and you want them to bring pleasures to others as they did you. My number one recommendation is for you to donate them to the Friends of the Library.

Let’s say you bought every Janet Evanovich in hardback when it first came out because you just couldn’t wait. A book dealer like myself will probably not be able to sell them because these are so popular in paperback and have already been published for years. Your return on investment can come by donating them.

Donating to our library is incredibly satisfying! Did you know we have one of the best book sales in several counties every month right in downtown Nevada City? Our community has a group of volunteers who love all things books and reading and they provide us an incredibly well-sorted sale full of treasures. All the proceeds go to our libraries.

I can almost guarantee another reader will find your treasure and be thrilled. And your donation will multiply by helping to fund literacy. It’s a win-win. For more information, see the Friends of the Library website:

Scenario Two: You read a lot of fiction and feel guilty about how much money you spend on books. This is where my business model and your reading habits can work together really well. Ideally, you and I each have books the other wants. Bring me your books, especially those recently published in paperback because that is my business’s niche, and receive store credit toward your next reads.

For example, I sell gently used trade paperbacks … like “Gentleman in Moscow” that was just released (finally!) … for $8.50. If you bring me a book I can resell, you receive $3.50 toward your next read. The $5 difference is how I run the business and you can potentially pick up your next read for only $5. Again, a win-win! If you have questions about whether I can offer store credit for your books, I have an article on my website, “How to be Successful When Trading in Your Books” at or call me at 530-274-9837. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Scenario Three: Accept that it’s time to let go and some books might need to be recycled or thrown away. It’s inevitable. Just like clothing or furniture, some books go out of style and have lived their best life. Here’s some examples: Reference books older than 10 years. Children’s books that have been written on, well-loved, or make noise.

Books that your Uncle George (or you!) stored in the garage that are now covered in dust. The book everyone read like, “Eat, Pray, Love” or “Gone Girl” that is easily found. These will probably not resell and may even not work for thrift stores. Sometimes I get calls from rummage sales who want to offer me the books they don’t sell. I have to tell them, “If they didn’t sell for .50 cents, they aren’t going to sell here for $5.50.”

Sometimes we have to just let our beloved treasures go and thank them for their service.

I hope that answers some of your questions. Here’s a bonus: In my experience, recent non-fiction publications that are not as widely read sell the best and are where you can actually make some of your money back. For example, when I stopped homeschooling my three children, my books about alternative education sold very well to other parents. I do recommend listing those on Amazon and it’s pretty easy.

Happy Spring Cleaning! When you’re done for the day, give yourself the gift of putting up your feet with a good read. If you’re not sure what that could be, come by Jenny’s Paper & Ink Books or any of our local bookstores (or libraries) for some suggestions. We love getting your next read in your hands and heart.

Jenny’s Paper & Ink Books is located at 134 Joerschke Drive in Grass Valley where the majority of the books are gently used paperbacks, including Bestsellers and New Releases. Choices at Paper & Ink include Romance, Westerns, Mysteries, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Suspense and Thrillers, Nonfiction, Classics, and Children’s. Visit for more information.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User