What Happens to all those Books?

Recently, a photo was posted on our Half Price Books Facebook page from a customer expressing concern over a number of books placed in a recycling container outside our Half Price Books store in Appleton, WI. We respect and value our customers and would like to address this concern by providing more information on the lifecycle of the books, music and movies that come through our stores, as well as how we are committed to helping our communities and the environment.

Half Price Books buys thousands of books, music and movies in our stores from customers on a daily basis. We also receive shipments of new bestsellers and other merchandise coming through the doors each day. Add all this to the fact that our stores have a limited amount of space on the sales floor and in the backroom.

As a convenience to our customers, we accept all the items they bring in to sell and we try to make the best use of them. A number of the books sold back to us are former bestsellers that were produced at a high volume and, as these books age, sometimes supply outweighs demand. There is often an excess of these items in our stores and on our shelves.

We know that there are countless charitable organizations that can use this excess inventory. That’s why in 2012, we started our Million Book Donation Project, through which we have donated at least one million books each year to worthwhile causes, classrooms, libraries and more. Each of our 120+ stores nationwide makes donating books a priority. As mentioned in a related news article, our Appleton store recently donated more than 1,500 books to the Appleton Public Library to help expand their Reach Out and Read program. But because we have a limited staff who is dedicated to in-store operations most of the day, we cannot make these donations happen without you. Volunteers seeking donations must make the request and be able to arrange for pick-up in order for us to put the most books in the hands of those in need. In some cases, the books we receive are simply too outdated or worn to be resold or even donated. These include but are not limited to things like maps, atlases, technology books and sometimes textbooks. Other books are torn, missing pages, too dirty, have broken spines or have simply been in an unfit environment before they make their way to us. We have seen many books that outwardly look to be in good condition, but upon further investigation have water damage, bugs, or other unhygienic issues. 

Being kind to the environment has always been an important part of our business philosophy. To this day, we encourage our employees, business partners, suppliers and customers to work together to continuously find innovative ways to foster the efficient use of natural resources. Recycling resources is part of our daily business, and this extends beyond the items we sell. At Half Price Books, we have always believed that “Books should fill our lives, not our land.”

We thank you for your genuine concern and we are glad that customers are talking about this subject. It raises the issue of the tremendous amount of books sold to us in each store daily and the disparate number of donation requests in the Appleton area as well as nationwide. If you know of a nonprofit organization or school in your area in need of books, we encourage you to submit a Donation Request Form online at halfpricebooks.com/book-donations-request-request-form.

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