Summer Reading List - Decluttering Used Books in Boston

You may argue that you can never have too many books, but if we are being honest- that’s just not true.

In fact, books are one of those items that have a way of collecting quietly around the home. Sometimes they take up space covertly, and others start bulging your bookshelves openly. The stacks of books surrounding your home may well indicate that you’re a book hoarder, but don’t worry since you’re not alone.

Your love of books may prevent you from wanting to see them go to waste, but it doesn’t have to be this way. On the contrary, you can give away or sell off your gently used books in a number of ways. For instance, the easiest thing would be to donate old books to the local library, a children’s or senior citizens’ center or your neighborhood school- any place that maintains a library.

There are also charitable organizations that will accept used books and then sell them for their cause.

However, if you wish to make some cash, then there are a few options to do that as well. But before you do either, decide on which books you’d like to give away and which to keep. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Sort books that you don’t like, never finished, or have no intention of finishing. These should be the first ones to go in your “outgoing” stack.
  • Look for any duplicates you may have. This usually doesn’t happen intentionally, but can happen from getting gifts or hand-me-downs. In case there are multiple copies and you really love that book, remember that you only need one.  You can pack the others away.
  • If you’re undecided about a book that you’ve had for some time, but never got around to finishing, then check to see if your local library has a copy. If it does, then you’ll know where to turn should the urge to finish the book ever return. 
  • Any reading material that the kids have outgrown can go easily. 

The only real reasons why you may decide to keep a book is when you want to re-read it, you use it as a reference, or if it’s a personal favorite. Those that you plan on finishing “one day” should really go. 

How to sell your used books

  • Have a yard sale

Starting simple, you could have a good, old-fashioned yard sale. This involves the least amount of effort and is a good way to get rid of stuff, including books, that is simply occupying space at home. 

  • Visit a local used bookstore

Another simple solution to decluttering your old books is to take them to a second-hand bookstore. While some guidelines may vary store wise, most will be glad to take the load off of your hands. Do keep in mind that while this as an easy book selling method, it also yields the least cash.

On the upside, they often give store credit at a higher rate. So if you plan on selling your books only to buy more, this option could work well for you. Plus, it would make you a patron and a great place to take the kids when they want to get some more books as well.

  • Look at online options

If you’re willing to invest some more time and effort into selling your used books, then you could do so online. First there are the big guns like Amazon and eBay to consider, but there are also many others. Just remember that every online option will have different terms and conditions, so go through these carefully. Set up an account and you are good to go.

For Boston locals looking to buy or sell used books, here is a quick list of places to visit:

Brattle Book Shop: One of the country’s largest antiquarian bookshops, this place carries an impressive stock of over 250,000 items. For the ardent book lover, this is the place to go to looking for first editions, collectibles and fine leather bindings.

The store purchases used and rare books in all fields and will give a full evaluation to your item before a purchase is finalized.

Commonwealth Books: Open every day and located in a convenient Downtown location, the store has an impressive offering of 40,000+ titles to select from. You can choose anything from arts, history, literature and philosophy to get your hands on.  This store is a haven for all scholars and collectors.

Harvard Book Store: Another location that buys and sells used books, this store specializes in works of classic and modern literature, children’s books, and fiction and non-fiction works in many fields.

The store does not, however, deal with romances, western, true crime or test prep materials.

Raven Used Books: This store carries a wide variety of children’s books, fiction, poetry, cookbooks fantasy, mystery and everything in between. The store is open to buying books daily so you can always find something new in store.

Book Rack: Although located a little northwest of Boston, this Arlington used book store carries over 30,000 used books. Here you can take in your gently used books for store credit or trade points. While you are there, you can also look through their impressive collection or even order something if not in the store.


All these options will let you declutter your books in a way so that you can avoid the tragedy of having to throw them out. While some are quite noble such as donation, others like selling might actually give you something back on what you’ve paid out to your bookshelves. You can decide how you want to go about it.