Thursday, October 11, 2007

Books without Borders

I'm getting ready to move (again), and like many students I have 30 tonnes of old textbooks that were never resold (lousy new editions every year) and never get used for anything except pressing flowers. Since I clearly don't need the workout lugging those books around every time I move, I decided to look into some sort of charity that might take them off my hands and put them to good use - an idea inspired by Kevin Z way back in August. Well, it turns out it's not so simple. Some will only take specific books, others that you ship them yourself. New York State University at Buffalo has this list of donation programs for journals, books and even old lab equipment. One that seems particularly user-friendly is Books Beyond Borders who collect books and resell them with proceeds going to building schools in third world countries, and other educational initiatives. They even pay for you to ship your books, but unfortunately only for US donors. North of the border pickings seem slimmer, but aren't non-existant provided you're willing to pay to ship those heavy textbooks yourself. Does anybody out there have experience with textbook/journal donation programs? Any particular favourites?


rob said...

I find it hard to believe that you people have too many textbooks. There are so many flowers that need pressing.

Anonymous said...

Contact the Agora, the U of O student association run bookstore. Any textbooks that they aren't buying back are sent to third world countries at no cost to the book owner. I think one of the textbook publishers may pay the shipping costs.

allana said...

Books without borders sounds like an awesome idea! I've heard on similiar things for kids in various countries too. When I moved out of student housing I left 4 years of undergrad texts in the hall of my building - when I came back to lock the door (5-10 mins later) they were all gone-not nearly as cool as sending to a third world country (and possibly more detrimental to the supremacy of the english language) but at least someone got to read them . . . as a last resort, you could always leave them somewhere around town they'd be likely to get picked up and put to use and then use the money you save to lend small sums to third world entrepreneurs using a web service such as thanks for the opportunity to plug a cool global citizen idea kamel! peace

kamel said...

For those at Canadian institutions, Emma pointed me to the organization Books with Wings, which is a project of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students. They collect textbooks and teaching equipment and ship it, with the help of the Canadian Armed Forces, to medical schools in parts of the world that need them. The nice part is that you can drop the books at any medical education office at any teaching hospital. One caveat though: the website is out of date and lists their last collection as 'by March 15, 2006'

The Agora bookstore donation program at the University of Ottawa that anonymous mentioned sounds good too, but I couldn't find anything on their website about it (other than the textbook buy-back)

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