Charity bleg

Do any of readers of this blog have a preferred charity to which to donate old textbooks? In particular, I do not think that electromagnetism has changed that much since 1999, so I figured I might find a better home for some old books.

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6 thoughts on “Charity bleg

  1. I don’t want to get your hopes down, but I think most 10 year old textbooks are unlikely to be very useful. Actual university courses are in cahoots with textbook publishers to change up the books every year or so. If it’s actual material, I think the proliferation of free web books is changing physics and math pretty fast.

    There are exceptions; if your book is Griffith’s Electrodynamics for instance, it’s clearly still quite valuable. I actually wonder whether the most effective way to turn it into charity would be to sell it back to Amazon for the $75 gift card and then donate that to any charity you like.

    • I wasn’t thinking of donating to a US university — as you said, the edition thing would cause them to be obsolete. But a library in a less resource-laden place (e.g. Africa) might be able to use some older (but in good condition) textbooks, at least for the library. Or maybe not. I don’t think most of the things I have to donate have too much resale value, so if nobody wants them I might just recycle them, which seems pretty sad.

      • Shipping paper books is pretty cheap, so maybe. I remain skeptical of the marginal value of individual copies of 10+ years old textbooks in the age of the internet.

        When I moved from SF to California, I got rid of about roughly 2/3 of my books because it would’ve cost $1000 more to move them and I would’ve needed more space for them. The best I could find was a for-profit organization that would come to my house get all the books [I boxed them], go through them, sell the ones that were worth anything, and *they* keep all the money. So the real service they provided was coming to my house to get stuff, and the knowledge that they were a relatively efficient organization at knowing which books somebody would want.

        Your books do seem to meet the requirements for Books For Africa. They mention that it’s going to cost them 50c/book to get them to Africa, and you have to mail them the books. It feels marginal to me.

        I’ll be curious if you do it.

    • I’ll probably make a small stack and send them media mail — you’re right in that it doesn’t make as big a difference as getting rid of most of my books. I’ve been slowly divesting myself of books over time but I might do what you did if I move from Chicago.

  2. When I retired, I gave away a large number of textbooks to a Vietnamese student organization which shipped them to Vietnam for use in university libraries there. They even came to my office and collected the books. There are also organizations that visit campuses periodically to buy books that faculty don’t want, but I did not feel it right to sell books that in some cases were sent to me by publishers as unsolicited examination/desk copies without any payment being asked from me.

    Black Sheep

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