A Cool Way to Recycle Your Books

Photo: Michele Berger

No matter how far digital we move, there’s something great about holding a book in your hand, penciling notes in the margins, leafing through, placing it prominently on your shelf for others to ogle.

That doesn’t mean, of course, you want to keep it forever. Once you’re done with a book, then what? You can typically recycle soft-cover books. But hardcover books can’t be recycled—according to RecycleNow, it’s due to the glue that binds together the pages—and usually cannot be donated the way you might used clothes.

Here’s an idea we love: It’s called bookcrossing and the concept is simple. Register your book (you can download a label for free), share it, then watch its travels. BookCrossing.com offers three ways to give away your novels:

1. Controlled release. “Pass your book on to a friend, a stranger, a strange friend, or a friendly stranger!” You know specifically where your book’s adventure starts (at least its first stop).
2. Wild release. It’s a bit like “nudging a baby bird out of the nest.” BookCrossing’s words, not ours. “Leave your labeled book on a park bench on a summer day, in a train station, on the table in your favorite coffee shop—anywhere it’s likely to be caught by another delighted reader.”
3. Creative release. Here, the opportunities are endless (but click here if you need some inspiration).

One German company took the bookcrossing notion a step further, putting up a public shelf—made from an old tree trunk, nonetheless—filled with books for people to take and spots for people to fill. It’s the first public bookcase in Berlin.

Once you’ve given your book wings, track it on BookCrossing.com. Maybe your tome will travel to a place you wish to go! So far, more than three-quarters of a million people have registered seven million books.

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