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Donating Books

Thank you for wanting to donate to us! At the moment, we would very strongly like to prioritize the following: fantasy paperbacks, occult/magic belief systems, manga (no nudity or graphic violence), books on how to draw (no nudity), and re-entry topics such as real estate, starting a small business or learning a trade.

As always, we ask that you carefully read our requested categories and make sure that your books are a good fit. Before sending multiple copies of any book, please email BooksToPrisoners@live.com to double-check that it’s material we can use. We know you mean well, but excess books, or books from unwanted categories, means more work for our already overburdened volunteers – something we really can’t afford right now!

See the list below for our most requested genres – we ask that you only donate books in those categories. Things we are OK on right now are crossed out, although we would still accept donations for those subjects.

Due to space constraints, DO NOT SEND US THESE SUBJECTS: drama, short stories, literary anthologies, travel books, Christianity, young adult, or women’s studies. If we receive large amounts of those genres, we have to re-donate or throw them out – please save us the trip.

If you are interested in donating books, please follow these guidelines:

  • Limit your donation to 2 boxes of books at a time. If you wish to donate more than two boxes of books, please stagger your donation so that we are not overloaded.

  • Make sure each box weighs no more than 25 pounds, so that our volunteers can safely lift them.

  • No hardback fiction; hardback non-fiction is acceptable.

  • Remove any CD’s, as well as metal or plastic spiral or comb binding. Prison staff treat these as weapons.

  • No nudity, ie, no photos or drawings including women’s nipples or men’s, women’s or children’s genitalia or gluteal cleft. This applies to comics, graphic novels, manga, magazines, books about art, books about how to draw, paint, etc, and medical textbooks.

  • No graphic violence or gore, eg, decapitation or spurting blood, in comics, graphic novels, or manga. Fight scenes in mainstream (DC, Marvel…) titles aren’t usually a problem.

  • No self-defense or martial arts, including tai chi.

  • No stickers, remainder marks, highlighting or underlining, or anything else that modifies the book – doing so severely limits the number of facilities we can send books to.

  • DO NOT SEND US BOOKS WITH MOLD OR WATER DAMAGE- Out of respect and care for the health of the incarcerated people we serve as well as our staff and volunteers please don’t send us moldy books. Also, books that are significantly water damaged are likely to get rejected. 

You can donate books to Books to Prisoners both at Left Bank Books in downtown Seattle (92 Pike St) or at our volunteer location during open hours (contact us first for the address and times.)

Most Commonly Requested Books

Adventure fiction
Blank journals/composition books (with no spiral bindings)
Business and personal finance
CDL guides

Coloring Books (unmarked)
Cookbooks
Paperback collegiate dictionaries ONLY
Drawing/art instruction (without nudity)
Erotica (written, not visual) 
Farming
Fitness
Foreign language literature and instruction
Games and crafts (including crossword puzzles, Sudoku, crochet)
Graphic novels & comic books (that do not contain nudity or violent content)
History
Indigenous history/studies
Legal self-help (especially for criminal law)
LGBTQ books (particularly about being trans, or QTBIPOC)
Manga
Occult/witchcraft/astrology/metaphysics/magic

Meditation

National Geographic magazines
Paperback genre fiction (particularly westerns, horror, sci-fi, mysteries, thrillers and fantasy)
Pets; dogs, cats, all animals
Philosophy
Prisoner resources or release guides
Romances…paranormal, historical, or regular
Science
Self-help
Spanish translations of anything, fiction or nonfiction alike
Sports
Tabletop roleplaying guides
Thesauri (paperback and hardback)

Travel - specific countries/cities
True crime
Urban fiction
Vocational instruction (e.g., welding, plumbing, carpentry)
Yoga

High Priority Needs are in Bold

How to tell if your donation will be a good match:

  • Check the condition. Many prisons require “good condition” books and will reject other books. Covers must be intact, all pages should be attached to the spine of the book, and pages should be relatively free of writing and highlighting.

  • Check the binding and inserts. Prisoners are unable to receive books that include spiral bindings, CDs, DVDs, or extra materials attached to pages (such as pop-up books). Any bookmarks or stickynotes should be removed. Please note: we are only able to accept paperback fiction books, though hardcover non-fiction is acceptable.

  • Check the date. Prisoners love up-to-date materials as much as everyone else! For many who are incarcerated, books are their best source of information about the world. If you are considering making a donation of books about politics, current events, travel, or technology, please keep this in mind and make plans to donate recently published books.

  • Check the content. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept donations of books including instructions about obtaining or creating alcohol or drugs, books including pictures with nudity or graphic violence, instructions on tying knots or picking locks, or training in martial arts and hypnosis.

Have books that meet our criteria?

If you have books that are listed in our “most commonly requested” category above (ex: Dictionaries) and they match the criteria given above for content and condition, please contact bookstoprisoners@live.com for more information on how to get your books to us.

Please consider donating $35 with each box of books that you donate, to help us mail your books to prisoners in need. Our true postage cost for mailing a box full of wrapped book packages is approximately $70/box, so your matching donation goes a long way!

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