How to Request Books
NOTE: WE WILL NOT RESPOND TO BOOK REQUESTS BY PHONE OR EMAIL. PLEASE SAVE YOUR RESOURCES AND ONLY SEND US A LETTER.
To request books from Books to Prisoners, we ask that the person in prison send a letter including their name, prison ID number, and address to:
Books to Prisoners
c/o Left Bank Books
92 Pike Street, Box A
Seattle, WA 98101
Anyone in a short-term facility like a County Jail or Sheriff’s Office should include an estimate of how long they’ll be held.
Q: Are the books free?
A: Yes! If you write to us, we will send you 1-2 pounds of books at no cost.
Q: When will my request arrive?
A: Because we have minimal staff and limited money for postage, we are often several months behind in answering requests. Please be patient, as it may take up to four months to hear back from us.
Q: How many books can I request?
A: We are not limited by number of books, but by postage costs. Because of this, each request typically receives 1-2 pounds of books; you could receive one heavy book, or many small books and pamphlets.
Q: Do you have a catalog of books?
A: No. We have a donation-based library of mostly used books, and volunteers choose books that match requests as closely as possible. Requests that include a range of subjects, genres, or authors are more likely to get a better match.
Q: I wrote to you, but I haven’t received a package yet.
A: Unfortunately, many prisons have restrictions on the kind of books that they allow prisoners to receive. Restrictions like this may affect the books received or not received by each prisoner. The most common restriction is paperback books only; some prisons allow only new books from publishers, so please inquire about such restrictions with each facility before writing to Books to Prisoners. On occasion, a package originating from Books to Prisoners will be returned by the prison mail room. We apologize if you have written to our organization but have not received a package in response; be assured that we do our best to anticipate the demands of mail rooms and to work with their restrictions, but regulations can change unexpectedly despite our best efforts. In some situations, we are no longer able to send to a facility because their restrictions prevent us.
Q: How often can I request books?
A: Please only request books once every five months to allow us to respond to as many individuals as possible each year.
Q: How many book requests do you receive?
A: Books to Prisoners receives more than 1,000 requests every month and each request is answered individually.
Q: I can’t afford to donate to Books to Prisoners, but I can send stamps. Is that useful?
A: Yes! We greatly appreciate the many prisoners who send us stamps – this helps us keep our postage costs down.
Books to Prisoners is always in need of donations to meet demand and costs of postage. Visit our donation page to learn more about helping our organization.