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Do you ever weed out cookbooks and, if so, what do you do with them?

For years I never got rid of ANY books of ANY kind. Then I realized that made no sense - for me anyway. So I starting weeding fiction (rarely buy it; go to the library) and non. But my cookbooks seemed somehow off-limits. Then I weeded a whole lot of them. Let's face it, some really do get dated or I hadn't cooked from it in 10 years or I didn't like the results. Whatever. I donate books to the library but they don't want a lot of copies of the same book and some can't even accept donations because they're too short-staffed to process them. So I called a crisis center for women and children in my town and asked if they had any need for them. They jumped at them. Said that most of these women leave with the clothes on their backs (if suspected of leaving, they'll get beaten even more). They will be setting up homes again and cookbooks are frequently high on their list. I thought of this this morning while stacking books on top of the bookcase because the shelves are full. Thought I'd pass it along in case you're looking to re-home any books.

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  1. That's a great idea. Never knew what to do with the books I don't use.

    A friend used to sell his books (and my copy of Kitchen Confidential when I lent it to him to read) on Half.com, but it can be a bit of a hassle.

    1. That's a very thoughtful thing to do. I have three young, married nieces, so my cookbook discards always go to them. Other books that I don't want anymore, I put in a neat pile in our trash room (I live in an apartment building with trash rooms on each floor) and they are usually adopted by one of my neighbors or picked up by the maintenance staff. Or they just plain disappear - all I know is that they're gone when I go back :-)

      1. That's a great idea.

        The only time I've weeded out cookbooks was when I made a cross country move. Now that I am settled, I keep them all again. When I get rid of any unwanted books, I bring them to the local Goodwill.

        1. I don't weed my own, but I was once discarding cookbooks that had been my mother's. I sold them - but they were in excellent condition.

          1. I donate them either to the local Senior Center's used book store, or to the local high school's used book sale fund raiser.

            1. No, but I probably should. Mostly, I collect other people's "weeds" and add them to my collection. My aunt on my Mom's side gave me two big boxes of her cast-offs, and I kept 1/2 of them and passed the rest on to my co-workers. One that I kept was a notebook/cookbook of my Grandma's hand-written recipes for some of her favorite desserts, including her secret peanut brittle recipe. I hope she MEANT to give me that one.

              1. What a timely post c oliver, thank you.

                After going through my cupboards for the food drives this winter, my eyes could not notice that cookbooks are everywhere. Many of them have one recipe I have made (or was interested in making) but I cling to them anyway. Was wondering if I were to part with them where they could go. The women's center is a perfect choice... especially because in setting up a new home, women are unlikely to spend limited cash on a luxury like a cookbook.

                Interestingly, most of the cookbooks I would 'weed' have beautiful photographs and basic ingredients, ideal for a starter kitchen and also an infusion of art into a home.

                You have inspired me to "get real" about my piles of cookbooks and donate.

                Again, thank you!

                1 Reply
                1. re: ideabaker

                  You are SO welcome. And the ladies will be grateful also. You're right. Buying cookbooks couldn't possibly be on their list of nice-to-have OR need-to-have. -Also --- off-topic here - a few years ago I gave the same organization a carload of Christmas decorations (but I did give BEFORE the holiday). Right behind a 12-step program regarding food, I have to admit to an addiction to Christmas decorations. So it was also easy to part with some of those. Thanks again, ideabaker; you make me feel good :)

                2. what a great idea. thank you. I will keep that in mind next time I clean out my cookbook shelf! :)

                  1. We needed to do a major cull when we just ran out of shelf space. The ones we kept were the ones we regularly use or needed to keep for that one recipe that you only cook once every two years or "souvenirs" we'd brought home from holidays (for example, we now have a goodly few representing American Atlantic states from trips since 1980).

                    Some books went to other family members. Most went to the local charity shop.

                    1. The top of the food chain for me goes to my restaurant so my staff can learn from them. The next tier is on bookshelves in my dining room at home. After that are the ones, mostly paperbacks but very useful, that grace my pantry. Finally, the ones that no longer make the team are in the basement. They're on deck for Goodwill.

                      1. I weeded out a lot of non-fiction books I had a few years ago to make room for all the cookbooks I suddenly seemed to be acquiring. Sold most of them on Amazon (a few for astonishingly high prices...) I too rarely buy fiction - I just go to the library for my fiction fix as well. And I recently weeded out a few clunkers from my cookbook collection that weren't worth selling myself and I'm donating them to our local library's book sale in the spring. Other than that I have reached the point where I don't really have any more books I am willing to part with and in fact just had to buy yet another bookcase to put all the books that are now sitting in piles in our livingroom. But once that bookcase is filled I'm out of luck - we have a very modest home and the spot where this new bookcase is going was the last possible place I had to put one (without spending a load of money...) I either have to stop buying new cookbooks - and I am being REALLY picky now about new acquistions as a matter of necessity - and/or I am just going to have to find books in my colleciton that I can stand parting with. I'm glad I'm not quite there yet. :)

                        1. While I weed out other books frequently (and have stopped buying for the most part), I never get rid of cookbooks. I live in an apt, and always getting rid of unused, extra stuff, but cookbooks are one of the few things that falls into the always keep category.

                          Extra books of other subjects either go to the laundry room for someone else to take or Goodwill.

                          1. When we moved the last time we took everything we decided not to move to the abuse shelter...because in our old town anything that wasnt needed they can sell for money for the shelter. Toys , clothes, books,everything.

                            1. I donate anything I don't need/want to Goodwill--clothing, household stuff, etc. I hadn't gone thru my cookbooks until a few months ago, and culled a few old, outdated ones (The Frugal Gourmet, old Time-Life stuff). Just this past weekend I collected some Food and Wine annuals, and some other ones, and donated them. I do, however, go thru them one more time, and photocopy anything that has half a chance of being made, and just keep the copies. I save shelf-space (the limited amount that I have) and it's easier to store the copies in binders I have for that purpose.

                              1. Our local chapter of the Red Cross has a book sale as a fund raiser every year and I have donated books to that. I belonged to a local philanthropic sorority that has a thrift shop and uses funds raised for local projects like speech and hearing and awards some scholarships to local students and some of my culls go there. Some I have offered to friends.

                                1. I have - literally - tons of books. All types. I have run out of space despite 8 floor to ceiling IKEA style bookcases. Now, I give most to my local school (the same as CindyJ) and they have an annual book sale - from which I come home with about 15% of what i donated (books, not value), different stuff.

                                  I keep certain authors, certain things I like, but I"m at that age where noone else is gonna want them here, so i might as well get them out to a good home and let someone benefit from their sale. My $20,000 worth of purchases may only go for $1000 or less, but at least there is some benefit to someone.

                                  1. Funny, but I usually have no problem throwing things out, yet with books it's much harder...
                                    As I was planning my, now almost finished, new kitchen, I made sure I have plenty of space for all 70+ collection of cookbooks.(I actually have a whole side of my island dedicated to them!Picture attached) And if I ever decided to part with any of them, I would drop them off at the library, or sell them at the Rasputin's (cd,video and book-store here in CA).

                                    1. You can do freecycle, or my town has a great recycling center where you can leave books of any kind for browsers to grab.

                                      1. I donate everything I don't want to Salvation Army, although rarely cookbooks, you're right it's hard to part with them. Unfortunately when I go to drop off I have to look around at the kitchen section. Last week I got Craig Claiborne 1961 NY TImes cookbook, hardcover for $1, and the Moosewood paperback for 25 cents. Thank you to whoever donated those! They will be put to good use.

                                        Last time I weeded my cookbooks, I gave them to a chef that had left everything behind at his last job. He used them and had them on display so that was cool. I can't stand to throw books out either, although my husband thinks it makes our house look old-fashioned (is that a bad thing?). I have a complete set of Funk and Wagnell encyclopedias from 1975 that no one will take though, luckily they look pretty sitting on the bottom shelf. Now that you mention it, maybe the women's retreat center might like them, I'll have to ask!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: coll

                                          Your husband thinks having books in your house makes your house look old-fashioned? Scarier words I have never read.

                                        2. I did and gave them away for free on craigslist. Good idea though to check with homeless shelter.

                                          1. Thank you for the great idea. I am ashamed to admit I have a great deal of difficulty parting with my cookbooks. Even being old doesn't stop cook books from finding a place on my shelf. Some my most well used are reprints of recipe books that are on my parents and grandparents bookshelves and others from well before I was born that have been passed onto me by older friends downsizing their homes as they get older and know they will be well used.
                                            My old ones when I finally part with them go to Goodwill but I'll be inquiring where I can take them locally as I think this is a much better idea.

                                            1. I give them to a charity book sale.

                                              1. I decided to do this today. Flush out the ones I truly don't even look at. SInce I have so many cookbooks and not enough space for all of them, it's just time to weed out and make more room for incidentals in the kitchen area. I told hubby we need a storage shed, he said why? I said because I need a place to house things that I don't have room for, he said, that's what Goodwilling and Sally Anne's is for..........

                                                Today is the day though, it's cleanout time baby.
                                                To the charity shop they'll go.
                                                I guess I could go online and advertise a box at a time to say Cr@!gs list but don't know how :(

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                  If you just go on Craigslist, the same way you go on here, and go under the "Free" section and tell them you have cookbooks to give away, they will come running. With a pickup truck if necessary. Save you a trip. Just tell them they have to take all or nothing so they don't pick through them.

                                                  1. re: coll

                                                    same with freecycle.org... that or yard sale, but honestly, even like new excellent histories and cookbooks hardly sold at all, at our recent one.

                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      I put out a beautiful set of encyclopedias at our last yard sale, for free, and no one even looked at them. They looked nice on the shelf, with lots of gold leaf, even if you didn't read them. People just aren't as into books as they used to be, seems to me. Even my 80 year old Mom just got a Kindle!!

                                                      1. re: coll

                                                        Elderly folks LOVE Kindle! My husband has been using the one he got me for Xmas and no longer needs reading glasses. I'm guessing that's why older folks have adopted them so eagerly. BTW, my mother was 80 y.o. when she got her first PC, and was banking, bill paying, web surfing, sending files, investing, etc... in no time.

                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                          They say that's what keeps a lot of older folks going, being so in touch with the world even when they're stuck at home. Since I'm getting up there, it gives me hope!

                                                          I just looked at my local Craigslist to see how easy it was to find Free Stuff, and the first thing listed was a set of encyclopedias!!

                                                      2. re: mcf

                                                        although I've been known to go to yard/tag sales, I have no patience whatsoever in doing one myself. one experience I had throwing a yard sale, was getting rid of all of our DD's baby clothes since we now had a little boy baby, no more pink needed. These were good quality expensive gifts from the shower etc. and I just basically wanted them gone as she grew quickly, very quickly, chubbahbubbuh. they were worn twice and had no stains, I mean I hated seeing them go for pennies but was fine with the asking price of 25ยข........until a lady grabbed them all up, brought them to me, every single one of them and said, ''will you take a nickle each?" I said no and took them out of her greedy arms. man I was fumin, I asked my husband to ask her to leave, she did, empty handed.
                                                        ok thanks I feel better after venting.

                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                          LOL... we had so much stuff still here from when we moved, unpacked, that we hadn't freecycled, plus a kayak we want to upgrade, a bike unused and moved from place to place for 40 years in new condition... we actually made over $500, closer to $700 IIRC, for a few hours work. I still have some leftovers that I will probably try to sell on craiglist.
                                                          We donated an enormous amount that was picked up without our bringing it back in, the next day by the VVA. Nothing comes back in once you get it OUT!

                                                          I think I priced to sell, and folks didn't bargain, they just loaded up. Oh, I still have the books, and quite a few more to sell or give away.

                                                          The worst/best thing is that as someone opened a box of odd and end craft/art supplies from my daughter's young years, out popped the neck of one of her saxophones, I'd have killed her if she were her. It was a new and expensive instrument we still have.

                                                      3. re: coll

                                                        "they have to take all or nothing so they don't pick through them"

                                                        that was exactly what I was worried about, coming to get the goods but picking through so I'm basically no better off, still would have a boatload of whatever to take to the used store.

                                                        thanks Coll

                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                          Yeah you learn quick! I just sold my Subaru on Craigslist in a few hours and it was so easy, I was really worried but the guy was a doll. Still getting calls a month later. It's not bad at all whatever it is, you'll laugh at some of the listings.

                                                    2. I just went through mine, and culled a bit, but more reorganization than toss. I just signed up for Eat Your Books, and wanted to make sure I got all of my books on "my bookshelf," which nearly all of mine are. I donate ones I don't want out to our library's book sale, although the women's shelter is a good idea. Last year, they made about $12K from our donations! A lot of my books are appliance cookbooks; pressure cooker or slow cooker books, ethnic c/bs, a few 'classics'e.g., Julia, or ATK's books, and cooking for two. DS is getting married, so I'll let his fiancee go through them first to see if there's any she wants