If you have an old hardback book that you no longer want and are unable to donate, remove the cover before sending the paper pages for recycling. But recycling books should always be a last resort.
The best thing to do with books you don’t want anymore is to give them away so others can read them. A variety of organizations may accept used books that are in good condition. Consider used book stores, your public library, Goodwill stores, retirement homes, and Little Free Libraries, among many other potential recipients. By advertising on Freecycle, Nextdoor, or another community forum, you may even find some crafters who would like your old hardcover books for craft projects.
If you can find no takers, or if the books are in such bad shape that they’re not usable, recycling makes sense. But because hardback books are bound in leather, cloth, and composite paper or plastic covers, the covers can’t be recycled, so they must be removed first. You can recycle paperback books without removing the covers.
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