Books wear out. They get water damage. They break down. You get tired of them or you've simply already read them. When your books have passed their time in your life, there are lots of things you can do with them including recycling them.
There are numerous companies who recycle books. They cannot usually be recycled along with your other paper products, like newspaper, because of the binding glue. Book Destruction, a Grossman Group company, recycles whole books. They grind the books down and process them by repulping the paper to make new paper. Green Earth Book Recyclers works with Book Destruction to collect used textbooks from college students for recycling.
Recycling books is the perfect option for books that have outlived their usefulness or are so aged they're unreadable. However, if your books are still usable, there are much better options for getting rid of them then this.
Your options for book donation are nearly endless. Libraries, churches, daycare centers, and schools are all great places for donating your books. There are also organizations, like Better World Books, who will pay for shipping so you can donate your books and they will be used to promote worldwide literacy projects, either by their sale or donation. Got Books and Vietnam Veterans of America accepts all household good donations, including books in almost every state. To find a drop off location in your state, go here.
Selling your books online has become a very easy process. Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and eBay's Half.com all allow you to sell your books directly to a buyer. You pay for shipping. Be sure to check the price that others are selling your titles for though. Many used books available from sellers on Amazon sell for only pennies, which is hardly worth your time. Blue Rectangle, We Buy Your Books, and Powell's among others will buy your books directly from you. You type your ISBN numbers into a form and they return a price quote. If you accept their price, they'll send you a check or deposit into your paypal account the agreed upon amount. You then ship your books to the given address. These three sites will also all pay for your shipping, but some other sites do not.
An old school book swap is a great way to spend an evening. Invite people to your home with instructions to bring a specific number of books they want to give away. Have dinner, snacks, cocktails, or whatever you'd like and let everyone trade books. The best part of this type of book swap, aside from the fun, is that you can hear first hand accounts of what each book was like, whether the reader liked it or didn't, etc. There are quite a few book swap websites, too. The most notable include Bookins, Book Crossing, and Paperback Swap. You can also trade other media, like DVDs, on some of the swap websites.