Due to the COVID19 crisis, we are taking limited book donations by appointment only.  Please make sure your books fit our guidelines below and email us for more information. 

Thank you for supporting prison literacy!

Many requests go unfulfilled because we don’t have the right books.

Purchase a book requested by a person in prison and have it automatically shipped to us!

Amazon Wishlist


Support local businesses through our online wishlists at local bookstores.

Wellesley Books Wishlist

Porter Square Books Wishlist

Purchase a book online or check our in-store display for most needed books!

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we are not accepting book donations at this time.

If you live outside of the Boston area, we encourage you donate books to a “books to prisoners” group near you.

You can still mail books, but please make sure they fit our guidelines below.

Please be sure all donated books meet the below guidelines prior to donating. 

Books We Need

We can accept the following books:

  • Paperback
  • Gently-used, like new or brand-new condition
  • Self published books written for people in prison
  • Advance reading and review copies – non-fiction, Sci-Fi, mystery and LGBTQ fiction only.

These types of books are always flying off our shelves faster than we can find them:

  • English dictionaries and thesauri
  • Language dictionaries and grammar books
    • especially Spanish, Japanese, Hebrew, ASL
  • Yoga, weight lifting, etc.
  • Business
    • Small business start-up, real estate investment, personal finance, nonprofit management 
  • Hobbies
    • Drawing, crocheting, chess, crossword puzzles, word games
  • Self-help
    • Sexual abuse, trauma, addiction
  • Bible dictionaries and concordances
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Non-mainstream religion
    • Wicca, paganism, spirits, dreams, tarot cards, etc.
  • LGBTQ fiction, nonfiction and memoirs
  • Japanese Manga and comics
  • Urban fiction
  • Western novels
  • Mysteries and horror novels
  • Trade skills
    • Auto mechanics, electrical, CDL licensing, carpentry, etc.
  • Native American culture
  • African American culture
  • Composition notebooks

The following fiction sub-genres are in highest demand:

  • Recent best-sellers
  • Action/Adventure
    • James Patterson, Dean Koontz, etc.
  • Ethnic
    • African American, Native American, Hispanic
  • Manga/graphic novels
  • Mysteries
  • Myths & Legends
  • Poetry
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Urban Fiction
  • Westerns

We can use most paperback non-fiction, especially those about:

  • Animals
  • Art
    • Especially drawing
  • Computer science
    • Popular programming languages published in the last 6 years
  • Cultural
    • African American, Hispanic, Native American, etc.
  • Environment
  • Exercise
    • Especially weight lifting and yoga
  • Foreign language study and books in Spanish
  • Games
    • Sudoku, puzzles, chess, etc.
  • LGBTQ studies
  • Health
  • History & Current Events
  • Legal Dictionaries and Basic Criminal Law
  • Math
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology & Self Help
  • Science
  • Secret Societies and the Occult
    • Masons, Rosicrucian Order, extra terrestrials, etc.
  • Small business startup
  • Social Sciences
    • Archaeology,
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Activism 
    • Political Science
  • Spirituality & Religion
    • Bible concordances & dictionaries
    • Buddhism
    • Hinduism 
    • Islam
    • Judaism 
    • Non-mainstream religions such as Wicca, Paganism etc.
    • New Age spirituality
  • Sports
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X and works about or by Martin Luther King & Barack Obama
  • Trades
    • Woodworking, automotive, home building, CDL, etc.
  • Travel essays and travelogues
  • Writing

The following reference sub-genres are in highest demand:

  • Dictionaries (English)
  • Thesauruses
  • Almanacs less than 10 years old
  • Foreign language dictionaries (especially Spanish and books in Spanish)
  • GED study guides
  • Writing references: grammar guides, how to write a book, etc.

Books We Cannot Accept

We cannot accept the following:
  • Hardcovers
  • Spiral or comb bound books
  • Multi-level sets  (encyclopedias, etc.)
  • Self-published (unless written for the prison population)
  • Missing pages or covers
  • Musty smell
  • Yellowed, or have brittle spines
  • Too old to have a UPC on back cover
  • Magazines
  • Have writing/notes in the margins (light highlighting is OK)
  • Children’s picture books
  • 10+ Copies of any one book EXCEPT:
    • Dictionaries
    • Thesauruses
    • Spanish-English Dictionaries
    • Almanacs
    • Exercises that can be done without equipment
    • Starting a small business
    • How to draw
    • Trade skills (woodworking, HVAC, electrical, etc)
    • Books written specifically for prisoners
We cannot accept the following fiction sub-genres:
  • Fiction targeted exclusively to women
    • 90% of book requests from men
  • College literature compilations
  • Esoteric novels prisoners are unlikely to ask for

We cannot accept the following non-fiction sub-genres:

  • Academic journals
  • Computer science more than 6 years old
  • Legal journals and attorney-level legal reference
  • Non-criminal law
    • Divorce, bankruptcy, etc. (Small business OK)
  • Textbooks more than 10 years old
  • Travel guides (travel essays and travelogues OK)
  • True crime
  • Written specifically for women

We cannot accept the following reference sub-genres:

  • Encyclopedias and similar hard-cover book sets
  • Legal Journals
  • GRE and grad-school level test prep books

We cannot accept the following textbook sub-genres:

  • Hardcover textbooks
  • Outdated text books (>10 years old)
  • Obscure subjects
  • Textbook supplements

Frequently Asked Questions: Donate Books

Yes! Please see our “Donate Books” section for complete info on books we can and cannot use. We have limited storage space and strongly encourage donors to donate books that are not a good fit to other organizations.

No, we do not send magazines (not even National Geographic).

We cannot use every book that is donated even if it meets the criteria in our donation guidelines. Prisoner requests and space dictate what we keep and what we pass on to other organizations.

Books we cannot use are passed onto More than Words Bookstore where they are either sold or recycled. More Than Words is a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business. They do great work and we are very happy to support them. 

Sorting through donations is labor and time-intensive. Please send only things you think meet our donation guidelines so that we can focus on connecting prisoners to books!

No. We do not stock prison libraries. To our knowledge, there is no centralized way to distribute books to all prison libraries. Also, we send only books that people request. We welcome donations from authors, but we find that self-published materials rarely match up with requests from people in prison.

Yes! Because many prisons require new books and because most donated books tend to be at least a few years old, non-fiction review copies and ARC’s are very useful to us. Without them we would have very few current titles or books in new condition. 

We do not offer a pick-up service, except for review copies and books from publishers. As an all-volunteer organization with many volunteers that rely on public transit, we do not have the capacity to pick up donations from most donors. You can send books through the mail, but we strongly encourage you to review our donation guidelines before doing so.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we are not accepting book donations at this time. 

Yes, but we recommend that you check our list of other “Books to Prisoners” programs as there might be a similar organization closer to you. Shipping books can be expensive. Donating to another organization may be more effective. 

You are also welcome to ship books to us (at your expense), but we strongly encourage you to review our donation guidelines first. 

Mail books that meet our donation criteria to the following address. Please do not request a signature. Our hours do not align with typical delivery or post office hours and we may not be able to sign for it. 

Prison Book Program 
1306 Hancock Street, Suite 100
Quincy, MA 02169.