How to run a book drive

You can run a book drive to support Prison Book Program at your office, school, church, or other location! Here are some ideas to help it go smoothly. 

  1. Set start and end dates and choose a location to gather your books.
  2. Make a plan for how to bring the books to PBP at the end of your drive.
  3. Make a sign for your book collection location. Email out information with the dates and location, asking for gently used and new paperback books.
  4. Collect small boxes or tote bags to carry books in – books are heavy! Avoid using boxes you won’t be able to lift.
  5. Go through the donated books to weed out the ones that aren’t useful at PBP, like hardcovers and old books. (Full donation guidelines here.)
  6.  Box up the books and bring to PBP during a volunteer session!

Download a flyer here!

This generic flyer has info about our most needed genres. You can add the dates and location!

Other tips that might help:

  • At a workplace: Ask team leaders or whoever is in charge to send the emails about the drive. Include a link to our wishlist in case people prefer to buy books or want ideas for what titles to look for.

  • At a university or school: For each of our bold genres below, try to find a department or club who might have books! For example, reach out to the art department about drawing books, Spanish department about books in Spanish, etc.

  • Share the ideas below for how to find free or cheap books locally!

  • If people don’t have books, ask them to contribute to a bulk order of composition books, puzzle books, or coloring books. And make sure to share one of our wishlist links for people who want to buy books directly.

  • Set a goal number of books and count the number each week. Send update emails to let people know how it’s going!

How to find books in your community

Here are a few tips and tricks for finding low-cost and free books in local communities. 


Publishers send advance review or reader copies of new titles to news outlets and bookstores so they can promote and review forthcoming books. These ARC's cannot be resold, and they are often in excellent condition. Contact newspapers, news stations, and book outlets in your city about whether they have a supply of ARC's lying around.

Library Sales

Almost all public libraries in New England have a "Friends of" fundraising arm. Most of these groups earn extra money for their library by holding one or more book sales throughout the year. Near the end of the sale, you can often get good deals on bags or boxes of books. Some generous groups invite nonprofits to come at the end of the sale and take anything they want..

Social Media Groups

If your area has a neighbors helping neighbors or "buy nothing" group on social media, join it. Post that you are interested in paperback books. Set up alerts for the word "books" on online marketplaces like Craigslist. Avid readers can get emotionally attached to their books and want them to go to someone who will really appreciate them. Let the book lovers in your network know that you can give their books a good home.

Local Partners

Find a local partner to help you find books. Churches, fraternities, sororities, book clubs, and local service groups are great options. We have heard of local groups like this "adopting" a library in their local prison or jail and frequently running book drives to keep it stocked with good reading material.