As the world’s largest independent seller of new and used books, ThriftBooks is known to customers as the place to purchase affordable books and locate hard-to-find titles. It keeps money in the pockets of avid readers and gently used books out of overstuffed landfills. The online retailer also plays another important role: helping libraries raise significant funds from unneeded books.

Jamie Hurst, national account manager of the ThriftBooks library program, says that librarians must continually weed out excess books to keep their collections current, useful, and aligned with patrons’ needs. When a library no longer needs 30 copies of last year’s bestselling thriller or multiple donations of a Pulitzer Prize winner from a decade ago, librarians must figure out what to do with the copies in order to make room for the new books patrons will be requesting. ThriftBooks enables them to clean house and make bank.

"ThriftBooks helps libraries generate revenue from their overstock by reselling books at market pricing to a worldwide audience via our website, thriftbooks. com,” Hurst says. “As books sell online, we share profits with the libraries.”

The program began in 2005 with Washington State’s King County Library System, which still participates, and has since expanded to serve thousands of libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada. To date, ThriftBooks has sold 10 million books to raise library funds.

Hurst says the library program is unique because ThriftBooks has built out its own robust platform to sell items. While ThriftBooks also sells on third-party marketplaces, Hurst says selling on ThriftBooks avoids third-party marketplace fees and sends more revenue back to libraries.

The competitive profit-sharing model at ThriftBooks also significantly improves upon traditional brick-and-mortar sales, where book prices are very low—Hurst says between 10 cents and one dollar— and limited by local markets and short time periods, usually one to three days. At such sales, dealers frequently scoop up bargains and resell them at significantly higher prices. ThriftBooks enables libraries to reap their books’ value with exposure to millions of direct consumers worldwide and with inventory that continues to sell online for many months. An expert vintage and antiquarian team ensures that rare books are priced properly.

The model also eliminates overhead costs and labor; ThriftBooks picks up books via freight truck or small parcel services for free and also handles the logistics of storage, pricing, marketing, and returns. The company pays libraries each month via check or direct deposit. This makes it easy for library “friends” groups and other community organizations and nonprofits to create their own drives, using the proceeds to fund library purchases, programs, and other initiatives.

n addition, libraries and their supporters can participate in the affiliate program at ThriftBooks. Using the company's affiliate platform, Partnerize, participants can request to join the program and, once approved, receive a unique referral link that they can add to their websites, newsletters, blogs, and other media. They then earn a commission for every sale they refer to ThriftBooks.

"The ThriftBooks affiliate program is free, easy to participate in, and a great way for libraries to earn more money from books,” says Barbara Hagen, ThriftBooks VP, sales and marketing. “There is no limit to the earning potential!”

Hurst says librarians are very pleased with the ThriftBooks library program, noting that the revenue it generates enables them to better withstand budget cuts and bridge the gap to help fund acquisitions, programs, and services. Librarians are also pleased by the program’s environmental impact. Since its founding, ThriftBooks has saved an estimated 1 billion books from landfills and 16,000 acres of forest via recycling. “By rescuing well-loved books from landfills, ThriftBooks contributes to sustainability efforts and reduces waste,” Hurst says.

The best part of her job: reviewing profit-sharing statements with libraries. “They are over the moon when they see the profits ThriftBooks is able to generate along with the sustainability metrics,” Hurst says. “In presenting an overview that includes not only our vast ability to sell books but also the impact of recycling and donating items that we cannot sell, I hear their excitement, and it fills me with joy.”