Recycled Reads

Austin Public Library’s used book store seeks to find old books new homes

As soon as the doors open, a stream of people flood into Recycled Reads to see what is stocked on the shelves. Everything is organized just as it would be in a library or bookstore, and the eager customers quickly find their desired sections.

“We have everything people could want,” Manager Mindy Reed said.

Recycled Reads started approximately five years ago. Reed said Austin Public Library used to have “big, monster” book sales for its extra inventory, but library officials eventually decided to try a different approach. Recycled Reads now gets pallets of books culled from Austin Public Library’s warehouse collection, Reed said.

The store also gets roughly half its inventory through donations, she said. Located at 5335 Burnet Road, Recycled Reads has 5,000 square feet of retail space where approximately 50,000 books are processed each month. Most books in the store are priced at $1 for paperbacks and $2 for hardcovers. Children’s books are 50 cents, as are some paperback books on the clearance cart.

“We have a lot of teachers and parents and homeschoolers because it’s very difficult to have enough materials in the classrooms, so at 50 cents they can come and embellish their libraries and make sure kids have access to books they wouldn’t normally have,” Reed said.

Two of the store’s most popular areas, Reed said, have been the children’s section because of the variety offered and the fiction section because of the many current titles. The store also receives rare and collectable books that are priced higher than the other books in the store. Workers at the store research all the books that come in to see what they are worth.

Reed said patrons are still getting a “really good deal” on valuable books at Recycled Reads, but there’s more to find on the shelves at Recycled Reads than just books. The store also sells records, CDs, cassettes, VHS tapes, DVDs and even some board games.

As for the books and media the store does not sell, it has a partnership with other businesses that recycle the material so that none of it ends up in a landfill.

Reed said the store diverted 175 tons of material from the landfill in 2012 and is on track to divert another 200 tons of material in 2013.

“It’s not only great that we’re providing this material to the public but that we’re keeping it, not only out of Austin’s landfill, but anybody’s landfill,” Reed said.

Because Recycled Reads is a zero-waste operation, Reed encourages the public to bring any books to the store so if they cannot be resold, Recycled Reads can make sure everything is recycled. The business does not accept magazines.

All proceeds from the store benefit the Austin Public Library. For more information on what is available at Recycled Reads as well as events hosted at the store, visit

Up-cycling and programming

Manager Mindy Reed said Recycled Reads also promotes up-cycling along with its traditional recycling efforts by using material the store has not been able to sell to create other items such as jewelry, sculptures and planters.

For example, Reed said vinyl bowls for sale at the store were made outside in the Texas heat.

Reed also said the programming provided at Recycled Reads is very popular. Some of the events include poetry readings, crafting workshops and “Literature Live” puppet shows.

For a list of upcoming events and more information, visit

Recycled Reads, 5335 Burnet Road, 512-323-5123

Hours: Thu. noon–8 p.m., Fri.–Sun. noon–6 p.m.