Selling Books to Prisons
“We sell some books into the prison libraries. It is cyclical like the libraries since they are tied to state budgets. Most of them will
buy directly from us. Right now we are selling our How To Set Up Your Own Small Business title to prisons and the vo-tech schools
affiliated with them. Hope this helps.” — Kris Solie-Johnson, American Institute of Small Business.
“I called our local prison and asked about donating books that were used but in good condition and they refused saying they bought
their own. (Talk about a waste of taxpayer money when the donations
are there.) — Lee Caroll, Email: Leejcaroll@aol.com.
“John: I do know this, that donations are likely the only source of books for prison libraries, likely because most are said to
contain rather sparse selections. Also, they only accept publications from known publishers, which means no self-published books are
accepted, nor periodicals. The law libraries, on the other hand, are somewhat more extensive due to legislated allowance for same. This
summary is based on information from Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Michigan prisons, via prisoners and contract workers for arts and
written annual reports. — Mitchell MacKay; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I actually met a buyer at a library conference. He purchased
direct from me.” — Rebecca O'Meara; Email: email@example.com.
“Our experience has been that prisons mostly beg for books, but we have received at least one memorable order ($700) from a California
prison as a response to a catalog mailing. That was several years ago, but it does indicate that prisons occasionally have significant
money to spend on new books.” — Ted Parkhurst, August House. Web: http://www.augusthouse.com.
“We get 4 or 5 requests a week from prisoners or prison libraries. They have NO money to spend and request usually damaged copies or
donations of good copies. However, there is even a hitch as far as this goes. Some prisons will not even accept donations unless you are
on their approved list and have filled out a vendor's form. Sometimes, someone on the outside will order for a friend or
relative. Usually the chaplain is in charge of the book department. Hey, if it gives the inmates something to read I don't think it does
any harm. Our Inner Light books are very popular as they are of a spiritual nature.” — Timothy G Beckley, Global Communications. Web:
“I don't know the complete answer either, but someone I know was incarcerated a year or so ago and I tried to send them books. The
prison would not let them accept anything except religious books. So I tried to donate to the prison libaray, and they weren't interested
in getting any. It may have been an isolated incident. I also tried to donate several boxes of returns to Indian reservations for their
schools and could never get anyone to agree to accept them. Same thing happened when I tried to donate algebra books to the local
middle school library. The whole idea confused them so much no one could figure out whether they could accept them or not.
“Maybe the key is to just leave a box of books on their front steps. Sure, they'll figure it's a terrorist bomb and bring in SWAT
teams to open the box, but once they do, and they see books in there, maybe someone will decide, "Hey! We could just put these in the
library!" Of course, if Homeland Security is listening in, I'm just kidding.” — anonymous