Success Stories:
Selling Books to Prisons

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. Web:

“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:

“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:

“I actually met a buyer at a library conference. He purchased direct from me.” — Rebecca O'Meara; Email:

“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:

“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

“Just wanted you to know that one of the many reasons that I have sold thousands of books, and will continue to do so is because of power-packed info that you send out to authors. This e-mail alone has given me at least four new ideas to get my books into even more hands.” — Kevin Wayne Johnson, Writing for the Lord Ministries.

Copyright © 2010 by self-publishing expert John Kremer

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