Books we can’t accept
Unfortunately, there are many restrictions on what we can send to prisons. These are some of the most common things we can’t accept. These restrictions are subject to change at any time, and can differ from prison to prison.
- Damaged books. Books should be in relatively good condition. No missing covers/pages, no highlighting/underlining, and the binding should be in good condition as well. If not, the prison officials will not accept them.
- Hardcover books. Most prisons in Canada do not accept hardcover books so we prefer that you do not donate them. Also, hardcovers do weigh more and cost more for shipping.
- Spiral-bound books.
- Books on pornography.
- Books on how to immobilize a person.
- Canadian true crime books, if the subject(s) of the book(s) are presently in prison or on parole in Canada.
- Books that critique Canadian police forces and carceral institutions. These are not officially banned, but most, if not all, Canadian prisons do not accept these. Sometimes this “ban” extends to critiques on USA’s prisons and police forces as well.
- Other books can be banned as well but we have not been informed of the subject/titles at this time.
Books that are allowed
Just about anything else is allowed, including memoirs by prisoners.
What we are currently seeking is in constant flux. We post frequent updates on our Instagram account, including about new book requests. This is a short list of authors, titles, subjects, and genres that we are currently looking for:
- Writing/Composing music
- Organic chemistry (including textbooks)
- Computer programming
- Relational database design
- Philosophy (by or about)
- Fredriche Nietzsche
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau
- and others
- Psychology (by or about)
- Carl Jung (or books on Jungian psychology)
- Gabor Maté
- Art Instruction
- Tattoo designs
- Northwest Coast Indigenous Art
- Musical composition
- Writing and/or publishing
- Trades such as:
- Home repair
- Boat building
- Building small cabins
- Dictionaries and thesauruses (English)
- Cars/Automotive repair
- Repair of Toyotas, Mazdas, Nissans
- Repair of 1990s/2000s Audis and Mercedes-Benz
- Small engine repair
- Bicycle repair
- Geology in BC
- Business (especially Canadian content)
- Joke books
- Guinness Book of World Records
- Nature and animals (with photos)
- Alexandre Dumas
- Jules Verne – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Suzanne Collins – A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
- Stephen King (The Dark Tower Series)
- Thich Nhat Hanh (any books)
- Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching (any English translation)
- Kim Stanley Robinson – 2140
- Peter Atkins & Loretta Jones – Chemical Principles: The Quest for Insight (or similar)
- Peter Wohlleben – The Inner Life of Animals
- Katherine Ashenburg – The Mourner’s Dance
- Naomi Klein
- Sista Souljah
- DMX – The Autobiography of DMX
- Friedrich Nietzsche
- Ian C. Esslemont – Return of the Crimson Guard; Stoneweilder; Orb Scepter Throne; Blood and Bone
Books in/about Other Languages
- French (beginners)
- Russian (learning)
Drop off books
Presently we have a drop-off box at Spartacus Books, located at:
3378 Findlay Street
xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) territory
Vancouver, BC V5N 4E7
Shipping is our biggest expense. If you wish to donate money you can make out a cheque to Books to Prisoners and send it to us by mail:
Books to Prisoners
P.O. Box 78005
1755 East Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5N 5W1
If you wish to donate money by e-transfer, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.