Prisoners Literature Project

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PLP Giving Tuesday update – matching funds now $5,500!

Thanks to a kind donor, the matching for Prisoners Literature Project’s Giving Tuesday campaign has been upped to $5,500. So every dollar you give, up to $5.5k has its impact doubled, until Friday, Dec. 1st.

Reminder of our goal: to continue sending out  >1,000 free book packages every month to incarcerated folks in 49 U.S. states. But we’re running at a money deficit in 2023, for two reasons:

– Increased cost of postage: Postage for a 3 lb book package will increase over 16% in January 2024 from late January 2021.
– increased cost for books: Each year more institutions accept only new books, and more people inside are requesting specific new books to help them develop skills for employment when they are released.

So we’re asking:

Donate before Friday to double your impact!
(Donations are tax-deductible. Debit cards, credit cards, and PayPal accepted – please contact us if you want to donate a different way.)

PS – here’s an excerpt from the thank-you letter shown above: “I am grateful and appreciative of the work you do. I am … serving a lengthy sentence, and honestly reading a good book, or any for that matter, has been my daily escape. I wasn’t much of a reader before, but three years into my incarceration and I’ve turned into a bibliophile. I found out about your organization through a book titled ‘The Sentences That Create Us.’ It was given to me by my cellmate as a parting gift when he was transferred to a different prison…. I wish I would have known about you sooner.”

PLP needs your help with our deficit – get your donation $ doubled!

For our annual #GivingTuesday campaign, and Prisoners Literature Project has a special ask. To help us, we’ve put together $5,500 in matching funds, so the dollars you donate can be doubled from now until the end of November.

We’ve been sending out >1,000 free book packages every month to incarcerated folks in 49 U.S. states. But we’re running at a money deficit in 2023, for two reasons:

– Increased cost of postage: the USPS has been raising prices twice a year, due to inflation. A 3 lb book package will cost us $5.32 to send in January 2024, up from $4.45 in late 2021. (That’s a lot!)
– High-quality books can be expensive to buy: we’re trying our best to fulfil requests that we can’t get donated in bulk, from practical ‘profession to pursue when I get out’ books – see the below thank-you letter – to dictionaries. (Also: many prisons only allow new books in!) These books can cost us $2-$12 each.

We have money in the bank, but we’re looking to make up our $20,000+ funding deficit in the remainder of 2023. If we can’t, we’ll have to cut back on those high-quality book purchases in 2024.

So if you can help us out, please:

Donate to PLP now!
(Debit cards, credit cards, and PayPal accepted – please contact us if you want to donate a different way!)

All of your donations are tax-deductible, too. Thanks for listening, and we’ll be back next week for a final reminder ahead of #GivingTuesday.

Halloween Horror Book Showcase

Watch our new Halloween video! Horror books are in high demand by incarcerated readers.  Help us “flesh out” our horror section by purchasing a scary book. Details including a range of titles on our donate page.

Summer 2023 Thank You Letters

We’re pleased to share some letters that we’ve received over this past summer from book recipients. As noted, in the letter, word gets around about our program and the flow of letters to PLP is non-stop. The fact that readers take the time to share their appreciation for our efforts (using an often precious stamp) is powerful and keeps us intent on our mission to share the joys of books and reading.

PLP hosts session for Berkeley High Students

PLP was contacted by a local group “The Ahimsa Collective” asking if we would host a session as part of the 6 day intensive internship between The Ahimsa Collective and Berkeley High School rising and graduating seniors in the law and social justice two year elective. We were pleased to be able to welcome eleven teens into our library to learn about what we do. They read letters, selected books to meet the request and wrote address labels, invoices and notes for the recipient. At the end of the 3-hour session we had 6 tubs of packages to ship out!

Please check out the work that the Ahimsa Collective is doing around Restorative Justice in the Community, Rentry Housing and Support, Victim Offender Dialogues and other meaningful efforts:

We hear that the PLP session was a highlight for the teens and we hope to host additional sessions during the school year. They are considering do a book drive for our efforts as well. It’s great to connect with other local programs that are working on social justice efforts.

We started off with some history of our organization, what we do and some of the challenges we face
Our sessions are usually smaller than this but the group managed the space quite well
Searching for books appropriate to the request
Carefully printing the address label
Writing a note for the book requestor on the back of the invoice!
Book weights are checked on the scales (far left) as we try to keep it to 3lbs. Postage is expensive!
Books ready to be put into envelopes, taped up and stamped!

Donate your stuff to support PLP!

Last call for spring cleaning… If you live in San Francisco or are willing to travel there, you can donate any kind of good quality unwanted stuff to the Community Thrift Store in person, saying they are for the benefit of Prisoners Literature Project. We’ll get the proceeds after they are sold! This has been a great source for postage money for PLP over the years. Reuse, reduce, recycle!

PLP book donations matched for 10 days!

Please consider shopping off these wish lists (#PrisonBooksWishlists) or stopping by the stores if you live in the Bay Area:

Books Inc. (Berkeley)

East Bay Booksellers (Oakland)

Green Apple Books (San Francisco)

Pegasus Books (Berkeley)

Cape & Cowl Comics (Oakland, in-store sales only)

These donated books will allow PLP to fulfill a range of requests from incarcerated letter writers including these recent ones:

PLP Thank You Letters — Winter 2023

We’re very happy to share some of the wonderful thank you letters we’ve received over the past months. These notes have helped keep us warm this unusually cold and wet California winter. Enjoy!

Black history month – buy wishlisted books for us!

For Black History Month, we’ve curated a special list of high-demand books and topics. We’d love any and all help getting them into our library for distribution to folks behind bars. Thanks!

Here’s the local Pegasus Books wishlist, if you’d like to buy:

And here’s the version of the list:

As always, we really appreciate your help!

Tor donates hundreds of genre fiction titles to PLP

Many, many thanks to Tor Books for donating hundreds of titles to us! (They’ll get sent out – for free – to incarcerated folks across the U.S. who requested these genres.)

Some of the prisoners we send in to demand new or ‘new-like’ books, so it’s particularly helpful to have publishers send us their ‘advanced reader copies’ or remainders. If you can also help with this, please contact us!

About the Prisoners Literature Project

The Prisoners Literature Project is an inclusive, all-volunteer, grassroots nonprofit whose purpose is to encourage reading, the pursuit of knowledge, and self-determination among incarcerated people. By sending free reading materials to those behind bars, PLP aims to foster learning and critical thinking and help people prepare to lead successful lives after incarceration. We believe that all people have a right to read.

Please consider donating to the PLP or volunteering your time (if you live in the Bay Area, CA!) to help us answer letters from prisoners who write us from all over the United States.

Prisoners – want books?

Mailing address for U.S. prisoner book requests: Prisoner Literature Project c/o Bound Together Books 1369 Haight St San Francisco, CA 94117 There's more info here on what else prisoners need to include with their requests.