Prisoners Literature Project

Latest News

We’re having an Open House on June 4th!

Help us celebrate our new, roomier and sun-filled location. We’ve worked hard to create a nice space for volunteers to work as we answer book requests. The walls are covered with bookshelves (of course). Come see for yourself and find out more about what we do!

We will also be selling books as part of a sidewalk sale to raise money to cover postage. T-shirts will be available to purchase. Our all-volunteer group looks forward to showing you around. Join us.


PLP thank you letters — Spring 2022

We’re so happy to share some more notes of appreciation that we’ve received from book recipients over the past couple of months. Joy oh joy we love to find these kind words tucked in the hundreds of letters we receive each month!


PLP’s at the Bay Area Book Festival this weekend!

Great news: Prisoners Literature Project will be at the Bay Area Book Festival this weekend in downtown Berkeley! Check us out at Booth #82 on Allston Way (full list of exhibitors: https://baybookfest.org/2022exhibitors), where we’ll be spreading the word, selling great quality leftover books to benefit PLP & lots more.

Come on down and say hi – we’d love to see you!


Independent Book Store Day: buy books for PLP & double your impact.

Independent Bookstore Day 2022 is a major opportunity to support local booksellers and stock up on new selections for yourself — and now, for PLP as well!

From Thursday, April 28 to Sunday, May 1, you can double your support for the Prisoners Literature Project when you buy books for us to send to incarcerated folks from one of our independent Bay Area bookshop partners linked below.

And when you buy books from these independent bookshops, online or in person, the Hull Family Foundation will generously match every purchase up to $1,000 per store!

Buy books! from Books Inc. (and in person in Berkeley)

Buy books! from East Bay Booksellers (and in person in Oakland)

Buy books! from Green Apple Books (and in person in San Francisco at the Clement Street location)

Buy book! from Pegasus Books (and in person in Berkeley at Downtown and Solano locations)

Each of these great PLP partner bookstores has different wish lists of often-requested books we always need, and we will send every book you purchase for PLP directly to a grateful reader. You’ll not only be assisting the Prisoners Literature Project; you’ll help sustain fiercely independent bookstores that mutually support the PLP.

In addition to hosting one of our wish lists, local bookstore partner Green Apple Books is generously donating profits from its Independent Bookstore Day event to the PLP! Pop into the Clement Street location throughout the day on Saturday, April 30th for special activities, and support Green Apple and the PLP by snagging a seat at the Muni Diaries Haiku Battle and Pun-Off starting at 5 p.m.


Books and more! Find out what other useful resources PLP includes in packages

Each package PLP sends to an incarcerated reader usually includes 1-4 books. However, there are a number of other great resources that may be nestled in the envelope. We thought we would share some of these items that we have created or that come to us from other books-to-prisoners groups.

Prisoners Literature Project Ordering GuidelinesThis handout offers some details about PLP and clarifies what kinds of books we have available. It gives some info about the process of requesting books and the importance of clear handwriting among other things. Fortunately, in the age of smart phones we are often able to sleuth out the actual prison id # or discern the true last name spelling by going online to double-check!

Prisoner Activist Resource Center (PARC) National Prisoner Resource Directory — This is an invaluable resource that is included in every package (unless forbidden by a particular prison). Letter writers frequently request the latest version of the PARC. It includes details on a range of resources for incarcerated people including: educational resources, prison/writing arts programs, religious/spiritual projects, death penalty resources, etc. This truly useful document is put out by the PARC group based in Oakland, CA. It’s really worth browsing through the PDF version here.

We the People Legal Primer — PLP does not send out legal books, but we will package up this primer, which was developed by the Books to Prisoners Program in Quincy, MA. It’s a really handy 80-page document that includes the Constitution of the U.S., legal vocabulary definitions, basic judicial doctrines and other related references.

Reference By Mail Guide Sheet — PLP sometimes gets specific questions about a topic in the letters we receive. It’s tempting to print out something from Wikipedia. However, there are libraries and other orgs that will respond to these reference questions. What a great service! So, we created this guide sheet with all the details of how to get questions answered by the pros.

Pen Pal Service Sheet — As you can imagine many incarcerated people are seeking contact with the world beyond bars. Often letter writers say they’re seeking pen pals to write to and help pass the time. Pen pal services for imprisoned people come and go as there is huge demand and logistics. We send out information about one service, Adopt an Inmate, that is still up and running.

Other items that PLP sends out in response to specific requests include a sheet explaining why we don’t stock conspiracy-related books and a compilation of wicca/pagan articles as that’s a quite popular area of interest.


New PLP display at Oakland comic book store!

How cool is this? Jo, who works at Cape and Cowl Comics in Oakland, saw one of our displays at Pegasus Bookstores in Berkeley. He wants to support our efforts so he contacted us to find out if PLP would partner with Cape and Cowl Comics too! This was an easy YES as we receive many requests for graphic novels but it’s really hard for us to source them.

So, next time you’re in Oakland, be sure to stop by and see the store. It’s a nice environment with an amazing selection for you to peruse. Thanks again to Jo and store owner Eitan Manhoff for making this happen.


PLP thank you letters — Winter 2022

We’re welcoming in the new year with some more uplifting letters and warm holiday greetings from book recipients. It’s always a treat to pull a letter from the current stack and find artwork or kind words from someone who appreciates our efforts. It’s also gratifying because it confirms our books are making it into the hands of eager readers.

We sometimes get requests for very specific books that we stock via remainder orders. Usually someone has seen the book because another incarcerated person at their facility has received it. Word gets out! Sometimes there’s a flurry of letters from a specific prison because our program information has been passed along. We also stamp the inside of books with our address so even if the book recipient doesn’t receive the invoice with the nice note from a volunteer that we send (some prisons are really strict -ugh) they will know that the books came from us. Whatever it takes!


PLP: ways to help during the 2021 holiday season

Holiday greetings from the Prisoners Literature Project. Thanks for reading, donating and supporting our mission. We’re an inclusive, all-volunteer, grassroots nonprofit whose purpose is to encourage reading, the pursuit of knowledge, and self-determination among incarcerated people. And we’re still sending out 200+ packages of books to 49 U.S. states weekly, with your help.

Following our Giving Tuesday appeal (much appreciated, those who donated money or are still intending to!) we wanted to round out 2021 by listing some other ways that you can help support our work.

– Buying ‘much-requested’ books from our online wishlists

Although we get great book donations, some books require special ordering at the Prisoners Literature Project – especially ones around small business setup, homesteading, urban books, tiny houses, preventing domestic violence & more. We just can’t get enough donated books to meet these requests.

We’d really appreciate some help here.  Instead of donating money or donating your own books, you can also buy these books for us via our wishlist.  Buy a book!  Any title you purchase fromour wishlistwill be sent directly to someone behind bars.  You’ll never find a more grateful reader.

(If you’d prefer to use a wishlist service from a local bookstore, we have a Pegasus Books wishlist  or Books Inc. that you’re welcome to use.)

– Supporting our physical displays at local Bay Area bookstores

Please shop at these excellent stores who all gave up precious space to support the PLP – whether you buy books for prisoners or just as Christmas or post-holiday presents! 

The following bookstores have set up display shelves with books to donate to the PLP. Each display features a sign with the PLP logo, paperbacks customers can buy for those inside, flyers about PLP’s ongoing work and free PLP bookmarks:

In the East Bay:
East Bay Booksellers (formerly Diesel Books; 5433 College Ave. Rockridge) 
Moe’s Books (2476 Telegraph Ave in Berkeley)
Pegasus Books (in downtown Berkeley at 2349 Shattuck Ave & at 1855 Solano Ave., Berkeley.)
Owl & Company Bookshop (3941 Piedmont Ave., Oakland)
Walden Pond Books (3316 Grand Ave, Oakland)

in San Francisco:
Green Apple Books on the Park (1231 9th Ave, SF)
Fabulosa Books (Their display of LGBTQ titles was compiled with invaluable input from PLP volunteers and Madison’s LGBT Books-to-Prisoners.)

Finally, we wanted to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. We’re still surviving and thriving with your help, and intend to continue our work for many years to come.

Thanks so much,
Prisoners Literature Project co-ordinators and volunteers.


PLP needs your help this Giving Tuesday!

Now that Giving Tuesday is nearly upon us, we wanted to update you all on the Prisoners Literature Project‘s efforts to send books to incarcerated people throughout the U.S., and explain how we need your help.

Since COVID restrictions have partially lifted, we’ve gathered volunteer groups in our Berkeley, CA headquarters to pack much-needed books for incarcerated folks. We’ve been sending out as many as 350 book packages per week, as we catch up on our backlog.

But what we hadn’t bargained on was the USPS raising its Media Mail rates by more than 10% at the end of August. This – combined with the extra packages – has meant that we’ve been spending up to $7,000 per month (!) on postage in recent months.

So we’d deeply appreciate your help for Giving Tuesday by donating to help pay our postage costs.

Both one-off and recurring donations are needed. And feel free to contact us if you need to donate via an alternative platform (donor advised fund, check, crypto, etc.)



This Thanksgiving, we’d like to thank you for your help in making PLP a success. We’re a grassroots, all-volunteer organization where 100% of donations go directly towards our core goal. And we couldn’t do it without you.

Thanks so much,
Prisoners Literature Project co-ordinators and volunteers.

PS – while we’re keeping Grassroots House as our HQ, we’re running out of space! We’re looking for an extra inexpensive 1,000+ sq. ft space in – or close to – Berkeley, CA where we can run group volunteer sessions, store books, etc. If you can help, please contact us.

Gratitude Poem

We love getting feedback from book recipients. This arrived in the mail recently and we are sharing it here with the permission of author.



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.