Prison Books Collective Publishing and Distribution is a Chapel Hill/Carrboro/Durham, NC-based anti-prison group that sends hundreds of books to people in prisons and jails in North Carolina and Alabama each month, maintains an extensive radical ‘zine (small political booklets) catalog (which we will send to any state), and publishes a zine of art and writing by people in prison.

Mission: We are an all-volunteer group founded in 2006 that sends free books to people in NC and AL prisons, and zines nationwide. We strive to reduce the isolation and expand the minds of people in prison by sending free reading materials.

Through Oct. 2017, a sister project widely distributed a monthly poster promoting political prisoner support (you can find past posters here). We also work to raise awareness about the prison-industrial complex in our own community and connect with others seeking to end this brutally racist and repressive system. We are a non-profit book distributor and publisher.

Our collective formed in early Spring of 2006 with the purpose of getting reading materials into the “gulag archipelago” that is the US prison system. In geographic coordination with similar groups, we ended up reaching out primarily to prisoners in Mississippi, Alabama, and central and eastern North Carolina. (We now serve Alabama and all of North Carolina, but not Mississippi.) Through this process, our group has become something of a lifeline for thousands upon thousands of people who otherwise are completely disconnected from any support base. With the goals of providing vital political and self-educational resources to prisoners, as well as spreading a radical critique of the prison system on both sides of the wall, our group has expanded to include several different projects. These now include the free books program, our ‘zine catalog, and our Words of Fire publication of prisoners’ work.


  1. ann nash

    what a great service you supply-we dont have anything like this in new zealand-the howard league maybe, and prisoners aid-but I dont think they take an active role in providing support for men and women in prison. books are so important for inmates who are shut off from the world outside. keep up the good work!

  2. sunshine

    I am for anyone who reaches out to prisoners in such a formum because people have been mislead on some issues as to why they wind up in such a place,they need not be mistreated because they faultered in life .forgiveness is a great power and we should learn to use it .would we want to be feed any ole thing or kept out of the learning or even be reached out to cause we made a mistake .sometimes it is our mistakes that drove them to the breaking point of destruction anyway,yes it is their final choice that brings it to the thing that landed them there ,ending it with this a soul can use to be revived in any setting or position

  3. ann

    good to hear your comment sunshine. i hope you have access to some good reading whereever you are. the pen is mightier than the sword! reading should be enjoyable as well as informative. go well. blessings, Ann

  4. john sigalas

    how do i get past copies of words of fire because i have drawn lots of pieces for your zine and since my release i have not been able to contact yall

    1. prisonbookscollective

      email us your address and we’ll mail them to you.

      1. Jimmy Harkin

        I am going to send you on papers and magazines for prisoners to read. Please write back and let me know if you are still doing this Jimmy.

  5. Anna

    I would like to connect an inmate to a service so that he could receive books. How can I do this? Anna

    1. prisonbookscollective

      What state is this person located in? We serve MS, AL, and NC. But we can give you info on groups that serve other regions.

      1. Anne Emerson

        I write to two prisoners, one at Polk and one in Lanesboro. Can I get reading material to them through you? I am in Boston and feel very remote from the awful situation they are in and wish I had a better way to monitor what’s happening in these two prisons.

  6. Holly

    Hi. This is Holly at The Sun magazine. I wrote you about donating copies of the book Sunbeams and you were checking to see if you can manage to find space for them. Have you had any luck?
    Thanks for all that you do.

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  8. Amy

    Is there a drop off for book donations? Where is the location and times that you are opened? I have a closet full of books that I need to get rid of.

    1. prisonbookscollective

      You can drop them off at our workspace in Carrboro.

  9. sonniq

    How does one get an inmate on your list to get books.

    1. sonniq

      He is in Texas. i see you commented to another person about the states you service. If you know of a place services Tx it would be greatly apperciated.

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  11. Monique S Hall

    I’m a publisher trying to provide my author’s books for your catalog to be ordered and sent to prison. What’s the process

    1. Prison Books Collective (Post author)

      Can you send us an email at prisonbooks@gmail.com?
      Thanks much!

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  13. ML

    Around 35% of the prisoners in North Carolina are white. How is prison “brutally racist”, and does this mean white prisoners don’t matter? And if they don’t, or not as much, because they are white, how is that not “racist”?

    1. Prison Books Collective (Post author)

      1) NC is 70% “white.” 35% of prisoners in NC are “white.” That’s a pretty wide discrepancy. Clearly NC prisons do not reflect the population of NC.
      2) Prisons are brutally racist in part because they reintroduced African slavery after Reconstruction. There are many, many other reasons, but this one is sufficient to answer your question.
      3) “White” prisoners matter. If NC’s prison system more accurately reflected NC’s population (i.e. 70% of the prisoners were “white”), we would not be any happier. The point is the abolition of prisons as a barbaric system of social control, not a better or fairer composition of prisoners.

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