What to Do With Your Old Pantone Guides.

Ben Buzzard
June 26, 2023
A pantone book splayed out out on a green background.

According to Pantone, you should replace your formula guide every 12-18 months[1]. With each Pantone book set costing over $200 you don’t just want to toss them into the trash. So this leaves the question, what should be done with your old Pantone books?

Reselling Unused Pantone Guides

When you purchase your Pantone formula guides from authorized partners you will receive both a Coated and Uncoated Pantone Formula Guide. In screen printing we almost exclusively use the coated book, this will leave most of us with an abundance of uncoated guides laying around. They may be useless for us, but there are plenty of other businesses that use the uncoated guides.

Start Local!

It is always a good idea to start local and build connections with companies in your area. If your area has any businesses that work in the paper printing industry, such as cardboard box manufacturers, or stationary printing companies you could reach out to them and see if they would be interested in purchasing any at a discounted price.

If you find a company that is local, try to form a good relationship with them. See if you would be able to coordinate updating or replacing your Pantone Books at the same time, saving both companies the hassle of reselling unused books.

As well, see about purchasing some of the goods the other company manufactures. If a stationary printer, purchase business cards, envelopes, or brochures. If a box manufacturer, see if you can work out good deals to get custom printed boxes to ship out orders in.

The relationship with another local company that deals in graphics would most likely end up benefiting you as well. If one of their customers asks the paper printer for suggestions on apparel printing, you would be top of mind.

Selling Online

If you don’t have any local companies that you are able to sell your uncoated Pantone books to, try using an online marketplace such as Ebay. For up to date pantone books you can look at getting around $70-$90 each[2] plus shipping. If you have an older Pantone book, those usually go for around $50.

When you sell online, you could also include a printed sample, and or a business card in the box that you send out the Pantone books in. Showing the quality of your work or just letting the recipient know that you are a printer could bring in some business for you.

Trade In, Trade Up!

If you have held onto both your Coated and Uncoated Pantone books, and are ready for some new ones, Pantone will give you a rebate for returning your old books. Using Pantone's own Trade In program you can get $35 back with the trade in of your old Pantone Formula Guide set[3]. To be eligible for this rebate, you must first purchase a new Pantone book directly from Pantone, or from an authorized Pantone dealer. After purchasing a new book, you can download the rebate forum, fill it out, and send that as well as the Formula Guide set into Pantone and they will send you a rebate check.

This is a good option if you have old uncoated sets that no one wants to purchase through other means. As you will get more money selling your new uncoated books as soon as you receive them.

Donate To Local Schools

These days, schools are constantly being underfunded and are unable to purchase updated materials that would benefit the students. A lot of school districts have graphic and printing classes where students can learn about screen or offset printing, and color theory. For them, being able to have a pantone book, even if not in the greatest condition, would help students understand the standards that are currently used in the print industry.

If you don’t know of any off hand, we have found the best way to locate these courses is just a quick internet search. Something along the lines of [Location] Graphic Communication Classes. If you can find the email of the director or teacher for the class, send them a message letting them know what you have on hand, and if they would like to receive them as a donation.

You may be able to use your donations as a tax write off.

Ben Buzzard
Last Updated:
June 26, 2023