Books to Prisoners has no central organization. Chapters have been springing up all over the United States and Canada since the 1970s, under various names. The main act that links all the groups together that identify with Books to Prisoners is the collection of reading material to donate to libraries in prisons. Groups typically solicit request letters of what they would like to read from people who are incarcerated and then respond at no cost with donated books. The biggest expense is often postage to mail books across the country.
The philosophy behind BTP is that reading can change a person's perspectives. Many groups also assert that books are a way to access education that is a right for everyone. Books that are requested range in subject from indigenous history, to women's rights, to textbooks. The groups often face challenges getting books accepted into prisons, having libraries shut down and raising awareness about prisions in their communities.