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Book Swapping For Dummies

by Candice Walsh Jan 19, 2010
It’s time to stop hogging all your good literature. Share the wealth.

Books are some of the few items most people don’t mind buying second-hand. There’s something charming about lifting the cover of a new paperback to find a hastily scrawled inscription on the inside, sometimes even a date.

Here are two ideas for acquiring books you’ve been meaning to read, while getting rid of the ones you never want to read again.

Book exchange websites

A few months ago, I was introduced to Bookmooch, an interactive community of book-lovers that uses a point system to trade books. The only thing you have to pay for is the shipping and handling costs. Basically, you create an inventory of all the books you want to give away, and a wish-list of all the books you would like to receive.

When someone adds a book to their inventory which is already on your wish-list, you are notified by email. The trick is to Mooch the book immediately before anyone else snatches it.

The best thing about Bookmooch is that the point system is designed so that you can mooch more books than give away. You earn points for doing everything from adding books to your inventory to acknowledging when you’ve received a book, thus creating a lovely book cycle. You can even donate your points to charities.

Goodreads is another interactive website currently only offered in the USA. Here you can browse other people’s bookshelves, read and write reviews, and rave about literature in the very community-oriented forums.

Remember, however, that if you want to build up a good book swapping reputation, ensure your books are delivered in good condition. For bonus karma points, insert a little note with a “Happy Reading!” wish. The more good reviews you have, the more books you’ll receive.

Find a local book club

If you’re wary of exchanging your home address online with strangers, or skeptical about whether or not some people will actually follow through with the exchange, find a local book club. Generally book clubs are designed for readers to share a common book, but it’s a great way to meet other book-lovers who may lend you some material. Rounding up a diverse group of people will open the door for trying new genres or authors you may not have considered before.

If a local book club is not available, start your own. Network with friends and friends of friends to find a quiet location, bring snacks and indulge in the nerdier side of life.

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