Saturday, May 30, 2009


Blackstone Library Detail
Detail, Blackstone Branch Library, Chicago, Illinois

Yes, I've admitted it, I'm addicted to books. Worse yet, I don't even read them all! Sometimes I'm amazed that my house doesn't sink under the weight of my books. In yet another vain attempt to declutter I joined the ranks of the Bookcrossers.
There are no good thrift stores to drop off books in my neighborhood. I'm not even aware of a Salvation Army or Goodwill bin nearby. So getting rid of books that way requires a trip to a store at least 20 minutes away. I'm always struck by the irony of burning lots of gas to recycle books and used clothes. I was raised to respect books and cannot, for the life of me, throw one out no matter how trashy unless it is mildewed or water damaged. So what to do?
I had heard, as have most people who randomly surf the internet, of Bookcrossing. The principle is simple, give your unwanted books to other people. So yesterday I signed up. It turns out, there's a catch. There always is, isn't there? And no, money is not the catch. The catch is that you are supposed to "release" your books "into the wild." That means leave them somewhere and hope someone else picks them up and enjoys them. But where to go? You can't leave them in a bookstore, obviously. Outside runs the risk of rain. Cafes might work but how to casually abandon a book in one? I'm not in train stations, airports, airplanes or hotels often enough for that to be useful. In short, I registered one book and have been carrying it around for the past day unsure where to leave it. There are supposed to be Bookcrossing Zones--places that have agreed to let you leave books for swap--but I could find none near me. And I live near a University!
I think I've given up on Bookcrossing. I need to be able to unload my books easily. Next, I tried Bookmooch. The principle of Bookmooch is that people are able to post their books up for mooching and get credits to mooch books for themselves. I posted 3 books and within hours two people had requested copies of two of them. The down side is I had to run to the post office. So for a grand total of less than $5 I got rid of two books. I listed on my wishlist some books I was interested in owning and now have one on the way here. It was so fun and easy I listed two more books to give away. One thing I like about this process is that I can get rid of books that I didn't like and wouldn't send to a friend. The down side? I'm still taking in new books, it is hard to find books I actually want to mooch, and I have to keep track of what books I have listed to send. I also have to be willing to run to the post office periodically, not something I am good at. Then there's the odd thought of paying money to get rid of books!
I'm going to keep it up for a time and see how it goes. I can donate my book credits to charity if I want to keep more books leaving than arriving. And there is a certain pleasure in the thought that my books are currently winging their way to new owners.


self taught artist said...

dont forget there is if you just want to give and not have to pay or mail or drop off.
are they so ratty that schools or libraries or out of the way cafes wouldn't want them?

Kathe said... IS a great idea. I just donate my old books to the library now and then.

June Calender said...

I went through much of the thought process you describe about Bookcrossings and Bookmouch and decided neither would work for me for much the same reasons you give. I've decided to pile the books to go out in a bad until I find an organization gathering books for a sale -- if they'll pick up sizable donations, great. If not, then it's only one trip maybe no more than every 3 or 4 months. Good luck in your attempts to recycle, the free cycle idea sounds worth checking out.

deb said...

give away books, this is heresy, I couldn't do it! No actually our local library had a mammoth book sale every year and so I take my books there, a few anyway, I force myself to take at least a few... but they support a great cause and yes! I usually buy some while I'm there too...

Gerome Freeman said...

Love your review and thanks for sharing your experience ... it'd be great if you re posted and added your ranking for bookmooch here: