Give books away for books you want with Bookmooch.com

As a renowned bibliophile (you can’t really walk through my house without knocking over the leaning towers of books!) I was intrigued to read about an interesting website in the Lifestyle section of the Sunday Times a few weeks ago. Called Bookmooch.com, the site’s payoff line gives the game away – ‘Give books away. Get books you want’.

Conceived, designed, written and administered by John Buckman, who also runs the online record label, Magnatune, Bookmooch is a community for exchanging used books, like an online second hand book store-slash-literary swop shop. Book lovers from around the world gather on the site to swap books they’re tired of, for books they really want, that tickle their fancy or they might’ve been searching for. The site correctly states how ‘emotionally difficult it is’ for book lovers to get rid of books. This is a fantastic way to ‘find a good home for your books’, and keep them in circulation.

Intrigued by the term ‘mooch’, I’ve included the definition as per the site: “to obtain something without paying for it, or to borrow something without intending to return it.” So, joining BookMooch is a way to get books without paying for them (apart from postage fees), and without any intention of returning the book (unlike a library) – but you can if you want to! Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want in return, from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you’ve read a book, you can keep it forever, or put it back into BookMooch for someone else.

As the site is international, one can access it in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and Chinese. There are also forums and statistics on the site for those who want to do more than merely log their books’ travels.

For bibliophiles looking for even more interactivity, there’s a BookMooch blog, a wiki, and a space on Second Life. There’s also a strong feel good factor as you can donate your points to certain charities in need.

There’s no cost in joining the website, only in posting your books. If you stick to swapping within our shores you’ll save on postage costs, but swapping books overseas will earn members more points. The points system is quite tricky to explain, but the site offers a handy table.

You can keep a “book wish list” that will let you know when books you’ve requested become available in the catalogue.

I think BookMooch is such a good idea! Bibliophiles around the world unite! ;)

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