Once, on a layover in the Denver airport, a woman walked in front of me, tossed a book in the trash, and left. I was appalled. Who throws away books?! And what’s more, who makes a special trip to the trash can to throw away a book?! I dug the thing out (a Janet Evanovich novel) and read most of it on the trip home.
Eventually, that book ended up traveling to another reader via Paperback Swap, a website wherein members can post unwanted books and other members can request them. I just can’t abide tossing books — even pulpy things by Janet Evanovich. I was thinking about that book this week when I decided we should talk about options for unloved books. Or unneeded books. Or books you just finally admit you don’t care enough to read. My “Currently Reading” pile is like a dozen books deep right now so believe me — I know how books can get in the way in a house.
The aforementioned Paperback Swap is awesome. Members get a credit for each book mailed, good for requesting another free book. You only pay postage — unless you want to buy additional credits — so each book costs about $3. Paperback Swap has rigid rules about the condition of swapped books, so you’re getting stuff without damage, tears, or weird smells, and that’s nice.
Not all of the interface is super user-friendly, but adding and requesting books is. It’s a good place for people like me who tend to read too many books at a time — if a book isn’t immediately available, I still have a request out there waiting for it, so it’s out of my mind.
Learn more about Paperback Swap! If you’re already a PBS member, we can trade usernames in the comments and check each others’ bookshelves for titles we want.
I’m a really, really big fan of leaving things for people to find — I don’t know how I haven’t gotten into geocaching yet. This site, Bookcrossing, is a mix of geocaching and Where’s George. Books are tagged and “released into the wild” — either left somewhere in the hopes a stranger will find, enjoy, and register the find on Bookcrossing, or mailed to a member with said book on their wishlist. I need to get IN on this!
Learn more about Bookcrossing.
Little Free Library
If you’re into books, giving shit away, and curating your community, Little Free Library might interest you. This is a non-profit that builds tiny libraries to go in front lawns, gardens, busy corners, shops, and hold books for anyone to take. Or space for anyone to leave a book. You can buy a LFL starting at $350, or build your own and, if you want to join the network, pay a membership fee of $50. There is little I love more than a library, and even when cities have fantastic public library systems (mine does!) it’s projects like this that can make reading REALLY exciting again.
Learn more about Little Free Libraries.
Of course, you can also donate books to Goodwill, and some libraries take them, too. I just think books should keep going until they’re done! How do you get rid of YOUR books?