That Was the Sound of Mooching

Actually, that was the sound of me putting a lovely book I recently finished (J.L. Carr’s A Month in the Country,) in an envelope and sending it to someone in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Some of you might recall that, a month ago, I tried to unload a plethora of stationery items on you. I managed to get Q to take some, because he is a kind man, and I still have a stack of file folders to send to the wonderful Dr. Gonzo. But beyond that, the reaction to this offer was a collective cry of, don’t you dare send me any more blank journals!

But someone has been thinking about this problem of what to do with our acquisitions. And they came up with Book Mooch. ( I found out about it from Diana at Diaphanous.) It’s very easy to use. The basic idea is that you enter the books you want to give away in a database. You get an email when someone wants one. You mail it to them. You get to mooch a book for every one you give away. The wonderful thing though is that you don’t ever have to get any books back if you don’t want to. I see the stack of books I want to find homes for literally disappearing before my eyes. I hope it works. I hope you go over there and look at my list. It’s very small right now, but I plan to add a few every few days.

One answer to the amount of stuff we acquire is not to acquire it. And I do that by visiting the library. But books seem to come to me despite the fact that I have cards to the libraries in two different counties. I love the idea that I can send the books I don’t need to keep to people who have decided they really want them. Jimmy Carter’s autobiography is a great example of this. I liked having it, and looking it over. But it’s big and takes up a lot of space and someone might need to read the entire thing. Maybe they will then be inspired to go and monitor elections somewhere (like Ohio). That’s the way things should work.

It took me moments to set up an account a few days ago. It is obviously free. (I am all over free things.) And then, I plucked ten books off one of the stacks on the floor in my office, entered their ISBNS (you can find the ISBN on the back of the book or on the page that has the copyright information). Beautiful little snapshots of my books appeared on my page of the site. Some of them are books I’ve read and really liked (Henning Mankell’s The Fifth Woman is there). Some of them are very specific books I doubt anyone will ever want to read. (In Other Words: The Science and Psychology of Second-Language Acquisition? Hey, it’s in perfect shape and it is a very interesting look at the many different ways people learn languages.)

I’m running out the door to go on a quick hike and mail A Month in the Country to Grand Rapids. I cannot think of two better things to be doing today.


16 thoughts on “That Was the Sound of Mooching

  1. BookMooch does sound like a great idea — I would totally participate, except I don’t have any books I want to give away. But maybe I should look around some more — I like the idea of exchanging them so much. And really, some books I just know I’ll never look at again.

  2. That really sounds like a great idea. It’s funny though, the thing that stuck most in my mind after reading your post was “Hey! I have library cards in two counties also!”… There must be a peer group somewhere where multiple library cards is a status symbol…


  3. i am sad to say that i am with uccellina. i don’t even lend for fear of never seeing my precious again.

    but i like the idea. if… only… i… could… even give up the books i know I’ll never read again.

    miser? not of gold….

  4. I missed the great stationary giveaway. I would cheerfully have claimed one of your spare blank books. Not that I don’t have a few already on hand waiting to be filled, but I do like the idea of a bit of bloglily energy infusing my future writing. Mind you, that’s happening anyway thanks to your blog. I am regularly inspired in my own work by hearing about your progress in yours.

    Thanks for the Book Mooch link. I had heard about it but assumed that one had to be based in the U.S. to participate. Your post prompted me to investigate and that turns out not to be so. I have a great deal of trouble giving up books but if some of them have to go it makes me very happy to think of passing them on to another reader who really wants them. I’m definitely going to sign up.

  5. Oh, this is so great to read! I entered my ten books (maybe plus an additional book or three) but have had no bites. I might have to dig a little deeper into my inventory. 😉

  6. What an amazing idea! I have a stack of books that need homes, especially as we need to do a clearout and baby-proof the house. I could give them to Vinnie’s but I much prefer the idea that they are going to someone who will love them.

    I like the idea of “giving back to the universe”. I feel as if I have been so lucky, especially with my son. I want to live my life without the expectation that I will get things back.

  7. it’s interesting to see that there are those who can’t bear to part with their books, Uccellina and Mick. I love that — and although I am not that way, i can see how important it is to retain the things you’ve read in their physical form. The only books I’d never give away are poetry and classic fiction. There are few contemporary novelists whose books I feel compelled to save (maybe just Anne Tyler, and P.D. James, and Sebald.)

    I think you’re so lucky Dorothy to have books around you that you don’t want to give away. I think I read a lot of things and am given quite a few things that I like looking at the first time, but don’t need to return to. Biographies are one such thing (except Claire Tomalin’s Pepys bio), as are contemporary fiction. I don’t need to keep books like the Secret life of Bees (sometimes I think I don’t need to read them either.) Giving away J.L. Carr gave me pause, because it’s a lovely looking book, but it was good to let go!

    Sputnki — I love my library cards! Kate, I saw quite a few Canadians on that list. And also, I think you get more points for sending things to foreign lands. It’ll be interesting to see how large this gets. I’ll be sure to look for your list. Diana, it seemed to get easier to add things as I went on! I don’t have any desire to get anything yet, but I really am looking forward to the giving, as Helen points out, especially to people who want them.

  8. what a lovely post…

    btw: I am in love with the STAEDTLER pencil sharpener. Why would a person require any other (unless for adaptive needs)? And the Pentel eraser is perfect. So many superior products in this world which the economy of scale overpowers like a cheap perfume.

  9. Pingback: A Was Alarmed»Blog Archive » Book Mooch

  10. Uccellina and Mick will resonate with a quote I read today:;)

    “Never lend books – nobody ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are those which people have lent me.” – Anatole France.

    Thanks for BookMooch link, bloglily. Just visited their website and found it interesting. I had no idea something like this existed.

  11. Q, I can’t tell you how glad i am you like that pencil sharpener. Staedtler makes nice products, and the pencil sharpeners are things of beauty: simple and effective. I like what you say about the economies of scale overwhelming the superior products like cheap perfume. It’s so true. You could buy three pencil sharpeners for every Staedtler, but then the staedtler is the last sharpener you’ll ever need to buy and those three will be gone in a matter of weeks.

    “The only books I have in my library are those which people have lent me.” I wonder what Anatole France would think of bookmooch. My immediate thought is that he’d think of a much more elegant name than “mooch” for it.

    xxoo, BL

  12. I came across this blog after researching swap-bot. I am a high school teacher and love the bookmooch site- I am always looking for ways to “freshen up” my classroom library.

    I love swap-bot, but agree that sometimes I am more excited about giving something, and don’t want anything back.

    Sorry to hear that I missed the fun supplies. I am addicted to office products.

    Take care,

  13. It does sound like a wonderful idea, but no one, absolutely no one is going to want my doubles of Pascal Quignard and Patrick Modiano. If I could see what was moochable, I’d probably feel more motivated to seek out books to give away. I’ll have to check out the site.

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