Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Book swaps

My recent library posting got me in a very bookish frame of mind... so I've embarked on an experiment I've been meaning to try for a while: book swapping. I've plucked a name from the google soup and signed up to ReaditSwapit.com but there are many many options out there. Groups of wannabe swappers range from local to international networks, some meeting in person to discuss and handover their wares, others setting up swaps electronically and leaving the rest to the postman. I've gone for the appealingly anonymous and less time consuming online option. The Guardian compiled a list of bookswap sites last year and received some interesting feedback from both fans and phobes.

The books in my life that I couldn't bear to part with were safely boxed up in our cellar three years ago, to make way for Ginger's invasion of our home - Eric Carle and Mr Bump now jostle for space where Jeffrey Eugenides, Vikram Seth and Louis De Bernieres once announced my literary leanings. My modest collection of grown up books acquired (rather than borrowed) since then have now been split into Keep and Swap piles and the Swaps offered up to all at ReaditSwapit. The best bit is compiling a Wishlist of books you'd like to trade for, then using the search function to request swaps with users who have one of these on offer.

I'm a convert! I've recovered from the knockbacks my rash of initial swap requests generated and learned to check out people's profiles and reading tastes before suggesting a trade. By having some bestsellers on my list I've even had people competing for my books, leaving me in the great position of perusing all of their book lists to see who I'd rather swap with. If nothing takes your fancy you can always say no thanks and hang on until a better offer comes along. I've only been a member for a fortnight but already I've bagged myself four books I can't wait to read - each for the price of posting a paperback - and there is something so nice about receiving parcels through the good old snail mail. If you have a ReaditSwapit account or feel inspired to sign up, check out my ReaditSwapit Profile and perhaps we can do thrify business :)

So far I've seen little online action on the children's book swap front, but here's an inspiring tale from Slate.com... This thrifty mum (or 'Spartan Mom' in this case) has replaced the dreaded gift and goody-bag culture at her son's birthday parties with a book swap scheme. We haven't yet reached the stage where we're expected to invite all of Ginger's classmates over on his birthday - and presumably reciprocate, bearing gifts, for each of these 25 close friends - but I'm warned it can't be put off forever. Since we had to buy a cupboard taller than me to house the trappings of his 2nd birthday this scheme sounds very appealing. Now we just have to convert each of those classmates' parents to our frugle, oh-so-practical ways...