London · Love

Lightly used, heavily loved books, anyone?


If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than a month, you know I love books.  I do a monthly book wrap up, special reviews and I even co-author a separate blog with my younger sister which is about nothing but books.

I’ve always been a big reader from even a very young age.  There’s nothing like the feel of a book in your hand or the smell you get in a dusty old bookshop.  It’s comforting, safe and familiar to me.  I do own a Kindle which I use on a regular basis but let me assure you I have a total of three floor to ceiling bookshelves full of books, most of which are used (and well loved!).

I love a good used book.  I love finding notes in books, pages marked for whatever reason, inscriptions in the front.  Those little marks on the pages, highlights made, they’re personal.  Books are meant to be shared everywhere with everyone.  Even with my Kindle I do still frequent the local used bookshop (five books for £2.50?  Heck yes!) on a regular basis.

Since starting my Twitter account for The London Diaries I’ve been following lots of cool people/groups including Time Out London who post lots of really cool links throughout the day which I then retweet to my masses of followers (all eleven of them).  This morning they threw out a tweet about book swapping via Books on the Underground and Books for London , a concept I’m familiar with having used BookMooch in the past.

BookMooch is a fantastic book swapping website where you go online, list the books you want to offload and earn points for giving out books.  You can then use your points to “mooch” books from other users.  It’s free to join and use the website (they run on donations) and all you pay is to ship the book to your moocher.  Word of the wise, don’t put up too many books all at once or you might find yourself paying a hefty chunk of postage all at the same time!  I know I’ve been caught up in that before; as a general rule I stuck to three books at any one time.  I haven’t used BookMooch in a long time, though I’m sure my account’s still active.

Book Crossing is another interesting and fun experiment and has really taken off in the last few years.  The idea is that users will tag their books with special codes (and notes inside) and leave them in public places for people to find and enjoy with the idea that they’ll log the book on the Book Crossing website.  Users can then track a book’s journey throughout a city, country, even the world!  The site has a high volume of users worldwide and is very popular.  I will admit that I was registered there some years ago but never used it.  I re-registered this morning (I have a few books to offload) and the site is most definitely sleeker and easier to use.  I’m looking forward to getting some use out of it in a few days!

Back to Time Out’s tweet this morning about two London-based book swapping groups, Books on the Underground and Books for London, who have the same aim with the same means:  spreading the joy and love of books throughout London via the public transport system.  I love it this idea and everything about both sites.  How many times have I been caught out on the Tube without a book?  Loads!

Books for London operates on the idea of putting swap shelves in Tube and train stations throughout the city.  In addition to cutting down on waste in our landfills, Books for London also aims to promote London as a “capital of literacy”, by “…providing our network of volunteers with books, shelves, expertise and support, our first aim is to reach as many of the 700 underground and rail stations in Greater London as we can.”  Books for London “want to establish train and tube stations as the heart of a capital wide scheme for book swapping, with shelves and permanent and semi-permanent swaps in as many stations as possible.”

Again, I love it!

Books on the Underground operates on a similar premise however they encourage readers to simply leave their books behind on the Tube or on the benches along the platform and tweet pictures of what they’ve left behind to post up on the website.   Books on the Underground will even send you some stickers to put on your book before you leave it behind!

How cool are Books on the Underground and Books for London??  I secretly find myself hoping I find one of the books from Books on the Underground on the tube or come across one of the several shelves sponsored by Books for London , not  that I need any more books, mind you.

Both are brilliant ideas, I say!  And why not?  The tube is definitely effective in spreading colds and viruses!  Why wouldn’t books and knowledge thrive below the city streets?

I can see me using a combination of Books on the Underground and Book Crossingin the very near future!

Happy Reading.

steph2

If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1.  Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.

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