An experiment in generosity

February 29, 2008

RamsayphEvery week I’m in London I have lunch at a great Vietnamese restaurant with my author friend Ramsay Wood, followed by a multi-hour walk. This past week I pitched Ramsay on my idea for a “gift economy” experiment in book publishing.

I’ve been thinking hard about how BookMooch might be able to help authors.

Some background:

The current publishing industry is based on a centralized model, where books are sent from central sources, and once read, the publisher hopes you’ll permanently store the book, not share it, or at least throw in the trash. Publishers don’t profit when books are passed along to your friends, or resold through used book stores. There is an argument to be made that used book sales, and word-of-mouth book-trading increases demand for (some) titles, but it’s not an obvious point.

Book-sharing, on the other hand, encourages you to read a book and then pass it on, and never to destroy a book. The same book may be read by 10 people, and many of those people would never have considered the book if it weren’t available for the low price and often the recommendations of friends and people whose taste you share helps create demand as well.

Cama-1
So here is the experiment…

Many years ago, Ramsay wrote a book of fables, in which cats are the main characters. The book was beautifully illustrated (the cover is on the right). That book is now out of print, and Ramsay holds the copyright to the text.

Ramsay and I are thinking about paying to self-publish a new edition of the book, and make it available for free on BookMooch. Books would be printed “on demand” as mooch requests come in, and we’d pay the postage and printing costs. I’m thinking about using blurb.com, as they produce photo-book quality print-on-demand books, though the price is a bit steep at $21 a book (plus postage, comes to about $24 a book).

Here’s the “experiment in generosity” part:

  • if you enjoy the book, and can afford it, please tip the author (with paypal).
  • you choose the amount to tip, with a suggestion of $10 (remember, it cost $24 to print and ship)
  • you list the book on BookMooch and pass it on to someone else
  • if you want to keep the book, we ask that you tip at least the cost of the printing for the book.
  • if the book wasn’t that exciting to you, or you simply can’t afford to tip, no problem, but do pass the book onto someone else via BookMooch
  • each subsequent moocher of the book is asked to tip the author

The questions I’d like answered with this experiment are:

  • can an author afford to self-publish and give away books, and make back the investment through volunteered tips?
  • Can peer-to-peer book swapping get a lot more people to read and enjoy a book?
  • Is there more economic value in the life-after-the-first-sale of a book
  • Is this a way BookMooch could help authors?

What do you think of this idea?

Indiepaper

The Independent has a story today about BookMooch which I’m very excited about. I blogged about my interview with the journalist last week and he had told me the story would be today.

After the call last week, I talked about it with my wife Jan, and we both thought I might have “blown it” by giggling slightly when the journalist asked me “what position I had in the company” and volunteering we were “just a few people”. Small companies usually aren’t newsworthy.

Thankfully, the journalist is a good guy (and knew about BookMooch already, from his own research) and not only kept us in the story, but we’re on the newspaper’s home page and in the tagline for the story: “From a book club taking on Amazon to…”

Below is a small extract of the story, and the entire thing is at:
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/the-googles-of-tomorrow-787804.html

IndiehomeThe Googles of tomorrow

From a book club taking on Amazon to the loans firm shaking up banking – Tim Walker meets the creators of the next digital superbrands


Where do you want to go today? The future’s bright. I’m lovin’ it. These are the mantras with which our brands have mesmerised us. Microsoft and McDonald’s aren’t just consumer products – they’re lifestyle choices. But all that is about to change. Or so says Robert Jones, director of brand consultancy Wolff Olins. He and his colleagues recently identified some of the next generation of brands. “The creation of myths around 20th-century brands is under threat,” Jones explains. “We’re too well-informed and too sceptical to believe in image. What brands have to do in the future is not create a big idea that people buy into, but be useful for people. The days of pure consumerism in the classic economic sense are over. Consumers are also creators, who interact with brands such as YouTube, and who make ethical rather than purely financial decisions when they’re buying things. This is the age of the post-consumer. There’s a French word for it: ‘consommacteur’.”

Bookmooch

IndiearticleBookMooch is a simple but attractive concept: an online book exchange. John Buckman, the founder and CEO (right), had his eureka moment in Norwich. “I was in a community centre, with a bookshelf that had a big sign saying, ‘Leave a book, take a book.’ People were socialising and recommending books to each other. I thought: ‘Could I recreate that feeling on the internet?'” Now he has his answer, with about 50,000 BookMooch users worldwide.

When you log on to BookMooch for the first time, you list the books you want to give away. For every 10 you list, you can ask for a book from someone else. Every time someone takes you up on the offer, and someone takes a book from you, you can ask for a book from someone else.

There are some 750,000 titles to choose from. If you send a book abroad you can claim three books in return. This sounds like bad news for publishers, but, says Buckman, “publishers are usually very excited by the idea of fans interacting directly with some sort of book site. They’re happy to hear people are passionate about books. People correspond when they pass books along. When you read a book that you love, you want to give it to someone else so that they can experience it.”

The personal touch is one of the keys to BookMooch’s success: “BookMooch asks you to do something in the real world,” says Buckman, “which makes it meaningful and emotional.”

Amazon should love us

February 27, 2008

As you know, BookMooch doesn’t charge its members to use it: the only expense is to the postal service.

BookMooch’s only source of income (since I don’t take advertising, either) is when someone is on a book details page and they click

Amainfo

to read more about the book (such as Amazon’s book reviews) and then go on to buy something at Amazon (maybe that book, maybe something else).

This is a very “soft-sell” approach on my part, mainly because I do BookMooch for the love of it, and not to make a profit, and I don’t want BookMooch to be a shop, or “e-commerce destination” or what-have-you.

Nonetheless, it’s nice to cover one’s expenses, which for BookMooch are $500 a month to the Internet hosting company I use, about $4000 for the big machine I bought over the summer, and $800 in minimum taxes for the honor of being incorporated in the US.

So, does BookMooch lose money? The good news is no, I just squeeze by those Amazon referral payments, which I’ll be detailing below.

The reason I’m writing this blog now is that I have a shiny new email from Amazon telling me my quarterly payment is in. It was larger than expected, so I thought I’d do some analysis, of BookMooch’s 18 months of existence.

this first chart shows how many clicks to Amazon occur each day, because of BookMooch:

Clicks2Amazon

You can see that we’ve just about tripled the number of clicks to Amazon, from 1000-a-day to the current 3000-a-day. You’ll also notice big bumps around christmas both years.

The black line, which you’ll see in most of these charts, is a 30-day rolling average, to smooth out the data.

This next chart shows the number of unique visitors (ie, people, rather than the number of clicks) to Amazon from BookMooch:

Unique2Am

it looks quite similar to the total-clicks report, as you might expect it should.

This next chart shows the number of purchases (orders) per day at Amazon, because of BookMooch:

Ama Order

it’s grown a bit faster than the number of visitors or clicks, which is interesting. We’ve gone from 10 purchases a day, to 40 per day, which is a 4x growth, compared to the 3x growth of the visitors to Amazon.

This chart shows the percentage of BookMooch visitors to Amazon who buy something. You can see a very strong “seasonal trend”, i.e. people are much more likely to buy around christmas time.

Percbuy

Switching over to a different report at Amazon, which shows payments to BookMooch. The raw data looks like this:

Date Amount
9/5/06 $420.56
10/5/06 $432.42
11/5/06 $432.42
12/5/06 $432.42
3/1/07 $558.20
4/6/07 $531.32
5/2/07 $505.10
6/1/07 $1,063.77
7/2/07 $674.62
8/4/07 $673.70
9/4/07 $667.04
10/2/07 $813.62
11/4/07 $760.98
12/3/07 $948.04
1/2/08 $956.80
2/2/08 $1,389.28

The first two payments were quarterly, and in 2007 Amazon switched to monthly payments. BookMooch existed for only one month (September) in 2006, so I left that number alone, but the Q4 2006 number, I divided by 3 and put into 3 months, so the chart would work.

In chart form, this looks like:

Ampaym

The numbers are going up, which I like (grin).

If you do some basic math, you can see that Amazon is paying BookMooch about $10,000 a year. Since my expenses yearly are:

* $6000/year for internet hosting
* $4000 for a new machine (bought in fall 2007)
* $800/year in taxes

The $10,000 that Amazon pays more-or-less covers all my expenses. Super!

And, the curve is going up, which is good news, because I will need to buy more machines in the future, probably in about 6 months, to handle the continuing growth in BookMooch usage.

I think Amazon should be happy with us, since we sell about $10,000 a month worth of books for them, and this has been rising nicely over the past year:

Monthamasa

Since BookMooch is paid an 8% commission, I worked backwards on this data to determine how much Amazon was selling.

Every day, BookMooch helps Amazon sell between $300 and $400 worth of books, though lately this number has been climbing, as you can see:

Avgdaily

If you’re interested in the source data behind these charts, you can download the excel spreadsheet that has both the data and the charts.

Drop shadows

February 26, 2008

This is a silly little posting about the tiny things I worry about, in this case the little shadow on the book covers at BookMooch. It’s also serving as a notice of a change, in case I “broke” the display of book covers somewhere.

A few days ago, I read an article about how you can tell Amazon to modify the look of book covers, adding borders drop shadows and other effects.

About a year ago, I used some fancy HTML to put drop shadows around the covers on bookmooch:
Olddrop

however, they’re a bit slow to draw onscreen, because of the fancy HTML, and the imperfection of the bottom left corner always bugged me:

Dropcorner

It just took me an hour, to switch from my fancy HTML drop shadows to the Amazon-created ones, that look like this:

Newdrop

I also like that the “sun” appears to come from the top left, which is the standard in most user interfaces, and BookMooch previously did, but not very elegantly.

So now Amazon makes the book cover drop shadow for us on BookMooch, and so the pages load just a wee bit faster and it looks (to me) a little cleaner. I’m also putting a light grey 1 pixel border around the covers, as I think that looks clean.

Hopefully, this little change will work for everyone (ie, no broken cover art), do post a comment if there are any books that this doesn’t work for.

BookMooch Lottery

February 26, 2008

Lottery2Mikko Saari is running a 2nd BookMooch lottery, both because it’s fun and also because it raises money for charity.

The way it works is that you send points to the lottery account on BookMooch. Each “point” is one lottery ticket, and increases the odds of your winning.

Half the points gathered by the lottery account will go to 10 winners. The other half will go to charity.

When you donate a point, you also name your favorite charity, and that will effect which charities receive points from the lottery.

The lottery was first run in July 2007, and received over 500 points. Maybe it will be even bigger this time?

I love these spontaneous, self-organizing projects, like the Lottery, Angels, and the BM Journals.

More information about the BookMooch Lottery

Barbarians for Literacy

February 25, 2008

Thor3He’s just a little bit crazy, but in a good way.

His name is Hercules Invictus (really, it is) and he goes to schools and libraries, dressed like something out of a movie, and has various mythic activities that encourage children in several positive ways. His goals are to encourage literacy, gain an interest in history, help them get leadership and socialization skills, and stay fit.

In his “Mythic RPG” program, he plays role playing games with kids at a local library. Here is a short explanation of his “Mythic RPG” program from his web site:

Role Playing Games, or RPGs, allow players to experience the excitement of being larger-than-life heroes adventuring in a variety of imaginative settings. More versatile and interactive than video games, RPGs encourage reading, socialization and teamwork as players cooperate in overcoming obstacles and solving puzzles.

Our first and most successful literacy program, the Mythic RPG, was launched in 2005 to encourage kids to read more for recreation and to increase their visits to our local library.

We’ve been told that the kids in our Mythic RPG program are forming more friendships, are displaying leadership skills (organizing their own games and teaching their friends to play) and are demonstrating great passion for their shared hobby.

Thor2

In his Mythic Literacy program, the RPG game playing is supplemented with creative writing and making artwork. The goal is to get kids really excited about something historical and have them want to read up on the stuff on their own. “Reading equals homework” for most kids, and Hercules helps overcome that.

His web sites states it this way:

Herc1 Participants in our Mythic RPG program earn points for creative writing and game related art work. They also earn points for writing reports on the books they have read that relate to their adventures. As an added bonus, kids playing the Mythic RPG also develop their math skills and become more interested in history and literature. Parents are happy that their kids are having fun while demonstrating a greater love of learning.

Hercules Invictus’ goal is to make learning fun, exciting and very accessible.

In a recent interview, Hercules was asked what Parents think of all this:

Thor: They love it. We get lots of positive feedback and a fair amount of parental involvement. We welcome and encourage this. The kids get points for creative writing and game related art work. They also get points for writing reports on the books they have read that relate to their adventures. Kids develop their math skills and become interested in history and literature. Parents are happy that their kids love learning. We’ve also been told that the kids are forming more friendships, are displaying leadership skills (organizing their own games and teaching their friends to play) and are demonstrating passion for their shared hobby. Some kids are now playing RPGs with their parents and siblings. One kid introduced the game to his grandma.

Hercules Invictus is a US government registered 501c3 charity.

He needs more books to give away to kids during these events.

I’ve approved Hercules as a charity on BookMooch because I love the idea; it’s a very creative way to get kids interested in books, and the wonderful worlds you can build in your head.

If you like what he’s doing, please give BookMooch charity points to Hercules.

You can contact Hercules via his BookMooch account.

VenusZine

February 19, 2008

VenusZine published a very friendly article about BookMooch today.

Read it at:
http://venuszine.com/articles/art_and_culture/culture/2466/Dont_buy_or_borrow__mooch

Don’t buy or borrow – mooch

John Buckman of BookMooch wants to spread the literary love

By Genevieve Diesing
Published: February 18th, 2008 | 9:05am

Attention, bookworms: Put down your library cards and step away from those overpriced bookstores! Bookmooch.com, an 18-month-old global trading network for anyone who likes to read, is making it possible for hundreds of thousands to share their cherished reads and get some in return.

The service works like this: Whenever you give away books, you receive a certain amount of points. When you see books that you like, you can use your points to purchase them. John Buckman, who created the money-free system, built the operation for people who not only love to read, but hate to see a good book go to waste. We talk with Buckman about the hows, whys and maybes.

What kind of a reception have you gotten so far?
Right from the beginning, there was a lot of interest, which really surprised me. After a year and a half, there are about 60,000 members listing 400,000 books to give away, and over 500,000 books have been exchanged.

What kind of a social impact can you see this service having?
I hope that more people will read more. I remember an interview I had with the LA Times: the woman who called me said she was doing the story because her 11-year-old had read 20 books in the past five weeks because of BookMooch, and she never was that interested in reading before. She loves the social aspect of money-free trading with other book lovers.

Why do you think BookMooch is superior to other sites that could fulfill a similar service – such as Amazon or eBay?
If you think “I could get $7 for this book, why should I give it away?” then by all means, go sell it on eBay. However, if you are thinking “I loved this book, I want to give it to someone else who wants to read it and will also enjoy it,” then you’re someone who would like BookMooch. Not everything in the world has to be about money and maximizing how much you get for everything. BookMooch is more about sending books off to a good home, and in return, finding books you want to read and receiving them for free. Another aspect of giving books away is that often the shipping effort is more than the cash you would get from selling it. Instead, use BookMooch to send a book you don’t want to someone who does want it, and in return you can ask someone else to send you a book you really want. It’s like getting books for free.

Could you give me an example of some of the trades that have already occurred?
Personally, I’ve given 517 books away, and this week I am boxing up and sending a variety of things, including several books by Rose Tremain, the Time Out film & video guide, several business books, and a picture book on making perfect espresso. I was so happy when someone mooched all my academic philosophy books from my graduate school days – they were doing a thesis on a similar topic, and most of those books were long out of print. Not only was I never going to reread those books, but they found a perfect new home.

Do you have any interesting stories thus far?
BookMoochers can give their points to various charities who need specific books, and thousands of books have found a good home this way. For example, we help stock small public libraries all over the world, from disaster-torn New Orleans, to a Women’s Center in New Zealand. Just today I signed up HEROES, a California-based charity helping people volunteer to help in schools. There is also the BookMooch Journal Project, where people collaboratively write books, such as My First Six Months As a Father or an illustrated version of Alice in Wonderland. Each person writes a few pages on the chosen theme, and passes it on to someone else.

What gave you the idea for Bookmooch?
I was on vacation in Norwich, England and went in a local community center that had a room with bookshelves in it and a sign that said “Leave a book, take a book.” People were meeting there to talk about books, others were flipping through the bookshelf to see what they liked. I liked the warm, friendly feel; gathering around to talk about books and give them to each other with no money being exchanged. What if I could recreate this feeling on the internet?

Any future plans for the site?
I’d really like to get libraries more involved. Not only do they have to throw away a lot of books each year that we’d like to make use of, but also they’re usually tragically under-funded, and BookMooch can help them get more books for their money.

A top brand for 2008?

February 18, 2008

I just got off the phone with a journalist from The Independent.

Evidently an analyst at the branding firm “Wolff Olins” named BookMooch as one of the big 5 brands that will “go huge in 2008”, which is certainly flattering, and so we’re getting a story, appearing a week from wednesday.

The branding firm identified these trends (these are my quick notes from my phone call with them)

  • network effects
  • not just about buying
  • practical platforms for action
  • share knowledge
  • relationship more functional than emotional
  • networks growing out of consumer relationships
  • peer recommendations

    and these other sites were mentioned as exemplary:

  • openmoko
  • 100 dollar laptop (I assume they mean OLPC)
  • world 66 – online travel guide
  • zopa
  • lulu

    Shiva Color SmShiva Blue Sm
    The clincher was evidently the photo of me six-handed as “John, the Hindi god of book-giving”, which the journalist said was much more interesting than the executive photos everyone else has.

    I’m not sure which version (purple or natural) they’ll use.

    -john

  • Leonard Richardson has written a very thoughtful response to the Fortune article about BookMooch that appeared recently.

    You can find the original at http://crummy.com/2008/02/14/0 but as few people are commenting on it on his blog, I thought I’d re-print it here and see what kind of conversation it generates.

    Bookmooch optimization: Dude by the name of name Ledbetter had a bad experience with Bookmooch and wrote an article for Fortune about it. At first I skipped over the article because I’ve seen this time and time again, someone writes an article about an online community and all the users of the community pile on. I don’t want to get involved. But eventually I read the article and came up with a couple weblog entry ideas. I decided the world needs some tips born of experience on achieving good Bookmooch inventory turnover.

    • Don’t put out-of-date books on Bookmooch. I had a bunch of old O’Reilly books; I gave them to the thrift store. Sometimes people want old stuff (Rachel just asked me to mooch some 1989 Eastern Bloc travel guides for her), but those books are way down the long tail. If you put one of those books on Bookmooch you’re buying a raffle ticket the size and shape of a book, and you don’t know how long you’ll have to hang on to it. It’s not worth it.
      Ledbetter had a problem that he put a book on his list, not knowing there was a newer edition. Honest mistake. People were jerks about it. Lots of people are jerks. Sorry. (I’ve never encountered a jerk on Bookmooch, though.) As a practical suggestion, most of the book pages on BookMooch have cover photos, so you can usually avoid problems by matching up the photo with your cover.

      Contra Ledbetter, I don’t think wanting the most recent revision of a book “smacks of a professional interest in reselling.” Why wouldn’t you be able to resell the old revision? Because people don’t generally want the old revision. Ergo, they generally don’t want it on Bookmooch. You’re effectively reselling the book for a currency other than money, and the social mores of reselling apply.

    • Don’t put a book on Bookmooch if there are over 500 copies already on Bookmooch. In general, don’t put classics or best-sellers on Bookmooch. No one will mooch the suckers. More precisely, no one will mooch your copy. Again, you’re buying a raffle ticket.
    • Don’t put a book on Bookmooch if you should be selling it to the used bookstore or on eBay or whatever. Sumana bought an expensive multi-volume hardbound graphic novel (I name no names) and hated it. She sold it to Strand for like $15, which is much less than what she paid but significantly more than the estimated cash value of a Bookmooch point, especially given the cost of mailing that big boy out.
    • If you’ve got a book in bad shape, say the cover is torn or a previous owner wrote “CARTER” on the edge, don’t just say it in the condition notes. Ask the recipient to confirm that they read the condition notes. This avoids hassles later. I don’t mind getting a book that’s not keeper quality, and everyone I’ve asked did indeed see my condition notes and didn’t mind either. It’s a little extra lubrication of a transaction that lets you find homes for books that are perfectly useful, but that the used bookstore won’t take.
    • Give it time. Long tail. Yesterday I got a request for a book that’d been in my inventory for about 8 months.
    • Have a big wishlist. Long tail. Ledbetter has four books on his wishlist. My steady state is about 250. At any given time, maybe 3% of the books on my wishlist have copies available. A lot of this is probably because of rule 3, actually; most of the books remaining on my wishlist are either rare, or still command a high price at the used bookstore, or are new enough that they haven’t gotten into the used book ecosystem.

    Ledbetter is suspicious of the point system because “booksellers would have no problem giving away hundreds of books they can’t sell in order to acquire books they can.” On the face of it this doesn’t make sense: if you can give away a book you could have sold it, unless someone’s mooching for Books by the Foot. But I think he might mean that booksellers can give away cheap books and use the points to get expensive books.

    This is possible; I’ve gotten one book from Bookmooch that, if I was a used bookstore, I could sell for twenty bucks. I’ve given away books that a used bookstore could sell for eight because it was easier to mail them than to deal with the jerks at Strand and get three. But look at my first two tips. You can give away cheap books, and you can even give away books that are in unsellable shape, but you can’t give away out-of-date books (no takers) or common books (too many givers). The only way to amass points is to give away books people want but that aren’t overstocked; ie. to match supply to demand. You can try to arbitrage this, but it’s a sucker’s game–in fact, I suspect it’s the same sucker’s game as selling books for one cent on Amazon and trying to pay for your labor from the Amazon shipping charge. (Thank you, myriad suckers!)

    The books I successfully give away tend to be those that are difficult to find used. Same with the books other people give to me. Sometimes I get lucky and get an expensive book. It works out the same either way; rarity becomes fungible with sale value.

    But, Ledbetter’s article got me thinking about my huge point surplus. I’ve got 79.6 Bookmooch points right now. If I mooched every available book on my wishlist I’d still have over seventy. People want my books a lot more than I want other peoples’ books. The intuition is that this evens out, but Bookmooch isn’t a zero-sum point system based on a gold standard of book swaps. The system includes inflation; you get extra points for mailing a book to another country, for completing a swap, and for listing books in your inventory. But the costs of the only two things you can buy don’t go up as inflation is added to the system. So it’s possible that everyone will eventually end up with a bunch of points they can’t use.

    This would certainly be a problem, but it has nothing to do with what people might do with your books after receiving them (like maybe selling them). I may do some screen-scraping and math and up-mashing to explore this possibility space in more detail.

    I posted my thoughts on his blog, and I had this to say:

    re: But, Ledbetter’s article got me thinking about my huge point surplus. … I may do some screen-scraping and math and up-mashing to explore this possibility space in more detail.

    The economics of BookMooch are complicated, and while there are inflationary forces (such as the extra point for sending internationally) there are deflationary ones as well, such as the point created when 10 books are entered into the system. That counters inflation, because now 10 more books are available, which would “cost” 10 points to mooch, but only one point was created.

    re: screen scraping

    You don’t need to do that, the entire BookMooch database (anonymized) is available for download at : http://bookmooch.com/api/feeds – one reason I had for making it available was so people like you could crunch the numbers and see if things are going well or badly.

    re: points surplus.

    In the “real world” many people don’t keep their bank account at zero. Some do, but most keep a “cushion” that they can spend later. Sometimes, you have a period of earning more at your job than you spend, and you keep earning and banking it in case you come up with something you want to spend it on. At BookMooch, for example, a large number of points are given to the charities http://bookmooch.com/charity

    In your case, I assume you came to BM with a book-shelf of books you wanted to get rid of, that you had built up over time. It’s natural that in your case, you’d be giving away more books than you are mooching, because of the stored-up-books-over-time.

    What I’ve found that’s interesting, is that there are many different psychological reasons for using BM. You actually sound a lot like me for your reasons, namely that selling to a used bookstore is unpleasant. I agree with you re: ebay/strand, that if you want to derive maximum cash value for a book, you should use a commercial venue, such as ebay or a used book store.

    I’m not sure I agree with you about the ultra-long-tail. Definitely, there doesn’t seem to be a BookMooch demand for old editions of technical books, but there does seem to be a a demand for just about everything else. I’ve give about 550 books http://bookmooch.com/history/buckman_ca and found that the demand continues well after the original listing time. Usually, about 1/3rd of the books I list are mooched right away, but then it can take a year for another 1/3rd to 1/2 the books to be requested.

    The BookMooch audience is still somewhat small: a bit over 20,000 active users. It grows daily, so I hope that there is ever more long-tail interest as the member base grows.

    Asd1

    I received an email recently from Michaela at the England-based charity ASDFriendly.

    They are one of the charities on BookMooch who get books they need at no cost, thanks to point donations from other members. (their BookMooch account).

    Michaela gave me permission to reprint her email, which is below:

    I had to email you to let you know just what a difference BookMooch is making to families’ lives.

    Living with a child with a mental disability is a strain and the comments and daily judgments that people can endure is truly awful. Yet the Bookmooch community seem to not only understand, but to genuinely care.

    We have had such acts of kindness in the past few months that it has reduced many of us to tears. From people donating all their points to us, letting us know that they have a relative with Autism and want to help, to people who give us a couple of points here and there to send a bit of joy across cyberspace.

    Our latest ‘mooch came back with with a note that of course we could have the book, she’d throw in another couple of chick-lit books for the ‘harrassed mom’ and gave us three points as well.

    People like this truly are saints – and it makes me glad beyond all telling that I stumbled across you and the site last March. You have no idea the difference you have made, but I think you should know.

    A huge thank you to you personally and to the community as a whole for those little smiles and gestures and a book parcel in the mail to look forward to that keep us going.

    – Michaela of ASDFriendly

    If you look at the charitable gift points they have received from individual members, you’ll see that I started them off with 50 points from the fund “Charities for Children and New Mothers” (other charities that fund has given to), and since then they’ve received hundreds of points directly from other members. I love it when that happens.

    p.s.: “ASD” means “Autistic Spectrum Disorder” and is well explained at http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/sen/asds/