April 19, 2008

In response to my blog entry about “publishers giving BM some green love” a discussion sprang up in the comments of that blog entry, about how “green” book-trading-by-mail is.

I’m definitely sympathetic to the concerns. However, books are a physical product, and as such have an energy, resource, waste and pollution footprint.

If we like books (and I do) and we want to be “green” I think our goals should be:

  1. to have fewer copies of books printed
  2. to have those copies be re-read as much as possible
  3. and to be as efficient as possible in moving the books from reader to reader.

As such, some long term goals I have for BookMooch, which I want to mention now, are:

  1. make book trading so effective that publishers can print fewer copies of a book, and yet reach a larger audience. (to accomplish this, I have to find a way for publishers to profit from BM)
  2. promote “meet & mooch” get-togethers, where people regularly meet and bring books the others attending indicated an interest in, so that books can be felt, browsed, discussed and mooched in person.
  3. provide a “mooch shelf” where books being traded can be dropped off and picked up at your leisure (and safely) in a place you’re already driving by. These could be at libraries, schools and cafes.
  4. encourage multi-mooching, i.e. getting several books from one person. This lowers postal costs and the carbon footprint per book.
  5. encourage use of bookmooch among real-world friends who live near each other. This will be through a “friends only inventory” feature I’m planning, where you can list books that only your friends can see and mooch, as well as a friends-only discussion group.

I’m sure more good ideas will emerge over time. These are all things I want to focus on over the next year, as they help improve BookMooch overall by:

  1. lowering the postage cost for bookmooch members
  2. lowering the cost of being a book publisher
  3. foster communication, community and friendship among book readers
  4. integrate book reading into existing real-world structures (cafes, libraries, schools, etc…)
  5. increase the rate at which unwanted books find a new, happy home

A few days ago, my friend Cory Ondrejka suggested something along these lines, namely promoting local mooching more, and the use of Starbucks as a meeting place where two local moochers could exchange the book face to face. There are a lot of pros to that idea (no postage cost, drinking more coffee, meeting people) but it’s also complicated (which Starbucks? There are so many! And when should we meet?). Of course, this wouldn’t be just Starbucks, but any open meeting place (such as an indie bookstore or cafe). Another angle is to use the “local book events” feature at LibraryThing as a meeting-place. I’m not sure this idea will work yet at BookMooch, because moochers don’t yet frequently live near each other, but it might work for certainly major cities.

78 Responses to “Eco-mooching”

  1. pitbullrescuer said

    Great thinking, John! I have a handful of books I don’t bother listing on here because there are already so many copies available. A friend of mine just told me that an indie coffeehouse a few blocks from me (in St. Paul, Minnesota) has an exchange shelf — I’ll have to check it out! Sounds like you might provide listings of “mooch shelves” around the world as part of your plans?

  2. justelise said

    The idea of local mooching and local mooch events begs the following question: What has a worse environmental impact — using the postal mail, or having a bunch of people (you have to assume most of whom will arrive by car) to come to a local meet for the purpose of mooching? The post office is going to send the mail-person to my apartment complex (or past your house if you live in a SFH) six days a week whether or not there is anything for me. Dropping off or picking up a few books from my place is not going to make a significant difference in their expenditure of resources. Having people travel to a meet, some of whom may travel some distance by car, is going to have a bigger negative impact. Furthermore, you may lower the postage cost for members, but it’s all moot if they spend $4 on a latte and only come away with one or two books at a cafe meet. 🙂

  3. Kirsten said

    I agree with much of what you are wanting to do as well. We have a “book mooch” bookshelf at work where people can leave/exchange/take books. We also have a magazine shelf, same concept. It’s encouraged more conversation about reading, and, for me, fewer magazine subscriptions/purchases because I know what my co-workers will bring in.
    Thanks so much for BookMooch–I love it!

  4. sumthinblue said

    Greetings from the Philippines!

    I actually just got back from a night out with some local moochers and other book club friends, actually… We went to a Book Day at a Spanish institution and spent the day there, then went out for dinner and drinks afterwards.

    I brought along a book that someone mooched from me, and got a book that I mooched from someone else too. We’ve formed a local group among ourselves, called BookMoochers Pilipinas (, and most of us are also part of a bigger local book group that meet regularly, so at least for those of us who are in nearby districts in the capital region, more meetups can be arranged.

    As a group, I think we’ve been really effective in sharing the most economical postage practices (both local and international)in our country, especially to new members. We have also gotten results in resurrecting sea mail rates in our local post offices — Almost no one uses sea mail for smaller packages, which led us to think for a while that it couldn’t be done, but now, we’ve managed to circulate a copy of the official sea mail rates among our members, so that we could use them in sending out our books worldwide. We also do our best to welcome new members and orient them to the site so that they don’t panic and quit after a short while.

    Future plans for the group include getting more members, having bm cards and shirts printed locally, setting up a local barter page, creating a local bm journal, getting more books for the Philippine charity and setting up more charities, and many more 🙂

  5. Tim said

    We’ve disagreed on this in the past, specifically about the virtues of Eco-Libries (

    My main complaint there was false presentation–the general sense the Eco-Libris was a charity, when it is is not—but I’ll also stand up for basically ignoring the environmental costs of books.

    As I see it, books aren’t just some object with environmental consequences; they’re the thing that makes it possible for humans to rise to the level they *care* about environmental consequences.

    Print fewer books and I suspect you’ll cut down more trees, not fewer.
    So while I think it’s fine if environmentally conscious people think about the issue, I think it would be catastrophic if the idea gets around that books are terrible for the environment. Reading is under enough hostile pressure already. I can just see some politically conscious school board cutting back on textbooks for school kids in favor of ebooks, or whatever, and that would be a terrible, terrible mistake.

  6. Billie said

    Just a thought. As well as Book Mooch I also am on a list called Freecycle which allows you to join yahoo groups that are associated with your city. It’s been over all a good experience. Is there a way on this site to set up discussion threads or groups pertaining to a certain area in which it would be easier to schedule mooching events? I live in Culver City (LA Area) and I bet there are many local moochers here. Actually the first person to mooch from me lived about 5 miles away. How can we locate each other better?

  7. Billie said

    Whooops! I just discovered the forums button. Maybe that would be a good place to start?

  8. Beth said

    Not sure if this is feasible from a programming standpoint, but here’s another possible idea for greener online mooching: when there are multiple copies of a book one wants to mooch, perhaps the list of senders can be in geographic order from closest to the moocher to farthest from the moocher’s location? I don’t know what kind of order the “Available” list is in right now, but I know I often have to scroll down a list to find the book closest to MA. If the list was in geographic order, it might encourage people to mooch from the closest possible location and help cut down on the fuel expended and emissions created in the book’s journey to the moocher.

  9. Michelle (mitcho) said

    This sounds like a good idea for US or UK citizens, but what about the rest of us in smaller non-English speaking countries? “Meet and Mooch get togethers” or “mooch shelves” won’t really be feasible unless of course the books are in the country’s language – not English. What do you mean by “lowering book mooch members”????
    Though postage is an issue for senders, the fact that books are sent internationally on commercial flights which make the trip anyway makes me believe that this is an eco-friendly way to recycle books.

  10. Taneli T said

    John Buckman wrote: “lowering the postage cost or bookmooch members”

    This is a typo, right? Shouldn’t it be “lowering the postage cost OF bookmooch members”?

    Great ideas, by the way. I’m a bit concerned about the “friends only inventory” though. It’s good if it works the way you described and saves postage costs, but I’d see problems if it greatly narrows down the possibilities of mooching books.

    -Taneli T

  11. Mark Williams said

    I think most of us here would like to see BM encourage greener trades, and that site features which highlight the closest available copy of a book listed multiple times as well as bonuses for multi-mooching would help accomplish this.

    Additionally, a ‘green meter’ on each account could be a fun way for us to work towards greener mooching without limiting access to those who live in more remote areas, at least in the BM universe…

    I have concerns over books being limited to friends as I think keeping the site friendly and open to new members is an essential aspect of BM. Although adding a second layer of friending, for ‘local buddies,’ could encourage this kind of trading while still keeping an open system as does the current practice of friending.

    Some of us have group accounts and so continue to ‘angel’ books once mooched, and while encouraging this helps further circulate books, as do local book groups, it would be hard to to this within the BM system without sidelining the many people here who do not live near major US/UK/CA/Aust urban areas, nor have a community of book lover among family, workmates or friends. Simply helping to facilitate local meet-ups, following the Librarything model, could accomplish this without structural changes to BM.

  12. Bree said

    Hook up with Bookcrossing! Bookcrossers have casual meet-ups (and formal conventions) all over the world. In person swapping and trading shelves (aka bookcrossing zones) are very common!

  13. john said

    Number of thoughts:
    1 look at the bookcrossing site, they have the notion of a book crossing zone which is any informal place where books can be released which is linked to local networks who are informed where and what book has been released
    2 why not a bookmooch cyber book club where new books are sent are released by publishers for a book club conversation and then the club members for that book would write a review and then put the books up for swaps
    3. set up local friends networks for an actual book club( not for local bookmooch swaps as this would kill the open market) and have along side monthly book fairs in which members took a box of books for open swaps
    4 why don’t publishers release chapters as book journal project and so members get to read and give feedback before it goes back to the publishers to enable them to make final assessments re the book content and marketing

  14. Aaron said

    I’m all for BookMooch greening up. I really like Beth’s suggestion of ordering available books by distance. As far as reducing the carbon footprint of sending a book goes, keeping things as local as possible has to be the number one target.

    By the same notion, sending by air mail (like anything sent from the US to EU since the US killed surface mail) should be discouraged, or at least not encouraged. Jet transport has got to be one of the worst ways to send something (as far as eco-mooching goes).

    I don’t see how multi-mooching helps. The mass of the books (and therefor the energy cost in shipping) is the same if two books are shipped together or separately. I really doubt the packaging makes that much of a difference.

  15. foggylady said

    For those of us with limited incomes and living in rural areas, any ideas that increases, not decreases, accessibility to book titles is fine.
    I like the idea of listing books by geographic location when mooching.
    Postal rates are going up May 12.
    I like the idea of encouraging more multi-mooching. It has worked well in the few cases where I could ask for or send multiple copies.
    Getting books by mail, via Bookmooch ( first priority) or online stores, is far more eco-friendly then driving 90 miles one way to a city bookstore.
    Glad Bookmooch is available.

  16. Julie06 said

    All suggested ideas are great but I live on an island and don’t for one minute think that many of them would be feasable here. (I would love to know if there are any other bookmooch members in Menorca. I have a great number of bigger heavier books which are just too expensive to post and would love a local exchange to swap these.

  17. Julie Hedlund said

    Mark Williams wrote –
    “I have concerns over books being limited to friends as I think keeping the site friendly and open to new members is an essential aspect of BM. Although adding a second layer of friending, for ‘local buddies,’ could encourage this kind of trading while still keeping an open system as does the current practice of friending.”

    I could not agree with this more. I think allowing a friends-only inventory would reduce mooching rather than increase it, and runs the risk of people sticking within “mooch groups” as opposed to expanding out and meeting new folks. The whole beauty of bookmooch is its openness, and I would hate to see that go away. I think it would also be more difficult for newbies to get hooked in, which would also have the effect of lowering mooches.

    I also really like Beth’s idea of listing availability by geographic location (she’s one of my BM friends, by the way!)

    Overall, I think it’s fabulous to have these discussions. Most people I’ve encountered at bookmooch are interested in being good stewards of the environment.

  18. Wyndy said

    I think there is a bit of fallacious reasoning here in terms of the eco-cost to mail a book that has been mooched. While a package that has been sent via a delivery service such as FedEx, DHL or UPS certainly generates a “trip” to the recipient, sending by USPS does NOT create additional emissions. A parcel shipped through the mail is placed with other mail going to the same place. The plane or truck is already going cross country, whether it is full or not. Your friendly postal carrier is already en route to your abode, and will visit you every day that scheduled mail runs–regardless of whether you receive 1 envelope or 4 small packages.

    One could argue that alternative methods of mooching, such as meeting at Starbucks, would actually result in MORE emissions than mailing the book. For instance, I am not a frequent Starbucks patron, so meeting at a ‘Bucks would require me to DRIVE MY CAR, as it is too far away to bike or walk. (Our community does not offer public transportation.) While I would save on postage and postal supplies, I would use gas and emit noxious fumes into the air. I try to limit how much I drive, to reduce emissions and to save on gas.

    I’m not knocking the alternative methods of mooching, as any reuse of books (or other things, for that matter) ultimately helps us all. As well, the potential for social interaction would be a positive side benefit of the meet-to-mooch or even a mooch shelf concept. There are many reasons why alternatives to mailing books are a good idea, but I’m not sure any of those mentioned will reduce the carbon footprint of mooching.

  19. Zillah said

    I don’t want to be a storm cloud, but the meet-in-person thing sets of alarm bells in my head immediately regarding the safety of younger members. That would have to be a consideration into the picture. There are a number of predatory people who use social networking sites for diabolical ends, so lets at least think about ways we can combat this possibility if meet ups come into effect.

    I don’t like the friends-only idea either. If I want to swap books with my friends I can anyway without going through BookMooch. Plus, like someone else said- it’s nice to encourage making new friends etc and non-exclusivity.

  20. E— said

    I love the idea of mooch exchanges taking place in person and in local location. I would participate in those exchanges enthusiastically. You may wish to keep in mind that some mooch members might be able to accompany exchanges in several locations: to use myself as an example, I live in one city but travel at least monthly to two others. Perhaps mooch members could opt into more than one location they would be willing to exchange at?

  21. Dottie said

    Sounds rather…

  22. cvalda said

    Valid criticisms floating around; I’m glad we’re talking about it and that Buckman’s listening.

    I think there is a bit of fallacious reasoning here in terms of the eco-cost to mail a book that has been mooched. While a package that has been sent via a delivery service such as FedEx, DHL or UPS certainly generates a “trip” to the recipient, sending by USPS does NOT create additional emissions.

    But it adds to demand. Internationally we’re kinda hooked on emission-heavy export in allocating resources, and the industry is growing.

    Sounds rather…

    While we’re on it, what annoys me about bookcrossing is how random it is – seems more like a pastime then an alternative method of distribution. BookMooch atleast has a proper, viable system it’s just not perfect green-wise.

  23. Samantha said

    Another local book exchange idea is a book box, see:

    This is on my way to/from the train and I’ve been using it for years. It is where I get about half of the books I list, and where I deposit books that already have many copies listed on bookmooch. I think there are about 3 or 4 book boxes here in Chicago. My boyfriend is going to start up some more in his city, after seeing how well it works here.

  24. Eugenia said

    For me (and I’m probably an outlier) the somewhat anonymous exchange through USPS is ideal. I’m elderly and disabled and consequently feel vulnerable. In fact, I cancelled a mooch when a local person wanted to meet in person. I’m just not comfortable with that, although in different circumstances I might be.

  25. Sarah Wrightson said

    Writers are paid about 10% for hardback copies sold, and 7% for paperbacks. Sell a million copies…and you can do the math. Print fewer copies, I’m for it…but how are the authors getting paid? No one in this internet generation of music downloading and book swapping is giving a hoot for the artist. Well, not that’s not true…for the musicians, they give away the songs and are selling thongs on myspace. Hmmm. Very Jane Austen.

  26. Great to see so much discussion about eco-mooching. I think like so many things in life, the eco-friendliness of different options will really be a case of “every situation is different”. There are already several cases noted about of the greater economic impact from people living in remote areas having to drive to their nearest bookshop if the bookmooching world didn’t exist.

    One point that a lot of people seem to be wary of is John’s suggestion to:

    “encourage use of bookmooch among real-world friends who live near each other. This will be through a “friends only inventory” feature I’m planning, where you can list books that only your friends can see and mooch…”

    The biggest concern for everyone seems to be limiting availability of moochable books to the general bookmooch user if this were implemented. I think however there is one way that this can be angled so that the number and range of available books might actually increase. This suggestion takes it away from the eco-mooching discussion but might be worth adding here seeing as there has been a bit of discussion about it.

    My view is that the “friends only” inventory could be introduced, but limited to books over a certain weight. How many of you have hesitated adding a book because you’re worried about the cost of sending a 2kg / 4lb book for example. If there was a weight minimum for “friends only” books, this could get some of these books into the broader mooching world. Person A may not be in a position to afford posting it but would be happy if a local friend was interested in it. You’re not exactly going to mention every such book to every friend you have so that’s where the friends list could be handy. Friend – Person B then takes the book from Person A and after finishing with the book Person B could add it to their general inventory if they’re financially able. The greater likelihood of getting mooched from a general listing (and therefore more points and ability to mooch more themselves) acts as incentive to offer to the general mooching community.

    Maybe others have different thoughts but I thought it might be a twist on the friends inventory worth considering.

  27. Michelle (AU) said

    I would Rather NOT go the way of excusively mooching with-in friends group. I love how BM currently is. ie: giving books away, non-judgementally, to others anywhere in the world the only criteria being love of books, and a wish for that book in particular.
    Human nature being as it is, it is probably fair to say that if we knew more of the personal lives of other BookMoochers, we may become more judgemental, not so impartial. Hence, the original premise of BM would be lost.
    *K*I*S*S*: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

  28. Beth said

    Wyndy said:
    While a package that has been sent via a delivery service such as FedEx, DHL or UPS certainly generates a “trip” to the recipient, sending by USPS does NOT create additional emissions. A parcel shipped through the mail is placed with other mail going to the same place. The plane or truck is already going cross country, whether it is full or not. Your friendly postal carrier is already en route to your abode, and will visit you every day that scheduled mail runs–regardless of whether you receive 1 envelope or 4 small packages.

    Yes, but increased truck weight uses more fuel. And if my package is coming from CA, for example, it doesn’t make the entire trip by air — at a number of points in the journey, it’s on a truck somewhere. So more local mooches can mean less weight and a little less fuel used for part of the trip.

    Sometimes, seeing what happens in our own locations plays a role in what may seem to be fallacious reasoning. Out here in the boonies for example, my friendly postal carrier does not necessarily visit me every day — some days I don’t get any mail. And carriers here don’t have “foot routes,” they stay in their trucks and stop at each mailbox by the side of the road. So if there’s a day that I can pick up a book locally in the course of an errand/outing I’ve already planned, my local carrier isn’t necessarily keeping the motor running for the few minutes it takes her to sort and put my mail in my roadside mailbox. This would cut down on fuel use and emissions, at least a little.

    Along the lines of cutting down fuel use and emissions, I’d also like to see more options for local personal exchange. Thought could be given to making methods work for different locations — boonies, ‘burbs, or city — as one size doesn’t fit all (no Starbucks or indie bookstores/cafes within 10 miles of me) Perhaps a pilot program for one or two methods/locations could be run and see how they are received and work? Or, what if BookMooch initiated a few Community Reader Box-type things (see Samantha’s post)? BookMooch “advertising” painted on the sides could also encourage more new online members.

    I agree that a “friends only” inventory is not the best idea — IMO it would cut down not only on wider mooching but also on the online community feel. And, as Mark and Julie said, it would make it more difficult for newbies to get plugged in — and that’s difficult enough already. Besides, on BM, your “friends” are not necessarily local; Julie and I are BM friends and live thousands of miles apart. But more readily available/better “publicized” information about proximity would be good – I was on BM for 7 weeks before I learned there’s a page where I can see member names from nearby areas.

    Lastly, as in most things, personal responsibility helps. Think I’m going to start asking where someone is located if I mooch a book from within MA. If they’re amenable and nearby, we might arrange our own local exchange in the course of daily commutes/errands. Maybe not a big deal, but think that every little bit helps — it’s not necessarily the big ideas done by a few that make the largest difference, sometimes it’s everyone doing something small on a regular basis. Perhaps John could offer more encouragement and suggestions about small differences in this blog, as well as planning larger changes.

  29. I LOVE the exchange of ideas among book lovers. As well as all the wonderful books.

    I adore BookMooch. It satisfies many of my needs. I also live in the land of Starbucks, Washington State. I don’t go there normarlly, however, it is on the way to a number of things I do every week. Stopping off would be no problem.

    I wonder how a person might petition the USPS to bring back surface mail. Thoughts? Suggestions?

    I have been putting five cards in the books I send and handing them out to anyone who will stand still for me. I even dropped on off at the local library. The folks at the reference desk were quite fascinated.

    I have had no luck getting anyone at the library interested in putting the books they don’t sell onto BookMooch. Many older books are languishing in a central warehouse after being offered for a few book sales. I did contact my Friends of the Library and got nowhere. Suggestions on how I might argue this more effectively welcomed.

    Fond thoughts to all.

    I also have suggested to the powers that be that public transit come to my outlying district of a town that DOES have public transit.

    I also live at the top of a VERY steep hill. I can see mountains from my balcony, a plus.

    However, I don’t know if I could get strong enough to haul more than one or two books up from the nearest busstop, several blocks and a large hill away.

    I’m working on increasing my strength and stamina for health reasons. However, when I get a big box of books like those from Mark Williams (blessings upon you) I feel a great deal of gratitude for the USPS that hauls the box up the hill for me.

    No, I can’t do a bike. I have balance problems or I would. I have been looking somewhat hopefully at adult sized tricycles, they exist and are somewhat pricey, I am not sure I want to venture on one out in my traffic before the traffic gets used to such items on the road.

    I am also working on the balance problems in exercise classes, so I am doing the best I can. I don’t know if I could manage to walk my bike or trike up out hill and up the stairs that lead to my apartment.

    Thinking aloud some here.

  30. Nic said

    There already *is* an organisation which has meetings, informal drop off points etc. It’s called Bookcrossing.

    If we do go the meeting route, and, say, it is in a Starbucks (or other coffee establishment) I’m not sure that it really is any greener … I can walk to my PO, I’d have to get at least one bus to Starbucks. Then there’s the ethics of coffee – a cash crop which uses valuable food producing land; a product which is shipped, in bulk, by air and sea, which is sold at vastly inflated prices whilst the producers get very little, whose take out cups litter the environment etc etc etc…

    Rock and hard place anyone?

  31. MissMac said

    I love the idea of the meeting in person… BUT for those of us with added complications in our lives (in my case a severely disabled child) shopping is impossible, getting someone to care for him while I go out for an hour or two is impossible and insanely expensive if I can find a carer…

    Bookmooch has provided sanity. Books from wonderful people come to my door and I don’t need to worry. I’d hate to be cut out of the loop from books I’d love to read by ‘friends only’ inventories. It’s a great idea for ‘normal’ people with ‘normal’ lives, but think about those of us who struggle too, please.

  32. Perhaps I can stand to bring up a touchy subject. It is NOT necessary to use trees to make paper. Before all the ruckus about “DRUGS” a century ago, hemp waste and other fibers can be used for any number of things including making paper.

    I lived in Kansas for many, years. Hemp grows wild there. My understanding is that anyone attempting to use it for recreational purposes had better have a keen imagination and be good at fooling themselves. My understanding is that the weed has no useable or very tiny amounts of the active ingredients anywhere in it.

    A little bit about hemp and papermaking.

    I, personally, could not be more hostile to recreational drug use if I tried with both hands.
    I worked at a university for a couple of decades and saw the damage recreational drug use could do.

    However, it seems foolish to me to cut down TREES to make paper when there are easy to grow, non-beautiful alternatives.

    I live now in the Pacific Northwest and feel protective of the beautiful trees here. I had no such feelings for ditchweed.

    Yell at me all you like. I just had to remind people of this.

    The following sites also have an interesting history of hemp and its uses. Notice that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp.
    Big corporations strike again.

    Consider ditchweed.

    My best to all.

  33. Marina Bonomi said

    It’s the matter of what is better in any specific situation.

    Mooch-groups meeting in person? I very likely would have to drive there, and go to town on purpose (I very rarely do, prefer doing my shopping nearer to home, for instance).

    Friend-shelf: I already exchange books with my friends, and those that remain and are, for instance, to heavy to be listed for mooching, go to my local library (5-minute walk from my home) that is part of a local library network, so the books that aren’t of their specific interest get passed along to nearby libraries that are looking for them.

    Mooching long-distance : guilty as charged. I read a lot in foreign languages, many books I need (re. my field of work) or I’m interested in aren’t available locally, were I to buy them they would have to be shipped from abroad all the same.
    With BookMooch in many cases I can chose to have them shipped from a location nearer to me (for instance the UK or France rather than the USA)

    Mail-people here have fixed routes, so my mailman is passing my house everyday, no matter if he has something for me or not.

    I don’t really understand the ‘paper’ quandary. here trees used for paper are a specific crop (poplars), planted, harvested and replanted just like corn is, ‘wild’ trees are simply not viable for making paper. Besides, being young trees growing fast these paper-making trees absorb a whole lot of carbon dioxide.
    Moreover there are quite a few publishing houses that print their books on recycled paper.

    All in all I think that, for instance, having low-consume light bulbs at home, recycling as much waste as possible, using heating and air-conditioning in a rational manner have a far higher positive impact on the evironment than what adding a package in a van or a ship or airplane cargo can have on th negative side.

    This sort of debate reminds me of a radio talk with out environment minister: a guy had phoned declaring himself very environment-conscious, so much so that he didn’t have a car by choice and cut the lawn with an hand-mower, he wanted to know if the minister had a car.
    The answer was ‘I’d much rather have 60 millions Italians with low-consume light bulbs in their homes rather than 100 000 without a car’.

  34. Margot said

    I love Tim’s post. More books! Maybe less junk? (But who am I to judge?)
    Some good ideas, John, but I had a bad visceral reaction to the Friend’s Shelf. The open market works better.

  35. Wyndy said

    Beth said:
    “…increased truck weight uses more fuel. And if my package is coming from CA, for example, it doesn’t make the entire trip by air — at a number of points in the journey, it’s on a truck somewhere. So more local mooches can mean less weight and a little less fuel used for part of the trip.”

    Agreed, local mooching eco-costs less; however, the argument is still akin to saying that I shouldn’t take public transportation, because my body will increase the rate on the bus, which will in turn require more fuel. Ummm…so is driving my own car better–even locally? I travel for business frequently, and always take public mass transit when possible for just this reason. Proximal mooching is already possible with the drop-down menu in place. Sure, you might have to scroll, but you are able to select the person closest to you geographically from whom to mooch.

    We are contrasting using already-in-motion methods of mass delivery with individuals driving to meet one another. This is not an eco-friendly solution, unless the ‘meeters’ both walk or bike to the rendezvous point, or the moochers truly pass the mooch point on the way to another obligation. Still, idling or restarting your engine also have eco-consequences.

    There is no question that close proximity mooch has less footprint than global mooching. But even so, those planes were going across the pond with or without your book, so I don’t believe that reducing global mooching will result in an earth-friendly outcome. In exchange for questionable eco-benefit, we would be isolating some with no or few other resources for obtaining books.

  36. psilint51 said

    One things that no one else has mentioned:

    Starbucks is a chain. When you spend money there, most of it leaves your local community and goes to fund the corporate imperialism that keeps building more Starbucks, and new construction of non-essential anything is most certainly not sustainable. Why not have bookmooch meetups at locally owned and operated independant businesses where ever possible. Your dollars are like votes, and you get to vote for the businesses you would like to succeed. Don’t vote Starbucks.

  37. twiglyt said

    Personally, I would never use the “friends only inventory”. None of my local friends are on Bookmooch and have no interest in joining. So far I have only mooched from one local person and I picked up the book at the library where she worked. I don’t think I’ve had anyone local mooch from me yet.

    Any books that I don’t list on Bookmooch, either because they are too heavy to ship, or because there are multiple copies already listed, I bring to the independent used bookstore down the street and trade for other books.

  38. I’m going to apologize now if anyone else has already mentioned this. I don’t have my own computer and I don’t have much time on this one, so I haven’t read all of the comments.

    In regards to finding a way for publishers to make money off of Bookmooch, one idea that comes to mind is to use the “friends inventory” as a subscription system. Let me explain. A publisher could list several copies of their books on a friends inventory and only add people to the friends list if they payed a monthly subscription. Of course, this doesn’t allow the publisher to get payed for subsequent mooches, but if they listed a large number of copies of every book they publish each month, then people would still be willing to pay for the subscription to get first pick of the new books. I know the idea needs work, but it’s a start.

  39. Leah M. said

    I know this has been said already, but I love Bookmooch just the way it is!!! I know we are all concerned for the environment, but some of the suggestions are leaving us with the ‘Whack-a-mole’ effect’. We fix one thing, that effects something else down the line that then needs to be fixed which effects… and so on. Bookmooching is a choice. We are doing a great service to ourselves and the environment by recycling books. Some of us are recycling the packaging as well. I don’t think it is a great idea to try to limit the amount of books published. The publishers and authors et al need to be fed as well.
    I am new to Bookmooch, having been a member for almost a month, and do not have any friends *tiny violin playing for me*. lol. So the ‘friends only’ mooching does not appeal to me at all.

    I think I just spent my two cents.

  40. Beth said

    Without trying to minimize or denigrate anyone’s suggestions or concerns, in the words of the late, great Roseanne Rosanadana, “it’s always something.” If we use florescent bulbs instead of incandescent, there’s the danger of released mercury vapors if the bulb breaks. If we devote more produce to biofuels, the price of food goes up. If we go to Starbucks, the coffee farm isn’t used for food or we increase litter or we take away income from the local coffeeshop. If we mooch locally, we aren’t taking advantage of already existing transportation methods.

    Again, I’m truly not trying to minimize concerns or suggestions. Having been part of numerous committees, organizations and groups both socially and in the workplace though, there’s a few things I’ve learned about problem-solving and trying to reach a goal:
    1. always keep in mind the goal you want to reach/problem you’re trying to solve;
    2. there’s always a flip side, and almost always a down-side to any solution
    3. one size doesn’t fit all
    4. analysis paralysis sets in when one insists on having a zero-impact flip side and/or make one size fit all, which leads to unmet goals and unsolved problems
    5. often the best you can do is meet the goal/solve the problem with a solution that takes the flip side into consideration, has the least negative down-side, and provides the greatest positive impact for the largest number of people.

    Think I’m going to do what I can to sensibly reduce my negative bookmooching eco-impact while waiting to see what John comes up with. That being said, I still don’t like “friends only” inventories but think local exchange in the course of already-planned outings is a good idea. Maybe if my local carrier isn’t idling her motor next to my mailbox garden, my marigolds will do better and contribute more oxygen to the atmosphere .

    Thanks John, for providing us all some food for thought.

  41. Joanna Collie said

    Speaking as someone involved with small print-run publishing … I already have some guilt issues about using Bookmooch. For every JK Rowling or Dan Brown there are thousands of other authors who are struggling to be able to subsidize their writing – yes, not just “aren’t making much money from it” but “are making a loss”. Most of the writers I know do what they do because they love books, and love words. Less than 1% of authors are actually making a living from their writing.
    So anything aimed at cutting down the number of books printed doesn’t strike me as a book-friendly or reader-friendly aim. (Mass market maybe, but when the average poetry book has a print run of around 200-500 ?!)

    I deal with my vague guilt by making sure that I do buy books new – actually a bit more often than before, because now at least I have somewhere to send the book if it turns out I don’t like it. So I take more risks with authors I don’t know.

    Bottom line? I love Bookmooch, and almost everything it stands for.

    But I love books more.

  42. Kaitlyn said

    I think a “meet-n-mooch” would be excellent!! I would be so down! I also think a “mooch shelf” would be awesome too.

  43. Amanda said

    I do exchange magazines and books with friends and family whenever possible. If I knew already knew a person who would appreciate my books, they wouldn’t be listed on Bookmooch. I use recycled packaging to ship my books, and I mooch from geographically close moochees whenever possible.

    I do wonder about how eco-friendly meeting up at a place like Starbucks would be (not that it is an option for me, as I am in a rural area) if the meeting parties cannot walk there, take public transport, or have to drive any distance out of their way, and if they create paper and plastic waste by drinking coffee from single-use containers and using napkins, spoons, sugar packets, etc.

    If Boochmooch could be made more eco-friendly without reducing its availability to people like me (rural, the closest city doesn’t really have any used book shops) I am all for it. But Bookmooch is my best source for finding used books I actually want to read (instead of Harlequin romances and such). It has reduced my reliance on new books (as an aspiring writer, though, I have mixed feelings about the royalties someone is not getting because of that).

  44. Julie Hedlund said


    I love your post. As a writer who one day hopes to publish, I too feel that if we, as readers, want to have abundant books to read on myriad subjects, we need to make sure writers and publishers can earn a living.

    I go out of my way to buy some books new from authors I know or want to support. However, I think bookmooch does support the ultimate goal of getting writers more exposure. I am more likely to try a new writer I’m unsure about if I mooch the first book. If I really like it, then I might buy the next one. In this way, I think we increase the market for books from interesting writers.

    I also agree with the earlier comment that there is no way to leave zero footprint, so it’s all about finding what works best for you with the least amount of impact.

  45. Wyndy said

    Beth said,
    “…in the words of the late, great Roseanne Rosanadana, ‘it’s always something.'”

    And isn’t that the truth??? You bring up some excellent points, and I appreciate your list of things to keep in mind.

    I often wonder if Newton’s third law of motion doesn’t also apply to other events in the universe as well(“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”). Applied to greener living, it is almost paralyzing.

    What if recycling my plastic, aluminum, glass and paper actually emits noxious chemicals into air, soil or ground water?

    What if it takes more fossil fuel or coal to recycle than it does to make new items? Does the potential impact on landfills make up for the depletion of the natural resources?

    Ultimately, I do what I can, and hope that the efforts I’ve made to live a more sustainable lifestyle will have a positive impact on the environment.

  46. Christine said

    I’ve actually done this before. One moocher lived within a .5 miles of me, so I emailed to ask permission to drop the book in his mailbox instead of sending my mail. He agreed. I put in a second book by the same author that he hadn’t read before. I felt a lot of satisfaction from saving the postage and trouble (he lived along my daily commute) and he got two books much faster than usual.

  47. Megami said

    Two points:
    – Bookcrossing does this, including meet-ups and people who send books to each other. It is not, as a poster said above, only a random activity. I think if you went with what you are proposing there would be little ‘market differentiation’ between BM and BX. And I think that would lead many people think ‘what’s the point with Book Mooching’.
    – Book Mooching as it is, works. I know that there is always a human compulsion to try and change, make things bigger and better, but I have seen with so many internet applications/groups that when this happens, it usually causes so many problems. Unless there is a real problem here, why not keep things simple if it is working as it is??

  48. Ashleigh said

    I do like the idea of trying to make BookMooch (even more) eco-friendly.
    I think that encouraging people to mooch multiple books from one person at the same time is a great idea!
    Perhaps when you mooch a book, it could lead into a screen that displays “Other books in this person’s inventory that are on your wishlist/save-for-later list.” This could save the time and hassle of scrolling through a person’s inventory (some people have a lot of books!).
    Also, does anyone have any eco-friendly packaging ideas for sending?

  49. Alan Arcadia said

    I second any and all anti-Starbuck’s comments here. If this project is about promoting decentralization and community mutual aid, why the hell would you want to meet at Starbuck’s?
    Also, I think worrying about the environmental impact of bookmooch is a bit silly, and maybe even pretentious. I’m sure that one issue of USA Today does more damage to the planet than bookmooch ever has done or ever will do. I agree with everyone who has pointed out that, for the most part, deliveries are being made anyway and the impact of a few books is negligible. If one person in this group foregoes a vacation flight to Aruba and stays home and reads a book instead, that would probably cancel out all the “bookmooch emissions” for the year.
    I think the key is to make substantive, and possibly somewhat painful, lifestyle changes, not to quibble about miniscule and largely symbolic gestures. In other words, get rid of your car, and keep mailing your books.

  50. chunnie said

    I love the idea of eco-friendly bookmooching, and I am sure what you propose will probably work for many members, but what about the rest of us?

    promote “meet & mooch” get-togethers, where people regularly meet and bring books the others attending indicated an interest in, so that books can be felt, browsed, discussed and mooched in person.

    1. Some of us are isolated for one reason or another.
    2. Some of us are vulnerable people who aren’t comfortable with the idea of meeting complete strangers.

    encourage use of bookmooch among real-world friends who live near each other. This will be through a “friends only inventory” feature I’m planning, where you can list books that only your friends can see and mooch, as well as a friends-only discussion group.

    1. My friends friends don’t have internet access
    2. My friends live so close it illiminates the need for bookmooch for local book swaps.
    3. My friends taste in books is different to mine

    The point I am getting at is that some bookmoochers may feel pressurised to ‘go green’ when it isn’t possible for them to do so. Are these people likely to be cast off into the wayside because of a ‘greener than you’ ideal?
    It may not happen intentionally and directly, but it has the potentional to occur subjectively simply because a member feels uncomfotable with not being able to meet eco-friendly ideals. How many book requests will be cancelled because some poor soul isn’t happy about meeting a stranger, and it is easier to cancel a book request rather than imply that you don’t trust the book owner. How many people will recieve negative feedback because the sender couldn’t/wouldn’t meet green demands? We already have issues with members judging each other on race/religion/country of origin/content of bookmooch inventory/etc. How long will it be before members decide not send a book because the requester isn’t green enough?

    Megami- regarding bookcrossing, yes indeed there are official book exchange zones, there are meet-ups, but that is where the similarities with bookmooch stops. Bookcrossing is a site designed to track books that have been released in the wild, that is its primary purpose, it is designed as a solitary interest. That is to say, if all bookcrossing members chose to use bookcrossing as a solitary hobby ie wild release registered books, the site would still work. The fact that people meet-up, swap books, have official bookcrossing zones etc are all secondary attributes that have developed spontaniously and no member is obliged to participate in any of those activities.

    Bookmooch, however, is a book swapping site by design. People join to swap books. It takes the interaction of its members to make it work, so therefore the site is a social site. Anything else is a bonus. In addition, not all bookmoochers are interested in bookcrossing, and some are even put off by books that have been registered with bookcrossing. Bookmooch cannot be affected by bookcrossing any more than it already is. The two sites serve very different purposes, but they do have the potential to compliment each other if members are so inclined.

  51. Sweet said

    I think the friends-only mooch club is a great idea. My friends and I have books that we would like to trade among ourselves before making them generally available and this feature would allow us to do so. I think it would encourage some people to join who might be worried that their friends may not get first choice of the books they want. To ensure that this does not limit the number of books available for general mooching, you can institute a ratio like the mooch/give ratio. For every book that is private or friends-only, you must have X number of public available books.

  52. William said

    Great Idea! Here is a possible idea for getting publishers involved. Offer new popular titles for sale over Book Mooch with the stipulation that once the book is finished it must be listed for mooching. this could also create a faster wish list turnover.

  53. NHQltmkr said

    I share the concern of a “friends” group. Although they cost more, some of my larger books are the fastest to go because they are big and expensive. If there is no local market for the book, I’m stuck with it, while if I can post to a larger population, obviously the chances of the book being mooched are greater.

    When picking a book to mooch that has more than 1 available, I do try to save the moochee by picking someone local. Unfortunately, sometimes the only copy available is across the country. And I’d much rather ship the book 4000 miles away than have it end up in a (gulp) dumpster. On the other hand, I’d be heartbroken to find out that 6 copies of the book I most want (out of print) were traded but only offered on a “friends network” that I wasn’t a part of.

  54. Andrea said


    I think BookMooch is great! There are very few “green” or “eco-friendly” efforts that are 100% environmentally-friendly. I recently saw a quote that, not word-for-word, basically said ‘doing nothing when you can’t do it perfectly is worse than doing a little’ or something like that. Basically, I think BookMooch is a great effort, whether it is 100% environmentally-friendly or not – it’s moves us a little closer to our goal of using fewer precious natural resources and is a great start!

  55. Kate Davis said

    I am a moocher and a bookcrosser so all my books listed on this site are also registered on bookcrossing. This means I get to benefit the benefits of both sites; being able to choose books I get and passing on books people have requested through bookmooch and being able to trace where those books have gone through bookcrossing.

    As already stated, bookcrossing already has a crossing zones to leave books around the world and I’m not convinced that it would benefit Bookmooch to follow this idea because the value I find in the site is being able to request the books I want instead of hunting for the random books released near me. However, I think there could be benefit in meet ups, perhaps combined with bookcrossing because I know many people are on both sites.

    In terms of the environment, one thing to consider is the wider meaning of the term sustainability. It is also concerned with community as well as the environment and one of the things that continues to please me about bookmooch is the volume of books I post out through the post office on the site where I work (so I walk there, helping to keep this local service open for other people. Support local post offices.

  56. 1. I’d definitely like to see more local community features available at BookMooch, and I’d rather see it on the BookMooch website rather than in collab with other book communities. Why? Because BM is about giving and sharing freely, rather than let’s say collecting or selling.

    Cafe’s are a nice place to meet and socialize. Sure, they’re also part of consumer culture, but I think it’s worth it. In some meetup groups I used to be part of, we used to have the meetings outdoors in a city park when the weather permitted, in a more of a picnic setting. I don’t see why that can’t happen with BookMooch meetups as well.

    I wish I had an idea for the non-urban moochers, but I don’t.

    2. Another green feature can be to show the distance column in miles to show you how far you are from the person who you are going to mooch the book from. This way it will be easier, to some of us geographically challenged moochers, to make the best choice.

    3. I obviously don’t think books’ environmental impact should be overlooked. In my opinion it’s like saying excessive use of pesticides is ok because agriculture was historically critical in the emergence of civilization.

  57. Coqueline said

    I’d like to chime in with the others that are wary of the proposed ‘Friends only’ inventory. It sounds so clique-ish. It’s bad enough that now some of us have to ‘ask if not from my country’ to mooch, but ‘ask if not my friend’ would definitely put some people, especially newbies off. There are already so many other social networking sites that aims to be a popularity contest platform, I wish Bookmooch won’t have to join in to go in that direction and stay being the excellent book-swapping site that it is now.

    If anything, long distance mooches have helped books to get sent to places where they are rare and expensive, and got them read by people who would otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Looking to justify it ecologically is like asking if the resources spent for building a school is worth it.

    I also have to agree with the previous poster who mentioned support to local post office. More and more rural post office are being closed down and more rural communities have been more isolated because of it. A couple of regular book traffic from people in these areas might keep the service alive.

  58. Martyna said

    I think all of us who use the combination of Bookcrossing and Bookmooch actually are going in the right direction. I have always been wondering why there was no cooperation…

  59. SheWhoWaits said

    Evy, Not to be a wet blanket, but I doubt very much if you will be able to get your library to participate. I’m a librarian, so I know how libraries work. They buy/accept donations of used books only as a last resort, if they really need a book and it can’t be acquired any other way. When you consider the amount of wear and tear a library book receives, this makes sense. So, since they have no use for the points and the postage to mail out their used books is not in their budget and not likely to be approved by their boards, BM is just not going to happen. If you think about it that kind of makes sense, too. Taxpayers don’t want to pay for the library to give charity to someone. If they want to give charity, they can do it on their own, not through their taxes. I often rescue donated books that are being sent to the dump and list them on bookmooch, so at least from my library some of those books are getting into the system.

  60. Erin C said

    Your amazing! I don’t know how you find the time to have a life as well as run bookmooch. Your ideas/plans for the future here are interesting. I like the idea of the books being passed many times to help save the environment. I prefer multiple mooches to save on postage. I don’t think you need to ccome up with a way to lower postage for us moochers though….although if it could somehow be lowered for international books it may help books move along more quickly. I just got home from a much needed beach vacation and still don’t have my thoughts all collected LOL….Thanks again for your wonderful sight, I missed being on the forums etc this past week:)

    Erin C

  61. Andrew said

    SheWhoWaits: Indeed. I regularly prune the county library’s sale for books which I can tell will be in demand here, which seems a rather good way of getting highly-demanded stuff into the system 🙂

    John: The simplest way to encourage the system to be greener would be to make it easier for books to travel a shorter distance; the real low-hanging-fruit here is not mooch shelves or what have you, but simply making it easy for me to look at two or three users and see one of them lives in the same city as me…

    At the moment, we have:

    Name: Andrew Gray (United Kingdom)

    Is there any reason that we couldn’t have this be:

    Name: Andrew Gray (Oxford, United Kingdom)
    Name: Andrew Gray (Oxfordshire, United Kingdom)

    We have this to a degree already – the US lists your state – and it could easily be made an opt-in/out function for those with privacy concerns.

  62. Missy T said

    I do not belong to bookmooch for the environmental benefits. I live next door to a used bookstore. I can sell a small percentage of my books there and leave the rest out front for others to pick up. The problem? I don’t get the books on my wishlist in return. Sure, the bookstore has a few of the books I want, but not many and they charge a lot more than the postage I’m paying on bookmooch.

    I hope the more social alternatives, such as coffee shop exchanges, work out for those who have the time to enjoy them. I don’t at the moment, but I hope that changes in the future.

    What am I trying to say? Bookmooch, as it exists right now, exactly serves my needs. I admire the efforts of others to make book swapping more environmentally friendly, but please do not change the fundamentals!

  63. Lisa R. said

    I love trading, swapping, mooching books. But as a writer, I feel for my friends who are book authors. Fewer books printed is a worthy green goal, but it doesn’t benefit authors in the present publishing scenario. In fact, it hurts them. The industry needs a way to fairly compensate writers for their efforts that somehow takes into consideration the pass-along readership. Can’t imagine how that’s possible, but I hope greater minds than mine can figure it out.

  64. DougNZ said

    I think that ther person who mooches the book should be required to buy the carbon cost of transport of the book they are mooching.

    I agree wiht other submitters here that making the book itself carbon nuetral would be difficult, but at least making sure the person that mooches the book pays to true carbon cost from an approved scheme would go sopme way into reducing the overall emissions of the programme while still ensuring that books are spread far and wide.

    I dont agree wiht local meet and swap groups – it means that people in isolated spots are excluded. Payment for the carbon cost of the mooch – based upon the declared location of seller and moocher would be the ideal

  65. Tanya said

    The idea of having mooch shelves or meetups seems to me much, much less eco-friendly than mooching through the mail, as surely some people will drive thier cars to get to the shelves or meetups, thus creating more traffic and pollution. I see the mail as the equivalent of the books taking public transportation to reach their destinations. Yes, they are adding more weight but surely this is negligible compared to putting more cars on the road.

    I also dislike the idea of prefering to mooch to people nearby, as the majority of users are in the USA but the beauty of bookmooch is, in my opinion, the international aspect of it. For example, surely it is more meaningful to get a book into the hands of someone in a developing country who is furthering themselves by trying to learn English and who wouldn’t have the resources to purchase the book, particularly as books in English are more expensive in non-English speaking countries. To take this example even further, to me this is just another example of the US and UK and other developed countries asking the developing world to shoulder the burden of climate change.

    The real issue I think with bookmooch is the plastic bubble wrap that people sometimes use to wrap the books – plastic is evil, see:
    But luckily most moochers recycle the packaging and send it on to someone else.

  66. ShuPhu said

    I think this is a great idea! I have alredy put on my status message to check out my inventory if you are mooching a book from me. I think it’s brilliant that BookMooch as well as being fun and a great way to read more books but is also economical. Go BookMooch say I!

    ShuPhu 🙂

  67. Andi said

    Great ideas, here. I do think you’re going to have make this idea profitable for publishers – and I say that not because the publishers need more money but because, as a writer, I know that publishers need to make money so that writers can be paid (and then write more books), etc. . . We want to be sure that we continue to have stuff to Mooch later on.

    Thanks for this.

  68. Emily said

    I think the idea of in-person mooching is a bad one. As a young woman, I would NOT be comfortable meeting up with who-knows-who, even in a public place.

  69. Jackie said

    I think being eco-friendly is great, and I always support anything being as green as possible. However, cosmetic changes for the appearance of being green don’t do anyone any favors.

    Much research will have to go into your considered improvements. Exchanging postage fees for face-to-face meetups just adds fuel to the carbon footprint issue. And I see BookMooch more as a way to keep books from getting dumped into a landfill than as a means to lower production at the front end. Which is why I support it.

    As a small press publisher, I utilize ‘print on demand’, which is a very green option versus a bulk order of books that sit in a warehouse, taking up space and resources, until (if they don’t sell) they are pulped and dumped. Support of legitimate publishers that use this method would go a long way. I don’t want to print more books than need to be printed; but I certainly don’t want to *sell* less, either. For small presses, profit is already challenging enough.

  70. justelise said

    The idea of any friend only Mooching or creating subsets of the main inventory designated for specific groups of people detracts from the community atmosphere on BookMooch.

  71. here’s my 2 cents: i don’t think john is suggesting we increase our eco footprint. as someone mentioned in an early response, a mooch shelf exists at her job. this is where the idea fits without adding any inconveniences on us or the environment. if you already go to work, why not get a mooch shelf started there? if you already participate in pta meetings that are held consistently in the same place, set up a mooch shelf there. if you regularly work from some indie coffeeshop, go ahead and get a mooch shelf setup there as well. this doesn’t have to be about going to unnecessary lengths to make this happen. of course anywhere in walking or bike riding distance is suitable as well. i’m trying to get more homeschoolers to join. they have a strong need for tons of books that they typically use for a year or less. and they are often single income families, so there’s economical benefits for them. and perhaps they can find some common meeting grounds to have mooch shelves. now the friends only idea, i’m not diggin’ that one. and if you can get special postage rates or something for bookmoochers, that’d be so very awesome…

  72. Yaya said

    Please do consider us too, from Indonesia. I really hope that BM will provide postage cost to and from Indonesia too 🙂

  73. Megan said

    I think it might help if, when a list of book owners comes up, the owner(s) nearest the moocher are indicated with a star or a search by proximity option was added. I know you can search by zip code, but I was very disappointed when a fellow moocher who I found in my zip code mailed a book rather than dropping it off. She or he lived about two streets away from my house- the post office was much farther.

  74. Carole said

    I am an independent bookseller and I have had a swap loft for a few years where people bring in two books and take one in exchange. I also have people who bring books and plan to come back later to look so I keep a tally of how many books I owe people. This is working really well. It turns my inventory and in the swap we include advance reader’s copies that we get but don’t sell outright. This is a great way for people to read books that are not even published yet and will only be in hardback.

  75. _Anne said

    while we are debating on how to ship books the environmentally friendly way, here’s a another way of being eco-friendly:
    unlike in the US or other first world countries, the post offices here in the Philippines do not have sturdy mailing envelopes–well they don’t have mailing envelopes period. So, I am constantly trying to find ways on how to wrap books for mailing. So instead of buying new and sturdy envelopes and/or boxes from the bookstore, I use old envelopes, plastics from the stores, those envelope bags some boutiques use…basically, anything that, in my opinion, can be used -instead of grabbing new boxes or envelopes. All the books I have sent out so far have been delivered to their destinations safely, so I guess it works. 🙂 My two cents worth.

  76. librarysupplychainguy said

    BM could partner up with and offer an optional carbon-offsetting fee to requesters. Of course, this would mean setting up a whole interface for users to enter PayPal or CC information, but it seems likely that one of the next logical steps of BM is to add pay features to the site, anyway. If you let users (like me) voluntarily offset shipping pollution by buying credits from a site like carbonfund, it seems like you are helping us make the world a cleaner place. Plus, it would add credibility and environmentally friendly plugs for your site… What do you think?

  77. Erein said

    There’s a lot of principles you show in your post which are already done at Bookcrossing meet-ups. Maybe you could thinking about a partnering, after all, most of us are bookcrossers too, and BC is another non lucrative initiative.

    Besides, partnering offers each other the chance to grow, and thinking green, saving energies 🙂

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