I am an avid reader, and have a particular weakness for second hand bookstores (“fascinating” I hear you cry) … I can’t seem to pass by one without picking up a bargain. This has yielded both unexpected success and disappointing failure. In both cases said tomes end up residing somewhere on a bookshelf in my house. The net result of this is that I now have far too many books, a fact that was brought home to me in the past month. We are currently remodeling our home, and in preparation I spent what seemed like a whole day packing paperback and hardback books into boxes and then lugging them down the cellar. (Add in my wife’s large format design books and that’s a backache right there). There are now several teetering towers of book boxes taking up one whole end of said cellar. I decided something had to change (so first off, look out for many of my books on Amazon/ thrift stores/ my street in the coming months) but I also decided that I need a new way to read without acquiring mounds of paperbacks. Here’s what I found …
First off, the public library obviously can’t be beat. But there are other options out there, too, that can keep my acquisitive reading habit in check.For eco-friendly, instant-gratification, new millenial reading, there is obviously the Kindle (though – in a chronic piece of mismanagement by Amazon – it’s sold out at least until February 2009).
I have also found pay services such as BookSwim (inevitably: Netflix for book lovers), which allows you to hold paperbacks or hard covers for as long as you want. What’s not to like? Well, they emailed saying the plans start at $9.95 a month. That’s not technically untrue, but the deal is actually $9.95 for the first month for the least expensive plan. After that, it jumps to $19.98. A rather tired bait and switch.
BooksFree isn’t free, though shipping is. You can sign up for $9.99 a month, which gets you two paperback books at a time.
America’s BookShelf has a slightly more complicated, but less expensive setup. There’s an annual fee of $12 and you’ll need to be willing to share the books on your bookshelves. Each book you receive will set you back $3.50.
BookMooch takes a different tack. There are no costs, except for mailing. Give someone a book, earn a point which you can redeem to get a book. A similar concept for paperbacks at PaperBack Swap, which has a printable postage option.