Book Exchange at Work – Success or Failure?

By Ralph Phillips, Computer & Information Systems

Over the summer, I frequented a number of coffee shops with book exchange programs and participated in one here in town. It was great. I discovered some new books and was pleased to see that books I left were taken–hopefully by someone who enjoyed them and later passed them on.

Why not set one up at work? Creating a book exchange isn’t difficult at all. A common area where many of your co-workers congregate is an ideal place to set up a book exchange. You could leave a stack of books on a counter, but I went for the much more official cardboard box with sign approach (see video). I wanted my co-workers to enjoy a couple of great books I read recently and leave some new ones to keep the exchange thriving.

We’re at week seven in the term and all of the books I started with to “seed” the book exchange box are still there. It does look like someone left a magazine, but that’s been the only activity.

Optimism ahead…

Perhaps this book exchange needs a little advertisement. Or, maybe I’m not using enough technology (a common excuse for many of my failed experiments). Plan B will be to check out an online book exchange like BookMooch. The way BookMooch and similar book exchanges work is to provide members with a much larger selection of free books. It’s actually kind of a cool process:

  1. List the book(s) you’ve got available to give.
  2. When somebody requests your book, you mail it to them (you pay the shipping).
  3. Mailing a book earns you a point.
  4. You can now use your point to request a book from anybody else. They ship the book to you.

That’s about all there is to it. The rules are pretty simple, and you need to give at least one book for every two that you receive. You also get partial points for listing books. I’m going to start my BookMooch account by listing:

  • The Marine Aquarium Handbook (apparently my Florida hobby doesn’t sell well in Bend, Oregon)
  • The New Saltwater Aquarium Handbook
  • Touching the Void
  • About a Boy
  • The Complete Guide to Marathon Walking

In a later post, I’ll report on my experience with BookMooch.

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