Book Lovers Day 2012 – Celebrate by sharing a good book!
Why is it so difficult to share books? Readers should be more creative and pro-active about promoting the exchange of books.
I have no idea who declared it so, but today is World Book Lovers Day. No prizes for guessing how I plan to celebrate it!
I’d like to challenge everyone to celebrate World Book Lovers Day by sharing a good book with someone you know.
Yesterday, I listed my ideas on new ways in which the book industry might bring books to readers. Today I’d like to talk about how readers can bring books to other readers.
It occurs to me that outside of lending books to friends, there aren’t many ways that people can share books. Initiatives such as BookCrossing are fantastic, but how many of us have actually done it or come across a book in the wild?
Secondhand shops are great, too, but they seem to be a dying breed. In the past, you were reasonably assured of finding one near a major train station or in a suburban shopping village. Nowadays, unless you live in Newtown or Glebe, you have to make a special effort to find one.
What I’d like to see more of are book exchange corners in office lunch rooms, community centres, common areas in apartment blocks, schools and universities, sporting facilities, transit areas (including airline VIP lounges), supermarkets, places of worship, hotels and other places where people routinely visit or pass through.
How to make a book exchange work
Confession: I made up this list. But please read it and tell me if it doesn’t make sense or if you have more suggestions. I also admit that this will only work for print books.
1. Allocate a dedicated area for the book exchange. This can be a room, a bookshelf or even just a table. Having a dedicated area helps to keep its purpose clear.
2. Print simple instructions on how the book exchange works. I’ve seen book exchanges at work, at a hotel and in a school but have never used them myself. Why? Because I wasn’t sure what I was allowed to do!
The instructions might include guidelines around:
- Who can take a book and under what conditions (e.g. Does the person have to donate a book to get a book?)
- If books can be kept or are only borrowed
- If borrowed only, when the borrower should return the book
- What types of books should/should not be deposited
- Any other conditions for using the book exchange
- Who to contact for questions
My suggestion is to have as few rules as possible. Rules deter people from participating, mostly, I think, because no one wants to accidentally do the wrong thing.
3. Assign someone to maintain the area. This includes tidying up and making the area appealing for people to use. It may also mean culling unwanted books or those past their use-by date. (Readers, you gasp in horror, but I’m sure librarians understand what I mean.) The area should invite people to pick up the books and wonder if they’ll like it—not what the previous owner had for dinner.
4. Let people know it’s there. You can let people know by word of mouth, a brief email, through a newsletter or using more visible signs or posters around the area. The more people who know it’s there, the better your chances are of establishing a thriving book loving community in your little neck of the woods.
Do you know of any good book exchanges in your local community? Let us know why you think it works so well!