21 January 2009

On BookMooch: I finally found the downside.

Welcome to anyone who has come over to my blog from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, my home paper for the first 18 years of my life.

Regular readers will know I am something of an evangelist about BookMooch, the online book-swapping service where you mail books to people who request them and get the books you want in return. I have gotten some major scores from the site in the past, which has also helped me "unbook" a little. However, due to circumstances beyond the purview of this post, I temporarily can't afford to send books out. While I'm still trying to get rid of books, the $3-$10 per volume cost to mail them out needs to go somewhere else in my budget. (I'm guessing I'm not the only one out there with this problem.)

I could just stop sending books internationally -- those are the $10 ones -- but for me doing so would be going against the stated purpose of the site. When I've tried to mooch a book and gotten the "sorry, only sending to my country" message, it's really disappointing! Likewise, I could demand that people who mooch from me mooch at least 2 to cut down on shipping costs, but my inventory isn't big enough to make that an attractive offer.

So, for now, after I've sent my current requests, I'm going to be looking into some local donation options (hereafter in general terms) which will cost me only in transit and time. I'm going to be checking out three places: Small Thrift Store, within walking distance; Big National Charity, a few subway stops away; and Nonprofit Bookstore, a retail outlet with a specific mission. I'll let you know how it goes.

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