Tuesday, 25 August 2009

One In, One Out

Recently, James and I signed up to ReadItSwapIt, a site that lets users swap books with others, for only the cost of the postage. For us, it seems like the perfect solution: We get to read new books and discover new authors, and our total number of books remains the same. We have, as you can probably imagine, very little book storage space, so the idea of simply replacing ones we've read with one we haven't is very appealing. So far we've swapped four books and are waiting for them to arrive.

But there is opposition to the concept because book swappping deprives authors of sales. This is true, but I have been reading about this on the web, and there are in fact many authors out there who endorse it because it gets their name known, and encourages people who might not have otherwise read their books to try them. I know that if I discovered an author through this scheme who I absolutely loved, I'd be desperate to get hold of all their work somehow, and might even buy them. So I think that it does have its advantages even for authors. The other side to it is that used books are not like pirate DVDs, they have a much greater moral legitimacy, and there is great pleasure and precedent for keeping, lending and swapping used books. And this is reflected in the price, which surely allows for lending and resale. I really don't see any difference between bookswapping and buying from second hand book stores. Also, to be available for swapping, copies have to be printed, and there are unlikely to be more books printed unless more people take a chance on the book than those who want to keep it permanently.

For us though, the fact remains that we firstly couldn't afford to buy books new and secondly, if we decided to buy rather than borrow/swap every book that James and I enjoy, we would have no need for ballast, and the Duck would probably end up sitting on the bottom of the Cam!


  1. You're both always welcome to borrow from my "library"! :-)

  2. If you use a library (free for you), authors get royalties from this (PLR). If you but from a charity shop, at least the charity gets some money! Second hand book shops are only morally legitame (IMO) if the book is out-of-print and you couldn't get it any other way.

  3. Fair enough! But we don't have a lending library in Cambridge at the moment,alas, its been closed since 2006 or so. If we did of course I'd much rather use that!

  4. I can't believe Cambridge doesn't have a library, that's awful! I can see why you've resorted to bookcrossing/swapping now :S

  5. I like this idea.. And I can't see that it takes money from authors/publishers, if I swapped a book and liked the one I got, I would buy a new copy of that book and swap the old one on!


  6. From what I can tell, you didn't buy Lucky Duck new, did you? (http://nbluckyduck.blogspot.com/2008/04/lucky-duck.html)

    Depriving boat builders of sales? Shocking. (Don't ever buy a house that isn't new either, naturally!)

    Think about people that listen to music on the radio too, depriving songwriters and artists of money. They'd never hear a song and be prompted to buy the album, just like you'd never acquire a second hand book, fall in love with the author's works, and end up eventually buying (new) other books from said author.

    Wouldn't happen at all. Shame on you ;)

    -- Kristian (Sorry, couldn't resist)