The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Mooching Books

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One of the drawbacks of being an avid reader is that I always have more books than I have shelf space. One of the drawbacks of being a writer as well as an avid reader is that I’m reluctant to get rid of books if I think there’s a possibility I might want to refer back to them later. At some point it becomes clear to me that I’m in danger of becoming an old man surrounded by piles of moldy books. However the move (and some gentle prodding from the hubby) inspired me to make some hard choices about what stays on the shelves and what has to go. Now instead of piles of books on the floor, I have a box of books in the garage, awaiting their fate.

Every once in a while I try some method of making myself get shed of books I’m unlikely to read or use as references, but they usually peter out after a while. I tried selling books on Amazon Marketplace, but most of them never sold. (I guess my taste in books isn’t entirely mainstream. I tried BookCrossing, but something about leaving my books lying in various places around town and never knowing if they got picked up by another reader or just thrown away didn’t appeal to me.

Then last week I discover BookMooch while sorting through my blog/news feeds.

It’s pretty simple, very cool, and free. You sign up, and start entering books to your inventory, by title or ISBN. You get points for adding books (0.1 points per book entered). You get points for responding to a “mooch request” and sending books (1 point per book, 2 if to another country). You get points if you brown someone’s wishlist and give them a book from their list. You spend points by “mooching” books, etc., etc. More about points here.

The thing is, it’s apparently active enough that you can get pretty quick results. I added 23 books to my inventory on Saturday. I’ve gotten four “mooch requests since then, sent off one book, I’m sending another off today, and another off tomorrow. At this rate, I may soon be out of danger of being found under a collapsed pile of books one day. Then again, I’ve also got a list of books I plan to “mooch” at some point.

(As an aside, What’s On My Bookshelf seems to work the same way. I entered one book there, and it took me about a week to get a request.)

If you’re a book lover, check it out. You’ve got nothing to lose but your piles!


  1. Cool site…maybe I could off load some of my many books. If I knew they were to be read it might make it easier to part with them

  2. “A” box of books in the garage. Terrance, you are just an amateur!

    (I only just now discovered your blog, thanks to the terrific essay of yours on Daily Kos about sex ed in Texas, so maybe this “move” that you allude to here really did serve to divest you of a lot of books.)

  3. “A” box of books in the garage. Terrance, you are just an amateur!

    Yeah. I could only part with enough to fill up one box. 😉

    It’s crazy, though. I had another request come in yesterday, so I had another book to send out today. Then I woke up this morning to find two more requests in my inbox! So, I just dropped three books in the mail today. Thats about 5 or 6 that I’ve send off since Monday.

    Of course, that means I can spend those points to “mooch” some titles from others. I’ve already got a list started…

  4. lovely site. after moving house many many times, i tend to be more streamlined with my books and i mostly buy from charity shops or other secondhand sources (me with my green fingers and all) so it’s no hardship to return them from whence they came.

    there’s a slightly similar but quite different idea here in the uk called mybookyourbook which aims to create an online library. you register 10 books when you sign-up, and then they circulate as people request. unfortunately, it means having these books hanging around indefinitely and i’m not sure the community is very big – i’ve only had two requests for my books since i joined a year ago.

    interested to see there’s already a european contingent on bookmooch though. it’ll also help clear out all the padded envelopes i’ve got bursting out of a drawer in the kitchen…