I’ve got a multi-million dollar book swap app idea! Are you ready? Here it goes! Okay, so it’s not original to me. Goodreads.com actually did it first, and it was great, but then they stopped doing it, and I was sad. I used it a few times, sent several books, ordered several more, the most it ever cost you was the postage. You earned credits for every book you sent away at no cost to you. Earn ten credits, and you don’t even have to pay the postage on the next book you acquire. That’s right! Give away ten books you don’t want anymore, and you can get one book you really do want, yours to keep, absolutely free!
For reasons Goodreads did not share, but I have my suspicions, they abandoned this service. Granted, it wasn’t earning them any money, and it was probably more cumbersome than it was worth (it can’t have hurt that, soon after abandoning the service, they were acquired by Amazon, who very much does not want someone giving away books for free when a big part of what they are known for is selling books, not necessarily cheap, but cheaper than Barnes & Noble, and certainly cheaper than your local independent bookstore. In essence, Goodreads was doing to Amazon what Amazon was trying to do to big box bookstores. You can’t go cheaper than free. From an Amazon perspective, Goodreads’ free book swap had to go).
When it went, I was disheartened. I loved the service. But then I thought, hey, I know, I’ll just recreate the book swap platform they had–it shouldn’t be hard, it already existed–and then I’ll just keep the service going. Worst case, I’m getting books to book lovers at no cost to them. Maybe I’ll become as popular as Goodreads. Better yet, maybe I’ll be bought out by Amazon, to then be able to retire to a remote island, where I would write the next great American novel, which I could turn around and sell on Amazon. That’s what we call full circle.
I then waited just under 5 years to do anything about my idea. Turns out that was at least 4.5 years too long. The bad news is, I’m not going to make millions launching my new idea. But the good news is, someone else will. Several someones, actually.
There are a whole host of sites out there giving away books for free under a very similar model. For a list of such sites look here. Some of the specific sites that look particularly promising are here and here and here. And here. And if you happen to live in Germany, here.
DISCLAIMER: I haven’t used any of these other sites. Yet. But they look promising. Who can say no to free books? The technological and financial and temporal requirements for engaging in such an endeavor probably would have been beyond me anyway. What I think I will do on a much, much, much smaller scale is host a small, in-person, actual book exchange, with light refreshments and hopefully thoughtful, bookish meetings of the mind. If it’s a success, we’ll see. Maybe similar meetups could spread. Barnes & Noble actually has some great ideas for such a “real world” swap.
Let the free exchange of thoughts and ideas and books begin!