What the hell BookMooch?

Have you heard about this book-swapping site? The concept is great: get rid of books you no longer want (maybe never did want, but which you picked up from the book-and-magazine-trading wall in the subway station) for the cost of Media Mail postage; get others’ unwanted books for free. Neato, right?

I’ve sent out nine books in the two months since I joined, and I have a pile of 25 or 30 more to give away, should anyone ask. It’s made me reevaluate several books that I read halfway — I ended up reading or finishing a few so I could be sure I didn’t want them, and I discovered a really excellent volume of short stories by Amy Bloom that I thought I’d read, but hadn’t. (I have great difficulty remembering whether it’s Amy Bloom or Bender whom I prefer.) Combing through my collection has proven a good exercise.

However, it’s all a big tease. The books I’d like to mooch are wishlisted, meaning they’re currently unavailable but I’ll be emailed whenever someone makes one available. So far, I’ve gotten 41 emails informing me that a book I want is now available, but even when I quick-click the link to claim it, I’ve only had success once. This weekend alone, I’ve gotten 10 emails and landed 10 times on the page with the most infuriating message ever: “To where do you want the book sent? No copies available (they all have been given away).”

I don’t expect to receive a book for every one I give away — part of the point is to clear some space on my shelves — but I wish they’d tweak their algorithm so I could catch a break now and then. Maybe if I liked mysteries or other genre fiction, I’d have a higher success rate. If anyone wants to recommend some books they love, let me know and I’ll add them to my wishlist.

5 Responses to “What the hell BookMooch?”

  1. Paula says:

    Visit Paula

    This sounds like a nice idea, but I’ll tell you what gives me pause (and paws): mailing books annoys me. CDs are so easy–they’re all the same size, they’re light, you can carry a bunch of CD packages to the PO and it’s a breeze. Books are often clunky, come in many sizes so you have to buy different-sized jiffy bags, and they are a pain to carry around unless you have a tote bag and I have sworn off tote bags for life.

    Typing this out makes me feel neurotic, and yet purged.

    (I have great difficulty remembering whether it’s Amy Bloom or Bender whom I prefer.)

    Bender is kinda fun and surreal but a little unemotional. Bloom is kinda smarmy and knowing and fleshy, and writes (or used to write) an advice column in some women’s mag.

  2. Editrix says:

    Visit Editrix

    I admit, I have it easy: lots of Jiffy bags and assorted mailers find their way here given the Villain’s glut of review discs, so I recycle those like crazy. And then you can just slap stamps on for the requisite Media Mail postage (BookMooch’s site links to the USPS calculator, which lets you compare the rates for the weight of the book you’re shipping), so it’s as easy as dropping the parcels in the corner mailbox on the way to work. Any logistical inconvenience is more than offset by removing Richard Ford novels from my shelves.

  3. Paula says:

    Visit Paula

    Wait–I’m fascinated–you’re allowed to drop parcels in mailboxes in Boston?

    I didn’t think it was just an NYC thing, but ever since 9/11, you can’t mail packages in mailboxes–you have to bring them to a counter (or one of those machines) at the PO.

    I tried dropping one in once, and it got returned to me, which makes no sense. (”If this here’s a bomb, we’re a-sendin’ it back!”)

  4. 2fs says:

    Visit 2fs

    Mailboxes around here bear notices saying that we shouldn’t put packages that weigh more than a certain weight (16oz, I think) in them - but I have, and they’ve gone through. I really fail to see the logic here, by the way: let’s say I’m a terrorist, and I want to blow up a mailbox, or set someone up the bomb. (Sorry…) But noes! there’s a sign on the mailbox, warning me that I can’t do it. Curses! Foiled again! I will have to cause terror and destruction via UPS!

    I mean, do the people who make these policies actually think them through?

  5. Pathetic Fallacy » Dept. of Awesome says:

    Visit Pathetic Fallacy » Dept. of Awesome

    […] I had two really good, challenging sessions on the stationary bike.I scored a couple of finds on BookMooch. My bad mooch karma might be turning around. […]

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