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Book Mooch

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  • Andrius Kulikauskas
    Thank you to Christopher Allen ( http://www.lifewithalacrity.com ) through whom I learned of BookMooch http://www.bookmooch.com This could be a very
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2006
      Thank you to Christopher Allen ( http://www.lifewithalacrity.com )
      through whom I learned of BookMooch http://www.bookmooch.com This
      could be a very important web community for helping us get books to
      Africa, including textbooks for children and books on HTML, programming,
      nutrition or AIDS. I therefore share with our Minciu Sodas laboratory's
      working groups on Holistic Helping (with special emphasis on Africa)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/holistichelping/ and on Learning From Each
      Other (hosting Agnese's work on local publishing)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learningfromeachother/ I think it's also
      a great example of a community currency, so I share with our working
      group on that http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cyfranogi/

      BookMooch is an online community for exchanging used books. It is based
      on reciprocity. Every time you give away a book you get one point and
      you can use that to get any other book that somebody might have. The
      person who is giving the book pays for the shipping. If you give a book
      to another country, then the sender gets 3 points, and the receiver
      gives 2 points. You also get 1 point for every 10 books that you list.

      This might be a good way to build relationships amongst ourselves and
      with others. I think that the person-to-person relationships that might
      develop between our participants in Africa, India, Lithuania and others,
      many of whom are in Silicon Valley or other parts of the United States,
      may be very valuable. There is also a discussion board

      You get points for listing books, and you can exchange books locally,
      which this might encourage, too. It would be interesting what books in
      Africa might have a demand in the United States and elsewhere. A
      challenge might be the cost of getting online, the cost of shipping, and
      the several months it takes for books to travel internationally. But
      this might be an excellent resource for university students, high school
      teachers, doctors and nurses, and professionals. And the books can be
      sold for money. This could be a service for ordering needed books. I
      think it's also a good way to find out what kinds of books are actually
      most needed.

      There is also an API which means that there is a way for me or other
      programmers to connect the book list data with our own data, and to
      create interfaces that might be customized for us. We could also make
      lists of the "classics" that we recommend reading and make sure that our
      participants can get them, know who has them.

      About 5,000 books have been "mooched" so far. There is a page of
      statistics: http://www.bookmooch.com/about/stats

      Overall, this is a system that we might make use of instead of creating
      our own.

      I have signed up for another system like this here in Lithuania
      http://www.skolink.org (thanks to Sarunas Andrikis) for lending books to
      each other. But I have never had anybody ask me for any of my books,
      perhaps because it's a bit of trouble to borrow books, and there's no
      sense of entitlement. There is also http://www.bookcrossing.org where
      since 2001 people have been registering and giving away their used books
      to others they know or simply "releasing them into the wild" so that the
      books would keep getting read and found and anybody can report on where
      they've found them and see how they have traveled. That's a successful
      way of encouraging people to give away books, more than 3 million so far!

      BookMooch combines the spirit of giving away with mutuality. Mutuality
      encourages us to act: I give my books away, and it's right for me to
      request books. I think it's an excellent example of a community
      currency. I think it's just starting, so it will be interesting how it

      John Buckman is the founder of BookMooch. He lives with his wife in
      Berkeley, California and in London, England. Points earned can be given
      away to charity, including an African literacy program. So perhaps John
      would be interested in helping our lab make the best use of Book Mooch,
      if we are interested.

      Thank you to John for creating Book Mooch!


      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas
      +370 (5) 264 5950
      +370 (699) 30003
      Vilnius, Lithuania

      From an interview with John Buckman:

      *Why "one point" for each book, no matter how expensive the book
      originally was?*

      Initially, I thought that people should be able to choose how expensive
      books would be. In other words, a cheap sci-fi paperback book might be
      one point, but a dictionary might cost 3 points. However, that makes
      exchanging much more complicated, and if your goal is making money you
      should sell your books on eBay.

      A book you don't want is not worth much, you'd like to get rid of it.
      So, by making every book you don't want be exactly one point, then it's
      an equal exchange
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