My New Virtual Library

I love books.  I just finished reading for the night (and polished off another Edward Abbey book – Hayduke Lives! – not as good as The Monkey Wrench Gang – but still really good.)  I went to put it in the “Read Books Bookshelf” (which happens to be the color red) and realized that it’s completely full (don’t think single bookshelf – think wall of books.)

I stared at the wall for a minute and then realized I had a similar predicament at home in Boulder.  We are completely out of bookshelf space throughout the house (and there’s plenty of it.)  Every few years, I decide that I’m going to give all my books to the library, but then I try and get rejected (the last time I tried, the Boulder Library told me that I could bring them in “a box at a time and they’d decide which ones they want – but they usually want less than 10% of the books” – screw that.)

I’ve decided that when I finish a book, I’ll drop it in the mail to a person that it makes me think of.  Rather than have them sit in boxes collecting dust, I’ll gift them to my friends on an ad hoc basis.  It’ll be my “virtual library” – I’ll have my books spread all over the place.

  • I was a big reader when I was very young, and I remember one of my father’s friends would bring me several books everytime he came to our house.

    When I got older I realized they weren’t his books – he’d borrow just as liberally as he gave. His philosophy was that books want to free. You read it, you pass it on.

    Way back in the early days of the web there was the guy who would send you any of the books in his collection. He had the inventory of his books online, and you could request any you wanted. He’d pay the postage to send it to you. Your only obligation was to send it to the next person who requested it. He’d chart the location of his books, and they made it around the world. I can’t find his URL now, but it was very neat.

  • Brad- good idea. Actually we do a similar thing with my sons friends. At their birthday parties they all do book exchanges. Each kid brings a book he or she has read, and they exchange it for one from another child. We buy lots of kids books and this has worked out really well. BTW, I like hard SciFi and history if you want to send any 😉

  • Adam

    Hi Brad- Over here in the UK, my wife takes stacks of finished books to Oxfam stores and donates them- always welcome. What about donating them to a nursing home or hospice? Ta- Adam

  • A fun idea for books when you’re finished with them is Bookcrossing ( ). The way it works is that you release your book into the wild (aka leave it somewhere in a public place), and let other book lovers hunt for them. When people find a Bookcrossing book, they read it, and then release it back into the wild for others to enjoy.

    The fun thing is is that you can get to see how other people are enjoying the books you’ve released – once a book is registered, it’s tracked on the system. It’s all free. You join up, and when you want to release a book, you get yourself a book ID from the web-site, write it in the book. And then go leave the book somewhere.

    They have almost 500,000 members worldwide, and over 3,000,000 books registered in the system.

  • Hi,

    Edward books are usually a good and fun read. for your problems on to many books and giving them away, how about trying for the ones you want to let travel? 😉

  • Have you checked out Won’t help with your bulging shelves, but good to keep track of what you have read, if you then release them. I use it to remind me what books I have stored in boxes, waiting for the chance to move into a bigger house!

  • I like the idea – and struggle with the same problem. I try to loan books out or just give them away to friends once I’m done with them. I’m not sure how often you’re on a Mac, but this little piece of software is very cool for organizing and keeping track of who you lend things out to: Delicious Library. If you have a webcam, you can even scan books in using the barcode.

  • Dave Jilk

    We don’t actually have a copy of Hayduke Lives… 😉

  • John Adams

    Excellent. I was thinking about asking you what you did with your read books after I read a post recently. You must also be able to read minds.

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