Monday, August 11, 2008

Books and bullies

I had a great idea - use Bookmooch!

I saw someone present about this book swapping service at Reboot 9 - great idea! It reminded me of the unwebbed version called Bookcrossing where you just put a sticker in a book then leave it anywhere e.g. a train for anyone to pick up. Cultural dissipation via serendipity, randomness, etc. Awesome! Bookmooch turned not to be such a great experience.

Debs and I had just repopulated our bookshelves after our travels, and I discovered that I didn't want to read a single one of my beloved detective books ever again. Well, maybe one or two Chandlers and McBains, but as for the rest of you: Crais, Parker, Moseley, Dibdin, Leonard, Lehane, Rendell, Vine, etc... inc some awful crap I'm ashamed to include here - begone!

We went into it full speed, upping 70ish books to our inventory. You get micropoints for every book you list, and proper points for each one you send out. then you can spend your points mooching books from other users. "What fun!" we thought.

Within minutes of listing our inventory, we were being deluged with requests for mooches from all over the world. But after 1 week of membership, nothing on my wishlist had popped up anywhere - except for 1 book of Chekhov shorts, whose owner in Israel didn't bother to respond to my request.

Meanwhile, about 50% of the population of the Philippines wanted our Harry Potter hardbacks. 1 dude was practically offering to have my babies if I was willing to send him both the adult and the kid edition of the Half Blood Prince (no idea why I have both) via his Bookmooch Angel in Amsterdam...

A quick look at postage prices revealed that we 'd be out at least EUR 5 per book to anywhere outside Europe - EUR10 per book for hardbacks - so we edited our profile and added a little note to say "sorry, but postage is ridiculous", and rejected pretty much all the requests. Most people were very understanding.

Except for one dude in the USA - a Reverend no less - who made a royal pain in the ass of himself by trying to bully me into posting him a Pelecanos novel. Wrong move, padre. If I'd been Clint Eastwood, I woulda spit my cheroot out and fixed the twit with a pitying glare, before shooting the dog collar off his neck.

Instead I politely explained that I participated on my terms, not his, so there really wasn't any need for me to "review the terms of my agreement" with Bookmooch. Seriously, the guy was a total dick. I'm very glad I'm not one of his flock, if indeed he is a practising pastor, not some Subgenius wonk (highly unlikely! I only mentioned them so I could link them).

Two days later, I deleted my account. Real shame. The system could work, but it just costs too much, and the asshole encounter ratio was more than I could be bothered with.

As a result we have about 100 books we don't want any more, in a box in our utility / storage room.

Who wants one?


Mel or Phil said...

Oooo don't give away the Harry Potters (if babies factor in your future, you might find use for them again... ;). What about posting on eBay or Amazon (can you do that?)

blench said...

Hey guys! Howzit? We're actually investigating a little group on eBay called Amsterdam Expat Bookshop: "Earn cash from selling your used books". Might work a bit better :-)