How to Host a Book Exchange

It was one of those things. I woke up one Saturday morning and had the idea. Before I let the thought get away, I wrote a Facebook post asking my local friends if they would be interested in participating in a book exchange. To my delight, the response was positive and enthusiastic. I quickly set a date and started going through my own bookshelves for books to exchange.

The instructions were simple:

  • The Book Exchange Pop Up Shop would have a one-for-one exchange.
  • Friends participating would drop off their gently used books the week before the exchange.
  • On the day of the exchange, those who donated could come back to shop for “new” books and enjoy some goodies and fun book conversations.
  • Any books that were left over would be donated to our local library’s Friends of the Library program who sells used books to help support the library with needed resources and sponsor programs and special events.
  • Couldn’t be any easier!

To keep it simple, my invitation for my Book Exchange Pop Up Shop went out on Facebook. I told friends to comment on the post if they wanted to participate. From there, I sent my address via private message so not to post my home address all over Facebook. I also encouraged friends to share my post to invite their bookish friends who might want to join us.

Throughout the week, friends dropped of bags (and sometimes boxes!) of books, making sure to put their name on their bag so they would get credit for each book they dropped off. I did keep a list of who dropped off books and how many they dropped off in case any one forgot.

The day of my Book Exchange Pop Up Shop I organized all of the books on my dining room table, placing novels on one end, non-fiction, cookbooks, and self-help on the other. Memoirs fell somewhere in the middle. I did not allow the inclusion of children’s books, keeping this exchange focused on adult readers, but I did allow cookbooks. Side note: I don’t think I will do that again since they weren’t good sellers.

Friends arrived excited to take a peek at all of the books. We had so many great ones to choose from and everyone went home with “new” books that they were excited to read. I had fun with the decorations. Since the exchange was close to Valentine’s day, the theme was easy. I sacrificed a few pages of an old book to decorate above the table. I used some leftover Christmas ribbon and hearts I bought at Michael’s and hung the pages attaching them to the fixture over the table.

Since the exchange was on a Sunday afternoon, I made a few sweet treats for shoppers to enjoy, but turns out everyone was too busy shopping for books and loving their bookish conversations to eat much.

My only regret was that I was so busy chatting about books that I wasn’t paying attention to see who went home with what! I do know that everyone left with a bag (or a box!) full of “new” books to enjoy. Everyone thought it was a great idea and were so encouraging about doing this again, I’ve decided to host another exchange before this summer, encouraging participants to bring fun beach reads (we do live in Southern California after all) to get everyone excited about summer reading.

If you’re thinking about hosting a book exchange, I say JUST DO IT! It’s super easy to organize and costs next to nothing to host. Utilize social media to get the word out and don’t forget to send reminders. Everyone gets to clean out their shelves and get something new without spending a dime. It was such a fun way to share my love of books and reading and I can’t wait to do it again!

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