Books for Free

Yes, those three words always grab my attention too.  Books for Free is an initiative set up by Healthy Planet which redistributes unwanted books which would otherwise have ended up in landfill.  Centres have been popping up all over the UK since it was launched in 2010 and it has been a big success.  It is primarily an environmental cause aimed at promoting recycling but also plays an important role in bringing communities together and encouraging more people to read and share books.

I visited one of these centres in Holborn in central London recently.  A lot of the stuff there will probably struggle to find a loving home even without a price tag (Windows 95 manuals anyone?) but I was pleasantly surprised by the overall range and quality of books.  Visitors can take out up to three books at a time.  Some of the books have been collected from second-hand dealers or other businesses who can’t get rid of them while others are donated by individuals thus ensuring that the project is self-sustaining.

During my visit, I picked up a hardback copy of ‘The Uninvited Guests’ by Sadie Jones which is in very good condition and also ‘Night Train to Lisbon’ by Pascal Mercier.  I made a small donation equivalent to what I would expect to pay in a charity shop – even though Books for Free really does mean books for free, it still felt weird not being obliged to give anything in return.  Next time, I will bring a few books of my own and exchange them for something else.  It’s a really great scheme so please check it out if you can. 🙂


Filed under Books

12 responses to “Books for Free

  1. Looks like it’s only in the UK. Too bad. What a good idea!


  2. This sounds great! It encourages reading and sustainability, too bad it’s only in the UK though. Maybe I’ll go visit one of those next time I travel.


  3. markharwoodwriter

    This is awesome – thanks! And let us know how Uninvited Guests turns out 🙂


  4. Hey there. I know we have a pile of Ian McEwan books at the Books for Free in Stratford. Although you probably already have them all.


  5. What about changing London’s iconic, but virtually unused, telephone booths into book exchanges?


  6. Sharing books like this is a great way to stumble across books and genres we wouldn’t normally seek out. It expands our minds.


  7. I wish there was something similar in Spain. I would gladly donate some of my books and ARC! I think it’s a great cause for both the environment and those who can not afford books.


  8. Great idea, not a lot of coverage in the Midlands I see, having said that we see a car and throw rocks at it, assuming it is witch craft. Yep we are a bit backwards.


  9. innovative!!but looks like its only in UK:-(


  10. Absolutely amazing! Next time I go somewhere in the UK I am definitely stoping by this place 😀


  11. This looks so cool! Hopefully we can start something similar in the US at some point. Meanwhile I’ll just have to add a visit to one of the locations if I ever make it over to the UK!


  12. Pingback: The 2013 End of Year Book Survey | A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff

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