You join for free and list the books languishing on your shelf that you are willing to give away. Then you browse for a book you want and when you find it, you “mooch” it from another member who ships it to you, at their cost. When someone requests a book from you, you pay the postage. You can keep a wish list going and when a book you want enters the system, you get notified, usually within minutes.
In two weeks, I’ve received five books and sent off six. The point system is easy: Every 10 books you list earns you one point, good for mooching one book. Every time you send a book out, you earn another one point. Incremental points are earned in various ways, such as leaving feedback and acknowledging transactions.
Now, even though the New York Times recently ran a feature on Bookmooch, and I think it’s a brilliant way for book addicts to collectively enable each other, this won’t replace your patronage of -- and please, for all my writer friends whose livelihoods depend on it, don’t let it – your eclectic and service-rich neighborhood independent book store, or the deep inventory of your favorite online retailer, or even that nifty website where you pick up used books.
However, when faced with a groaning shelf of volumes that, for one reason or another, you doubt you will read again, swapping them for the cost of a media mail package (I paid $2.50 today to mail a heavy hardcover; and $1.15 yesterday to send out a slim paperback) sure beats selling books at a yard sale for 25-cents each--or having your local librarian look at you funny if you walk in with books to donate.
Mooch away and let me know how it goes.