Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My New Book Friend

I made a new friend yesterday.

A few months ago I joined a website called Paper Back Swap (www.paperbackswap.com). Someone in my classes had mentioned she gets lots of books from this source. Once you establish an account, you can post any books you have that you want to trade (and that are in good condition). If you post ten right away, you get two extra credits. After that, you get one credit for each book you post that someone wants. If someone requests it, the site sends you a PDF of a mailing label, and you mail the book and pay for the postage. Once the recipient posts that it’s received, you get your credit. And you can request any book you want that they have listed as available. Shipper always pays for the shipping and you send it Media Mail.

The first two books I got this way were a disappointment. The first one was rather shabbier than I would have liked, and the second, while in fine condition, clearly came from the home of a smoker. But then the fun began.

It’s easy to send an e-mail to the sender or recipient through the site, and everyone seems very polite. They always write a note to say “thank you” when they get the book! When someone requested a copy of a book I had posted by Native American writer Paula Gunn Allen, I sent her an e-mail asking what she knew of Allen’s other books, and mentioning that I had worked with Allen as her editor and later as her literary agent. This woman, Zoe, wrote back to tell me about a new non-profit she’s launching, Talking Leaves, which “gathers and donates books by and respectfully about Native Americans to Native communities and the institutions/organizations that serve them (e.g., schools, libraries, clinics, community centers) and active military and veterans." Isn’t that cool?

Yesterday I requested a copy of The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett. I’m determined to read all of Patchett’s books and I have only two left! The sender e-mailed me back to say she’d be sure to ship the book by Saturday. I wrote her back and asked if there was any way she could send it sooner, as I’m teaching Patchett’s new book, State of Wonder, in my Hot Off the Press class next Tuesday and I’d like to read it before then. She wrote back to say that she’d send it right away but that she hoped I was a fast reader because the book is 330 pages and by the way Bel Canto was her favorite Patchett book. And I wrote back to say that yes, I’m a very fast reader, and Bel Canto is also my favorite but what does she think of the ending because I was always troubled by the way Patchett wrapped the book up.

I’m still waiting for the reply from my new book friend Dona. This is fun!