Old books are everywhere. We buy books, or receive them as gifts. We read them, and put them on the shelf. In our house, we have a separate room for them. We’ve lived in the same place now for ten years, because no one will help us move any more.

BookMoochWe try to get rid of them. We take a pile to the church book sale. We give them away. We try to “return” books to the library that don’t belong there. We take them to coffee shops and restaurants and “forget” them. But invariably, we pass a book sale on the way home, and the piles continue to grow.

Sure. There are some books we like to read over and over. There are others that make great reference tools. There’s a C++ book on the shelf behind me. I haven’t programmed in C++ in fifteen years, but there’s this one really useful appendix, and when I need it, I know where to go. But the majority of the books we have sit unloved on dusty shelves.

You can sell books on eBay. But once you add shipping, and the hassle of dealing with the auction, and the listing fees, it’s hardly worth the effort.

BookMooch changes that. Here’s how it works: You go to the site and register (which is free). You list ten books that you have that you’re willing to part with. In return, you receive one credit to get you started. You can use this credit to mooch a book from someone else. You use the web site to request the book, and the owner sends it to you. When someone wants one of your books, you send it to them. Every time you send a book out, you get another credit that you can use to get more books.

No money changes hands. Your only cost is the cost of shipping books to other people. It’s a simple and elegant way to share books. The site has been up for about a month, now. So far, there are about 60,000 books available, and about 9,000 books have been mooched.