Type of site
|Book exchange community|
|Created by||John Buckman|
BookMooch is an international, on-line book exchange community founded by John Buckman in 2006. Membership, which has grown to around 74,000 in over 90 countries, is open to anyone and is free. There is heavy community participation in its running and organisation. About 500,000 book titles are available and about 2,000 books are swapped per day.
BookMooch allows its users to exchange books using a points system. Members earn points by adding books to their inventories, by sending books to other members and by providing feedback when they receive books. The points earned can then be used to “buy” books from other members. All books “cost” the same number of points, with a multiple point surcharge for international mooches. Point exchange takes place at the beginning of any transaction, allowing “currency” to circulate quickly. Members may opt to send books only within their own country, worldwide, or worldwide upon request.
There is no waiting period for a new member to begin to participate in BookMooch. Setting up an initial trading inventory will earn enough points to begin trading immediately. Forum members encourage new members by keeping an eye out for new inventories and posting links to them.
Member pages contain biographical information, conditions of trade and links to their transaction histories. Widgets allow members to personalise their pages and listings. Links to Amazon sites in various countries allow members to enter books into the system quickly. A notification system e-mails members when a book on their Wishlist becomes available and directs them to the Mooch screen for that book.
Members may choose to donate points to charity such as Books for Prisons, public libraries, education and counselling services, children's and military book charities. Members may add to the charity list if they have a particular charity they want to support. The charities can then use their points to acquire books.
John Buckman continues to maintain and add features to the site and run it with the assistance of a small, international admin team who participate in the forums and resolve any issues. The Official BookMooch Blog records his travels, new BM projects, ideas and solicits input and feedback. Members of the forum contribute help and advice, feature suggestions, book talk, chat and “special offers.”
Members are active in suggesting and contributing features to the system. Member-run, associated BookMooch activities include:
Under discussion is a member-run Bank of BookMooch where members who are short of points can borrow and repay them later. Members also write documentation and help features and maintain the BookMooch Wiki.
The site has an API allowing developers to create their own web applications.
Transparency of behaviour is a key component of BookMooch. Recipients of books assign feedback to each transaction and a history for each member is open to view. A balanced ratio of mooching to giving must be maintained by each member in order to continue to receive books. Both the forums and the feedback/e-mail systems generally allow users to resolve any differences amicably.
BookMooch is a for-profit corporation wholly owned by Buckman, but it does not charge membership or use fees. Revenue is generated from users' voluntary fiscal contributions and from commissions when users purchase a book from Amazon.com through referral by the site. As of December 2006, for approximately every 30 books mooched, one book is purchased from Amazon.