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by Charlie Park

Charlie lives with his wife and three daughters outside of San Francisco. He runs PearBudget, enjoys being outdoors, and really loves a good library.

smartphone

An app for free books

There’s a new app that I’m so excited about. It’s basically new books, for free, delivered to a pickup spot near your home. And when you’re done with it, you drop the book back off, so it doesn’t add to the clutter in your house. I just used it, and I’m happy to report it worked marvelously.

I’ll tell you what it’s called in a second, but first, here’s how it works.

My favorite musician (John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats) just wrote a brand new book. I can’t wait to read it, but I’m also trying to cut down on clutter in our apartment.

So I go to this app (I’ll share it in a second). I look to see if anyone’s asked them to buy the book yet. Nobody has, so they don’t have it available. No problem!

I put in a request that they get the book. All I have to do is give them the name of the book and the ISBN, and they take it from there. Later that day, they send me an email to say that they’ve ordered it, and it’s on its way.

A week later, I swing over to the pickup/dropoff point, and get the book, already set aside with my name on it.

I pick up a brand new book. For FREE.

They give me a window of time to read the book, but if I’m taking longer than expected, I can extend the window with the click of a few buttons on their site.

Once I’ve finished the book, I just swing back by the pickup/dropoff point and leave the book with them. And if anyone else in the area used the app to request that book, the app sends them a notification that it’s ready to go.

Since I’m trying to clear out clutter from our apartment, when I drop off the book, I also drop off another book that’s in good shape that I’m ready to share with the world. The app adds it to their database, and others can now read that one, too. And, again, for free.

So what is this amazing new service?

Mmmmaybe you’ve guessed the app by now.

It’s actually “the library”. That’s not an app name, though. Don’t bother looking on the app store for it. I’m just talking about the regular, brick-and-mortar library, right in your own neighborhood.

But even though the “app” part of what I wrote above isn’t true, the rest of it is.

Libraries are incredible resources, and one of the things they really like doing is buying new books for you. Part of a library’s job is to acquire new materials, and they really want to — as much as they can — acquire new materials that their patrons will check out. So when you give them insights as to what books you most want to read, that helps them out.

And for those of you concerned about authors, and book sales, and whether one library acquisition means lost sales for authors? Studies have shown that library acquisitions actually increase total book sales. The greater the number of people who are exposed to a book, the higher the chances are that some of them will decide to buy it for keeps or as a gift.

Another app isn’t always the answer. We have AMAZING resources in our communities. Make the most of them!

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