Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Did You Ever See ... A Book for Free?

Hello, hello.

I like old books. You knew that already.

And, seeing as how I [for bibliophiles of a nervous disposition ... you may want to look away now ...] yes, seeing as how I cut up so many of them to create my Plundered Pages vintage paper packs, I need a constant new supply of interesting pages to plunder.

And, in my frequent searches for such papery treasure - in shops, sales, markets etc wherever I find myself at any given moment -  I've found: beautiful books; familiar books; battered books; overpriced books; even under priced books, but rarely if ever[outside of my own loft] have I found ... FREE BOOKS.

Until a fortnight ago ...

We were walking along a high street when I spotted the 'Books For Free' shop. A shop I actually  remembered seeing before but which I'd never really taken notice of because really ... as your Grandmother would tell you ... you get nothing for nothing in this life.

Except in this case, it turns out that you do! 
The cover of one of the lovely illustrated books I chose - for free - from the Books for Free shop!

So, I wanted to 'pay it forward' and share this fortunate phenomenon with you here.

Here's how they describe themselves in the 'Books for Free' section of the Healthy Planet website [they're who set up the shops]
So yes they rescue books from landfill and then allow you take 3 home with you per visit. For free.

Yes, free.

'Free' free. For nothing. Nought. Gratis. Free!

Simple as that!

In fact, the hardest parts of the experience for me were:
  •  trying to decide which 3 to salvage and scurry home with [I still don't think I believed they could really be for free until I walked out the door with them.]
  • trying to nonchalantly scour the childrens' book shelf while hoping the little girl doing the same didn't reach for the titles I wanted. [I'm guessing it would've be frowned upon for me to wrestle her to the ground and yank it from her tiny grip.]
  • watching the staff stamp the company logo / website details into the front of each book I took. I winced when I saw the green inky mark defiling the illustrated pages!!! I know I cut up books - but I do so purely so someone else gets to enjoy the images later. Seeing them stamped pained me!
  • And finally ... it was incredibly hard to leave behind so many interesting books! They weren't the usual charity shop fodder ... there were many ex-library books in odd and fascinating categories. Lots of wonderful pages you just don't find very often. So much so I considered paying any passing child to go in and get me 3 more ... [which I didn't do btw!].
Now ... please don't shoot the messenger ... but it seems - from their shop location list + map - that, other than one in Wales, there aren't any Books for Free centres outside England.

Sorry about that! But they do seem to be expanding ... so you never know.

If you manage to find your nearest centre, and come home with a haul of your own I'd love to hear about it!  Or maybe you've already been to one - in which case ... wow ... you kept that to yourself didn't you? ;-) 

Call me an altruistic soul, call me a vintage-book evangelist, call me a hopeless business woman but ...

I know it may seem poor business sense for me to sell vintage paper packs ... then go and tell you all about where to get some for free ... but the thing is I really, really, believe in rescuing old books from long-abandoned dusty shelves and giving them a new lease of life - whatever form that takes.

And, by sharing this with you: I'm happy, the landfills are happy, the old books are happy ... and hopefully you're happy too! And what better reasons do I need?!

Julie :-)


  1. That's a wonderful program! I need to remember this if I am ever in the UK :)

  2. Wow this is such a wonderful venture - I wonder if there is one near me? I am horrified at the thought of any books ending up in landfill!

  3. Brilliant post, Julie and sorry there are none near me! Every time I go to the household recycling centre, I have a hard job NOT taking books out of the overflowing book bin. Are you allowed to go back in disguise on a different day?

  4. Thanks so much for sharing. I've been a member of BookMooch for absolutely ages - which has a similar aim, but I'd never heard of Books For Free.

    Going to check that location list x

  5. Oooh! There's one in Ashford! Which is on the way to OH's Mums house. I suspect a detour in the future!

    Great post Julie :)

  6. What a great organization with a noble purpose! I would love to have one near me!

  7. Wow!! Thanks for this Julie. Interestingly, a friend told me this weekend about a shop in Upminster that she was certain gave away free books. And I have found a second in Essex, so I shall certainly be paying them both a visit when I can.
    You may also be interested in another source of free books. I posted about it here:

  8. Just been to look - can't believe how spaced out they are ... and NONE near me ... a great venture though!

  9. Ooh ooh ooh, I'd never heard of this and ooh ooh ooh, there's one in Bournemouth! Yay, I shall be popping there soon to have a browse, thanks Julie for the heads up! And don't worry, it won't stop be buying your plundered pages packs :-)

  10. It is quite funny that you should post about this when I just came across Bookcrossing curtesy of Storytelling Sunday. I love the idea of giving away books for free to find new life that I even set up a Bookcrossing Zone in my store this week. Lots of our customers have even agreed to drop in books that they no longer want to fill our FREE bookcase with books. It is such a wonderful way to share joy!!!!


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