Confession: I threw a book swap party before I had ever attended one.
I worked at a senior housing community for a while and had the idea when my church group announced they were holding one - several months in the future. So about a month before I attended my first book swap, I threw one.
It actually turned out okay! We had a few raffles, a table out for books, and some treats. We had a decent attendance (though not great). The funniest part was that I had several people feeling sheepish about not having any books to donate (they must have been book hoarders - which I completely understand), so they all showed up after the party to swipe a few books before I could donate them. I was proud to be part of a community that obviously valued reading and I was really excited to attend more book swaps.
Now that it’s time for you to throw your own book swap, here’s exactly what you need to do:
- Decide what will happen to any books left over - This, in my mind, is an important first step. Traditionally, any remaining books are donated to a local library or thrift store (one book swap I attended sold the books to Half Price Books and donated the money to a local church - they only got about $7, but it’s a nice thought that can motivate more people to come and bring books). However, if you don’t want the pressure of having to donate boxes of books, you can dictate that any books that aren’t claimed must be taken back by their owners.
- Plan a time/location/invite list - Once you’ve decided what to do with your books, it’ll be easier to nail down some of the other details. If you’re going to be donating books that are left, you may want to make it a smaller group so you have less books to haul around. However, if you rent a room at your local library for the swap and plan to donate your books there, having a lot of guests (and leftover books) won’t pose as much of a problem. Picking who to invite can also be difficult - you want to make sure you have people who enjoy reading and who will be able to find a new home for their old books while still finding something new for themselves. Inviting folks with compatible book tastes may limit your guest list - or you may decide to simply invite every book-lover you know so that everyone will have an opportunity to try something new. It’s up to you.
- Pick a theme - You can center your party around a specific book or genre. You can have a library theme. The book swap I threw had a Spring Cleaning theme, with various cleaning products as raffle prizes. Another book swap I attended didn’t have a specific theme and just encouraged people to delight in the magic of literature.
- Don’t forget the food! - I’m a lazy party planner, so I tend to like serving simple foods - finger sandwiches, fruit salad, lemonade, store-bought cookies. Check this Barnes & Noble post (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/how-to-throw-the-perfect-book-swap/) for some fun book-themed food ideas.
- Book introductions - I didn’t do this at my book swap party, but if you want to motivate people to take home new and interesting books, have each guest plan to quickly spotlight one book they’ve brought so the rest of the party-goers will know why it’s such a good book - and why they should take it home. Alternately, you can have your guests write a quick note for each book (or even just their favorites) about why it’s worth reading and stick it in the book. That way, any interesting individuals will have a ready-made recommendation while they’re looking at the book.
- Get partying! - Once you have all this in order, it’s time to collect your books, get your theme and food items ready, and swap! Hopefully you’ll come away with some interesting books and a good evening to remember.
Have you ever thrown or attended a book swap? What thoughts or suggestions would you add to this list?