Book sharing in a web 2.0 world
Thankfully there are several ways to share books from your favorite author with your friends or to trade for new and exciting reads, due in part to web 2.0!
Frugal for Life points out a few resources for book trading made possible by the Internet. The first is BookMooch.com, a book trading website which is based on a point system and allows you to trade with people all over the world. You earn points for entering your books and for sending out additional books.
Another site, PaperbackSwap.com is a book sharing site that uses also points and the local post office to trade with others. Paperback swap provides two free credits for joining and boasts the ability to print the postage from home rather than waiting in line at the local bookstore. Both of these sites have a decent selection of well known authors but my search for current science fiction writers turned up empty.
Another great resource mentioned by Frugal for Life is PublicLibraries.com which can easily help you locate a nearby building stocked almost entirely with books that you can read free of charge! If taking a trip to the local library is too pricey with $4/gallon gas, then maybe a service such as Bookswim.com or Booksfree.com would be more your style. Both of these sites offer a Netflix style service for books with plans starting at $9.99 per month. My unscientific poll of these sites showed that Booksfree not only had cheaper plans, but a better science fiction section.
Finally if you aren't attached too much to paper copies you can check out some great work by reading ebooks on your computer or pda, and in some cases sharing them with anyone you want. Tor, a science fiction book publisher, has been giving away many authors' first novels for free without any restrictions on sharing. Some of these authors include John Scalzi and Tobias Buckell. This is a cool way to share books because I was able to send John Scalzi's Old Man's War to a friend without a hassle and I got a full book to read for free. Other authors such as Cory Doctorow, have been known to release the full version of their novels as free ebooks without restriction. In the event that you have a locked down ebook or a paper copy, you may still be able to send a portion of the book to a friend as many authors are beginning to giving away portions of their books free on their websites.
With all that the Internet has already done for books, there are so many other ways that the book sharing experience can be re-invented because of the connectivity and technology available. Later this year Mobipocket, a popular ebook reader, will be available for the iPhone. It's a connected device with an install base of more than four million. Imagine if you could read your favorite author on your iPhone and then share even a third of the book for free with your friends? If Mobipocket included a discount for friends on recommended books or an affiliate program, ebooks could blow their paper cousins out of the water.
I recognize that these are a lot of ifs and I have strayed a bit from personal finance slightly but if these avenues all open up in the future then there will be a plethora of great affordable reading opportunities available for all.