Streetbank News

Books for London

If you're reading this, it's probably a foregone conclusion that you're pretty keen on sharing. Bet you're a keen reader too. Well, at Books for London, we've started a campaign to bring together both of those great things – sharing books on London's tube and train network!

By some estimates, up to 13 million books are sent to UK landfill every year. Given current resource and landfill constraints, this just isn’t sustainable. In order to keep books in circulation, we want to combine people power with something that most people do in London every day – use the train and tube.

We've already helped local volunteers and voluntary groups around London with six book swap shelves in their local stations so that people can grab new book to read for free (beats the Metro!). People can also give their old books a new lease of life by dropping them off at their local stations.

And where do they end up? Who knows! As well as being dotted all over London, we've had reports of our book-swap books heading out to Heathrow airport and beyond. We've given away thousands of books already but there are so many more out there and many more eager readers too!

At Books for London, we're making it our mission to try and get as many book swap shelves in London's train and tube stations as possible but to do this we need people's help. We want to establish train and tube stations as the heart of a capital-wide scheme for book sharing, with permanent shelves in as many stations as possible.

If you’re interested in running a book swap space as a volunteer or just want to know more, check out and keep an eye out for book-sharing sites at stations near you!

by Chris Gilson, Books for London


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on October 23 2012 Sara Nathan said:

Apparently LOROL (overground operator) came and saw the Acton bookswap last week and loved it – so if you were thinking of starting one at Gunnersbury, Richmond, Gospel Oak or West Hampstead – for instance – now would be a good time to start.

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on October 12 2012 Sara Nathan said:

Oops. Nancy joined Streetbank today – sitting at my computer – how’s that for neighbourly?
Anyhow the above is my post not hers!

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on October 12 2012 Nancy Duin said:

Chris at Books For London helped me to set up the Acton Central Book Swap just before the Olympics started. Now, a couple of months later, it is going strong and generating a lot of local support and interest.
We are putting out a couple of hundred books a week – and that doesn’t include the casual donations or books returned. Not that many have returned we don’t think but who cares as long as someone is appreciating them and reading them. It’s better than unwanted books going into landfill, may be opening horizons for some and is certainly getting the travellers and staff at Acton Central station talking to each other.

We could always do with donations: paperbacks, fact, fiction and children all particularly welcom. Post here or PM me for details