Appropriately named, BookMooch is an online book company through which its members can exchange books with each other. Its founder, John Buckman, chose this name for the company in reference to the act of giving a book away without expecting to get it back. Users, then, are considered BookMoochers and benefit in many ways from this unique trade system. In short, users “buy” other members’ books using solely points. Every member can rack up points by submitting book titles they want to give away and by actually sending their books to other users. With enough points, they can then begin receiving titles from other people, and the process continues from there. The only cost to members is that of shipping the books they send to others. Founded in 2006, BookMooch is not even a decade old but has grown to be a global business. Members can choose to send and receive books internationally or domestically. The company itself is based in Berkeley, California and had 254,000 Moochers as of 2014. Also impressive is the fact that through this business, more than 4,200,000 books have been exchanged.

 

Rank Chart
Selection
Book Formats
Our Score
#1
Print, E, Audio
7.1
#2
Print, E, audio
6.7
#3
Print, E, Audio
6.6
#23
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Print
3.1

The Good

There are several obvious perks to using BookMooch. For one thing, it allows book lovers a chance to make room on their bookshelves without feeling like they’ve thrown away books they once enjoyed but no longer need. In addition, it gives very affordable and reasonably attainable options for receiving new books. The following features set this company apart as well:

  • Free membership. Every customer should appreciate this quality about BookMooch. A membership with this company is free; all you have to do is sign up. You only have to worry about paying for the shipping costs for every book you send away. (But the books that come to you are on someone else’s dollar.)
  • Wide variety. Because there is such as wide variety of users and this exchange occurs throughout the world, there is a wide variety of books you can choose from on BookMooch. They have many, many categories to enjoy. That bodes well for customers because it provides options. Another perk the company’s website boasts about is the fact that some members on BookMooch might be exchanging older books that aren’t really produced anymore. In this vein, BookMooch can be a blast from the past, not to mention a valuable resource for locating books that are difficult to get a hold of.
  • Personalization features. While you’re waiting to receive some new books, you can add titles to your personal Wishlist, which is connected to Amazon.com. This makes it more efficient for you to receive the titles you want when they become available. Or, it lets you just buy the book on Amazon if you don’t want to wait. The website’s Friends list also gives this exchange a more personal feel, as it lets you network with the book lovers you trade with.

The company website for BookMooch is informative in many ways. There, you’ll find plenty of details about the company’s founder, background, and processes. It also offers a lot of information for members about making the most of their experience with BookMooch. That’s helpful for any customer in that this company’s approach to book exchanging is a bit different than others’ approach.

The Bad

Like any company, BookMooch has its weaknesses in addition to the strengths. There are many appeals to using this company’s services, since it has a unique approach, a wide selection, and rapid growth in its several years of operation. But admittedly, the unique approach that BookMooch proudly uses also leaves a little too much room for error.

  • Print books only. Reading the physical copy of a book is still a treat, especially in a world where ebooks and audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular. But BookMooch really only offers printed books for its book exchanges. Because customers are exchanging physical copies of books with each other, there isn’t a great need for this company to implement other book formats right now. That works for this business model, but it can be a deterrent for customers who would rather read book in more convenient, easily accessible formats.
  • To receive, you have to give. Another potential glitch customers might feel frustrated with is the fact that you can’t just get on BookMooch and buy a book for cheap. (That’s where Amazon comes in if you don’t have enough points or if the title simply isn’t available.) In order to receive new books, every member is required to first give away a few titles of their own.

Not to mention customers also have to work through a points system, which can be irritating in its own way. In many ways, it’s a little easier to just pay money for a new or used book rather than relying on the number of points you’ve earned in the system. (For example, some customers don’t have a lot of books to give away but would still like to receive others’ used books. For them, BookMooch is sort of useless.)

  • Lack of user control. To some extent, yes, BookMooch does have people at its head who make sure everything in the system is running smoothly. But the plain fact is that through the company’s system, there’s quite a bit of room for scammers and dishonest users to get on and take advantage of other users—even in small ways. For example, a user could inaccurately describe the condition of the book they are sending to you, or they could not send the book at all. There are a few ways for customers to report abuse of the system like this, but it can still be frustrating to deal with.BookMooch has many positive qualities, but limitations like these can make the difference between choosing this company and moving on to another.

The Bottom Line

For a variety of people, BookMooch would make an excellent resource for getting new books. Not only do they provide a wide selection of titles and genres for you to choose from; it’s also a forum where you can get rid of the titles you have sitting at home. In addition, a membership to BookMooch is free and you only have to pay for books you ship, so it can be a great site to check out even if you’re not committed to sending any books away just yet. On the other hand, this company has several weaknesses. This speaks poorly of the way they treat their customers. Additionally, the company’s approach to book trading would only be useful to customers who have books they want to get rid of, as well as people who don’t mind sticking to just printed books. For customers whose preferences don’t line up with the business approach that BookMooch offers, this company is obviously not recommended. But for the right customer, this business has many unique advantages to offer.

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