Backpackers for years are familiar with the book exchange that occurs at youth hostels the world over. Traveling for months with books can be daunting. Given a lot of time can be traveling it is usually filled up with reading. 5 years ago while I was traveling through Thailand I was going through a book every 2 or 3 days. For the month I was there I went through about 10 books, let me tell you backpacking with 10 books is no joke. I had gotten to a point where once a book was finished it was left behind, thus lightening my backpack load. I took advantage of the the take a book leave a book policy that occurs in most of the hostels we stayed in.
The system isn’t perfect mind. Usually the only books you find are the dregs left that no-one else wanted to read. It was only if you were lucky did you chance across truly decent books, however the need to lighten your backpack load was often the decision breaker.
I came across the the London Book Project which is the book exchange familiar to all backpackers being deployed on the London Underground. Initially it sounds like a great idea however it is being rolled out in London which has a bad history of terrorism. Now you have added to the mix a process where people can leave small packages lying around for other people to find. Does it take much to turn a book into a letter bomb? It is not clear from the website how the books are to disseminated. Initially they indicated that they merely went through carriages and handed them to people. What people are to do when they have finished with the books? In the paranoid post 9/11 world we live in I guess leaving them on the train will be a big no-no.
Here’s hoping that it does work out and they don’t run into any silly issues.