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Read It Swap It

Nothing to read? Books too expensive these days? Now you have absolutely no excuse with the great Website Read It Swap It…

An online book swap scheme, set up by two friends in their spare time, has blossomed into the UK's biggest online library and saved readers more than £25,000.

The site, ReadItSwapIt (, allows book lovers to swap books over the internet – free of charge. More than 13,000 books have been registered since booklovers Neil Ferguson and Andrew Bathgate, 26, set up the site as a hobby a few months ago.

All books are free. The site aims to spread literacy and encourage reading by giving everyone in the UK access to free books.
Environmental charities like Friends of the Earth and Leep Recycling have praised the site's book recycling element to their members while Scottish Waste Awareness Group and the National Literacy Trust are currently directing book lovers to ReadItSwapIt via their websites.

Famous novelists Kate Mosse and Tash Aw, who's just won the Whitbread first novel award, have also voiced their support for the site. "ReadItSwapIt is definitely a very, very good thing," said Aw in a recent BBC interview. "It's always best to expose your book to as big an audience as possible, even if they've not bought it, because you never know where that might lead."

Authors featured on ReadItSwapIt can expect a bigger audience for their next book and more word-of-mouth recommendations, which affect 90 cent of book purchases. Best of all, their books are read, instead of gathering dust on a bookshelf. Librarians have welcomed the site as well, with libraries in London, the Midlands and Northern Ireland promoting the site to their members.

The idea for the site came when Mr Bathgate got fed up with books he had already read taking up all the space on his bookshelves. He wanted to give cash-strapped readers a new way to acquire books to read and decided to set up the site with Mr Ferguson, a computer programmer. Already, nearly 5,000 books have been swapped on the site, with another £70,000 worth of free books up for grabs online.

Traffic to the site peaked over the festive period, with receivers of unwanted Xmas book gifts swapping like crazy. Since Christmas Day 2005, more than 2,000 users have joined the site and registered nearly 7,000 books.

Nigel - 31st January 2006

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