Books for London is working towards establishing a London-wide book sharing scheme in London’s tube and train stations.
With hundreds of thousands of visitors travelling through London’s stations, this highly visible scheme will help to cement London as a capital of literacy.
By providing our network of volunteers with books, shelves, expertise and support, our first aim is to reach as many of the 700 underground and rail stations in Greater London as we can.
In December 2011, the campaign was the winner of the first #ideas4Mayor competition at the London Policy Conference. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said of the project:
“I think it’s a very good idea and would say something powerful about the kind of city we are and our commitment to literacy, which obviously we are trying to demonstrate in lots of ways particularly with young people”
What is book swapping?
Book swaps are very simple. Shelves are established in stations, and commuters can use them to pick up books they would like to read and drop off books that they want to give away. This scheme builds on already successful ones such as Bookcrossing and local pub and hostel swap schemes.
Why book swapping for London?
By some estimates, up to 13 million books are sent to the UK’s landfills 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 tube and trains. Station swaps will be used by hundreds of people every day to swap their unwanted books, and to discover new ones to read.
We want to establish train and tube stations as the heart of a capital wide scheme for book swapping, with shelves and permanent and semi-permanent swaps in as many stations as possible. We need local volunteers to run these station swaps!
If you’re interested in running a book swap as a volunteer, and want to know more:
Who and what?
The Book for London Campaign was begun in the summer of 2011 by Chris Gilson, a committee member of West Ealing Neighbours. Inspired by an article in the Guardian about the Wimbledon station book swap, Chris set up a successful scheme in West Ealing Station.