I like to read, it’s one of my favourite methods of relaxation, and I get through lots of books. But buying lots of new books is expensive, and it can be damaging to the environment. All those trees being cut down to make paper to print books on is a waste when there are lots of read copies of the books you want out there, lying around and gathering dust. It’s all very well visiting second hand book shops, or buying ex-library books when you’re not looking for something specific, but it’s not always easy to find exactly what you want when what you want is not another best-seller. Here are some ideas for the bookworms who can’t give up their book habit, but want to save trees all the same.

1. Read It Swap It

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I’ve been swapping books with Read It Swap It for a few years now. In fact, I’m a “Super Swapper” with 102 swaps under my belt. Swapping is a simple procedure. You list the books that you no longer want (put in the ISBN number and the book details pop up) along with details about their condition. Then if someone wants to swap with you, you receive an email with a link to their book list. If you want to swap your book for one of their books, you agree to the swap and are given the swappers postal address to post your book to. You should receive your new book within about a week for the price of postage. You can set up a wish-list and be notified whenever someone adds one of the books from your wish-list to their swap list. This is a UK only swapping service.

2. Green Metropolis

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The idea behind Green Metropolis is that you get to sell your old books and plant trees, and buy used books and save trees. Here’s how it works. All books cost £3.75 with free delivery for standard paperbacks, and you are paid £3.00 for every book you sell. And for every book sold Green Metropolis donates 5p to the ‘Tree For All’ campaign run by The Woodland Trust. There is wish-list facility on this site too that will notify you when books on your list come up for sale. Again, this is a UK only site.

3. BookMooch

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I’ve just learned about this amazing international book swapping site. It has over half a million registered members and operates on a simple points system. Well worth checking out, and a great way to get your hands on books that aren’t easily available in your country. And that brings me neatly to number 4 in the list, Eco-Libris, who have teamed up with BookMooch to offer book offsetters extra points on the BookMooch site.

4. Eco-Libris

ecolibrissticker.jpgOffset your books! As far as I know these guys are one of a kind, and the only people you can turn to to plant replacement trees for any new books that you decide to buy. How it works is that you pay Eco-Libris $1 for each new book that you buy, and they see to it that one tree is planted for each dollar you spend (there is an economy of scale if you offset 25 books or more at once, and then it’s less than a dollar per tree). They also send you a special sticker (like the one you can see here, just a bit bigger) to put on your book to show that it’s paper has been replaced.

5. Amazon Used Books

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Good old Amazon! Love them or hate them, they’re a darn good place to get books that you just can’t find anywhere else. I lean on them regularly to maintain my book habit, and always go for used books when they’re available. They’re much better value than new books, and then there’s that niggling green issue too. If you’re in the US, then it’s Amazon.com for you.

So there you have it bookworms, you too can green up your act without missing out.