06 February 2007

Oh, The Places You'll Go

I've been trying to organize and start up a book swap for months. I decided to harness the power of craigslist to gather my fellow book readers. I put up an ad for the South Bay area and got enough responses to know that this was a good idea. However, I needed to kick things up a notch and so joined meetup.com for the express purpose of organizing a book swap focused on my area (Fremont, CA).

Worked like a charm. Organizing the meetup was easy, getting people interested was easy, and we were on our way. But wait. The first meeting, scheduled for December, fell through due to holiday scheduling. Then the backup date, in January, didn't work out because I went to Los Angeles.

I had one meetup member quit the "group." It hurt like losing a teammate in Survivor. Despite never having met these people (or even knowing what they looked like), I had become quite attached to the usernames that populated my group. When I lost that member I thought my leadership skills were being questioned and that I would soon be sent into the Gauntlet. Okay, not that dramatic, but close.

I finally got an honest to goodness meetup planned and committed to and last Saturday, it happened. And it was magical, just like the anti-prom! But more on that later.

First, why a book swap and not a book club? Book clubs are a long and messy affair. It takes a long time to find the optimum group of people. In San Diego, I had a great book club, but it took two years or more to distill to the proper taste. A book swap is designed for easy in, easy out. People show up, swap stories, swap suggestions, swap books. Done. Finito.

It's more personable than a library and you get to talk to nice, interesting people. Plus, who doesn't like to see what people would select with a "first round draft pick?" Does he go for "DaVinci Code" or the lesser known but highly recommended "High Fidelity?" See what I mean? It's fun, literary style.

The February book swap was a smashing success and despite not enough participants to actually conduct an organized swap, it was two hours worth of good conversation and exciting people. I loved it. So, more next month and we'll see if we can't get this book swap not only off the ground but perhaps transformed into a book club!