Book & Cookie Swap in Little Italy

This evening, I joined my friend Bluejay for a Book & Cookie Swap at the Mulberry Street branch of the New York Public Library. It was their first time holding such and event, and it’s a shame they didn’t publicize it beyond a flyer on a bulletin board – plenty of people like books, and everyone loves cookies! Apparently it didn’t even make their monthly schedule of events online. I heard about it through Bluejay, who frequents this particular branch, and it’s a good thing we went. There was a whopping total of 7 swappers plus a library staff member, who was actually pretty cool.

The cookies could be homemade or store bought, so I brought a box of chocolate caramel truffle cookies, CVS brand (which I’d had before, and so knew were decent), and three books – a novel by the author of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, a guide to powerselling on eBay, and The Biggest Loser diet book. No one took the books I’d brought, but I did snag two: a novel by Lee Child and some travel lit by Paul Theroux. I thought the idea was to swap cookies as well as books, but no – we were supposed to eat the cookies at the event. Eh, I’d already overdosed on sugar that day and wasn’t really in the mood…a good thing really, given my Incredible Expanding Waistline.

NYPL toteThe librarian intended the event to be the grown-up equivalent of a summer reading club, so there was swag! Everyone got a pen, and there was a free raffle for 4 items:  2 tickets to the New Museum, $10 gift certificate to a fancy gelato place in the ‘hood, a NY Public Library t-shirt, and a NYPL lion reversible tote bag ($24 price tag on the NYPL website!). I won the tote bag – and everyone knew I’d been kinda hoping to win that, so the losers were especially gracious. Of course, I couldn’t wait to call my-mother-the-high-school-library-lady to taunt her with my new prized possession. At the moment, I’m using the tote with the red side showing.

I really think the Book & Cookie Swap idea is a great one, especially as an alternative to a book club – you do end up talking about books with each other, but without the formality of a sheet of deeply intellectual questions or the pressure to consume a book you might not even like by a certain date. I also think the cookie aspect is fun and cute, but should have been handled differently – meaning, the way I had expected. I’d much rather have walked out of there with a ziploc baggie full of assorted cookies or a few little saran-wrapped parcels than felt pressured to eat cookies at 7pm.

The subject of offloading unwanted books arose at the swap, with most of us remarking that most charities that resell your donated items don’t want books or go through long periods of not accepting them. The librarian mentioned that a charity called Housing Works accepts them and in addition to having a bookshop-cafe nearby, actually sells the bulk of them very successfully on Amazon and Half.com.

I really, really like the idea of swap meets – but is that the right word? Though for some reason it calls to mind “recipes” and “baseball cards”, a quick Google of the term describes the concept as a synonym for ‘flea market’, but that’s not how I mean it. I mean an event where everyone brings something and takes something of similar value.  I know that there are some seriously big clothing swap events here in the city – now that frugality is all the rage, they even get a mention on the evening news!

Have you ever been to a swap meet or something along those lines? How did it work, what did you get?

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7 Responses

  1. […] See the article here: Book & Cookie Swap in Little Italy « MoneyMate Kate […]

  2. I was just there yesterday afternoon picking up some reserved books! I guess I should read the fliers more often, because that sounds like fun. That branch is pretty hidden, I work down the street and it took me nearly 3 years to discover it.

  3. what a hoot. you are a barrel of monkeys! yeah “swap meet” definitely means flea market in california, but it still seems like a very appropriate title for what you’re doing. sounds like fun! i don’t seem to read any more but i have a lovely pile of unread books.

  4. Hmm I haven’t gone to any flea markets but I believe I went to a swap meet and didn’t find anything worth picking up. Maybe Utah doesn’t do very well with swap meets/flea markets.

  5. My elementary school during P.A.R.P (Parents as reading partners) did a HUGE sawp. It was fantastic if you gave 10 books you got 10 bucks and 95% of the books where 1 buck. We gave in so many books that we gave a lot of our bucks to others who had not donated as many as we did. We like to read ay my house! I would love to go to more swap like events.

  6. What a neat idea, I’ve never heard of it before but it sounds like fun. I think the cookies should be both enjoyed at the event and then parcelled off at the end for later. What happened to the extra cookies? I wonder if there is a similar program here, but I doubt it. LA isn’t cool in that way.

  7. What a great idea. I really like the cookie & book swap. I would love to attend something like that. Of course, I already send some books to charity and the others to the library donation box.

    And that’s a great tote to hold your new found books. 🙂

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