At one point of time or another, we have all felt the need to borrow a book from someone. And more often than not, much to our chagrin, we dropped our plans because we didn’t know who to borrow it from.
So, we ended up either buying a copy (which was heavy on our pockets), or waiting for the book to reprinted (that is, in case, it had been completely sold out) or for that matter, consoling ourselves with an old rusty edition of the book from the school/college library. In any case, we were in for a disappointment, and a loss, for nothing can compensate knowledge in its updated and first-hand form.
Being both a student AND a bibliophile, the gravity of the situation escalates for me. As a student, I am always on the chase for different editions of the textbooks, and also other books which cost a fortune (take, for example, management books or medicine journals), and no matter how keen I am on acquiring knowledge, it becomes a moral responsibility to keep my expenses in check. And as a bibliophile, I spend unprecedented amounts on novels all the time, and end up broke.
There are a plethora of books out there, and it is nothing short of revolutionary to see the number published each day. Even as a book lover, one needs to exercise caution as to which books to spend their hard-earned money on. Also, one can never be sure if a book would suit his/her tastes.
On the other hand we have cartons full of books, bookshelves gathering dust, some which we might not even read ever again.
But as they say, God sends its saviors in the most unlikely form, so it happened with me.
And my guardian angel, dear readers, was a mobile application. Yes, you read it right.
Just imagine how convenient it would be if you could exchange the dusty books from your bookshelf with someone, and getting a book you had been yearning to read in return! That’s precisely what this app allows us to do.
The app is called barter.li. And there are more tangents to it that make it endearing than just this mind-blowing convenience and luxury it provides to the book-lovers. Their story itself speaks volumes about how we as a community can achieve much.
The whole process of app development, the intention behind it, the crowd funding, and the promotion: every inch of the app reeks of exemplary flamboyance. Work on barter.li first started at Aaron Swartz ( He was an American computer programmer, writer, political organizer and Internet Hacktivist who was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill) first death anniversary when the founders created a small Indiegogo campaign to raise funding for creating a books sharing platform. For them, it was a genuine tribute to his effort as Aaron's efforts was around making knowledge accessible for all especially in the third world countries. Although their Indiegogo campaign raised only 7% of the target $20,000 yet they went ahead with the project with the confidence that it will be able to attract contribution from various developers/designers. They, indeed have great visions, for the project spans contribution from half a dozen designers, and marketing Volunteers from India, Turkey, Egypt and USA.
Who could have thought that an app creation could lead to the transcendence of geographical boundaries? Who could have thought that an open-source, non-profit initiative would bring so many people together?
Now, upon using the app, I discovered that the uniqueness of the app does not end here. First, let you be told how it works. People can upload their books in the app and see which ones others have uploaded in and around their preferred location. Then they can have a private chat within the app itself; meet up at a convenient location and buy/sell/exchange their books. I opened up the app, and there was this whole list of books that I had been intending to read, for, like ages, but never had the time or reason to buy. Now, I can easily do that by exchanging it with others.
Also, I believe that if we students exploit this app, it will become easier for us to exchange books with each other, and meet up. Which brings me to another specialty: bringing book-lovers together, thereby triggering friendships over shared interests among bibliophiles!
I am in love with this whole idea, and its execution. Call me a romanticist if you will, but I find this idea very poetic and creative and even fantastical that we can meet fellow bibliophiles in our city. The great part is, it isn’t fantasy, its reality!
Surreal, but it is for real.