As I have been watching all the things happening on the web, I think about the real problems in my life, and how they might help me solve them.
So first, let me tell you a little story. My sainted mother was a voracious reader. She would have loved the net, would have loved all the writers, the blogs, all the user generated content, but in her life, the net was great books, magazines, newspapers. These various ways of delivering content may disappear in my lifetime. I hope not.
When she died, my sister and I were left her house, and I think most of the stuff she had ever owned in her lifetime, including all of her books. All of which she had kept. We each took a few, but the rest we gave to the community college in our home town. To my absolute delight, the college created a book plate that said something like… “In loving memory of Lucille Keenan Bruggeman”. When I was in the library one day, I saw a title that I recognized from her library, opened it, and found the book plate in the book. I brushed a tear from my eye, and was just flat thrilled.
So, fast forward 20 years. Routinely over the years I have boxed up books and sent them back to the college. Each time I have gotten a note, thanking me, and telling me that they will add the special book plate, and put the books on the shelves.
I felt great, as if I had done right thing, e.g. reading the books, knowing that Mother would be proud of me, knowing that I had read them, and knowing that the books I had purchased would be read again and again. And I would know there would be a book plate in them, so that whoever opened it, would read her name and wonder who this much loved woman was.
And so here’s the idea.
What if there were a business or a charity, that would a means by which libraries could in effect subscribe to Shelfari, and when you indicated that you had read a book, that they would match the book you read with a library request somewhere, and would provide you with a mailing envelope and postage so that the book would end up in the hands of someone who needed it.
A friend of mine once told me that having a book shelf full books you had read was like having a six pack of empty wine bottles.
I am sure companies like Amazon would be irked, authors would probably be disappointed, but libraries everywhere would have access to the books they wanted, and the world might be a better place.
Like all my ideas, they make a huge amount of sense to me.
I am not quite sure how to make this work, but I know how valuable books in the right hands would be.
What do you think?