At the beginning of the year I changed my status on BookMooch from “ask me first” to “worldwide”. For the uninitiated this means that a step was eliminated from the process of mooching a book from me. Before, the person interested in the book would have to e-mail me and ask if I was willing to send the book to their country, and only after I had said “yes” could they mooch it. I did this because I was offering some books that were so heavy that even for 3 mooch points they were still not cost effective to send outside Europe. I always got a few mooches every month, but I also got a number of “will you send to my country” requests that came to nothing but took the book off the inventory list for a week, because if done right, asking automatically reserves the book for the asker. I think the number of “can I mooch” e-mails that never resulted in mooches was so high because many people don’t realise that the book is reserved for them when they use the “ask me” button. Once a book has been reserved, it disappears from the owner’s inventory and can only be found by
a) linking to it before asking,
b) searching for it, or
c) clicking on the link to it in the request e-mail.
Many people don’t seem to realise this and when they are unable to find the book again they think it must have been mooched while they waited for an answer from the owner.
I had grown tired of this, so I decided to go global and allow everyone to mooch directly from me, but first I removed all the heavy books from my inventory and donated them to a library. I had never had any complaints about the amount of books that were being mooched from me – there were always many enough to keep me supplied with points – but now there has been an explosion. If things continue as they have in January and February, my moochables shelf will be bare by the end of October, because it’s emptying a lot faster than I am adding books to it. In January alone, more books were mooched from me than in the previous six months. Obviously the “ask me first” status deters many people from mooching.
The mooch points I am accruing are something of a problem. I can easily find books to mooch for them all, but I don’t want to mooch too many books over a short period of time or the Icelandic customs authorities will think I’m opening a second-hand bookshop. If they do, I’ll be required to pay import tax (10%), VAT (24,5%) and a handling fee (450 kr.) for every book packet I receive, meaning I could just as well buy them from a second hand bookshop.