Give Your Best Books Away


I’m an avid reader of Anu Garg’s newsletter “A Word A Day” on WordSmith.org — I can learn the meaning and etymology of a new word delivered to me by e-mail every day, without much effort. How cool is that?

There’s also a “thought for today” section, quoting a famous thinker. Today’s quote made me think:

“Never lend books — nobody ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are those which people have lent me.” Anatole France, novelist, essayist, Nobel laureate (1844–1924)

Anatole France was a bright guy but he lived a century ago. Time and technology made his “appeal on lending” obsolete, for several reasons:

  1. Lots of people have e-book readers nowadays.
  2. Books are available and affordable to more people than they used to be. They have become more of an everyday commodity, instead of a treasured possession of a few privileged.
  3. Passing on books after reading is a trend I have noticed in my circles… and I think that giving a book away is indeed the best way to use a book.

Some authors even give away their books for free.

Just to name the top three examples I can think of right now:

I) Seth Godin explicitly asks his readers to pass on his books to someone else after reading — the more people get to know his thoughts, the better.

II) Jeff Goins recently gave away his brand new book, The Art of Work, for free, only charging readers the delivery fee.

III) Life coach Tatiana Ecoto gives away the PDF version of her new book Je Change de Vie, Enfin! for free.

Her book means to help people start a new life in 7 steps.

She can help a lot more people by giving away her book for free… and also spread the word about her unique personal development method and her services as a life coach at the same time.

Who would need a helpful gesture more than a person living in difficult times?

In general, the more people get the chance to read an author’s book, the more lives that book can change… and the more people will book the author for speaking engagements around the world. Generosity always pays off.

Just as some bands don’t make most of their money by selling LPs, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, mp3 files anymore (name your favorite outdated technology) but by concerts and merchandising items, authors don’t necessarily make a living selling books.

Times have changed, and books are not only for a limited elite anymore, but for everybody.

Books are still an important element of universal human culture, as they always have been — it’s the way we consume them, that has changed fundamentally.

Give your best books away. To those who need them most.

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