Tag: book thing

The Book Thing Needs Volunteers All Week

Photo via driftingfocus
Photo via driftingfocus

Baltimore’s Book Thing was pretty much gutted by an early morning fire last week. But they’re not giving up the fight yet.

Two of Baltimore’s Best Non-Profits Damaged By Fire Yesterday



As we reported yesterday, an early morning fire destroyed Baltimore’s beloved Book Thing, the best spot in town to pick up books for free. But that wasn’t the only non-profit that suffered serious fire damage yesterday.

Early-Morning Fire Damages The Book Thing

photo via Baltimore City Fire Department

Baltimore’s beloved spot for swapping reading materials was damaged in a fire on Wednesday morning.

Baltimore’s Book Thing: New Yorkers Just Don’t Understand


When I want to give out-of-town visitors a snippet of Baltimore life, I take them to the Book Thing in Waverly. We walk down a semi-creepy alley, aiming for a one-story warehouse. “Where are you taking me, again?” the visitor asks suspiciously. And then we get inside where the visitor sees the rows and rows of books — around 200,000 old dictionaries and romance novels and sci-fi trilogies and James Michener epics — and the visitor’s eyes get big, but in a good way. “Oh yeah,” I say casually. “All these books are free. Take as many as you want.” My New York friends are uneasy at this generosity, and are always looking for a secret tip jar or something. But no:  books at the Book Thing aren’t fake-free, or free-with-donation. They’re really free.

Over at the Electric Literature blog, another New Yorker muses about a recent visit to the Book Thing (“Soon The Book Thing seems instead like a Pynchon-concoction – a vast network of arcane knowledge spread around the globe by unseen hands”). He makes the classic first-time visitor mistake: picking up a book he already owns (“I already had a copy at home but… well… it was free”). A more seasoned Book Thing fan has a different approach:  “voids picking up books if he already owns at least one other book by that author which he hasn’t read yet.”

So, what is the value of a free book — or free culture in general? Take a look at Jansma’s ideas, then tell us yours in the comments below… or in the aisles of the Book Thing this weekend.