Last Saturday I was a guest speaker at the first Read It, Swap It (RISI) conference in Birmingham. I knew something of this website as several of its members also review for newbooks, among other outlets.
RISI does pretty much what it says on the tin as it’s effectively a social network for women – predominantly – who are voracious readers. The volume of books they get through would be an expensive ‘habit’ were they to buy all they read from their local bookshop. However, the web has opened up a shop window for the books they wish to relinquish and to see what others have to offer in return.
So far, so good. What I was totally unprepared for were the gales of laughter amid the friendly welcomes as they gradually arrived – often dragging luggage that must contain enough for a two week holiday. But no. Although many had stayed locally the night before the cases contained a minimum of clothing in order to allow space for books, books and more books!
Obviously this was a chance to hand over goodies without the expense of posting and gradually each space at the array of tables had a pile of books to be given or just received.
At the entrance was another large table covered with an array of – mainly - fiction that had been donated. In the middle was a box for Macmillan Cancer Care leaving those who wanted a book to decide how much to donate – a nice spin on the book swap table of past readers days.
Other speakers were Ian Carpenter, author of Guardianwork and Emily Woof, author of Whole Wide Beauty. Unfortunately, RISI’s originator, Andrew surname unknown, had had to pull out of the line up late in the day, a disappointment as I was intrigued to hear how another man had come up with a medium for books that was so obviously far, far more popular with women than with men.
Thanks must go to organizer, Anne Cater – having run similar events myself I know how much work they take. Delightful, too, to meet Mandy Jenkinson (again) and Anne Williams & Nat (sorry surname forgotten) all of whom are reviewers for newbooks. Apologies to any others I’ve omitted and thanks to all for laughing where you were meant to during my presentation!