• 08.16.12

A Bookstore That Lets You Trade Books For Beer

What are you going to do with the few bucks you’d get from selling a used book? Spend it on beer. Might as well cut out the middleman.

The bartering economy is quickly ballooning with help from a growing number of time banks that allow participants to perform services and get their time “banked” in exchange for other services (i.e. a one-hour acupuncture session for an hour of dog walking). Now individual businesses are starting to recognize that bartering could benefit them.


Take Molasses Books, a new bookstore in Brooklyn, New York that lets customers trade books for coffee or other books. Eventually the shop will allow patrons to trade in their books for beer and wine. It’s a brilliant marketing campaign to attract new customers–and used books. Because somehow, it seems like a better deal to get a coffee or beer for used books instead of a couple bucks in cash.

There are some rules. Molasses is looking for specific kinds of books, including vintage paperbacks, art books, poetry, and classic books (especially rare editions). According to Brokelyn, the value of trading in a couple books is about equal to a cup of coffee. For cash transactions, coffee costs $2 to $2.50 depending on the size. Hot chocolate, iced tea, and bananas are also available.

Don’t live in Brooklyn or a city with a time bank? You can still participate in the barter economy. Check out CasaHop, a site that lets you swap homes for short periods of time with friends, and Bondsy, an upcoming service that lets users trade goods.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.