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How a passion for reading became a book market for ADRA

How a passion for reading became a book market for ADRA

I love reading. I read quickly and that results in lots of books every year. The only problem is: I do not have space for all those books in my tiny flat! I remember thinking: this is not a problem only for me - many people have books they will not read again. That is how the first ADRA book market in Norway started six years ago.

During the first year, we collected book donations from people in the local area. Most of our customers came from the local church and only a few new people we didn’t know stopped by. The first year we got a little over 700 Euro for ADRA, and we were happy with that amount. We decided to try again the next year.

Every year the book market grows and the local community looks forward to it. We have great volunteers who also are dedicated readers and who donate many books themselves. After writing about the book market in the local newspaper, local groups on Facebook, and putting up signs around town, we got more customers. We also arranged agreements with different flea markets so that we can come and pick up books they did not sell. In 2018, we managed to collect over 3300 Euros, and now we are in the beginning phases of planning a new book market for 2019!

Arranging a book market is a lot of work, but it is fun! In the beginning, I did it all in my spare time, but as the expectations from the local community started to grow, I had to use some work time to make it happen. People in the local area now associate it with ADRA Norway, and this is very positive for us. 

In addition to selling books, we have also had a café selling waffles, cakes and hot drinks every year. This is also very popular.

In order to make a book market, you need to think about:

  • Storage! Books take up a lot of space, and if it is awhile until the market day, you need somewhere to pile all the boxes with books.
  • You need to be where the people are, so a central location for the book market is the best. It is good to have this space for at least a week. You also need lots of shelves, tables and boxes! 
  • Time and volunteers to sort books, sell books, make and sell cakes in the cafe, and clean up all the books afterwards.
  • Make sure you have a plan for what to do with the books afterwards. Will you save it? Can you donate it to another flea market, or maybe you need to throw it away? It is good to know so you have a plan.

[This article was first published in ADRA Europe Newsletter 01 (January 2019)]