The Examiner

The Instagram Book Exchange

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Andres Arias

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May 7, 2019

The Instagram Book Exchange was a social media event that happened on Instagram for a couple of months. The rules were simple: just look for anyone who has put this on their Instagram story “I’m looking for people to participate in a huge book exchange. Just buy your favorite book and send it to a stranger.” It seems a fun way to interact with other strangers and just read a book.

My mom always told me not to talk to strangers online. I pay attention to my mom’s wise advice. These kinds of exchanges may seem to be more of an authentic way to engage with others online.  Improved online security may make exchanges like these safer. I would advise, however, to exercise caution. It is still never a good idea to let people you don’t know, know where you live. There remain many sketchy people on the internet. And there can be people on Instagram that can hack their way into knowing exactly where a user can live. Many people could get very paranoid and anxious when giving their address out to a stranger. This may be why many people have just kept the Book Exchange among their circle of friends–including those who no longer live nearby.

An ad used to market social media book exchanges.

Additionally, a pyramid scheme is said to be related to these events. Pyramid schemes are illegal in the U.S. The Book Exchange pyramid works like this: if you were chosen by someone to exchange books, you would choose six other people and send them books as well. If each of those six people then picked six other people and if each of those did the same, in pretty short order more than 1500 books would be distributed. The number of exchanges exponentially grows. Some people say these kinds of exchanges are not illegal as currency is not exchanged. And many people, thinking that exchanging books is a fun interaction, do not even know they’d be participating in a pyramid scheme.

After asking around 70 Xavier students about the Instagram Book Event, only 4 knew what it was. One of the students took part in this event. Alyson McClellan, Junior, decided to take part in this event when she saw it on Instagram. Alyson decided to pick her favorite book ‘Elsewhere’ by Gabrielle Zevin. I asked her why she picked this book and said: “I liked how it made me think of the afterlife and gave me a new perspective on it.” Alyson decided to forward her book to a former Xavier student, Lexa Neuman, who had moved to England. Sending your favorite book to a friend can show a more personal part of who you are.

The Instagram Book Exchange was a way to get people to read more, and it acted an aid to help getting started. This unique aspect has an interesting twist. As more and more people use technology to read books, reading can be a fun way to reconnect with yourself by just sitting down somewhere peaceful and escaping the pressures of daily life through the pleasures that reading offers.

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About the Writer
Andres Arias, Writer

Hi, my name is Andres Arias, and I am in Cross Country. I like to listen to music--Hip Hop and EDM. I hope to go to the University of Oregon. I have a...

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