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Read for less and help others

Books4Life store sells donated books and gives money to charity
Several books from Nicci French, a cookbook by Jamie Oliver, textbooks about history, and a dictionary. These are just a few examples of what you can find in the Books4Life store in the basement of the School of Governance in Kapoenstraat. Last week the store opened its doors (in fact, the basement door had been installed just three days earlier); it is run by students who sell donated books every weekday between 12.00 and 16.00. The earnings are given to charity.
The idea is not new, explains Ruta Norvaisaite, bachelor’s student of Arts and Culture and one of the volunteers at Books4Life. “The first Books4Life store opened at Tilburg University. Last year one of the organisers sent out an email to expand the concept to other cities in the Netherlands.” Norvaisaite wanted to know more about it herself and organised a meeting at Tafelstraat 13; it immediately became clear that there were enough volunteers to start a similar shop in Maastricht.
The difficult part was to find a location, but after several months of searching this basement turned up: it had no clear purpose yet. The school provided them with bookshelves, Student Services donated a computer and UM supported the initiative with €2000 from the stimuleringsfonds for store supplies, although they haven’t had to spend the money so far.
“It’s going really well. We receive a lot of emails from students who want to donate books and we’ve now even left a box outside the store, so people can donate their books outside opening hours. We don’t know how many books we’ve collected so far; we guess somewhere between two and three thousand. It’s not like we keep a list on the computer of what comes in and what is sold. That would be too much work at the moment. Our concept is to raise money for charity – we’re not a regular bookstore”, explains Norvaisaite. Of the proceeds, 25% goes to Amnesty International and an equal part to Oxfam Novib. The other 50% will be given to charity organisations suggested by students.
And the sales? “On the first two days we already raised about €200”, says Norvaisaite enthusiastically. Books are sold for almost a third of their original cost, with prices varying between €1 and €8. Except the antique books: “Apparently some of them are worth quite a lot, so we let somebody take a look at them before putting them up for sale.”


Irene Smeets



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