There’s nothing worse than waste. Even worse when there are inordinate amounts of significance, history, learning potential and knowledge wrapped up in that “waste”. One such? The innumerable tons of books sent to landfill sites each year in this country. Books For Free provides one simple solution to this: don’t bin the books, place them in the hands of the people who still really want them.

Books For FreeWe at Books For Free NW5, on Fortess Road, are a shop from which any member of the public can come by and take up to three books, per day, for free. No obligation to donate either books or money (though both, especially the former, always much appreciated), nor to return the books. Our parent charity, Healthy Planet, buys literally tons and tons of “unwanted” books that sit teetering on the edges of landfill sites, and distribute them to their some 35+ shops around the UK (5 in London). But now we are big girls and boys running all by ourselves, we do rely to on book donations from the local community, sometimes hundreds a day.

But the importance of Books For Free does not end there. With the passing of time, the status of the NW5 shop as a local community hub is ever increasing. People pop by for a chat, for advice from a volunteer, to read to their kids (as I write this in the shop, a dad is doing exactly that).

In fact, we are in the process of planning a whole cultural programme for the shop in the coming months, when our bookish walls will hopefully be filled with documentary showings, art, swap shops and book clubs – all not-for-profit culturally-enriching goodness.

Blue Plaque Launch Poster

Blue Plaque Launch Poster

Kicking things off this Saturday, March 9, is the Patternotion Blue Plaque Walk, a guided walk around 18 Blue Plaques in the local area (NW5 to NW1), starting and ending at our shop. As you may know, a recent government budget cut has seen to the two year suspension of the Blue Plaque scheme in London. I’ll say it again – why let history go unacknowledged and become yet another waste of our human consumerist society?

bff_100_blue_plaque_nashWhile we recognise all the influential figures in the area on our walk, we will be putting up our own magnetic blue plaques for local unsung heroes. Our miniature magnetic plaques will be created by Alban Low, the pioneer of the book Patternotion, in which 60 artists and authors reveal the secret blueprints of their lives. We will be giving away a number of signed copies of the book on the day at our shop.

Come and join us for the walk at Books For Free NW5 on the 9th March at 10am and get your copy of Patternotion.

Words: Jacquelyn Guderley

Got a local nominee for a Patternotion blue plaque? Email us –

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Books For Free NW5, 147 Fortess Road. For more on Books For NW5: / @booksforfreenw5
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