CapeTownMagazine.com

Cape Town Airport’s Flybrary Book Swap Centre

We'll get through this. CapeTownTogether
Follow our social channels for useful news,
daily local champions + find moments of joy
 
+27(0)72 350 2062
Ideas Cartel - 113 Loop Street
www.capetownmagazine.com/subscribe
CapeTownMag
CapeTownMagazine.com
capetownmag

Cape Town Airport’s Flybrary Book Swap Centre

A novel concept: this innovative trade-based library is all about offering access to new stories for nothing

At the Cape Town International Airport, it is now possible to travel for free. Not literally, of course – that still costs a pretty penny; what we’re talking about here is armchair travel, the best way to globe-trot if you’ve got plenty of time on your hands.

And it’s all due to a particularly novel concept: a new ‘Flybrary’ book exchange centre. Opened in July 2014 by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) as the first of its kind in the country, the unmanned corner library is meant to be, in the words of Deborah Francis, head of the airport’s communication department, “a sanctuary for people to come and just be in another ‘place’ for a while”. And the best part? The hundreds of paperbacks and hardbacks that line the space’s dark timber shelves cost not a dime, not one single cent. Visitors can pick up any book of their liking and walk away with it, as long as they just leave one of their own finished novels in its place.

The establishment of the centre was part of a much bigger project aimed at improving the look and feel of Cape Town’s international arrivals hall, and it does this quite beautifully – it’s laid out like a traditional British library (a nod to the Cape’s Victorian heritage) complete with rich wood and a genuine antique fireplace that was salvaged from an old Cape Flats home.

And over and above being decorative eye candy, it’s also a saviour for those waiting for hours for a connecting flight or the arrival of a loved one; it’s a warm welcome to weary travellers who’ve just come off a sleepless 10-hour flight and have already read their holiday book (twice); and it’s a wonderful option for anyone who’s passionate about literature but doesn’t have the cash to keep buying new stories. Plus, it says a lot about trust and the belief in the good nature of people, especially in a country categorised as a theft hub.

Of course, several books have grown wings and taken off without replacement, but Deborah says that they’ve been pleased to see that the concept has been more successful than they originally thought it would be, with new paperbacks appearing on the shelves regularly. Everything from Chinese fiction and Italian romances to mathematical literacy textbooks and guides to abalone farming have cropped up amidst the second-hand Stephen Kings, John Grishams, Jane Austens and Jilly Coopers that were part of the original donated consignment, proof that people are inclined to ‘pay it forward’, even if their choice of recompense is a little bizarre.

“It’s good to know that people appreciate the concept and want to add rather than just take away,” says Deborah. “Anyway, the main thing is that people need to read, so whether a book is stolen, borrowed or exchanged, the fact is we are opening up a new world of possibilities through reading and imagination.”

And it’s not just travellers passing through the airport who are privy to this ‘world’. The Flybrary is also open to the general public from surrounding Cape Town communities, so even those who can’t afford to hop on a plane and literally journey across the globe can still pop in with their old armchair reads and trade them in for pages laden with new far-flung adventures ready to swoop the mind away…for free.

Tip: If you’re happy to give without receiving anything in return, the airport is always looking for donations to bulk up their Flybrary book collection.

International Arrivals Hall | Cape Town International Airport | Matroosfontein | Cape Town

By Dayle Kavonic

---

Interested in the notion of trading goods instead of paying with traditional money? Read about Cape Town’s Community Exchange System.

---

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and if you have a smartphone, add m.capetownmagazine.com to your home screen for quick access on the go!

Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, join our Google+ circle, connect with us onLinkedIn, check out our photos on Instagram and follow our Pinterest boards for updates on what’s happening in and around the Mother City!

Cape Town Events Calendar
July 2021
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Cloud 9 Boutique Hotel Locals stay free at this Boutique Hotel

Spectacular offer: This is what we know

Wonderdal Tree of Light Have the birthday party your child ...

Includes a colourful Amuki cake, party bag + 7 edu-zones to explore

One&Only outdoor spaLuxury accommodation special in Cape ...

On hold: luxe resort full of kids’ activities + pampering

Samadhi HouseUber luxury Cape Town villa at an ...

House, cottage, tennis court, gym, pool + incredible views at an excellent special

Maker's LandingMaker’s Landing, the Waterfront’s ...

Sticky koesisters, authentic Cape Malay curry and gorgeous harbour views

Villieria WinesMost reasonably priced wine and Cap ...

R40 to taste 6 top Cap Classiques + you can go on a game drive

Leopards LeapLeopards Leap serves succulent ...

It’s family friendly, has a harvest table, plus there’s a big lawn to play on

Beach barA beach bar in Paarl!

Pizza, beach vibes, cocktails, and stunning views, the recipe for a perfect day

Gabriëlskloof Wine EstateReaders special: 10% off at ...

It’s relaxed, there’s space for kids to play + dogs are welcome

Kiff Kombis Tours Kiff Kombi local special: fall in love ...

Travel, eat, drink with friends in a vibey kombi, driver included (20% off price)

Wolfkop Camping Villages and Nature ReserveWolfkop holiday specials: glamp for up ...

Plus 9 activities also at half-price: bodyboard the Olifants, hike, see rock paintings ...

Windsor HotelIncredible room specials at Windsor ...

Now and during whale season. Plus one kid under 12 stays free

Riebeek Kasteel EventGallery Riebeek Kasteel shows off the ...

This country village also offers good food, excellent wine + lots of history

Rupert Museum Add Rupert Museum to your Stellenbosch ...

Legendary Sam Nhlengethwa has an exhibition and playing personal vinyl collection

Glen carlouFine art, excellent wine, delicious ...

Take the day and visit this top wine farm to view local art and eat exceptional food

LeMottetastingVirtual and on-site wine tastings at ...

Or do this specialised La Motte wine-tasting virtually

GiveawaysTravel Tips