CapeTownMagazine.com

Cape Town Airport’s Flybrary Book Swap Centre

For Moments of Joy. Follow our social channels
for useful news, daily local champions
 
072 350 2062
Ideas Cartel, The Old Foundry, 1 Sand Hill Road, Green Point
www.capetownmagazine.com/subscribe
now@capetownmagazine.com
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
February 2024
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

Woodstock Brewery beer tastingLocal craft beer tasting even ...

Nine craft beers, small-batch Thursdays + a guide for beginners

Cannibisters 2024Cape Town’s very own cannabis club, ...

Now with over 90 strains of weed and The Serenity Room

Off-road adventure at Scootours BanhoekBest day ever? Monster Mountain ...

Scootours Banhoek has scooters, vine bikes and archery

Maynardville Open-Air festival 2024 Maynardville Open-Air Festival

All you need to know, from programme to picnic & parking

Escape rooms Cape TownPossibly the best escape room in the ...

HintHunt’s Marble is being called “the king of escape rooms”

Bamboo Plant Power plant based healthy takeaways Netflix and chill & office lunch are ...

From mushroom burgers and loaded fries to “sticky wings”

Mardouw Country HouseHow to have an unforgettable 40th, 50th ...

Private chef and 3-course meals at a 5-suite manor

Amina Boutique Hotel You can now book out this entire hotel ...

Infrared sauna, pool, special art, stunning rooms

Cederkloof Botanical outdoor jacuzziWe just found our next place for a ...

Cederkloof: Cottages with jacuzzi + house with pizza oven

Excentric Hair5 ways to transform your hair (with ...

Give your locks some love or change them completely

mischu breakfast specialWeekends are for mischu

Where else do you get brunch for under R100 in Sea Point?

Woodstock Brewery burgersA brewery with food specials for every ...

Burgers, schnitzels + curry specials at Woodstock Brewery

Excentric Hair camera diagnosisHow healthy is your hair, really?

How to get a free diagnosis + R100 off your first visit

Friends Who Volley - @hansminaar_filmWeekly volleyball socials on the beach

Every Thursday on Clifton 1st (plus it's free)

GiveawaysTravel Tips