Success in the Barter Economy

My poet readers will agree that the barter system is one of our primary business transactions: we publish a poem, we get a copy of the journal; we publish a book, we get some free copies in lieu of an advance; we want to buy someone else’s book, we offer to trade our own.

Although I do plunk down a good chunk of coin on book purchases, I prefer to barter for them for two reasons: first, my books do no good sitting on a shelf in my living room. I’d rather they be out in the world, in someone’s hands–even if that means they’re likely to end up on the shelf in a second-hand bookstore. Secondly, I know that the majority of my readers are other poets, and the best way to get to know other poets, as well as to stay current with what’s happening, is to get and read as many books as possible.

I’m grateful to all the writers who’ve swapped books with me over the years. My library has steadily grown and I’ve grown too, courtesy of their work, the worlds they’ve evoked, their turns of phrase.

Recently, I was afforded the opportunity to trade some consulting work for free physical training. OMG! I jumped at it. I’ve always wanted a trainer but I am too cheap to part with the money for it. But it’s easy for my workout routine to pleateau, so I’m eager to get someone else’s expertise into my life in a way that’s meaningful for both of us.

My boyfriend also uses the barter system in his own work, trading haircuts and product for Mona Via, airline tickets, “gourmet” candles, discounts at all sort of places and events. One of his clients even gave him her huge flat screen TV when she had to move out of state. Gave. In thanks for all his great work.

Are you drifting toward the barter system? How’s it working for you? Please do not answer if you are a character from Requiem for a Dream.

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