A few months ago, a woman on Twitter asked me if she could send me a free book. Since I rarely turn down free books, I agreed, and then, she told me where the book was coming from – Concord Free Press. Once I learned how the Press operates, I was even more thrilled to get my free book.

Concord Free press is exactly what its name implies – they are a publishing press out of Concord, MA who gives away free books.

Here’s how their system works – through their website and a system of independent bookstores – readers can request free books. The only requests the press makes is that the person then give a donation to an organization or a person in need and then pass your book along to someone else; they even have a signature page at the back of the book so that you can see where your book has been.

Of course, they don’t track you down if you don’t honor this request, but if you do give a donation, they have a beautiful system on on their website to track your donations.

So far, I have received two of the six books published by Concord – A Handbook of American Prayer by Lucius Shepard and Round Mountain by Castle Freeman, Jr. Both are gorgeously printed literary pieces of fiction. Shepard’s includes a foreward by the glorious Russell Banks, and Freeman’s is a lovely collection of linked short stories.

While I have only just begun to read Shephard’s novel, I am already intrigued by the gorgeous language and the story line. The second paragraph begins, “I came to murder as might an actor to a role.” How can you not be lured in?

Great writing. Free books. Encouragement to share resources. I just can’t imagine a better model than Concord Free Press for being a compassionate publisher with high standards. And if you’re skeptical about the success of this model, the Press has spurred more than $258,000 in donations. I’d say that’s successful.

To support that model, I am giving $25 to Room to Read, an organization that builds classrooms and libraries in developing countries. AND I am giving away my copy of Lucius Shephard’s A Handbook of American Prayer to a randomly selected person who comments on this post. I’ll pick the winner on Friday, February 10th and send the book as soon as I’m done reading it.

So what do you think of Concord Free Press? Had you ever heard of them before? Will you request a book? If so, which one?