james econs: phoneboox james econs: phoneboox
apr 09, 2011

james econs: phoneboox

‘phonebox’ by james econs

the ‘phoneboox’, created by british media consultant james econs in kingston, UK, repurposes an unused english telephone box into a local book-exchange.

with recent budget cuts throughout the UK threatening to close public libraries, econs observed that a local, rarely used but frequently vandalized phonebox is flanked by two benches in a location already commonly frequented as an informal gathering place. over the course of an afternoon, he measured the interior of the space, cut and painted shelving and bookends out of plywood, installed the units in the phonebox, and finally filled the shelves with some of his old books.

a notice written along the edges of the shelves instructs, ‘you are welcome to take me… but please make sure to replace me!! enjoy’. the rest of the community quickly became involved in adding their own books to the collection and borrowing and swapping others in and out.

view looking up from within the ‘phonebox’

ultimately, the ‘phoneboox’ takes advantage of existing public architecture for a new purpose– without sacrificing the original function of the telephone booth. econs reflects, ‘the point is you don’t have to be anything to make things happen. I’m not a designer, I’m not a bookworm, and I’m not a carpenter. I just had an idea, and I [did it], without really caring whether it would be a success.‘

in a location already commonly used as an informal meeting spot, the ‘phoneboox’ is well-situated between two benches

along the edges of the shelves is written, ‘you are welcome to take me… but please make sure to replace me!! enjoy’

photos from the construction process of the shelves and bookends

  • what an awesome idea 🙂

    Jonathan Wagener says:
  • Old skool information sharing! Very neat.

    Dan says:
  • Great idea!!!

    elf says:
  • Great idea!!!

    elf says:
  • Amazing!

    vi says:
  • Good stuff. A gas station near me converted a newspaper rack into a lending library on the principle of “take one, leave two”. Of course, there were lots more takers than givers but, right up until he sold the station, the owner managed to keep the shelves reasonably stocked. I took in about a dozen older tech books (HTML, etc) in exchange for one John Grisham novel.

    Bill says:
  • Excellent. Much like the idea behind bookcrossing (see bookcrossing.com).

    Michelle says:
  • Hey, thanks all, really pleased you like it.. you’ve spurred me on to create another in central London.. Just gotta find a suitable location.
    @Michelle I’m loving bookcrossing.com – the social network of a book! Amazing!

    JamesEcons says:
  • i would like to know where is this phonboox installed , and if i can get in touch with james Econs for a report on this amazing idea

    Dana T says:

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