By now you’ve probably seen lots of people on Facebook inviting you to a book exchange that requires you to send 1 book to a child in return for 36. Sounds great! Exponents though, they have a way of blowing up in your face.
These schemes aren’t new, but they don’t seem to be going away. The short story is that this is a pyramid scheme, except with books instead of money, and dressed up as a fun way to get some great books for you child. In this iteration you find 6 people to sign up under you who in turn move your name up a list that they each give to 6 additional people. The 36 people two layers below you are then supposed to send a book to the first name on the list (yours), add their name to the bottom, and repeat.
In practice, things break down quickly. Success first depends on each of your 6 recruits to fulfill their obligation of recruiting 6 additional people, rotating the list correctly, and not forgetting to send it out. For every 1 of your recruits that fails a step, that’s 6 books out of the 36 that you are guaranteed not to receive. Of your 6 recruits that do send out their lists, you still have to rely on each of their 36 participants to follow through with mailing you a book. Keep in mind, to take part you are asked to fill out your name, kid’s name, age range, and mailing address to inform who and where the book should be sent to. This information is eventually passed on to 36 strangers who you haven’t met.