The Helsinki Airport Book Swap: From a random idea to reality

Back in the fall of 2011 I was on a 10-hour plane ride with Finnair, flying from Japan back to Helsinki, when I finished a book I had been reading for a few weeks. It may have been Pico Iyer’s colorful Video Night in Kathmandu, or Rusty Young’s Marching Powder, a novel set in the infamous Bolivian prison of San Pedro that I visited in 2008. I can’t remember for sure.

But I do remember thinking, “I wish there was a book swap at Helsinki Airport so that I could switch this book for another one before my next flight.” And thus I posted this suggestion on the Quality Hunters blog (at the time I was working as one of eight QH travel bloggers hired by Finnair and Finavia):

Picture 15

Much to my surprise, the blog readers liked the idea, as did Finnair and Finavia. The book swap became reality in the spring of 2012! Hurray! It’s located next to departure gate 27, up the stairs toward the Fly Inn Restaurant & Deli.


Even though the stylish Airport Book Swap has been around for more than a year, I only witnessed it with my own eyes two weeks ago. That’s because over the past year I’ve merely flown into HEL, not out of there. Luckily now I was at the airport working on a story for Finnair’s in-flight magazine Blue Wings, and I finally got the chance to see my little pet project in real life. Finnair’s own Markku Remes, a familiar face from my Quality Hunting days, showed me the place and I even left a book there. The space was really cute and cozy, it was great to see that it turned out so well! I will definitely go hang out there next time I’m flying somewhere. I hope you’ll do the same if you are ever stopping by HEL!

Have you visited the Helsinki Airport Book Swap? What do you think about the idea?




  1. That’s a great idea! It’s really neat that they followed through with it – I have to admit I’ve bought a book or two from airport newsstands and I’m pretty sure they’re overly marked up like everything else in the place. Are book swaps pretty common in your experience?


    1. I’ve never seen a book swap at another airport, but most hostels and budget guesthouses have them. From that perspective, it makes sense for airports to have ’em too – clearly travelers love to read! Thanks for stopping by the blog! 🙂


  2. Really cool, Mirva! I’m hoping other airports will have this same initiative! I really believe in collaborative consumption and book swap makes a lot of sense 🙂 Good to see that you visited it!


    1. Thanks Paola! Here’s to hoping that the idea takes off elsewhere too. 🙂 I actually re-visited the Helsinki Book Swap again last week when I was at the airport. It looks like the book I dropped off there in July wasn’t there anymore – it has gone on to more exciting travels somewhere else. How cool!


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