The new shop in Greenock is the first such venture north of the border for the Global Education Trust, a charity responsible for giving away about a million books every year.
The goal of the project is to improve literacy while also preventing tons of books, which are difficult to recycle, being dumped in landfill.
When the shop opens customers will be able to take home up to three books at a time and come back as often as they like.
Volunteer Laura Cesa, a 23-year-old art graduate from the town, is helping set up the store.
“As a student I’ve used a lot of charity shops for books because they can be very expensive, especially for students,” she said. “I’m always donating and I always want things to go to an ethical cause. I don’t want to just throw things in the bin.
“Any books can be brought in. Our aim is to source all the books locally, so there is no wastage.
“This is a good time to collect the books as a lot of people will be doing a clear-out after Christmas and would usually dump old books. Now they can hand them in to us and give them a new lease of life.
“The charity is dedicated to combating literacy poverty, while also safeguarding the environment.”
Donations of furniture such as book shelves, tables and seating are also being sought – and more volunteers.
Andrew Pankhurst, communications programme manager for Zero Waste Scotland, said: “It’s great to see books being given a new lease of life. Many of us will only read a book once, but that book could be enjoyed all over again by someone else.
“Not only does this cut down on waste, it also gives people the chance to read something they might not otherwise have been able to afford.
“It’s not long after Christmas and there might be a few people out there who have been given a novel that isn’t up their street. Don’t let it sit on the shelf or put it in the bin. Passing it on to a friend or donating it to a second-hand shop can help put that book in the hands of someone that will really enjoy it.”
A drop-off event is being held on Wednesday at the new premises, in the town’s Nicolson Street.
West College Scotland has already handed over a pile of surplus textbooks. Jamie Flett, a library assistant at its Greenock campus, said: “As a working college library rather than an archive we try to keep our stock up to date and relevant to the courses that we’re currently offering so that means removing material now and again to make space on the shelves.
“The ideas of sharing and reuse, rather than having to get to the stage of recycling, are part of the foundation principles that libraries are built on, as is the widening of access to opportunities for learning and literacy for everyone and anyone.”