Wednesday, October 03, 2007

One Red Paperclip

You may have heard of Kyle MacDonald, author of One Red Paperclip, and you just don't know it. In 2005, he started trading, beginning with one red paperclip. One year later, he had a house.

MacDonald was 25, an unemployed guy "between jobs" who lived in Montreal with his girlfriend, Dominique. She paid the rent, put food on the table, and he couldn't find a job he wanted to do. He wanted to put his heart into something. He remembered a game he played as a kid called Bigger and Better. It was a kind of scavenger hunt in which you trading for something bigger and better. And, his father had always quoted, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

On July 12, he placed an ad on the website Craigslist, offering to barter one red paper clip. His note read, "P.S. I'm going to make a continuous chain of up trades until I get a house. Or an island. Or a house on an island. You get the idea."

With MacDonald's wacky sense of humor, he viewed it all as "a real-life Choose Your Own Adventure book." First he traded the paperclip for a fish pen. That went for a doorknob. Eventually, it became more than a job. It became an obsession. As MacDonald traveled back and forth across Canada for his part-time job, he found ways to trade. After six months, he hit the right trade to get some media coverage, and then he made the comment he would go anywhere to trade, except Yahk, Canada. The media attention grew, until eventually Kyle MacDonald had 3,800,000 hits on his blog where he told the story of the one red paperclip.

This is a book about hope and possibility. It's about Kyle's wish, and the people who made it happen. Kyle MacDonald may have written One Red Paperclip, but it's a book for anyone with a dream.

Kyle MacDonald's website is

One Red Paperclip by Kyle MacDonald. Three Rivers Press, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-35316-0 (paperback), 307p.


Joy said...

Last year I saw this on Dateline or one of those type shows. I found it to be utterly fascinating! Not sure if he had a book in the making at the time, but what a wise move. Good for him. Wish I had thought of it. LOL

Lesa said...

And, the book is fascinating, Joy. Really fun. Good format, and fast-paced. You're right. Can't believe such a self-professed lazy person ended up so successful!