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Want to Save Tons of Money? Swap Your CDs, DVDs and Books!

Updated on March 20, 2016

If you are a lover of books and/or music, I have a great idea for you to try! Wouldn't you like to get new books and CDs in the mail for almost nothing? This swapping system is a great place on the net where you can do just that!

PaperbackSwap (links below) and SwapaCD (the same company, different sites) are swapping clubs that work in an ingenious way. They are user-friendly and fun to use, AND you can get ahold of all those titles you've wanted to read, or update your CD collection with titles you have been looking for (they also have a site for DVD swapping that works the same way, but I have not used that one) Read on and find out how to swap!

How does it work?

Both sites work basically the same way, with a few minor differences. You create an account and then list the books or CDs that you have that you are willing to swap. Finding the item to add it to your list is easy and quick. There is a search box where you can put in the ISBN number on a book, or the UPC number on a CD, or just the title, and your item will pop up for you to click on and add it to your list. On the book swap site, your list is called your "book shelf", while on the CD site, it's called your "tower".

As soon as you reach 10 items on your list, you get two free credits that you can use right away! More on credits later.

If someone has one of the items you are adding to your list on their wish list, you'll see the request pop up on your main account page as soon as you list the item. You'll be asked to confirm that it is available to swap. You have a few days to respond to the request. Once you confirm that you're able to ship the item, it goes on your list of items to be shipped. Then you have a few days time to get that out in the mail and click on the button to indicate that it has been mailed.

Mailing Options

If you want, you can just take the address of the person requesting your item from the order information and hand write or type out your own shipping label and mail it at the post office. But you have the option of printing out a "wrapper" with mailing address on it, and also, if you choose, even the postage printed on it! If you choose this option, which I do, then you don't have to go to the post office, if you have mail delivery. You can just put it in your mail box to be taken by your mail carrier. You can also add delivery confirmation, if you choose that option. I usually do, because if you put delivery confirmation on it, then you get your credit for the item as soon as you mark it mailed. Otherwise, you get your credit when the recipient marks it received.

Here's One Cheap Way to Mail Your CDs

In order to use the printable postage option, you have to put money into your account. You can do that with a credit card, debit card, or with your papal account, which is how I do it. There is a 50 cent fee each time you add money to your account, so you want to add as much as you can at one time.

Once you have a credit, that can be used to "buy" any book or CD that is available in the system. If the one you want isn't being offered by anyone, you can put it on your wish list. The wish lists are granted on a first come-first serve basis, so if you're the second one on the list, you'll get the item when it is listed two more times. Your wish list information will tell you where you are on the list, and give you an approximate length of time it will take to get the item, based on how often that item is usually added to the system.

More Swapping Details

You are able to transfer credits from the book site to the CD site and vice-verse, so if you happen to have 2 book credits and no CD credits, but you want a CD, you can transfer a credit from your books account to your CD account.

When listing a CD, you can offer it as the disc only, the disc with front insert only, disc with back insert only, or disc with both front and back inserts (you can also request a CD with any of these options). You're not required to mail the jewel case, although you may do so if you wish. The CD site gives very good instructions on how to use their wrapper, which you print out, to wrap your CD correctly. If you wrap it correctly and it still gets damaged in the mail, you won't be deducted the credit. It will simply be marked in your transaction archive as having been damaged by the postal service, so you know. The request of the person who received the damaged item gets passed on to the next person who has the same item and can fill the order again.

Books and CDs are requested via the automatic system for swap based on a "first in, first out" basis. So, if there are three people who have listed the CD that you are listing before you, then you'll have to wait for your CD to be requested until those three people have filled an order for their copies. This can be circumvented if you order directly off someone's tower, as opposed to using the search box to find the item you want to order. More on this later.

Fees and Features

There is no fee to "buy" a book on the book swapping site, but there is a fee of 44 cents for each time you buy a CD. So on the CD site you'll need to add money to the account at least for that, if not for the postage option. There is a small fee for using the postage option to cover the company's cost of using the USPS printable postage service. However, it is still so inexpensive to mail the items, that it ends up costing less than even buying a book or CD for a penny on Amazon, because the shipping alone on AMZ is $3.99. If you use the printed postage and delivery confirmation, your total cost, with the fees, still comes to less than $3, unless you have a very large book that you're mailing.

There are other features on the sites, such as forums, help center, a "friending" capability, and even a live chat room. You can create a profile and interact with the community if you want to. They have a good browsing feature, so you can browse topics of interest to you and find books or CDs you may want to order. There is also a referral program, where you can earn credits by referring new members.

I have tried one other such swapping site called, which swaps books, DVDs, and CDs. The problem with this site is that you have to swap person to person. In other words, in order to get an item from someone, you have to have something on one of your lists that the other person wants to swap for it. I found this more difficult to use, and too complicated to be bothered with.


Great Way to Reduce Home Clutter!

Swapping is a good way to keep the level of media clutter down around the home. So many of us have bookshelves that are jammed to capacity, CDs piled in boxes or stuffed in drawers, and overflowing dvd shelves. While streaming options and downloading have made obtaining media less clutter-creating, many find they are still dealing with an overabundance of books, CDs or movies. Swapping is a great way to trim down your collection. Perhaps identify those books, CDs and movies that you really love and want to keep in hard copy, then list the rest for swapping. Upload CDs that you want to keep to your cloud before listing them. That way, you still have access to the music and you get a credit for each CD you list to order another CD.

Some Tips to Get You Started

Here are a few TIPS to remember if you decide to join these sites:

  • If you are printing out your wrapper with postage, the company will base the amount of the postage on what they have calculated the cost to be, based on the weight of the item. It is best to weigh it yourself, along with any packing materials you're going to use (I use my small kitchen scale) to be sure your item isn't heavier than what they have calculated. If it is, you will need to adjust the weight on the form before you print out your wrapper, which may increase the postage slightly.

Use Clam Shell Cases to Avoid Breakage

  • When mailing CDs, I have had several that have gotten damaged. I think it is my postal service, putting them through the sorting machine, even though it is clearly printed NON-MACHINABLE on the wrapper. I now add FRAGILE with a red sharpie to the wrapper, and I use those slim clam shell cases to mail the CDs in. In most cases, it won't push the weight of the item up enough to require extra postage.
  • If you have special requests for a book or CD, you are able to stipulate that when you make your request. For example, if you're allergic to cigarette smoke, you may request that the person sending it to you lives in a smoke-free home. Or, if you don't want book club versions of a book, you can state that. The sender then has to confirm that they can meet your stipulations before they accept your order.
  • If you want to maximize your savings, stick to listing paperback books in the small mass market size. You are free to list larger paperbacks or hard cover books, but they cost more to mail, so you'll be paying more for the credit that you get for it.

What Do You Think of Swapping CDs and Books?

Would you use Swap-a-CD or Paperback-Swap?

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  • Visit the forums and check the threads for people who may have special offers going that you can take advantage of. I found one person who was offering 2 CDs per credit, if you ordered 3 or more from his tower. He happened to have many titles I was interested in, and I ended up getting 10 CDs for 5 credits from him three times! If you do this, you must order directly from that person's tower, not from the regular search box, so that the item will come off their list and not go to the next person in line who has that item to swap.
  • If you want to move more quickly up the wish list, request your CD with "disc only" required. That doesn't mean you will necessarily get only the disc, you'll get whatever the person is offering with the disc when it's your turn. But putting "disc only" required means that if there is someone who has just the disc, you won't be passed over because you require the inserts.
  • If you do get only a disc with no inserts, there are several cool sites where you can download the front and back cover art, print it out, and it's sized right to cut out and slip into your jewel case. The free software you'll need to size them and print them out is downloadable at sites I use to search for CD covers are, and All you do is drag the covers that you save to your desktop into the coverxp sizer, and then print from there. You won't have the insert booklets, but at least you can have the front and back cover art to put in your jewel case.

I have found these sites to be a lot of fun and a great way to get cheap books that I'm interested in, and new CDs to add to my collection. Give it a try, and enjoy an inexpensive way to access the media that you've been wanting!

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