- Books, Literature, and Writing
Swap and Trade Used Books Online : Book Trading Sites Including Paperbackswap, Bookmooch and More
Book Swapping Sites Make Sense
I am a reader. My mother was a reader, my grandmother too and my whole family has followed in their example. We read a lot which can make for a very expensive hobby. When you consider the cost of a new hardback is typically over $20 at retail price and we who love to read can go through a few novels each week that's an easy couple of thousand dollars each and every year if you are buying your novels new.
Yes, yes I know you can always join the library, or dig your way through yard sales, charity shops, church bazaar's or hunt around in used stores and eBay auctions to save money but for me, book swapping just makes a lot more sense in the long run.
For what reason? Well, the reasons are plentiful actually, not least because joining a paperback swapping site allows me to declutter my shelves of all those books I had no intention of ever reading again (and we all have them) and receive new ones I do want to read for for nothing more than the price of postage. I get to pass on a novel to someone who has been looking for it, which makes me feel good, and get one for myself in return for much less than half the price of buying it new.
It is much less time consuming too and time is important in my life. Before online book trading sites came around I would be up early on a weekend to go check out garge sales etc. or spend precious time and gas money traveling to my local library to invariably find they lacked anything I was really interested in reading leaving me to settle with something to 'make do' until something better would come along. I hated that, but with the typical book swap site you don't have to do anything like this. The usual format for these sites is you create a wishlist of novels you want to read and when they become available the system automatically send it to you, or places it on hold and sends you an email letting you know it is available if you want it.
So much easier!
My third reason for loving the concept of swapping books online is that it saves me money - a LOT of money! Consider the price of even a new paperback is around $5 - $8 for a regular mass market page-turner, more for those silly oversized ones and at least double or worse for a hardback. Pricey huh? Then consider you can drop one of your unwanted ones in the mail for around $2.50 media mail price and get one back for free. That's a saving you at least 50% but probably much more. It is better than trading with a used store because the selection is massive by comparison (some online book trading websites have several million available right now!) and opening up your laptop and clicking the mouse a few times is much less hassle as well.
The last reason for me is that is just feels good to reuse things this way. We all know recycling is good for the environment and the publishing industry uses approximately 30 million trees each year just to make books sold to people within the United States alone. A novel swapped is one which doesn't have to be bought or reprinted and 'recycling' paperbacks throughout the reading community like this is just the right thing to do. Just think of the number of trees being saved through book swap clubs like these. It also gives me great feeling to know that I and others are helping other people find out of print and hard to find novels which they may have been searching for forever or providing them to those who otherwise might not be able to afford them.
Which Sites Can I Use To Swap Books Online?
It sounds like a great idea, huh? So, where are the best book swapping sites online? Well, there are a few different options out there, some dedicated just to trading and exchanging paperbacks, cookbooks and textbooks with other club members, and some which allow you to trade multiple different product types like DVDs, games, and more. Most of these listed here are aimed at residents of the United States, although there are a couple of options inside the UK and at least one which is international in scope.
Of all the different options out there I personally like PaperBackSwap the most. It is also arguably the largest site of its kind on the internet with over 5 million titles available for trading with a community in excess of over 100,000 members and approximately 5000 - 6000 new titles added daily. As I write this there are over 2,000 members logged in and browsing around the site which makes this a very active and lively book swapping club.
At the time of writing, PBS allows you to barter a range of text materials including paperbacks, hardbacks, cookbooks, audiobooks and college textbooks, basically anything with an ISBN number except magazines, although video game guides are available and they are somewhat magazine-ish. They use a points based system with each item you exchange gaining you 1 credit which can then be used to 'buy' another item from a fellow club member in what is basically a one for one exchange in most cases. The exception is audiobooks which cost 2 credits but you also get 2 for trading out those you own and those credits can then be used to get another audiobook or two cookbooks if you prefer.
There is the option to buy credits here if you prefer although it is generally preferable to get them through trading to help maintain the whole concept of the site. Furthermore, there is a new option which allows you to use credits for a discount on new rather than previously owned books in the PaperBackSwap.com marketplace which effectively allows you to get a new title at a discounted price.
One of the nice things about this site is that they have quite strict guidelines on the quality of the items you can post here. Some other book bartering sites are less stringent in their policy and I've received titles without dust jackets, water stains, advanced reader copies and a few with the cover torn off which were probably meant to be pulped. Paperbackswap doesn't allow members to post anything in a condition they wouldn't want to receive themselves which although it can make new members a little nervous about making their first listings is ultimately great for everyone involved. Just use a common sense approach and read the guidelines on the site first and your experience should be a smooth one. People realise these are all used and previously read so they are not expecting perfection but it is common sense to not go sending out things which have mold growth from the garage or a ripped spine with pages falling out...or at least, it ought to be!
Join Here - It's Free and You Get FREE Book Exchange Credits When You Register Your First 10 Novels Available!
If you are looking for a site which allows you to swap books with people all over the world then Bookmooch is for you. Again, this place is points based with the major difference being points are a little easier to come by here, especially if you have a lot to list. Every book you list here gets you one tenth of a point so if you have 100 you want rid of you can automatically get 10 free points without having sent out a single trade.
The downside is it can be hard to get more popular titles because there is no queue here to speak of. Instead you create a 'wishlist' but rather than joining the end of a queue, everyone who wants each novel is in a big pool which then works on a 'faster finger first' basis. Once another member posts a novel you want, you are sent an email saying it is available and then its a mad rush to see who gets there first. If there are only a couple of other people looking for the same title then yes, you've got a good chance of getting it but if there are a hundred (or several hundred) then you've got to be fast on the trigger.
Members have to maintain a trade ratio of at least 2:1 in order to be able to make new trade requests here. So, for example, if you have sent out 10 items and received 5 you can request 1 more but after that you need to send out more to lower your ratio. This is to prevent people gaming the system by listing thousands of items they have no intention of trading just to get the free points.
This site allows you to swap novels and textbooks, DVDs, CDs and Video Games through in a straight exchange with other users. There are no credits in play here, you exchange something you have with someone who wants it and get something from them in return.
This place works a little differently in that here you are actually bartering with other people to get the deal you want. Some people like that kind of thing but others, like me, aren't that interested in haggling like that because invariably some of those exchanges turn into one person trying to get more than a fair bargain out of the trade.
Still, if you can deal with the interchanges with strangers then the nice thing about this site is you can switch a paperback for a DVD or a CD for a video game if you like, or your entire CD collection for a baby crib...the online bartering marketplace allows all kinds of exchanges if you can negotiate the right deal with someone.
Personally, and this really is a matter of personal taste, I prefer the more specialized and managed sites like paperbackswap.com because credits and points just make more sense to me.
Join Swap.com formerly known as Swap Tree.
Whats On My Bookshelf
This is another global community which has a reasonable number of book swapping opportunities allowing you to trade with people all over the world...or, if the cost of shipping overseas turns you off, then you can just choose to share with people in your home country of course.
Unlike the other book sharing sites listed here on this page, this website puts a point value on each title based upon its value on the used market. So, an old paperback might cost 1 point whilst an expensive textbook might be 5 points because it sells for $100 used.
At the time of writing there are around 20,000 titles available so this is quite a bit smaller than some of the other sites listed here but a smaller community often means you have more chance of snapping up something which has a very long queue elsewhere or disappears fast. All these places are free to join so it's worth checking out either way.
Bookins works a little differently again and if you are unsure of the whole process you might find it more to your liking. You can trade books and DVD movies here but instead of paying the postage yourself when someone requests them, you print it free from the Bookins website. You only pay postage for the items you request yourself which in many ways makes more sense and protects your investment.
The slight downside of this more micro managed approach is that you pay $4.49 postage for each shipped item which is a little on the steep side as it costs me less than $3, new packaging included (and I usually recycle old padded mailers for free), to send anything like a paperback by media mail. Still, everything you trade here is backed by a guarantee so you might prefer this way of trading.
This is another option which works along the same lines as the other credit based systems. You send your novels out, you get a credit which you can then use to request one from someone else. 2Swap is a growing site worth checking out.
UK Book Trading Sites
The following two sites are just for British swappers...although you can use Bookmooch too if you are from the UK as they allow international exchanges if you don't mind paying international shipping and waiting a little longer to trade with people outside the UK.
ReadItSwapIt.co.uk has over 360,000 available for trading with other UK bibliophiles.
WeSwapBooks.com is a smaller site which is again, open to UK members only...seems closed now though which is a shame.
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