There are a lot of book trading sites on the Internet these days, but the question is, how useful are they really? Well, I’m a member of many book swapping sites, so some people on Twitter asked me to profile each of the sites I use. This is going to be a series, beginning with an overview of book swapping, and some things you need to keep in mind at the beginning if you are interested in dabbling in the swapping world. My subsequent posts will each profile one book swapping site in detail.
Book swapping over the internet is a great way to get rid of books that you aren’t planning on reading again, and getting new books (or at least, new-to-you books) for your shelves. It’s an economical way to get some great new reads!
What is the cost of book swapping? Well, it depends from site to site. Generally speaking, it’s up to you to mail a book when someone requests it from you, but it doesn’t cost you anything when you want to request a book. Most people choose to ship via USPS (United States Postal Service) because they have a Media Mail rate, for which books qualify. As of today, 5/20/2009, the charge for up to 1 lb Media Mail is $2.38 (paperback) and the charge for 1-2 lb Media Mail is $2.77 (hardcover). While it’s generally a good idea to add Delivery Confirmation ($.18), it is by no means necessary. When you are requesting books, then, think of these prices, along with the books you have sent out, as the cost of a book.
You might be wary of racking up a lot of points at a book swapping site in which you fear may not find anything you want. Generally, this isn’t really a problem, but some people are overwhelmed by the amount of initial requests they receive when joining a book swapping site. This is normal. Therefore, be prepared that likely most, if not all, of your books will be snapped up quickly when you first join (unless they are already in the system) by other users, and you may not find anything you want right away. Don’t worry, think of it as an investment. With the sites I profile, you will eventually find something that you want! (And if there is a chance you won’t, I’ll let you know.)
A common mistake is to join more than one trading site at once, and then cross post books you have. You will likely end up with multiple requests for the same book. If you join more than one trading site, don’t ever post a book on more than one site unless it is already available in the system. If it’s not already available, someone will grab at it. People often get annoyed when their swaps are cancelled, especially if they have been waiting for the book for a long time, so don’t make this common mistake!
My next post will profile PaperbackSwap, which seems to be the most popular book trading site. In the meantime, please feel free to post general questions about book swapping in the comments and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability.