Book Trading: An Overview

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.

Comments

  1. I know PBS offers to have you buy postage on their site. For some reason, this always seems a little sketchy to me–is it really better to buy postage directly from the swapping site?

  2. I know PBS offers to have you buy postage on their site. For some reason, this always seems a little sketchy to me–is it really better to buy postage directly from the swapping site?

  3. Do you know roughly how much it costs to send books internationally? I know PBS is US only, but Bookmooch is international. I have often wondered why some people say it is really cheap to post books overseas, but others say it costs too much. What is the real cost?

  4. Do you know roughly how much it costs to send books internationally? I know PBS is US only, but Bookmooch is international. I have often wondered why some people say it is really cheap to post books overseas, but others say it costs too much. What is the real cost?

  5. Great idea! I’m active on 2 bookswapping sites, and recently stopped posting on another, so I will be interested to read your comparisons.

  6. Great idea! I’m active on 2 bookswapping sites, and recently stopped posting on another, so I will be interested to read your comparisons.

  7. I’m a HUGE fan of the swapping site and I think this is a great intro to help your readers get involved in it. I’m looking forward to learning more about the sites I don’t use – thanks for doing this!

  8. I’m a HUGE fan of the swapping site and I think this is a great intro to help your readers get involved in it. I’m looking forward to learning more about the sites I don’t use – thanks for doing this!

  9. Nice idea. I’m looking forward to what you have to say. I’m a member of Swaptree now, and I’m liking it well enough so far.

  10. Nice idea. I’m looking forward to what you have to say. I’m a member of Swaptree now, and I’m liking it well enough so far.

  11. Great post! I’ve been a memeber of PaperbackSwap for a while, and have wondered about Bookmooch. I am nervous about sending books overseas, but would do it if I knew what I needed to do (customs forms??). I love that I can buy credits on PBS, and that I can purchase the postage and delivery confirmation on the site so I don’t need to go to the post office! (I was actually a member of Swapadvd first).

    :) Wendi

  12. Great post! I’ve been a memeber of PaperbackSwap for a while, and have wondered about Bookmooch. I am nervous about sending books overseas, but would do it if I knew what I needed to do (customs forms??). I love that I can buy credits on PBS, and that I can purchase the postage and delivery confirmation on the site so I don’t need to go to the post office! (I was actually a member of Swapadvd first).

    :) Wendi

  13. What’s the advantage of belonging to multiple sites? When you’ve got books to list (give away), do you check demand at each one before listing? My main concern with any of them is: Will they have books I want? And sadly, you can’t always judge by what’s immediately available when you sign up, either (at least it seems to me).

  14. What’s the advantage of belonging to multiple sites? When you’ve got books to list (give away), do you check demand at each one before listing? My main concern with any of them is: Will they have books I want? And sadly, you can’t always judge by what’s immediately available when you sign up, either (at least it seems to me).

  15. Brittany says:

    Great idea for a series of posts. I just started trading on Swaptree, so I can’t wait to read what your thoughts are on each of the available sites!

  16. Brittany says:

    Great idea for a series of posts. I just started trading on Swaptree, so I can’t wait to read what your thoughts are on each of the available sites!

  17. Thank you so much for the overview. I haven’t yet tried swapping and I’m really looking forward to learning the pros and cons of the different sites. Don’t worry, if I have questions, I’ll ask them!

  18. Thank you so much for the overview. I haven’t yet tried swapping and I’m really looking forward to learning the pros and cons of the different sites. Don’t worry, if I have questions, I’ll ask them!

  19. I have been on Bookmooch for a while but unfortunately Canada doesn’t have a media mail rate. I’m still on the fence about whether it’s a good match to me. I find that international shipping works on Bookmooch, though, because you get extra points – and it actually costs only a little more for me to ship to the U.S. than it does to Canada!

  20. I have been on Bookmooch for a while but unfortunately Canada doesn’t have a media mail rate. I’m still on the fence about whether it’s a good match to me. I find that international shipping works on Bookmooch, though, because you get extra points – and it actually costs only a little more for me to ship to the U.S. than it does to Canada!

  21. I am so happy that you mentioned not cross-posting books. It makes me furious to have a request canceled when I know it’s because it was offered on another site.

  22. I am so happy that you mentioned not cross-posting books. It makes me furious to have a request canceled when I know it’s because it was offered on another site.

  23. I forgot to mention that I hope you discuss Bookcrossing. I’ve been a member and still have no clue how to go about trading on that site.

  24. I forgot to mention that I hope you discuss Bookcrossing. I’ve been a member and still have no clue how to go about trading on that site.

  25. Great idea to post about these sites. Thanks!

  26. Great idea to post about these sites. Thanks!

  27. Wow, what a great idea for a series of posts. I don’t currently belong to a swapping site, but this will provide me with great information if I decide to join.

  28. Wow, what a great idea for a series of posts. I don’t currently belong to a swapping site, but this will provide me with great information if I decide to join.

Trackbacks

  1. […] S. Krishna’s Books: Book Trading: An Overview “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.” Very useful if you’ve never used any book trading websites before. (tags: books misc) […]

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