Sunday, May 4, 2014

Paperback Book Swap... a Good Deal?

One of my friends is very enthusiastic about Paperback Book Swap. She uses it a lot and is delighted with it. She says she often trades in paperback books and gets recent hardback books in return, which she then donates to our library after reading. One day she brought in a very interesting knitting book that she had gotten through Paperback Book Swap. I resisted for quite a while, mainly because packaging up my swap books and taking them to the post office seemed like kind of a hassle.

Well, I finally decided to try it. I went to the website,, and signed up... it's a pretty good website, signup was easy, and although navigation could be better, it's OK. I entered a number of my books as available, which was really simple using the ISBN numbers. The only time it got a little trickier was when I entered a very old book that wasn't on their list. I had to put in a lot more information for that one.

Next, I checked my wish lists at the library website and, and put in requests for a number of books I've been wanting. Within a short time, I got quite a few requests for my books! I printed the labels with postage from the website, and packaged them in various saved manilla and shipping envelopes I'd saved. You can buy postage from the website, and then use it to print a label with postage already on it. The amount is calculated from the book info. Thus I did not have to go to the post office at all, just trot over a couple blocks to the nearest post box. Easy peasey.

So that was the positive. Every person I requested a book from shipped it promptly. Every book I shipped was pretty easy, and I never had to go to the post office, a hassle since I don't drive and you're supposed to ship within a couple of days.

The negative: it was a little expensive, with shipping averaging around $3.00 or more. And finding envelopes or mailers to ship in, after I'd used up my stash, was problematic. Another expense, if I was to have to buy something from Staples. Sealing securely and pasting on the labels also took time, and that tape isn't free, either. Finally, I ended up with a bunch of credits, but only a couple of the books I'd requested materialized. One reason is that I like nonfiction, and PBS users seem concentrated on fiction.

Bottom line: I'm out, almost. I still have some credits, so I'm patiently waiting to use them up on something I'd like to have. I did finally get a copy of Bowling Alone and the huge biography of Truman. But here's the thing. I can buy most used books on Amazon, and the majority of them end up being $4.00 including shipping. And no hassles at all. I also check the shelves at my library regularly, where I find all kinds of interesting non-fiction (and fiction, too, of course) for 50 cents to a dollar. And again, no hassles. Plus, between the regular library books there, and their newer and expanding e-book collection, it's not like I even have to buy books at all.

So for me, I don't find Paperback Swap to be worth the time and money. For someone in different circumstances, especially someone without a nearby public library, it might be a good thing.