Photo (cc) by vijay_chennupati
Last year, I got three copies of the same novel for Christmas. I refused to sell the extras to a used bookstore for 1/80th of their value, so they were just sitting on my bookshelf. But then a friend told me about online book-swapping sites – and insisted I could trade the books I no longer wanted for something I did want. I was hooked.
Most book-swapping sites only charge the cost of shipping your books to other members – about $2 through USPS Media Mail. The sites typically have thousands of books to choose from, both new and old. Best of all, you get to keep the books as long as you want.
PaperBackSwap.com is one of the best book-trading sites out there. The site has millions of books to choose from – paperback, hardback, audio books, and textbooks – and you only pay the cost of shipping for books you send. The site works on a points system. You get two points for signing up and an additional point for every book you send to another member. You can redeem your points for books. (Each book is worth 1 point.)
I signed up with PaperBackSwap assuming I’d just try it out for a while, but it’s unbelievably addicting. Most books I posted were requested by members within a day or two, and I haven’t had any trouble finding a book I’d want to spend my point on – so I can’t seem to stop trading. Plus, you can print out a mailer directly from the site to wrap your book in. It’s easy.
2. Book Mooch
Book Mooch resembles the other book-swapping sites. It works on a point system: You earn one point for every book you send (three points if you send internationally) and lose a point for every book you receive. Book Mooch also has a wishlist feature which will notify you if a book comes in. The best thing about this site is the international feature (which most swapping sites don’t have.) I racked up 9 easy points by sending out three books to someone overseas, and I’ve found a bunch of obscure British spy novels to request.
Swap.com (formerly Swap Tree) isn’t just a book-trading site. In fact, you can trade anything you want from books to real estate. I use Swap.com for the local swapping feature, which puts every member in your area (as well as what they’re looking for and have to swap) on a map. All you have to do is browse for a good trade. I traded with a guy down the street and got the Robert Johnson anthology CDs for a set of Charlaine Harris books. Think of it as an online 24-hour garage sale.
Whatsonmybookshelf.com has fewer books than the other sites – around 20,000 – but the site has some dedicated members. Whatsonmybookshelf also uses the point system. For every five books you list on the site, you receive 1 credit. You then use your credits to request books from other members. Each new book costs about 1 credit. Once you send a book to a member, you’ll earn another credit.
I traded a few books through this swapping site, but compared to the other sites mentioned above, I’ve had a harder time finding books I want. Most members post popular books – think Twilight series – so if you’re looking for something more obscure, you might do better somewhere else.
A word to the wise: There are dozens of book-swapping sites available, some of them more legit than others. If you find a site you like, read through the How To’s and shipping policies carefully. If you still want to try the site, do a test trade before you start sending off your entire collection.