Monday, September 21, 2009

Paperback Swapper

A few years ago, I worked as a manager at a bookstore. It was dangerous. I spent waaaay too much of my paycheck there. But I couldn't help myself. I mean, I've been a bookworm all my life, before I could even read. Over my 20-something years of reading, I've amassed quite a collection of books. Problem is, I don't like all of them. Some were disappointing, others were required reading (I majored in English - so, as you can imagine, I bought a lot of novels during my four years of college), a few were surprisingly vulgar/profane, several were impulse buys, and a couple were the results peer pressure (it was on the best-seller list for so long, it just had to be good, right? Nope.). And then there's the books that I did like, but that I won't ever read again.

So what do I do with them? They were taking up precious room on my bookshelves. There's always eBay, but they probably wouldn't sell for much. Maybe a buck - and did that really merit a trip to the post office? I could donate them to the thrift store. That's the altruistic choice, but whenever I do, I always think of how much money I wasted. Ouch. And then I was introduced by a family member to a new option for my old, unwanted books: And now I'm addicted.

PaperBackSwap is a free online book club where you can swap books with thousands of other members. Once you've set up an account, all you have to do is list the books you don't want anymore on your account's bookshelf. If you list at least ten books, you get two book credits. Now here's the great part: for each credit you have, you can request a book from someone else's list and get it sent to you, to keep, for free! The only cost in the whole program is when someone requests the books on your shelf - you mail them at your own expense (if you send them media mail, it only costs a couple dollars, in most cases). But, like I said, when you want a book, they come to you for free. If you want further explanation of the program, check out this link.

Sometimes there aren't enough books to meet all the requests. That's when you put them on your wish list. I have some books on my wish list that I'm number 4 out of 5 on the list to get it once it becomes available. There's another book on the list where I'm number 881 out of 915 (according to the site's estimate, I'll get it in 222 weeks) - luckily it's just a book I'm casually interested in; one I'd like to get for free, but that I wouldn't buy. Once they're available, you'll be notified by email to check if you still want it, or you can have it automatically sent once it's available without the notification. I like the wish list because I can keep track of all the books I want to read - there's one I just removed from the wish list because I checked it out at the library.

I've already sent out five books to other swappers. I received my first books last week (pictured above -hooray!). Even though I spent probably $8-10 total in postage for the books I sent, the two books I got for free would have cost even more than that if I'd purchased them new (it would have easily cost over $20 for the two). So check out PaperBackSwap - you may have a book I want. Or, who knows, you may get one of mine...

(Note: I've been playing Beatles Rockband with my husband and son, so imagine the title of this post in the tune of the Beatles' song "Paperback Writer". It's just more fun that way.)

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