Paperback Swap


Paperback Swap allows you to trade your old books with people all around the country. There are no membership fees and you only pay shipping on the books you mail. Each book you mail will earn you one credit to redeem for a book from someone else. You will get an extra two free credits when you list your first ten books. It's a great way to read good books while saving money.

Occasionally the book you would like is not currently being offered by another member or there is a waiting list.  For example, when I requested Twilight there were over 200 people ahead of me on the waiting list but the book arrived about two weeks later.  If you join the waiting list and someone posts the book, you will receive an email giving you 48 hours to respond before the book is posted.

If you do not have books that you wish to share, you can purchase credits for $3.45.  Each credit is good for one book.  This rate is still cheaper than books you will find in a store.

Here are some of the most common questions with my best explanations of answers.  If you have any additional questions, post a comment and I'll try to answer them.  If I can't find the answer, PaperBack Swap has a "ask the librarian" feature that will connect you with a staff member that is currently online.

What books can I post?

You can post any book that you want to get rid of as long as it's in good condition.  Paperback Swap has a list of guidelines for the quality of books.

When you post a book, it will be added to your virtual bookshelf.  If someone has the book on their wishlist, it will be put on hold while that user has 48 hours to accept the book.  Otherwise, it will remain on your shelf until someone requests it.

To add books to your bookshelf you just type in the ISBN number which is located near the barcode.  This number allows you to make sure you are listing the book correctly.

Can I earn free books?

Yes.  After you post your first ten books, you will get two free credits to start you off.  Additionally, PaperBack Swap has a referral program.  For every friend you refer that posts ten books, you will get one free credit.  The referral program works on a tiered system so as you refer more people, you'll get additional perks such as credit towards shipping.

How do I request a book?

You request a book by using the search feature.  There are many ways to search, however I prefer using the ISBN number so I don't have to sort through different editions when possible.  If the book is currently available, you would click "Order This Book" to request the title.  If the book is not available or has a waiting list, you would click "+Wish" to add the book to your wishlist.  As soon as a copy becomes available, you will receive an email.  If you want to see more details about the specific edition just click the title to open up the book's page. 

How do I receive credit for sending a book?

You have two options for this.

Option one is to buy your postage and delivery confirmation directly through Paperback Swap.  You will print a pre-paid label that is addressed and ready to tape on to your book to ship.  The advantage to this method is that you receive the credit right away and you don't have to drive to the post office since your postman will take it when he drops off your mail.  The disadvantage is that Paperback Swap charges you a small convenience fee ($0.43).

Option two is to bring the book to the post office.  When the person you shipped to receives their book, they will login and check off that the book was received.  Once they confirm delivery you will get your credit.  The obvious disadvantage to this is that they might forget.

How much does it cost to pack and ship a book?

This really depends on the book. You do not need to buy fancy packaging.  In fact, PaperBack Swap recommends using a plastic grocery bag (to keep the book dry), two sheets of regular printer paper (one having the address label printed on it), and packing tape.  I bought a nice size role of clear packing tape at the dollar store.

A light paperback book might cost $1.50 while a heavier hard cover might cost around $4.  You can ship any method you choose so ask the post office if it's cheaper to go media mail or first class for that specific package.  Remember that you only pay for the books you send, not receive.

What condition will the books be in when I receive them?

Obviously the books posted on Paperback Swap are used but there are guidelines as to what is acceptable for posting.  Books must be in good condition.  If there is a problem with the book, let PaperBack Swap know.  When you login to list the book as received, there is an optional short survey asking about the condition on the book and speed of shipping.  If they notice a pattern with the shipper, they will take action including warnings and/or bans.

Will I be able to find new/popular books?

Yes.  Although you might have to be placed on a waiting list.  Popular books often have long waiting lists, but you will be able to get them.  I found that most of the waiting lists move fast since most people repost the book soon after reading them.

I have noticed that if you add a book to your wish list, Paperback Swap will recommend other editions for you to request.  For example, I recently requested Breaking Dawn (yes I'm one of those Twilight fans).  After adding the book to my wishlist, a list popped up showing hardcover copies, paperback copies, and even Spanish editions.  I then checked the boxes next to the ones I was willing to accept, which for me was any English edition, and I was added to all the waiting lists.  This option really sped up how long it took to get a copy since I was not picky.


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