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Press & Media » The Hartford Courant

A Free (Almost) Book Swap

The Hartford Courant (Newspaper) - 8/7/2005 by
Read any good books lately?

If you have, you may want to join and trade your favorite titles with the site's users.

This 10-month-old site works like an online library. After registering, users put at least nine of their own books into the site's database, and receive 3 credits, which allows them to start trading. To get more credits, users must trade books. .

The site carries 39,000 books. Romance is the hottest genre - the Harlequin series is on fire - though other areas, like history and literature, are closing fast.

The titles are primarily paperbacks, though they do have the odd audio book or hardcover.

It is free to join. The only cost is the price of postage to mail a book, which is usually less than $1.50, paid by the sender.

"We have not made a single penny," says Robert Swarthout, 23, a computer repairman who co-founded with business partner Richard Pickering, 44, who works in real estate. "In the future, we may charge $20 a year, but people save $500 or $600 [in that same period] by trading and not having to buy the title."

To save that much on $10 paperbacks, of course, you would have to read more than 50 books a year. But that's no problem for users such as Sylvia Sturgis, a New York resident who tears through five titles a week.

"Oh, my God, you don't believe how much I use" the site, says Sturgis, who works in business administration in Manhattan. "I bet I sent out 20 books in the past two weeks. I've got that many on order."

- Newsday
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