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Press & Media » ABC 3/West Virginia

Valley Residents Saving Money On Books ABC 3/West Virginia (Website) - 4/28/2009 by Ed Drantch
Some local families have found a way to still get the books they want to read without paying bookstore prices.

It's the tale of two families, bound together by their quest to conquer their budgets. They've shelved spending at bookstores and are stacking up their cash to use elsewhere.

Erin Kennedy Hess says, "I know I've been in the stores and seen a book I've been really interested in reading, but wasn't sure I wanted to spend the money on that book to see if I liked it or not."

These days, saving money is a novel idea. On the Internet, there's a resource where anyone can swap books, rather than sell them.

It's easy. If someone wants your book, they post a title for a credit and can swap their books with yours. The only money you spend is postage for sending your book through the mail.

Erin says, "We found it to be an economical way to ship out the books we don't want and get books we do want to read."

Jolanthe Erb says, "Any place you can save some money helps a bunch."

Erb and Erin are friends in real life. Residents of the Valley, Erin got Jolanthe hooked on Paper Back Swap.

Both are stay at home moms and value the importance of family. They use the site to save money for different reasons.

Erin says, "As [my kids are] growing out of books, I can pass them along to other people and find books to keep their interest."

Erin says her seven-year-old son, Jacob, goes through books on a daily basis.

"Sometimes, I pretend that they're living in these walls. When you're reading "The Littles" you feel like you want pretend like they're there," says second grader Jacob.

Erb home schools her children. She says, with, she's able to stock up on books ahead of time, ready when she needs them.

"Oh yeah, it's saved a lot of money on home school curriculum," says Erb.

Since the economy bottomed out towards the end of last year, has seen a 30 percent surge of visitors in the last three months alone.

The site calls itself a used bookstore on steroids. With more than 500,000 books available and about 67,000 members nationwide, people have saved more than $12 million. The savings are endless, especially at Downtown Books in Harrisonburg.

The store sees about 100 people per day, not that all of them are buying books, but it does mean there's an appeal to pay $2 or $3 for the same book a regular book store sells for $10 or more.

Bob Schurtz, owner of Downtown Books, says, "I still get a lot of people who come in and take a deep breath and say 'Aah, the smell of books.'"

For browsing, Erin and Erb now have an option, either online or in person.

Either way, Erb says, "It's really extra money we're able to put in our budget."
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