Skip to main content
PBS logo
Want fewer ads?

Press & Media »

Web Site Great Way To Give New Life To Your Old Books (Website) - 11/7/2009 by Jessica Matthews
While doing a little fall cleaning, it became evident I have too many books.

They have taken over six book shelves, a dozen boxes and sit on just about every free tabletop except in my kitchen.

So, I bit the bullet and spent hours parting with hundreds of books. It was like saying good-bye forever to an old friend.

By the time I was done, the tabletops were book-free and I actually had some space in two book shelves.

I made two piles among the books I no longer wanted: those to donate to my local library and those to swap with other book fanatics on Paperback Swap,

The site, which was created five years ago, lets you swap paperback and hardcover books with others. There are more than four million books listed on the site and nearly 2,600 users registered to swap books.

To use the site, you must register first, which is free and just asks for your e-mail address, name and password.

Books must be in good condition, such as no water damage, stains, torn or missing pages, no writing, highlighting or underlining of text, no missing front or back covers and no stolen library books.

The site works on credits. Once you register, you post 10 books on the site that you want to trade. Once you do that, you get two free credits from the site to get you started in the book swapping. Each book listed on the site is worth one credit and audio books are worth two credits.

After that, you earn credits by sending books out to other users.

If you are looking for a book that is not listed on the site, you simply add it to your Wish List. The site will send you e-mail notification when it becomes available or you can just set it up to have the book automatically sent to you.

Automatic notification

When another user wants a book from you, the site notifies you by e-mail and provides the address for you to send it to.

Once the user receives the book, you earn one credit (or two if you sent an audio book). You are responsible for paying the postage to ship books, just like the other person is on books you request.

When you post books, you can either post them by their International Standard Book Number, or ISBN. If you do not know the ISBN, you can fill out a long form that asks for many details, such as the book title, author, publisher, book size, etc. The site provides the cover shot and other details about the book which appears with your listing.

To look for books available for swap on the site, you can search by title, author, book genre and publication date. There is also an advanced search feature where you can extensively filter your searches by narrowing words and phrases.

You can also search for the newest posted books to the site and books that have the best reviews.

When you click on an available book, you get detailed information about it, including number of pages, author, publication date and a rating. The rating shows what other users on the site thought of the book. You can also read their reviews and contribute your own.

The site has a question and answer section and a live help link so if you need assistance posting or locating books, you can get assistance right away. There are also all kinds of blogs and community forums where you can discuss books and authors.

There are also all kinds of useful links, such as listings of New York Times best-seller lists, Newbery Medal winners and Pulitzer Prize winners.

The site is a great way to recycle books while saving money on buying them. Be sure to check out sister sites, Swap a DVD,, and Swap a CD, Once you register on Paperback Swap, you are given the option to automatically sign up for both sister sites so you do not have to fill out registration information again. Both sites work the same as Paperback Swap. Swap a DVD has more than 148,000 DVDs available for trade on the site while Swap a CD has nearly 269,000. Both sister sites are fairly new and are in the early stages of attracting members.
Want fewer ads?