Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Website Review: Paperbackswap.com

Click here to go to Paperbackswap.com!

The other week or so, I had what I thought was a unique idea -- what if there was a website where people could swap books? Alas, I didn't have the time or money to create such a website. Out of curiosity, though, I typed in "swap books" on Google and, much to my amazement, such a website already existed! It's Paperbackswap and it's pretty cool. I may be the last person in cyberspace to have heard of this site, but I told my mom and my former office manager, both who love to read, about it, and neither of them had heard of it either. Apparently it is five years old, so word is slow to spread... at least to me and my mom and my former office manager!

Paperbackswap is kind of like eBay or Amazon -- you just enter a book you want, and it comes up, but you can "order" it for free, with credits. You get two credits for listing ten books, and then one credit thereafter for every book that you send to someone else. (You type in a book that you want to list and add it to your "bookshelf" for other people to browse). Despite its name, it doesn't deal in just paperbacks. One paperback or hardback book cost one credit, while audiobooks cost two credits. The only thing you have to pay for is to ship the book to whoever orders it (which is why it's beneficial to trade paperbacks). There are no other fees or charges.

The great thing about Paperbackswap is obviously that you can get free books! The only negatives I have found so far are few in comparision to that fantastic fact. But, for the sake of full disclosure, here they are. For one thing, someone doesn't always have the book you want to order, online on Amazon or usually eBay. In that case you can put it on your "wish list" and be notified when someone lists it. I have so many books to read that I don't mind the wait. But if you want a brand new, popular book that a lot of people have added to their wish lists (you have to wait in line behind whoever requested it first), this might not be the place you should look. Likewise, if you list a bunch of hot-off-the-press bestselling books, you may be inundated with a flood of books you have to mail, because everyone else has wish listed them and requests them right away. This was not my problem, by the way. I guess I have obscure tastes because no one was in a rush to order my books. I listed ten about a week ago and have sent two out. So, in my case, it's harder to get credits than if I were a fan of the latest thrillers or what have you.

All of that, I can work with. The only thing that really bugs me is that it seems to take much longer to get a book from Paperbackswap than from other book sites. When you order a book, the seller is given *five* days to click a button saying that they will mail it "now" (within 2 days) or "later" (within 5 days, I think). Plus everyone only mails media mail since they aren't getting paid for the book OR to mail it. So if you need a book in a hurry, this is NOT the site where you should order it. I ordered two books with my first two credits, both by Andre Dubus. Maybe this can be blamed on my comparatively obscure taste, but the owners of both of these books took the full five days to respond. One responded at the last hour that they would mail it within five days. The other one never responded, in which case the request goes to the next person in line who listed that book. That person, bless their heart, did respond and send out my book right away. I think it's a bit ridiculous that people have *so* long to send a book they list as wanting to trade, just because it's a trading site, whereas on other sites a reasonable confirmation response and shipping time is expected.

Despite that complaint, I really love this site and plan to get most of my books on here from now on (since I rarely need them in a hurry and rarely feel like buying a hot-off-the-press book). I recommend it to any reader! If you do sign up, please mention my name (voracia) because then I'll get a credit as a referral bonus. :) For everyone who has tried this site, what do you think? Has it been a positive experience or a negative one? Do you recommend it?

Click here to go to Paperbackswap.com!

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