Culling Your Bookshelf: PaperbackSwap

January 5, 2015 Tips & Tricks 9

*There’s an update to the post below* Have you ever bought or been given a book that after reading just didn’t want to keep? There are several options available to make room on your shelf for the books you want. Today, I want to talk about PaperbackSwap.com.

PaperbackSwap is free and doesn’t cost you anything to request (other than credits), but it does cost you to send books (just the postage). So basically for each book you send and the requester receives it, you’ll get 1 credit. When you request, the sender in turns pays for postage and when you receive it, mark it received so the sender can get their credit! You pay postage for each book that has been requested from you and media mail is used. I know a lot of people are a bit iffy about media mail, but I’ve never had any problems sending / receiving using it. PaperbackSwap has the option to purchase postage and delivery confirmation from them so all you do is print and place it on the package. If you do this, PaperbackSwap automatically credits your account with 1 credit because the system recognizes you sent / requester has received. Otherwise you have to wait for the requester to mark received (the longest I waited was a month, but the person was on vacation).

How do you earn credits if you just signed-up? The first 10 books you post, you are given 10 credits and it doesn’t matter if these books aren’t requested, etc. You can start to spend your credits right away. Basically, it works like this:
You request book from John Doe and the system puts an auto hold on the request to verify you have enough credit. Once it has verified you have the necessary amount, it tells John Doe that you’ve requested a book. John Doe then informs the system if he can send the book or declines to (I’ve only had 2 books declined. One of them I think it was because we were in the same city. ). If John Doe accepted your request he has a week to mail the book out. If he declines and another person has posted the same book, the system lets you know and from there you can have the system do an auto request for the next book.
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What happens after the person has mailed the book? PaperbackSwap sends you an email when your book is on its way (the person mailing it will mark sent) and you just wait for your book to arrive!

Now PaperbackSwap also has a wishlist option so if the book you want isn’t being offered by someone you can at least get in line for when it does show up. I always keep a few extra credits in reserve just in case a book on my wishlist becomes available and the system recognizes I have the necessary amount. Just a word of caution when using the wishlist option-make sure you signed up with an email you check regularly because if a book becomes available, the system emails you to check if you still want the book. If you don’t respond in a day or two of that email sent, you’ll lose your place and the book will be taken off your wishlist. That happened to me one time and I’d been wishing for that book for over a year. I also find the wishlist helpful at times especially when trying to figure out where I am in line.
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Like Goodreads, PaperbackSwap allows members to assign a tag to a book entry. I personally don’t use this option but you can add tags if you think a book is in the wrong category. You can also leave a review. Again, I haven’t done this, but I have seen other bloggers leave reviews.
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Have you used PaperbackSwap and if so, what’s been your experience?

UPDATE: PaperbackSwap now charges a “membership fee.” You can see their level of memberships . I have not used the site since the membership level was introduced. If I do, I’ll write post about my experience.

9 Responses to “Culling Your Bookshelf: PaperbackSwap”

      • Betty

        I’ve used Paperbackswap for several years and have found it easy to use. I just got an email (2-1-15) that they are starting to charge $12 a year. I am looking around for other options. I starting listing books on Bookmooch and it works much the same way. However, I am going broke mailing out books. There lists are not very extensive and mine apparently is. I can’t swap and read that fast. I will look into sights that the requestor pays postage. I was searching for that and found your sight. Thanks for the info.

        • Jessica

          I was notified of the changes over at Paperback back at the end of January-I need to update the post with the new membership info. I’m sad they are charging, but I understand why they are doing it.

    • Jessica

      It’s awesome your extras get donated to local author events. I wanted to donate the books to my local library, but was told most books that get donated are put aside for library sales or to be destroyed. I’d rather put it up for someone to take and read instead of being destroyed.
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