A series of posts about my favorite book-related things would be incomplete without a mention of one of my favorite things to do with books online: trading. The idea is simple. You post books you are done with or no longer want online. Those books can be requested by other members of the site, and when you send books out you have the opportunity to request new books that you do want in return.
I’ve participated in many book trading websites over the past 5 years, and I have to say that when all is said and done, Paperbackswap.com is probably my favorite. There are pros and cons to just about every trading site out there, and Paperbackswap (PBS) is certainly not perfect, but I have to say I think it has the best combination of good and bad. So here is a list of my favorite things about this website.
Free credits – Every member who signs up and posts 10 books on their account gets 2 startup credits. So you can request 2 books right away without having to wait to send anything out. And, if you decide the site isn’t for you later on after sending a few books, you can always close your account and walk away.
Wish List – Out of all the wish list features on sites I’ve done, this one is probably the fairest. Everything is done First In, First Out. So the first person to put a book on their list is the first one given the opportunity to get that book when it’s posted. Granted, sometimes it’s hard to be patient, especially when it’s a book I’m excited about. But people can post books directly to a personal wish list too, so sometimes someone takes pity on me and offers a book on my list.
The Forums – Specifically the Wish List Multiples thread. All the forums are great, but this particular thread is awesome, both for book senders, and book wishers. If you have a lot of wish list books and want to save on postage by sending them all to one person, you can post them there and have people request multiple books from you. On the flip side, this is one of the ways you have get a book posted directly to your wish list, which is always a fun thing.
Credits – I’ve done trade sites that are based on points as well as direct trade systems. I like PBS’s system. 1 credit per book, 2 credits for audiobooks. Yeah, sometimes it sucks to pay the postage to send out a heavy hardcover book and spend that credit on a light paperback in return. But I figure I order plenty of hardbacks from other members too, so it all evens out in the end.
Swapping Criteria – PBS is one of the few sites I know of that has “swapping criteria”. This means that books must meet basic rules to be swapped there. Rather than mess with condition notes, it is expected for all books posted to swap will meet the criteria. So I can order books knowing that they shouldn’t have water damage, writing/highlighting, etc. and avoid the whole “buyer beware” problem.
Tour Guides – Maybe I’m a little biased with this feature, since I am a Tour Guide. But I think the Live Help feature is great. Emailing a site admin can sometimes take days for a response, and if it’s just a little question sometimes it isn’t worth the hassle. But you can use the Live Help feature to ask a Tour Guide, and oftentimes they can solve the problem/question for you within an hour. A Tour Guide is assigned to all new members, so if you have questions about how things work at the beginning they can help a lot with that. I had a great tour guide when I signed up, and it made me want to become one myself a few years later. And I love helping other members.
Okay, so this post has gotten long, so I’ll stop gushing and wrap up. Bottom line is, if you haven’t tried trading, give it a try. Whether it’s through a site like PBS, Goodreads bookswap, or just interacting with your online friends, or whatever, it’s lots of fun. Just be aware that your To Be Read pile will probably grow by leaps and bounds!
Also, FYI, for anyone who wants to join PBS, or is already a member, check out today’s Blogoversary challenge!