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PaperBack Swap: Do you use it?

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Do you use PaperBack

As book bloggers, we all go through a lot of books! Some of them we want to keep, but probably a number of them we aren’t that attached to. That’s why PaperBack Swap seems like a perfect solution for us to turn the ‘meh’ books that we are done with into new books that we want to try, but aren’t sure we want a permanent copy of. But how useful is PaperBack Swap (or similar services like BookMooch) actually to us, and do you use it?

How does PaperBack Swap work?

PaperBack Swap is a book trading website, but it’s not just for paperbacks! You get points for sending your old books to other members, and you can spend points to request books from other members. Whoever is mailing the book is the one who pays the shipping (usually $3-5). A fun feature is that you can also spend points to get discounts on new books, though I’ve found that Amazon Prime is usually about the same as the discounted price once you factor in shipping. Because the selection of books is dependent on what books people post, the book needs to be around long enough that plenty of people have bought it new, read it, and remembered to post it. The other trouble is that if the book isn’t the right combination of popular (people want it from PaperBack Swap, but don’t want to buy it new), then it might never be available. Unlike BookMooch, however, the wait list for books is first wished, first served. BookMooch is random, so if you are unlucky, people who have been waiting less time than you might get the book first. This does mean, however, that as a new member, you won’t be able to get the popular books for a while.

Not for New Releases

One thing is for sure: PaperBack Swap is not very useful for getting a new release any time soon. As I said before, the selection is dependent on what people have had time to buy, read, and remember to post. New releases also tend to be anticipated and loved more, which means that people won’t want to part with their hardcovers. This can be a problem for book bloggers, since a lot of us try to stay on top of as many new releases as we can. It helps our rankings and our relevance to be reviewing books before they are released, but if we can’t get an ARC, then as soon as they are released. This means that PaperBack Swap would not be the source for a large portion of many people’s books.

No ARCs Allowed

While this probably goes without saying, PaperBack Swap doesn’t accept ARCs. This does mean, however, that book bloggers won’t be able to post a portion of the books that they have, depending on how many ARCs they get.

Lots of Older Books!

The great part, though, is that if your library is limited or you want to be able to hang on to books for longer, there are a lot of older books available. If you missed a popular series in the past, then this is also a good way to catch up, since there are a lot of copies of Twilight available! Because you only have to pay for shipping, each point costs about $4. If you don’t care about the quality of the book (they are required to be in good condition, just not new), you’ll be able to get a much wider variety of older books than most libraries are able to maintain, even with interlibrary loans. It’s also really nice not to have a due date hanging over your head. You own the book, though you can always post it back up and try to get a point to keep getting more books.

So, with the benefit of free books, even if they are a bit limited in some respects, does anyone else use PaperBack Swap? I have a few books posted up, so let me know if you’re a member too!

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings-A

© 2012, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. I’ve been really disappointed with this system. I typically have newer books from publishers to get rid of, so especially for the cost of shipping, I’d really like to be able to get new books in exchange. If they somehow took into account the value of books you were putting into the system, I’d be a lot more excited about it. As is, I’ve decided to quit using the site. I’m terrible about getting to books without deadlins anyway!
    Katie @ Doing Dewey recently posted…Nonfiction Friday – Nonfiction Book Club and a GiveawayMy Profile

    • Agreed! I would just page through all the sci-fi/fantasy listed and never find anything that I actually really want to read :( I’d rather just go to the library I guess.

  2. I have been using PBS for about 2 years now. It has been a great way to trim down my home library in exchange for audiobooks, movies, or music (PBS has 2 sister sites – DVDSwap & CDSwap – and you can move credits around between the 3). Also, with the nearest library being roughly 16 miles away, and a small one at that, I love getting used books via mail. I love their browse and search functions too.

    Tho I don’t know why they don’t allow used ARCs if the book has already been officially published. Perhaps since you can’t sell ARCs you can’t trade them legally on PBS?

    • Oo, that’s a good point! I don’t watch many movies, but I really do want to get more audiobooks… My only problem is that the books that I want are too popular and I’ll never get a hold of them xD I think that the ARC thing is to keep authors off their back since authors and publishers get picky about those things… it’s only ARCs though, if you receive a finished book for review, you can do whatever you want with it. There are also a lot of other ARC trading organizations around the blogosphere that you could check out if you have recent ARCs you want to trade. I don’t actually have any, since I’ve only gotten finished books so far :)

  3. Thanks for this tip. I have so many books on my shelf to read that I probably won’t use it any time soon (at least not for requests) but it’s nice to know that when I get around to books I don’t own on my TBR list, I may not have to purchase them all. :D Yea!

    • Exactly! And if you don’t want to keep some books, I like the idea that they go to people who want to read them :D

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