I started reading when I was five. By age seven, I was not only an avid reader, but also a bona fide book collector and home library organizer. I spent countless hours in my family’s library stacking and re-stacking my books – according to size, by alphabet, subject, and so on. Every so often, I would re-sort to fit in yet another Sherlock Holmes book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or another Rudyard Kipling story. I was particularly proud of these collections and would bother my parents until I had every book in the series.
However, growing up in the Soviet Union in the late 80’s, new books were hard to come by. There were no Borders or Barnes & Noble; we had to collect old newspapers and books, turn them in for recycling, and receive claim tickets based on the weight of the paper we recycled. Each claim ticket gave us the “right” to purchase a new book once it was published. For example, the Russian-language edition of Gone With the Wind (one of my all-time favorites) was split into two volumes. I quickly read the first, and waited impatiently until we had enough paper collected to buy the second volume.
Almost twenty years later, my unwavering preoccupation with books and all things related remains, but living in the U.S., books are much easier to come by. While some may see that as an advantage, I realized that I have actually missed the challenge of building up a library with limited resources. Where is the thrill in simply picking a book from a shelf at a local store? There is no suspense, no work involved, no weeding out of so-so books for potentially better ones. Enter the answer to my dilemma – book swapping sites. Featured on numerous TV shows, book swapping sites have been gaining popularity and were easy to find with a quick Google search.
Since my discovery, I’ve been trading and re-trading, and building up my collection one book at a time. Books I love stay, the rest are passed on to others. With a few months of swapping under my belt, exchanging books has become almost as enjoyable as reading itself.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the two major swapping/trading sites:
- Paperbackswap.com – don’t let the name fool you, there are plenty of hardcover titles and audio books on the site as well. On Paperbackswap, you list the books you’re willing to give away in your “bookshelf.” A member who has points can request a book from you; once you mail a book and the requesting member checks it off as received, you get a point in return. You can then request any book available on the site. If the book you’re looking for is not available, you can add it to your wish list, and Paperbackswap will e-mail you when someone posts it.
- Swaptree.com – on this site, you can trade books, CDs, DVDs, and video games. You start with listing items under “I Have” and “I Want” categories. “Items I Want” is basically a wish list, and titles can be imported from an Amazon wish list or just entered in. Swaptree then uses their “algorithms” to calculate everything you can receive in exchange for your items. You can choose to wait and get something off your wish list, or pick something that’s readily available. Trades are between two or three people at a time. Either way, you will know exactly what you’re getting in exchange for your item.
Both sites are free to use, and for the price of media mail postage (under $3), you’ll get a new – or at least new to you – book (or DVD, or CD, or a video game). If nothing else, you’ll enjoy checking your mailbox in anticipation of your next, and hopefully great, read.
Vera lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her hubby-to-be and their recently-adopted cat. A devoted reader, she writes about books on her new blog, www.luxuryreading.com.