My wife Pam has been using PaperbackSwap.com for awhile now (me, too, but she is the logistics person in this case), and I asked her to write about her experiences, and how to get the very best books. Below is the post that she wrote. It’s a bit long, but if you are seriously considering the site, there are some valuable tips here!
Paperbackswap.com is a book-trading website that is FREE to join. Here’s how it works:
You pay media mail postage (about $2-$3 a book, average) to send out books to people who request them, and when they receive the book, you get credit, and are allowed to pick a book from the millions other people have posted. They make it very easy for you, even giving you a shipping label to print out, and trying to estimate the postage for you. They also have checks and balances in place to make sure people don’t send out cruddy books, or the wrong book, or no book at all.
Sign-up is free. First, find 10 books you want to get rid of and put them by your computer.
Go to http://www.paperbackswap.com and sign up. Post your 10 books, and you’ll get credits for two free books. You post books by typing in the ISBN’s. Keep track of these books, because someone might request them.
How to find good books
If you can’t find ones you want by browsing or searching the “Posted Books,” try looking under Search menu >> Books Posted Today. It shows you, by hour, the books that have been posted today. Some of them will already be taken, but you can find some good books this way, because they are so recently posted.
Another trick: Right after you login each time, paperbackswap takes you to the main page. There’s a box on it called “New Member Spotlight.” These people have just joined, so their books haven’t been picked over, yet. This is another good place to find appealing books. Refresh the page as many times as you want until you find a new member who has some decent books you want to order.
How to get more credits: You get credits by shipping out books. That means, the more people there are out there who want your books, the more books you will ship out, and the more credits you will get! So, you want to post books that are currently in demand.
Let’s say you have a lot of books, and some of them you might want to post, if you can trade a book for one of them. To see if someone wants one of your books, go to Search menu >> Advanced Search an type in the ISBN and select Search Type “All Books.” Your book should come up. Click on it and see what “Members Waiting for” is. If it’s zero, nobody is waiting to order your book. But, if it’s anything else, you can ship this book out almost immediately! Post it if you want to trade it for another book. You can check all your ISBNs this way, and see if you’d like to keep certain books or trade them out.
Another way to find out which books are in demand is to go to the Community menu >> Top 50’s, which will show you the top 50 books people are waiting for, now. Also, you can look at Search menu >> Club Wish List to see all the books people are waiting for, and maybe you might have one of them lying around.
So, which kinds of books are most likely to get a request?
* Almost anything recently published
* Books everyone is currently raving about, for instance, right now the new Twilight book has hundreds of people waiting for it, as does Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”
* Nonfiction, much more than fiction. This stuff is in pretty high demand.
* Adult books – yes, THAT kind
* Homeschooling books.
* Crafts books, especially newer ones.
* Any fairly rare book.
* Anything that nobody else has posted, because if you’re the only one available, you’ll be first in line to get a request.
Which books are less popular?
* Books that used to be on the bestseller list 3 or more years ago. Everyone is getting rid of these.
* Small or paperback children’s books, which most people don’t consider worth $3 used.
* Outdated books, like old computer books.
Let’s say you can see that other people have already posted your book, because the button is there on that book page, saying “Order This Book.” But, you still want to get rid of the book. It might help to know–how many of these are posted? Is it more like 2, or more like 200? Are you going to be keeping track of this book for the next 2 years before someone requests it? To find out, click on the “+Reminder” button, which adds the book to your reminder list. Then, go to My Account menu >> My Lists >> Reminder List and look at the entry. It will say “Copies Available,” so you’ll at least have some idea, though nobody can tell you how long your book will be posted.
How to get books you want that aren’t posted: Put them on your wish list. Do an advanced search under “All Books,” and find the book you want. Click on “+Wish” to add it to your wish list. You can add up to 200 books to your wish list. You are allowed to have up to two accounts per household, which means you could have up to 400 books wished for, total. But, you’ll still only get the original two free credits; you can’t get more than two free credits per household.
The wish list is basically like getting in line for a book. To see your place in line, go to My Account menu >> My Lists >> Wish List, and put your cursor over the little exclamation point. It will say “6 out of 7,” or something like that.
When someone posts the book you want, and you’re first in line, you get an email asking you to claim your book, which you have only 48 hours to answer, so be sure to keep checking your email. If you have credits saved up, you can order it, but if you don’t, you can buy a credit using PayPal. Each book is one credit, except for audio books, which are two credits.
How to package the books
First, go to My Account menu and print out the mailing label they give you. It’s really helpful. Then, you can use brown paper, or manila envelopes, or bubble envelopes, or for multiple books, small boxes to package the books. Paperbackswap has a “book wrapper” you can print out, but it would really work only for very small paperbacks. Be sure to tape over any rough parts or snaggy envelope or paper edges, so your book won’t get caught in the post office machines and end up getting reported lost. Too much tape is better than not enough, but smooth it down, scratch it on to improve the bond, and tape over any tape dog-ears.
How to avoid getting unattractive books
Go to My Account menu >> Settings and scroll down to “Requestor Conditions.” Put here any conditions you want to put on books you request, like “no smoke smell,” or “no pet hair,” or “hardbacks must have the dust jacket.” Make sure you really don’t want ANY book unless it meets these conditions, because you normally will not get a second chance to approve a book, the poster will just deny your request based on your conditions, because the system is automated that way.
I’m picky. Here are my requestor conditions:
I cannot accept books with any mildew. It makes me sneeze.
Books with any other bad smells, such as smoke or pet urine, are also unwanted.
I don’t want to use any credits to buy water-damaged books.
If the edges of the book are a little dirty, that’s okay. Some light staining or soiling on the outside of the book is okay. Yellowing of pages is okay. “Foxing” on old books is okay.
Some writing, highlighting, and underlining is okay, as long as it’s not excessive. Please, no kids’ scribbles.
I don’t want books with missing pages.
Please, no broken spines on hardbacks, though it’s okay for a paperback to have creases on the spine, as long as the pages are not falling out.
Dust jackets are not required for any books.
Tears on paperback covers or pages must have been neatly repaired with clear tape or contact paper, and no parts of pages may be missing.
Back to Jason now: I hope you enjoyed this review/tutorial for PaperbackSwap.com. We have saved tons of money and divested ourselves of MANY books we didn’t want/need anymore.