Tour’s Books Blog

March 23, 2009

Book Swapping Online: Is it worth it?

Filed under: Editorial,erotic romance,General — toursbooks @ 6:00 pm

OK, so obviously I read a whole lot.  This means I have tons of books, many of which aren’t the kind you plan on reading twice.  Fluff books.  Books that aren’t suited to passing on to friends because they don’t read that stuff.  Books that were good, but once you know the answer, the thrill is gone.  Books that just won’t make the ‘keeper shelf’ cut.  Lots of books.  When you read around 200 books a year they really pile up – and with prices rising, and the economy making those loud sucking noises, saving money seems like a really good idea, right?  So I joined to see  if this approach would suit me.

Here’s how this site works – you list your books by ISBN number and they go into a system.  Books that are on people’s Wish List go immediately into a 48 hour hold while their accounts clear the swap.  You get 2 points for just signing up and then 1 point for each book swapped, 2 points for each audio book and it is tied into a DVDswap and CDswap sites, so you can transfer points between your accounts on the 3 sites.  Now this is ‘free’, right?  So far anyway.  Up goes my list and 4 of the 11 titles are gone while I’m still entering ISBN numbers.  And then WHAM – I have books that need to be sent out. 

Ever so proud of myself, I trot over to Amazon forums and say, “Hey, you’re right.  Erotic romance books get snapped up right away!”  One of the posters there says, “Let me add you to my buddy list.  That way people with the same interest can swap among themselves.”  Sounds good, so I have my first buddy.  Then another Amazon poster is asking and I have 2 buddies and get a third on recommendation for the first one.  So I send buddy1 a short list of erotic romance titles I have available but did not list to swap and she sends me an Excel spreadsheet of her books – but everything she has that I want is on her ‘keeper shelf’, so nothing there.  She gets 3 titles and I can’t find anything.   OK, we like the same things, that’s cool.  I have titles on her want list that are on my ‘keeper shelf’ too.

By the end of Sunday I had 12 books to ship out and 4 more in a holding pattern.  And I found – 1 book. Hummmmmm ……… Now I had to set about shipping the books.  The big problem was 9 of the 12 were the new large format paperbacks – not just taller than usual, but taller and wider than usual, so the typical small mailing envelope isn’t going to work.  And PaperbackSwap wants the books wrapped in plastic for water protection.  OK.  Not unreasonable. Now I need to get the mailing addresses for my ‘customers’.  Now we get to the good part.  Seems that in order to get the points for swapping a book in a timely fashion, you need to use the PaperbackSwap mailer printing service.  That is, you print a ‘wrapper’ for your book – only it isn’t a wrapper, it’s a stupid piece of printer paper.  And to do this, the package must less than 13 oz AND you pay a transaction fee to PaperbackSwap.  To use this feature, you deposit funds into an account and then each ‘wrapper’ printed gets deducted from your balance.  To get fast credit for your swap, you need to add confirmation, so when the Post Office scans the package you get the credit.

Now call me conservative, but I want to ship my books in something a bit sturdier than crummy piece of copier paper or my expensive business stationary wrapped around a book that cost me $14 to buy.  Plus, I don’t want to pay the fees and have yet ANOTHER account on line that I have to money manage.  I get the names and address of the people who requested the books, use sturdy brown envelopes with the books wrapped in good plastic wrap, and take them to the post office where I fill out all these stupid delivery confirmation slips for each transaction.  Even using media mail rates, the tab was just over $30 – plus the envelopes + gas and mileage + about 2.5 hours of my time.  But I have fulfilled my side of the bargain and proudly trot home with all my receipts in hand to check each and every transaction as MAILED!  Am I good or what?

But wait – I don’t get any credits!  I didn’t use the PaperbackSwap printed mailer, so I have to wait for my customers to confirm they have received the books before I get points, and I really shouldn’t expect anything for, oh, say 12-14 days.  If they remember to say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s here, thanks.’  Even though I have all the USPS Delivery confirmation ticket numbers.  Nope, no credit.  UPDATE: Paperbacksawp now a notice on each book telling me not to bother them before April 20 – 4 weeks from now – about points based on delivery info from the Post Office?  Huh?  They know NOTHING about my books because they don’t have the tracking numbers!  Now I’m getting pissed.

Let’s take a look at this ‘free’ service and great way to swap.  First, how many books available are ones you a) Haven’t already read – and/or b) Even really want to read?  Well, not many.  Even worse, paperbacks costing $6.99, $9.99, or $17.00, are all worth just 1 point!  Same for hardcovers and they’re a LOT more expensive to ship.  But the larger books are heavier and cost more to mail!  Well that bites.  So I shipped out 9 paperbacks with an average cost of $12-14 and 3 more at $7-8 each is worth only 1 point?  Why should I swap the larger, more expensive, in demand books, why not sell them on eBay and let the bidder pay the shipping cost?  Makes a whole lot more sense.  I’d still be out my time, but not my $30 and I would then be better able to get what I want, not the few things available.  If I factored the value of my time – good grief, I am in a serious hole!

So I found a second book and used my second ‘introductory’ point today and now I will wait and see if I get my 12 points.  By the way, you can ‘buy’ points for a mere  $3.45 each at a minimum of 3  credits.  That money goes to PaperbackSwap, not a member.  Will I continue?  Maybe.  Not for the larger more expensive books.  The smaller paperbacks of $7 to $8.  It works well for that and I’ll get over the ‘wrapper’ thing and maybe go with that in the future.  It’s just so time consuming – and for what?  Maybe I’ll find some books way down my list of wants for “free”?  For now I’m better off donating the bulk of my books and.  Less wear and tear on me.

I removed any listing not on hold and won’t be offering any more books for awhile.  I want to spend $30 for used books, I’ll go to Alibris and buy the EXACT ones I want, not sit around and wait for someone to put one up for trade.


1 Comment »

  1. […] with Paperback Swap, the online book swapping site.  My initial impressions were posted in Book Swapping Online:  Is it worth it? then an Update after switching swap tactics in April, and the most recent third installment on my […]

    Pingback by The Paperback Swap Chronicles Vol. 4 – Games « Tour’s Books Blog — October 10, 2009 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

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