PaperBackSwap: An Effective Way To Save Money On Books

In the past, I’ve discussed a lot of methods for saving money on books, including maximizing your local library,

book “swapping” using eBay, and leveraging the Borders Rewards program. Lately, though, I’ve been picking up a lot of books using PaperBackSwap for just a buck or two. Even better, I’m getting rid of a lot of the books I don’t read any more – and I’m doing it all without leaving the house.

What is PaperBackSwap? PaperBackSwap is a free online book exchange service. You sign up there and list nine books that you’re willing to send out in the mail to anyone (just list nine books you have that you probably won’t read again and you’d probably end up taking to a used book store or something eventually). Once you’ve listed nine books, the site gives you three credits.

What’s a “credit”? You spend a credit to have a book sent to you (remember, by listing nine books you’re willing to give away, you get three credits). When it arrives, you go on the site and indicate that the book has been received by you, and the person that sent it earns a credit (so they can then go get a book).

Similarly, whenever someone requests one of your listed books, you just ship it out and when they receive it, they go on the site and indicate they’ve received it, earning you a credit (which you can use to request another book).

To summarize:
1. You go to PaperBackSwap, sign up, and list nine books on there that you’d be willing to send out to people (basically, books of yours you won’t read any more).
2. You get three credits for listing those nine books.
3. You use a credit to request a book that’s listed on PaperBackSwap – it’s sent to you in the mail for free. So by listing those nine books, you can get three books in the mail for free.
4. If someone requests one of the books you have listed, you ship it out to the address that PaperBackSwap gives you. When they receive the book, you get a credit that you can use for another book.

When I signed up, I just listed nine junk books to get the credit, but once I got some good ones in the mail, read them, and wanted more, I found myself listing all of my books that I didn’t want to keep. Since then, I’ve had little trouble getting ahold of interesting stuff to read.

What’s the availability like? If you’re looking to get bestsellers, this probably isn’t the place to go, but if you’re like me, reading through a lot of classics and such, this is a fantastic place to pick up books. Since I joined about a month ago, I’ve picked up Rabbit, Run and Dutch (shipped free to my home) and sent out six books I didn’t want any more, which means that I still have a pile of credits left to get free books in the mail.

Basically, it’s an extremely cheap way to get books. I like to think of it as a giant, well-organized book swap meet, and I thought it might be of interest to the more frugal bibliophiles who read The Simple Dollar.

Trent Hamm

Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.