Swap Your Used DVDs, CDs, and Books Online (181/365)

For years, I’ve been trading books online using PaperBackSwap. It’s such a wonderful service that’s fueled a lot of my reading over the past five years or so.

When I first signed up for the service, I swapped a ton of books. I went through my shelves, packaged up several dozen books that I knew I wouldn’t read again, and shipped them out (it really didn’t cost much to ship them).

In exchange, a trickle of books started arriving in my mailbox. Books that I actually wanted to read. Books I’d wanted to read for a long time, like A Summons to Memphis and American Pastoral. Books I wanted to read to my children.

In other words, it was a great deal.

Swap Your Used DVDs, CDs, and Books Online (181/365)

Here’s how it works.

You sign up for an account on PaperBackSwap. When you sign up, you’re asked to list ten books that you own that you’d be willing to trade by mail. When you do that, you get two “credits.” You can use a single “credit” to request that any of the five million (or so) books listed on PaperBackSwap by other members of the site be sent to you.

So, how do you get more credits? You list more books. If someone on the site requests one of the books you’ve listed, you just print out a mailing form (provided to you by the site), wrap that form around the book (perhaps with a bit of additional wrapping), tape it up, and mail it. When the other person receives your book, you get another credit.

Shipping the book (via media mail) costs about $2. So, in essence, for $2, you get a book of your choice mailed to you (and also pass on one of your unread books to someone who will enjoy it).

In my eyes, that’s an exceptional deal. Of course, I’m a heavy reader, so having a flow of fresh books is a very good thing.

Let’s say you don’t enjoy reading, though. SwapACD does essentially the same thing for music CDs. SwapADVD (which I’ve used a fair amount) does essentially the same thing for films.

In each case, you mail out your own items using media mail for about $2 apiece and then eventually receive replacements (things you want to read or watch or listen to) in the mail for free.

Trading media by mail is a great convenient way to refresh your book, DVD, or CD collection at a very low price. Give it a try!

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.

Trent Hamm
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.

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