Jul
17
2010

  Paperback Swap Comes Through!

Some time ago (February 9, 2010, to be exact), I signed up for a free membership in the website PaperBackSwap. The site is basically a big clearinghouse matching up people who want to give away books with people who want those books.

I set up a wish list of very specific books at the time. Whenever I want a book, first I check to see if I can get it through the library (even through inter-library loan with other systems, I don't mind the wait). If the library doesn't have it, I then put in a request for the library to buy it. But the library only takes requests for books published in the past two years. So my options for getting the book for free are limited for older books. But PaperBackSwap seemed like a good solution to get these older books. Also for books that I want to own (usually how-to or reference books). So I populated the wish list, and forgot about it.

But today I got an email, saying that one of my book wishes was ready to be fulfilled! It took five months, but I finally moved up the list for the book, and one became available! If a dozen people want the same book, the first person who "wished" it gets dibs on the first copy somebody lists to give away, etc. It's possible that the same book might be eventually forwarded to all dozen people. It looks like I have another book that I may receive soon-- I'm in position 1 of 16. The wait for more books may be longer-- I'm 17 of 19, 140 of 187, 817 of 1143, 18 of 25, 293 of 867 to give you examples of my position for other books I requested in February.

Not all books take this long to arrive, if you're in a hurry. You could always browse the list of books that are currently available and see if there's anything you like. I prefer to just get what I want. If I want a random book I can go to the library for instant gratification.

I wonder how long it will take for people to request the books I listed? That's the hard part of this service. When people request a book that you have, you have to print off a label and wrap the book up and put postage on it and mail it. If it's over 13 oz you have to go to the post office. And do this all within a few days of getting the request. It's probably pretty easy for most people. It will be more of a challenge for me until I get the ADD licked, but I'm pretty sure I can handle it. If my printer is working. . .