I once had a job that didn’t last long. I knew that soon I would be gone after my boss at the time shared an ominous analogy with me. He said, “You know how you see a nice jacket in a store’s window and you step in to try it on, but when you do, the jacket just doesn’t fit quite the way you expected it to?” (Or something like that…)
Yes, dear readers, I once was compared to an ill-fitting piece of outerwear! The reason I bother to bring up such a bittersweet memory is this – we all sometimes feel the same way about a book we’ve purchased to read.
For those who have abandoned print books for a beloved Kindle, Nook, or iPad, you can stop reading right now. For those who share the same tugboat with me on the way to the island of misfit books, I humbly offer you a solution: online book swapping.
Paperback Swap: The people running PBS (no, not that PBS, home of Masterpiece Theatre) admit their name is a lie. You can also swap hardcover books, audio books, textbooks, etc. Despite such duplicity, this is quite a resourceful site. You create an account and then list books that need a home other than yours. When a book is requested, you send it on its way to another club member. You then have the fun of selecting a book you desire from the PBS cache of over 5 million available books.
One really thoughtful feature of this site: You can print exact postage from your computer and mail books from home. PBS even offers new/recent books at discounted prices, but you should start with the massive catalog of free books first.
BookMooch: Once you join BookMooch, you’ll receive a fractional point for each book listed in your account and one point for each book you truly give away. Similar to Paperback Swap, your only cost here is the postage for mailing out books.
What I find appealing about BM is that you can donate your points to any of the various charities they partner with (so someone who is ill or disadvantaged gains a free book). You can even request books from other countries and in other languages.
BookCrossing: According to this site’s main page, they make it easy for you to “find books, share books, and meet fellow book lovers.” Jump onto BC’s international high-speed rail by creating an account. From the main page, click the “Sign Up” button and get to the “Join BookCrossing” screen. Please notice you have access to FAQs at the bottom of this page, in case you want to read up before you sign up.
Here’s the thing, though – this site functions as a global “catch and release” system. You label a book you’re setting free with a special online code at the site. You then place it in a public location for other book lovers to track down and find. If you decide to give BC a try, I’d love to hear your story…
What other bartering or trading websites are you aware of for book lovers? If you currently use any of the sites mentioned here, what experiences, good or bad, are you willing to share? I’m intrigued by BookCrossing’s “treasure hunt” methodology and hope to sample it before any snow starts falling in New Jersey…
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a no-obligation project quote today!