It’s been almost a year since I joined PaperBackSwap. In that year I have culled my bookshelves, mailed out 134 books and made room for the 141 books I have received. Some people say I’m obsessed with books.
They tell me that I’ve saved $634.50, based on a used book price of $4.50. If you buy a used book on Amazon for $0.01 and add $3.99 shipping, you spend at least $4.00.
Here’s how it works: initially you must post ten books which you are willing to make available to other members. You receive two free book credits. When someone wants your book, you receive an email, print out a “wrapper” and send the book to them. You pay postage to send out books, but the books you request are sent to you free.
What I’ve learned:
~ Since I don’t like wrapping books in 8 x 11, 20 pound copy paper, I’ve come up with the most frugal substitutes I can find. I re-use every padded mailer that comes to my house. I use the large blank newspaper bottoms that come with my son’s paper route. I buy 10 x 13 manila envelopes (and strapping tape) at Costco ; most books fit in sideways and I fold the envelope down to size.
~ Regardless of the name of the club, hardback books are also swapped. Audio books too.
~ Books with the same ISBN (International Standard Book Number) can have different covers. Don’t send off a grumpy message to the sender when the cover is not what you expected, ahem…
~ I use my Wish List whenever I read an intriguing book review, have a book recommended, read “best of” lists, read an author interview, etc. The Wish List is limited to 200 books and my list is full. When someone posts a book on my Wish List, and I am first in line to receive it (not a daily or even weekly occurrence) PBS sends me an email that the book I wanted is available and held for me for 48 hours.
~ The Reminder List is my spillover from the Wish List. PBS takes no action on Reminder Lists. When my Wish List goes down, I move a book over from the Reminder List.
~ I don’t waste time browsing “books posted today”. My tastes are not what anyone would call “popular”. I use the search engine to look for authors and titles. Over 2 million books are available.
~ Patience is a necessary ingredient. You are given five days to mail the book, using Media Mail, a slower class of mail. If you need a book in two days, order from Amazon. Although, I got Rick Steves’ Great Britain 2008 book a week before we left on our trip by asking the other member to send it First Class.
~ My small town post office is a mile away. They all know me by name. It works well for me to swing by there on the way to get groceries, see my grandson, etc. There is a Printable Postage option with PBS, but I don’t want to pay the extra 43¢.
~ A small sample of books I’ve scored:
Half a dozen books by Anthony Trollope
Kristin Lavransdatter, both translations
Five books by the social historian, Witold Rybcznski
All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook (I love this cookbook)
From Dawn to Decadence, Jacques Barzun, hardcover!
Books by Zinsser, L’Engle, Luci Shaw, Dostoevsky, Stegner, P.D. James, Barbara Pym
Quite a few “Great Books” for my son’s education
~ Most books have been in pretty good condition. Some are disappointingly ratty; others have obviously never been read (uncut pages). The only requirement for books is that they are not ARCs (advance reading copy), written in or highlighted (flyleaf is okay). You can make conditional requests (no smoking environment) and I have received and sent a few books with light highlighting with the other member’s permission.
~ I’m so far out of the mainstream that I’m bone dry. “1/1” Books on my Wish List (I’m the only one in PBS requesting this book, the first one to get this book when it enters the system…if that ever happens!): [3 years later updated news in red]
Christianity and Classical Culture, Charles Norris Cochrane
The Claverings, Anthony Trollope
The Creative Ordeal: The Story of Raytheon, Otto J. Scott received
The Dancing Floor, John Buchan
Dove Descending: A Journey into T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, Thomas Howard (Elisabeth Elliot’s Catholic brother) received
Evelyn Underhill: Essential Writings
An Eye for An Eye, Anthony Trollope
From Gileskirk to Greyfriars, Walter Scott
From Glencoe to Stirling, Walter Scott
From Montrose to Culloden, Walter Scott
The Gibson Upright, Booth Tarkington
The Golden Lion of Granpere, Anthony Trollope
The Hand on My Scalpel, David C. Thompson received
Hilaire Belloc, A. N. Wilson
The Moviegoer, Walker Percy
Poetry and Mathematics, S. Buchanan
The Practice of Reading, Denis Donoghue received
Reader’s Companion to Ireland received
Reading Rooms, Susan Allen Toth received
Redeeming the Time, Russell Kirk
Romantic Scotland, Charles Maclean
Solzhenitsyn, Joseph Pearce
The Southern Tradition at Bay, Richard Weaver received
Speak: A Short History of Languages, Tore Janson received
Speaking of Beauty, Denis Donoghue received
The Story of San Michele, Axel Munthe received
Thomas Chalmers: Enthusiast for Mission, John Roxborogh
Uncle’s Dream and Other Stories, Dostoyevsky
Willie and Dwike: An American Profile, William Zinsser received
Winslow Homer: The Nature of Observation, Elizabeth Johns
Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, Dostoyevsky
If you decide to give PBS a try,
would you click on the icon above
so I get a free book credit? heh heh…
I am listed under Carol B. and my “nickname” is ilovetolearn.
If any of you would like to be buddies,
feel free to invite me.
Buddies can look at each other’s bookshelfs
(books available to swap) and wish lists.
PaperBackSwap. A good thing.