Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shedding Light on Paperback Swap

I am an avid Paperback Swap fan. I have been swapping through their platform for a little over two years now and during that time have learned a lot about the ends and outs of the program. I've been receiving several emails, comments, and inquiries regarding the true cost of the program. A lot of people have lost money using the program. The reason comes from not understanding all the available methods that Paperback Swap offers to lower your book reading costs. Hopefully I can shed some light on the site and help people enjoy all the benefits this site has to offer.

Getting Started

Paperback Swap is fairly easy to sign up with. On the start page you will see a box to the left hand side of the screen. Enter your name, email address, and then create a new password. Click enter and you will receive the welcome screen. From this screen you can set up password hints, manage your account, and begin adding your books. You do not have to add books to begin! This is a common misconception. You can enter books to start swapping and it's probably best to so that you can begin to get a feel for the site, but, you don't have to.

Swapping versus Credits

Paperback Swap offers a feature that allows you to purchase book credits using Paypal. Does this save you money? Well, let's look at this from both angles.

Swapping books is the general method used by Paperback Swap and frankly what it was designed for. If you choose to swap books you will go through a basic procedure. We are going to assume here that you either did not post any books for swap or that you have already posted your first 10 books and received your 2 free new user book credits. We are also assuming you have used your two books credits. That being the case here is what will happen if you choose to swap.

1)    You rummage through your books and find a book to post for a swap.

2)    You wait until someone to request the book you posted.

3)    You agree to the swap and to ship the book and make sure you have money to ship the book. You do this by depositing into your PBS money account via Paypal. Each time you ship a book money is deducted for the shipping costs from your PBS money account.

4)    You print the shipping label directly from the website. This shipping label is ready to go. You print it out and it deducts the proper amount of postage from your PBS money account.

5)    Package the book and ship it. Immediately mark the book as shipped to receive your book credit.
6)    Locate the book you want and request it.

7)    When the owner of the book you want agrees to the request your book credits will be deducted for the 1 credit it costs to receive the book.

8)    The owner of the book you want ships the book.

9)    The process starts again. Well, okay so ideally it starts again if you decide to post another book or re-post the book you just received after you finish it.

To be honest this is where a lot of people loose money on sites like this and give up on them all together. Why? Well, frankly swapping costs you money. About $3 per book to be precise. So in effect you are still paying for the book but at a very discounted rate. $10 or more in the bookstore versus $3 online. So to break that down a little more you pay $3 to ship a book to someone but you get a book credit for that to order a book.

Okay, moving onto using book credits instead. Book credits is considerably easier and you don't have any waiting time. Here's how it works.

1)    Login to your Paperback Swap account and click on the Kiosk tab. This is the very last tab on the bottom of the blue search bar. You will see several options notated by icons.

2)    Click on the gold coin icon labeled Book Credits
3)    You will notice that a book credit is $3.45. You are given options to buy 1, 3, 10, etc of book credits. It does not save money to buy higher amounts of book credits so if you only want one book then just buy one credit.

4)    Choose your desired book credit amount and click pay with Paypal.

5)    You will be transferred to a Paypal payment/confirmation screen. This is a secure connection.

6)    Follow the prompts to pay with Paypal and complete the order for your book credit(s).

7)    Order your book(s)

This method costs $3.45 per book but shipping is free for you. Just use a credit and get the book you want. No lines. No Waiting. Okay okay there is waiting but it's just a wait time to get the book rather than a wait time for someone to want the book you posted.

So, now you know the basic differences between Swapping and Book Credit Purchasing.

Basically either way you go you are paying between $3 and $3.45 per book. It is still considerably less than the cost of buying the book new and in many cases less than buying the book from a used bookstore. Personally, I have found that there are really only three other cheaper options. The library, free online e-books (e-book sites, Kindle for PC free books, and methods we will not discuss here b/c torrenting is bad “M'kay”), and thrift stores. The selection of those other methods is a hit or miss for finding the book you want but they are cheaper.

A Few Last Notes Regarding Paperback Swap

 You can earn credits through referral. If you refer a new member who then posts 10 books to his or her Bookshelf, you will receive a credit. The fine print of that is that accounts made at the same address do not count toward the free credit. They must post 10 books for you to get 1 credit. I think this is a good system for the companies marketing. Personally, I would only utilize this as a side reward and not as a viable reliable way of funding my book reading habit.

Overall Paperback Swap is a great way to lower entertainment costs if you spend a lot of money on books per month. A paperback at any major bookstore is around $10-$25 (check out the cost on the back of any of the Twilight saga if you don't believe me) and you can get that same book at Paperback Swap for $3.45 shipping included. That is a base savings of at least $6.55 per book.

Paperback Swap also offers a pretty neat feature that allows you to search for published books rather than just those posted to the site. If you are looking for a specific book and that book is currently not showing up in search results then switch to All books. When you find the book just add it to your wishlist. Should another PBS user post the book you will be notified by email that your wish has been granted.

Hopefully, this has served to answer a few questions and shed some light on this program.

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

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