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Topic: Will this really save me money?

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Subject: Will this really save me money?
Date Posted: 5/10/2010 3:44 AM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2009
Posts: 1
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I'm a little confused. I list my book, and wait for someone to order it, then i get a credit and I ship it. Then, with that credit I can order a book from someone else, and they ship it? isn't that kinda like paying to ship the book I choose? I'm knew here, and this seems like fun. :)

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 4:21 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,484
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I think of it as each book I order costing me the price of shipping and a book.   My library has serious budget problems.  PBS is my answer. 

If you need to watch the price, think about setting a monthly budget for mailing books.  After you reach that amount, put your bookshelf on vacation hold.

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 4:31 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,359
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It is similar, but it's a lot simpler to pay for the books you are shipping out.  No money has to transfer around.  So you can think of it as paying shipping on the books you receive or paying shipping on the books you ship out--you only pay one way, though.

If you tend to buy new books, the site will probably save you a lot of money.  If you only have expensive used book stores around your place, the site will save you money.

If you can buy books for $1 or less like I can, then it'll be the most expensive place you get books.  I still find it very worth it for when I'm looking for specific titles, and to find books that just don't show up used in my area much.  I don't request paperback mysteries (I can buy those by the bagful) but I have a lot of manga and RPG and non-fiction titles I'm more than willing to spend the $3 on--and I can find them here. Sometimes slowly, but that's what's so great about the WL--I toss the titles I want on it and then ignore the site until it sends me an email.

I've been quite satisified.  I spend more money on books than I otherwise would, but it's still a good deal for the books I get, and I've gotten books I probably wouldn't have otherwise found for who knows how long! 

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 9:47 AM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2005
Posts: 5,238
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Will PBS save you money?  Well, that depends on what type of books you read and how much you pay for them now.   Yes, there is a basic cost behind each PBS credit.

Personally, I am lucky to live in a large metropolitan area with a wonderful library system, so I do get about half of my books from my library.  But I still use PBS a lot.  Sometimes I'll read a book at the library and decide that I want a copy for my "Keeper shelves" so that I can someday re-read it.   Then I'll order it from PBS.    I get a lot of my wishlist books here.   Wishlist books can take a while for a new member to get, though, so you need to have patience if that is your goal.

And I've found PBS to be a GREAT source for older paperback books.   These are the type of books that my library tosses out after a few years because they get beat up.  But PBS frequently has them.

Subject: The
Date Posted: 5/10/2010 10:02 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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PBS is probably the most expensive place I get books.  But I get a lot of entertainment value from PBS.  I also happen to live in an area with no real used books stores. So the local thrift stores and FOL sale shelves are gold mines for cheap books.  The thrift stores around here aren't the big chain type ones like Goodwill that charge more for books. They're all just small ones that only charge. 25-$1.00 for books even tradesized and hardcovers.  Which is why I have a TBR of over 800 now.  The nearest UBS is about 45min away.   I use PBS for books I really want that I haven't found at the thrift store and that my libary doesn't have. 

Now when I lived on an island in WA state PBS was the cheapest place I got books besides the library.  We had a local UBS but they chaged like $3.50 for mmps.  I rarely found anything good at the local thrift stores which mostly charged $1.99 for mmps and higher for trades and hardcovers.  So no super cheap bargains. 

And like someone else said-it depends on what you read as well. If you read a lot of common to find books-then they might cost more at PBS. The megasellers that usually show up in thrift stores in abundance a few months after they're released.  While some books are rarely found used like that and if htey are it's on ebay for almost what they cost new.  I like to read erotica books from like Ellorascave and similar publishers and those are much cheaper through PBS.  I rarely find them in thrift stores and they usually go for more on ebay than what a credit costs.  So that's what I use my WL for here.

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 11:02 AM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 3,044
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The thrift stores around here aren't the big chain type ones like Goodwill that charge more for books.

Huh? I got a paperback at Goodwill for 10 cents 3 or 4 years ago. Maybe that was just 3 or 4 years ago pricing? I don't know, but I remember the books being ridiculously cheap considering up to that time I'd only been to UBS where everything was strictly half price so even a mass market would be around $3.50 still.

Anyway, I think whether or not you will really save money all depends on how you use PBS. I've been here almost 3 years but to look at the numbers of books coming and going, I probably look like I've been here less than a year. I believe I have saved money (possibly by not sending out every single book I was done with no matter what or ordering just any book that I thought sounded interesting). Before PBS I was selling my used books on Half.com and only making .50-1.00 per book after shipping charges and their fee were taken out. So I wasn't able to buy any more books for the used books I was getting rid of that way. So PBS has saved me quite a bit because they don't take out a third party fee and I can get another book in exchange.

It's even better than my UBS too. I still take them my hardbacks or the books that sit on my shelf here too long, but I barely get over a dollar per book there. And when they then charge me half price for any books I get, I'm not getting book for book. The last time I went I got 10 books and gave up 15 or 16. The only reason it was so close, though, was that I let my niece choose 6 books of here own. Me and my mom each got two books. All the books I traded were adult hardcovers and 3 huge heavy paperbacks.

I feel like I'm saving money. However, I've never done the math and calculated the cost of every book I bought myself (although I get a lot free from family and friends so that's another aspect that could account for making PBS a way that saves me money), packing materials, gas, time, shipping, and the cost of the book I get with each credit.

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 11:15 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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It seems to me like the old bricks & mortar UBS is becoming more rare as time goes by, and the larger chains like Half Price Books & Book & Music Exchange are getting more expensive.  BME has also gotten a lot pickier about what they will accept for trade-ins - in other words, it's not just about book condition anymore, although they still have the same 2 for 1 trade system they've always had.  PBS is a good alternative to buying used books online & paying for the book + the shipping charges.  You do have to make an initial investment on the books you put on your shelf & the postage costs to send them out, but overall, I've spent less swapping books here than I have in buying them - even in lots - on ebay.

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 11:16 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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As everybody has said, it depends on what you read and what sources you have for used books. :)

PBS is way cheaper for me than other options. Used bookstores are not as cheap where I live, the selection in my library system is great but my local branch is tiny so I have to request everything online and I can't request MMPB online. A lot of books I read come only in MMPB so PBS is my only (cheap) alternative. :)

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 12:27 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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Every Goodwill and Salvation Army thrift store I've been in has charged around $1.99 for mmps and more for trades and hardcovers.  Still a bargain if you really want to read that book but not cheap enough to like go crazy buying books.  Or to make me want to check them regularly.  I guess they don't have standarized pricing.  I noticed the FOL sale shelves are all price differently here as well. You would think libraries in the same system would charge the same prices but they vary by library.  The 2 nearest me charge .25 for mmps, .50-1.00 for trades and $1 for hardcovers.  But another library I sometimes check charges based on book condition and they want $5 for some hardcovers and $1.00 for the better paperbacks.

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 1:40 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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PBS saves me money.  I rarely ship a book that costs more than $2.50 to send.  I don't know anywhere you can get a paperback book for $2.50 or less other than at thrift stores and Friends of Library sales.  If I want to buy a book from my local used book store, they cost $4.00 and up.  If I buy a book off Amazon, they may cost 10 cents, but they also cost $3.99 to mail.  Same with E-Bay.

If there is a cheaper place to get the books I want (not just any old book from a thrift shop), I certainly don't know about it.

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 1:55 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,484
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So the answer is based on what type of book you are requesting and on how good your local UBS and library are. 

When I lived in a small city, I had lots of choices for books.  When I lived in rural Iowa, I had very little selection.  Now I live in a small town where I have plenty of choices, just a limited selection. 

I have to add in the factor of time.  How far away is your post office?  Or will you use PBS postage?  How far away are the bookstores? 

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 2:24 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 1,452
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I think I do save a little money here--a lot of the books I request are hard covers, which cost more at the UBS.  I also send out quite a few hard cocvers, so the amount I pay per credit is a little higher than what I'd pay if I only sent out paperbacks.

But, even better than saving a little bit of money on my books is the fact that I have a lot of fun here!  I love receiving books in the mail!!  I also love the fact that I can send the books I read on to a new home where I know they're wanted.

Another really great thing about this site is the fact that I can find some older out of print books that I'd never be able to find in a UBS.

M.E. (ryenke) -
Date Posted: 5/10/2010 2:35 PM ET
Member Since: 1/6/2009
Posts: 625
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We have saved a ton of money because our local UBS a) prices are usually 3.50 to 4.50 for MM paperbacks and much more for trade and hardcover AND b) have a very limited selection.  Our library has a very good CURRENT selection, but does not do well for older books.  So our usual option was buying new. 

I think we probably spent as much money on PBS last year as we would have on new books, but we got MANY more books than we would have otherwise. 

So, how much money you save will depend upon your book buying habits before joining PBS -- but I agree with so many people above - the breadth of selection here can not be beat anywhere in the brick and mortar world.

Welcome to PBS!  Hope you like it!

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 4:17 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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Another thing to consider is that here a book is worth a credit, while it might be totally valueless anywhere else. Admittedly, that's assuming someone orders it. But I have swapped a lot of books that I had no use for (except to donate) before PBS.

Last Edited on: 5/11/10 9:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/10/2010 6:07 PM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2008
Posts: 346
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It also costs a little bit to wrap up the books to mail, but I buy a roll of packaging tape and brown paper rolls from the dollar store, as well as a few bubble envelopes for extra fragile items or DVDs and CDs (from the sister sites).

For me, I probably about break even as far as what I spend and what I get. I get extra joy in sharing books, too. :)

Date Posted: 5/10/2010 7:24 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,632
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I certainly save money on PBS!  There is not a UBS in my town.  I don't even know where the nearest one would be.  Goodwill charges at least $1 for paperbacks now and the selection sucks.  The used a bit store has very little selection too.  My library doesn't stock much.

Before I found PBS, I was buying books new at Target or Kmart.  Again, limited selection.  Or ordering them used online which gets expensive with shipping.  Now, I rarely buy a new book.  I get nearly everything thru PBS.  The postage I spend is much less than the amount I used to spend on books.

Subject: Saving money not the reason I use PBS
Date Posted: 5/10/2010 10:25 PM ET
Member Since: 9/7/2008
Posts: 72
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I like using PBS to add books to my library because I can WL all the books I'm currently looking for and just sit back wait for them to be posted.

Since I'm also a member of SwapaCD and SwapaDVD, PBS's sistersites, I can also transfer my credits and get movies and music from all my books too.

If I run out of books to post on PBS so I can get credits, I just wait for a library book sale and buy a bagful of books for $1.00.  I only wish the library sale was more than twice a year as I've found some fantastic books there.


Date Posted: 5/11/2010 10:52 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2010
Posts: 1,207
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You do have to learn to work the system in a way that is best for you and how you read or collect books.

Some weeks I do feel like I am sending out a lot of books and storing credits but it still is so much less money than I was even spending when I used to shop at my local UBS.     I do get most of my books from Goodwill for $0.75 but this site helps me shop for books and get an idea of what I want to look for at Goodwill.  Then when I trade books at PBS and can use my credits for wish books and things I really want that are harder to find.

Date Posted: 5/11/2010 1:03 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
Posts: 6,035
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I think I'm spending way more on books than I was before, but I'm also reading way more.  I had pretty much put reading aside while my DD was in high school because she was involved in some high-maintenance activities and I rarely had time to breathe, much less read!  DS is much more low-maintenance and my awareness of PBS came along just at the right time where I was looking for something to fill the hole after DD left for college. 

All of the Goodwills around me sell all PB for 39 cents OR 5 for $1.00 and hardbacks are $1 each.  I'm near two different library systems...one has FOL sales every month at 25 cents for MMPB, $1 for trade PB and hardback.  The FOL that I am president of has sales about once a quarter and we sell all paperbacks for 25 cents each and 50 cents each for hardbacks.  We are considering raising our prices a little next year, but we want to get our sales a little more organized before we do.  I just don't feel right having people pay more for books that they have to get on their knees and dig through unsorted boxes for!

Date Posted: 5/11/2010 9:08 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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The Goodwills that charge so much for their books are usually those in highly populated areas with some wealthier population.  They have a system for their books and frequently sell them through Amazon (or maybe even eBay) as  3rd party sellers.  I've gotten some nice ones from the Goodwills in New York City and the bigger cities in CA.  They tend to have a good variety of books as well. 

I've noticed that I can sometimes get a book I want from Amazon for less than the cost of a credit and since it's coming through Amazon itself I don't have to pay shipping since I'm a Prime member.  I will only get them if they are rated Very Good.  So far I haven't been disappointed with that description of book. 

No UBS close to me.  Can't go to any garage sales or thrift shops (not many around this area anyway).  So my 2 options are Amazon and PBS.  PBS is more fun.  But I get the best I can.  If you want common books, you can sometimes work some really good deals through the BB or even just approaching someone who has lots of books on their shelves.


Date Posted: 5/11/2010 9:19 PM ET
Member Since: 12/11/2009
Posts: 219
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IMO, you have to be a little bit picky about what you send out and/or order. Personally, when I started PBS I had lots of wishlisted books that were larger, heavier books, so it cost a lot to send those out. And with some of those credits I requested small MMPB's because I wanted them, which obviously didn't work out financially. But now I'm learning to be a LOT more picky about what I put on my wishlist and/or order from here. I think PBS is definitely cheaper than amazon.com, for example -- the shipping alone on those books costs more than a PBS credit, in almost every case. BUT my in-laws get me a $50 amazon gift card for nearly every birthday and Christmas, so I can obviously get the books I buy with that for free. That is about all I do on amazon.com -- I can make my gift cards last all year. But my local UBS thrift store has MMPB's for 85 cents, so there is no way PBS can beat that -- IF the thrift store has the book I want. I'll check for favorite authors/genres there, and use PBS to "fill in" the remainder of the books in a series, for example -- the other day the thrift store had Book 2 of Mary Balogh's Huxtable series. DH bought me Book 4 for Mother's Day, and I ordered the other 2 from PBS and have the last one on my WL and will likely get it from PBS.


My answer is that it depends on what you send/get from PBS. What you spend on the books you send out plus postage has to be less than what you would have spent on the books you requested, had you gotten them from another source. I think over time, it will all average out.

Date Posted: 5/12/2010 8:58 AM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,601
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According to my account page, I've saved $6,650.50 since joining PBS in Aug. 2005. YEAH, RIGHT!! LOL

I think the correct answer is, "it depends."  I rarely buy new books anymore. Before PBS, I probably spent about $100-200 a month on new books. I lived in an area that didn't have a very good library system and the local UBS was a pain in the butt to use in an area with little parking and inconvenient hours. So whatever books I wanted, I bought, although I did have to show some restraint depending on what finances looked like at any given time.

When I first joined PBS, I listed a buttload of all those books I'd bought new and read once and racked up a bunch of credits, and still spent credits like a fiend so I bought probably 50 credits too...and was ordering books without much discretion. Kinda like a kid in a candy store. So I was spending credits for things I'd never have spent money for in a bookstore. Is that really "saving money?" I don't know. Probably not.

Now...after several years, I've gotten picky. I rarely order books out of the system, letting my wishlist do most of my shopping for me, unless I need a 'next in series' book that's in the system.So now I'm at the point where I think PBS is actually saving me money, but overall? Have I really "saved" over $6,600? Not on your life.


Ronda -
Date Posted: 5/20/2010 10:21 PM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2006
Posts: 14
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My Goodwill charges .69 for paperbacks, .99 or more for hardbacks depending on how current/popular they are.  The nearby Salvation Army store has similar prices (I shop both monthly).  Therefore I use PBS for books that our library system does not have, or books I want for my keeper shelf. 

Whenever I do shop the thrift stores or book sales, I try to pick up copies of books I know are being requested on PBS, to make up for those I've pulled from the system by not reposting.  So overall, I think I save a good bit of money.

Date Posted: 5/20/2010 11:09 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2010
Posts: 2,139
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Well, not for me. LOL! Before I joined PBS, I wasn't reading much. I have two kiddos 2 and under, and pretty much stopped reading for the past couple of years. I think I'd read 2 or 3 books TOTAL since my 2yo was born. So I joined PBS to expand my horizon with authors and get some much-needed "me time" back through reading. Now, over $150 later I have tons of books to read but I would have never spent that on books this year (let alone in the few months I've been here).

Having said all that though, our local used book store has crazy high prices ($3-4 for pb and $6-8+ for hc). Goodwill has good prices - $.89 for pb and $1.79 for hc, but it's hit or miss what you'll find. In the summer, it's easy to find books at garage sales marked at $.25-.50 - but you have to be lucky to find what you're looking for. It depends on what the prices of books are in your area and if you're used to buying books on a regular basis.

I'm going to stop ordering from my Reminder List and getting them from the library instead. I was surprised to see that my library had 33 of my RL books available the other day, so I'm confident I'll always find a handful there to read. I'm thinking it'd be wiser for me to spend my credits on my WL books instead. I like to collect series and sets in whole before I read them, and I have a lot of Pagan/Wiccan books I can't find at my library, so I'm trying to reserve credits for those rather than the more readily available books I can find at the library.

Date Posted: 5/24/2010 7:28 PM ET
Member Since: 5/24/2010
Posts: 214
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I'm brand new and I've found this thread really interesting. I live in a rural area where there are no UBS and only 2 thrift stores. When I find a book I want at a thrift store, it's under a dollar so that is better but the selection is really, really poor.

Our local library has great books but they are now charging $2.50 postage for inter-library loan. If there is anything I want to read that they don't have, it will be roughly the same price to mail out a book and get a credit here and I don't have to return it. With inter-library loan it is only a 14 day check out period.

Plus, my son likes a particular series. I haven't found many at the thrift stores or I'll find some out of order. The same book that was 1 penny plus $3.99 shipping on half.com will cost me about $3 here (this book will actually be free since I'm using a new member credit, but I'm mailing two out and they are under $3 each.).