Discussion Forums - Questions about PaperBackSwap Questions about PaperBackSwap

Topic: what books should I look for when thrift shopping?

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: what books should I look for when thrift shopping?
Date Posted: 9/20/2008 1:40 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2008
Posts: 51
Back To Top

I've not had much luck picking up books I find at garage sales or Goodwill. They are already in the system most times. I have learned the hard way to avoid bestseller authors (unless it's less than a year old) and anything that's been on Oprah or Today show bookclubs.

I've looked at the most wished for lists and use them as much as I can. I've looked at other members wish lists to get an idea but they seem so diverse. So, what should I look for? Hardback, paperbacks, mass market books? Fiction, non-fiction, reference? What genre seems to be the most likely to be wanted? Romance, thriller, mysteries...

What seems to be the secret of the successful book hunter?

Date Posted: 9/20/2008 2:02 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
Back To Top

IMO - pick your favorite genre and become very familiar with it:P  It's the easiest way to stay in touch with what's upcoming, what's popular, what there's usually a glut of in the system, and what's going to be heavily wishlisted.  Just my opinion:)

Date Posted: 9/20/2008 2:31 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2008
Posts: 285
Back To Top

Ditto what Kim said.  Also, when I'm looking, I'll sometimes pick up books that are in good shape that I may be interested in reading, even if I don't have a clue whether or not they're wishlisted.  That way, even if there are 500 copies already in the system, it won't be a waste because I'll read it myself.  I've found the last thing I want to do is buy a book on a whim that I know I won't read, only to find that there are already SO many copies in the system that mine would almost never get requested using FIFO.

I don't know if this is an option for you, but some people who have internet access on their cell phones will look up individual books as they find them.  That way if you're not sure if a book is wishlisted or not, you can look it up right then and decide if you're going to get it.

Last Edited on: 9/20/08 2:32 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/20/2008 2:32 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2008
Posts: 1,051
Back To Top

I look for Paranormal books. They're extremely popular even if they're in the system.

Date Posted: 9/20/2008 2:38 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 13,347
Back To Top

Last Edited on: 11/11/08 4:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/20/2008 2:42 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
Back To Top

Paranormals and erotica go pretty fast even if they aren't WL. Cozy mysteries I find are generally WL or requested fast.

There's too many WL books to try and keep track of them all.  I do what Kim does: I keep track of my favorite genres and try to look for stuff I would read myself. 

Authors that I"ve found that are usually WL: Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Kresley Cole, Fran Rizer, Hailey Lind, Diane Whiteside, Gena Showalter, Maya Banks, Shannon McKenna, Boris Akunin, Jodi Piccoult-that's all I can think of for now. 

Avoid: James Patterson, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Mary Higgens Clark, Danielle Steele, Patricia Cornwell and any other mega stars like them.  Usually they're only WL if it's a just released book.  I never WL books that will be released all over like that-because the WL line moves really fast and after a couple months there's 100+posted into the system.  I WL books that tend to have a more limited release-in other words ones that you can't find at every Supermarket, Walmart, Target  etc.., all over the country. 

But unless you have storage space and a source or really cheap books-just stick with your favorite genres.  To me buying books just to mail them out for credits is not really saving money. I could just buy a credit from someone.  Although if I see a book I know is WL at the library sale kiosk or thrift store, I might buy it even if I don't intend to read it myself.  But it's easy to end up with a bunch of books collecting dust that you have not interest in reading and no one is ordering. 

niffir - ,
Date Posted: 9/20/2008 3:37 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 495
Back To Top

Keep an eye out for unusual non-fiction books.  There are generally not many copies of them in the system and they are surprisingly quick to go. 

Date Posted: 9/20/2008 4:20 PM ET
Member Since: 7/20/2007
Posts: 1,046
Back To Top

Being here long enough will get you an idea of what people are reading. Even if you dont order books from the Book Bazaar, checking out what other people are ordering or have Wish Listed gives you an idea of what to look for. Also, check out Hidden Gems and what people are talking about. You'll get familiar with some really popular novelists, and maybe find a few you woud like to read as well.

I went to my Goodwill just yesterday and got 5 wishlisted books. That is awesome considering i actually have money for postage this week!

Date Posted: 9/20/2008 4:44 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2008
Posts: 242
Back To Top

i look for what i like first....(some books i keep for my own collection)....then i look for books in good condition......then come home look so see how many are in the system....if there is alot of them....i take them to my used bookstore get half of the book price for it and use it there...... and the thriftstore i go to sells paperback books for .98 cents.....last weekend i happend to pick up 16 good books....meaning published 07-08.....alot of them i posted and have mailed away......

Last Edited on: 9/20/08 4:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/20/2008 11:37 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
Back To Top

Often newer, specialized cookbooks are popular.

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 12:26 AM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2005
Posts: 379
Back To Top

You can always use your cell phone to check the books on Wish Lists, etc. There is a mobile version of the site just for such checking, click on the "Mobile" link below...

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 9:30 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,360
Back To Top

Graphic novels--think comic books but full-sized books with proper bindings.   Non-superhero ones tend to swap promptly.


Date Posted: 9/21/2008 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2008
Posts: 394
Back To Top

I'm new to the site and I know how you feel.  I recently started reading cozy mysteries and have been looking to see what is wishlisted. That way, if I buy something, I'll be able to post it and build up some credits. It worked out for me yesterday. I went to an enormous annual sale that my library holds with both books taken out of circulation and books that were donated through the year. I got 31 books for 14.00 and 7 of them are wishlisted and another 8 or so have fewer than 4 copies in the system.  It helps to do a little research. That's what I'm doing right now because we're going back today. Fill a paper grocery bag with books for 3.50.  I get to help the library and myself at the same time!

I also agree about just picking up what you know that you will read.  In my case the books only cost me 50 cents each. If it sounded interesting, I picked it up. I'm getting a great deal, so who cares if there are 75 copies out there.  I don't get the super popular authors or books expecting to post them here, I just like to read them.  I sell their books at a garage sale or donate them to the library. 


Date Posted: 9/21/2008 3:50 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 1,156
Back To Top
Avoid mass-market paperbacks (the small paperbacks) and go for the trade paperbacks which are larger. Trade paperbacks I've never heard of seem to move fairly well. Ditto for hardcovers from '07 or '08 that are not familiar. Go for nonfiction hardcovers, especially newer biographies/memoirs. It doesn't really cost all that much extra to mail a nice hardcover book. Avoid romance books unless they are paranormal romance (like vampires, etc).

There are books I've found and sent out several times each (The Road, The Things They Carried, Drinking the Rain, Rhett Butler's people, Outlander). I wish I could confine myself only to buying books I think I'll read, but I can't help picking up others, especially if they look new. Last time we went to Goodwill, my little boy said, "OK, mom, you've got 15 minutes!" I stretched it to 20 (!) but it did limit what I put in the cart. Peace today, Lisa

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 4:29 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,360
Back To Top

Do the math, though.

I found that generally, buying books to swap wasn't worth it.  When I got done paying postage + book cost + cost for books that didn't swap...it wasn't much different than buying credits.  Especially for heavy books that cost more to ship.

If you can get them by the bag along with books you are buying anyway go for it.  But don't buy big multi-pound hardcovers to swap unless you are sure it's cheaper for you than buying credits.

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 4:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 1,156
Back To Top
But granting wishes is fun! And a typical hardcover is only 35 cents more to mail than the typical trade paperback. My nearest Salvation Army store does 10 paperbacks for $5 and 10 hardcovers for $6, so it's a better deal than the Goodwill. If you post it, they will come (eventually). :D
Date Posted: 9/21/2008 10:22 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2007
Posts: 357
Back To Top

But granting wishes is fun!

I couldn't agree more, Lisa!

And, to whoever mentioned the PBS Mobille site - that is AWESOME!!  In August, they  opened a new Salvation Army store near me.  It is bright and clean and has a whole corner devoted to books, and they are shelved in some kind of order (they have a dedicated person who comes once a week to add more books and tidy up).  Once a month, they have half-price days, so MMPs are 30 cents, trade pb's are 75 cents, and children's/young adults are 25 cents.  I shop for myself, but while I'm picking out books I will also grab some extras that look like they might be possible WL books.  Then I'll take my basket over to a nice comfy sofa, and use my cellphone to access PBS Mobile (just for the ones that I don't really want but may be WL books).  If it's a book that is on at least five WLs, then I'll grab it.   (for instance, one day I was able to grab two copies of Water for Elephants for 75 cents each when it was heavily wishlisted.  I had already read it, but it felt GREAT to be able to add two more copies to the PBS pipeline).

It works out to be about the same as buying a credit, but I have never bought a credit and I don't want to buy credits.  I prefer to trade books since that is the reason this site exists.  I just feel like buying a credit really deprives someone of a book and doesn't really go with the spirit of the site.  That is strictly my own personal feeling.  If I was completely out of credits and a WL book came up, I would, of course, buy a credit.  But I haven't had to do that luckily.

Date Posted: 9/22/2008 12:52 AM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2008
Posts: 118
Back To Top
One author I love that is seriously wishlisted is Terry Pratchett. Anything you can find by him will be requested. I haven't posted any of his books because I won't get rid of my copies but I have occasionally found a book by him at library sales. I gave them to friends but I will be continuing to look. Old craft books go quickly as well. Science fiction and mysteries do not go so quickly but they are eventually going. I am giving my old hardback James Mitchner books about six months before I decide that I need the room. Then they may go to the Goodwill or Library sale. My in-law's loved them.
Date Posted: 9/22/2008 11:37 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 189
Back To Top

Generally, my strategy has been to buy anything in relatively good condition that looks unusual.  This works sometimes, but I have a lot of pretty nice, really weird books sitting on my shelf as a result!  But I do have a very eclectic shelf now....

I think I'm going to stop buying books to post, though, at least for a while.  I feel that I have now put enough books into the system that I can justify buying a few credits, if necessary...  It's fun, but it is not that much cheaper (if at all), and also a lot of trouble if you don't have a lot of free time.

Date Posted: 9/22/2008 12:38 PM ET
Member Since: 4/24/2008
Posts: 310
Back To Top

The Twilight books by Stephenie Meyers are always heavily wishlisted.  Even the Harry Potter series that has been out for  years and in every store is still popular.  I'd stick with paperbacks since these books can sometimes be quite thick and therefore more expensive to ship.

Date Posted: 9/22/2008 1:01 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 5,034
Back To Top

Oh my... my eyes are crossing this morning... I thought the subject line read "what books should I look for when shop lifting?"  I truly need to get more sleep on Sunday nights... or maybe all the "felony" threads are making me see things :  )

I have a growing list of author's that are pretty fast movers.  I started out with just a few to be cautious, but here are the ones that move pretty fast for me:

Philippa Gregory

Sheryilynn Kenyon

Karen Marie Moning

Diana Gabaldon

Sophie Kinsella

Kurt Vonegut




Date Posted: 9/23/2008 11:14 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,501
Back To Top

These authors are also heavily wish listed:

Hunter S. Thompson

Christopher Moore

Chuck Palahniuk

Zane (you might want to check this one out, she was heavily WL at one time, but I haven't checked the status of her books here recently)


Forgot to add that other books that would seem to move quickly are nf books on Wicca, the Spartans and the Crusades.  Again, you might want to check in to this more, I'm just going by my WL (past and present) and how slowly the lines moved.


Last Edited on: 9/23/08 11:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 1