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New Site Lets You Read And Swap

Sun-Sentinel (Newspaper) - 7/30/2005 by Andy Rathbun
Read any good books lately?

If you have, you may want to join PaperBackSwap.com and trade your favorite titles with the site's users.

The 10-month-old book-swapping site works like an online library. After registering, users put at least nine of their own books into the site's database, which carries almost 61,000 titles. When a user requests a book, the site e-mails a printable page (that also serves as a makeshift book wrapper) to the user who posted that title.

Right now, romance is the hottest genre -- the Harlequin series is on fire -- though other areas, such as history and literature, are closing fast.

The titles are primarily paperbacks, though they do have the odd audio book or hardcover.

The site is currently free to join. The only cost to participate is the price of postage to mail a book, which is usually less than $1.50, paid by the sender.

"We have not made a single penny," says Robert Swarthout, 23, a computer repairman who co-founded PaperBackSwap with business partner Richard Pickering, 44, who works in real estate. "In the future, we may charge $20 a year, but people save $500 or $600 [in that same period] by trading and not having to buy the title."

To save that much on $10 paperbacks, of course, you would have to read more 50 books a year. But that's no problem for users like Sylvia Sturgis, a Staten Island resident who tears through five titles a week.

"Oh, my God, you don't believe how much I use" the site, says Sturgis, who works in business administration in Manhattan. "I bet I sent out 20 books in the past two weeks. I've got that many on order."