Press & Media » News Radio 620 WTMJ


A New Way To Trade Books Online

News Radio 620 WTMJ (Radio) - 4/29/2008 by Dan O'Donnell
If you're like most avid readers, you probably have dozens of books that you read once and then shelved forever; your walls a veritable library of Dean Koontz and John Grisham.

Richard Pickering had the same problem.

"I used to travel a lot for my business, and in doing so I would go through various airports across the country and I accumulated a very large selection of books that I read exactly once," he explained, adding that getting rid of those books proved more difficult than he thought. "I went to a used book store with four huge boxes of books, and the owner came out and pulled out about five copies out of these four boxes. That was all she wanted!"

"I thought, 'there's got to be a better way of doing this.'"

Now there is. Richard funneled his frustration into founding PaperbackSwap.com, a site that allows its users to trade books with other readers across the country.

"The whole thing started with just a few hundred of my books," Richard said. "Now we've got over 2 million books available."

Accessing them is easy as, pardon the pun, A-B-C. Users simply list their books online by entering their ISBN numbers. When another user requests one, the site sends an email asking whether the book can be sent via the U.S. Postal Service. Clicking "yes" prints the address to which the book will be sent as well as a return address.

"We even calculate the postage for you and tell you how many stamps to put on it," said Richard. "You simply wrap [the book] in those two pieces of paper with the addresses on them, put the stamps on it, pop it in the mail, and it goes. There's no packing material required."

When the book is received, the sender gets a "book credit," which can be used to request another of the site's millions of titles.

One part library, one part online swap meet, PaperbackSwap is all value for its users--so much so that Richard has started sister sites SwapaDVD.com and SwapaCD.com.

Still, the original is his favorite.

"I would say that if you're an avid reader, this is the place to be."