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Trade Books, CDs, DVDs In Virtual Bazaars

Guam Pacific Daily News (Newspaper) - 5/7/2008 by Therese Howe
I know, I know, my kids do the same thing: watch a "Sponge Bob" DVD a jillion times until they've started muttering the words along with the animated undersea characters during the movie.
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Eventually, though, the obsession fades and "Sponge Bob" is relegated to the uppermost shelf on the rack --the black hole of the DVD universe in our house. Thankfully, I've discovered a way to manipulate astrophysics and have shrunk that black hole, thanks to a great Web site, www.swapadvd.com.

SwapaDVD and its sister sites, www.swapacd.com and www.paperbackswap.com, are bartering holes in cyberspace where you can trade your books, CDs and DVDs for other titles. It's a great concept, and I'm happy to report that yes, it does work, it is free, and it is available to Guam residents. Any adult 18 years or older with a U.S. Postal Service address, including APO and FPO addresses, can join.

Here's how it works: sign up online for free and post 10 titles from your personal library that you want to trade. If you don't have 10, that's fine, post however many you want. Once you post your first 10 titles, though, you get two free credits from the book site, and one free credit from the CD and DVD sites. Those credits are how you get titles that you want from the site; you also get a credit every time you send one of your items to another member. You can purchase credits as well, and it's still cheaper than purchasing the item new.

So how do you know if there's anything that you want? You can search the sites by title or browse by genre or the titles that were posted that day. If you want an item that's not available because no member has offered it, you can mark it down for your "Wish List." Once a member posts that item, you'll get a notice asking if you still want it.

If you do see something you want and have enough credits for it, just click and voila! You'll get it in the mail in however long it takes the post office to get it to you.

Here is an important point for Guam residents, though: after signing up and creating your account with any of the sites, click on "My Account" on the gray menu tabs at the top and scroll down to "Settings." On the Settings page, click on "Requestor Conditions" or scroll down until you get to it. Here is where you need to indicate that a U.S. Customs form is required to send the package to you -- unless you don't mind waiting months for it to get to you. I'd also indicate here that Guam is a domestic destination and there is no extra charge for the Customs form. This window also gives you the opportunity to mark whether you will accept a title ONLY under those conditions.

So what's the catch? Well, you'll have to pay for shipping your items to members who request it; it comes to about $2 to $2.50 per item. And your items have to be in good condition; there are specific guidelines for each type and you'll want to review them before you send your items. I've also found with the DVD site that they don't take ALL titles, such as some of the ones you buy in the dollar bin.

Other than that, though, the sites are hugely popular with its members; they have discussion forums, chat rooms and even local chapters that sponsor get-togethers. Who knows, if enough Guam members join and create a chapter, they could sponsor on-island trading events.

If you have any questions about this column or would like to share your parenting resource Web sites, contact Therese Padua Howe at theresehowe@hotmail.com.