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Bargain Books Just A Click Away

NBC 11 Alive - Altlanta, GA (TV) - 10/27/2008 by Valerie Hoff :: Media Content

SUWANEE, Ga. -- Diane Griffiths and Cheryl Graves are self professed bookworms who can devour dozens of titles each month. "I read a lot of books. This year I've already read 130 books," said Griffiths.

But rather than head to the library or bookstore, they go to Richard Pickering's website, paperbackswap.com. He founded it four years ago when he wanted to get rid of his paperback collection of fewer than 200 books, most of which he had purchased new at airport bookstores for full price.

The website now lists two and a half million titles from thousands of members across the United States.

Forty-thousand books change hands each week, all for the price of postage. Members simply click on the book they want, and an email goes out the person who has listed the book as available.

"The member who wants to give away the book pays the postage of a little over $2.00 for a paperback and gets credits to redeem for books from other members," said Pickering.

The site even provides the mailing labels with recipient and sender's addresses. "They simply hit the print button on their computer, two pieces of paper pop out, you wrap them around the book, put a couple of stamps on it, pop it in the mail and you're done," said Pickering.

No money changes hands. Members get points for sending out book and redeem them by ordering others.

Graves said she prefers paperbackswap.com to the public library because once you receive a book, you own it. "I can keep it forever, so I don't have to read it by a certain time. Then when I'm done with it and want to give it away, I list it on the site," she said.

Paperbackswap members can also trade hard back books and children's books. The company is headquartered in Suwannee but has members all across the United States.

Pickering has now branched out with swapacd.com and swapadvd.com. He says after four years in business, he does not charge any money for membership and makes only enough money to maintain the site.

Pickering said if his costs rise significantly in the future, he may charge a nominal fee for membership.