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A Great Read Just A Mouse Click Away

The Register-Guard (Newspaper) - 5/28/2006 by Lewis Taylor
The Register-Guard : A Great Read Just A Mouse Click Away Susan Walker used to shop for paperback books at Costco. The Lane County real estate investor and avid reader also fished through boxes at garage sales and scanned the shelves at used book stores.

Then she discovered another way.

Now Walker uses her computer and an online book club called PaperBackSwap.com, which provides her with access to half a million titles.

When a book on her wish list arrives in stock, it's shipped to her instantly. The process is so simple, Walker says, she can't think of a single downside.

"It's easy," Walker says. "I'm 57 years old. I wasn't born with a (computer) mouse in my hand like the kids are now but it was tremendously easy to sign up."

Sort of a trade and barter version of Netflix, only with books instead of movies, PaperBackSwap involves readers trading books for the price of postage. All that's required to sign up, Walker says, is a short list of books you're willing to part with. The instant you sign up, the site gives you three credits toward books on other people's lists, which arrive in the mail, postage paid.

"A lot of times when you go into a used bookstore, you're sort of just stuck with what they have on hand," Walker says. "Because you can list stuff on your wish list and get books as they become available, it's like having someone perched out there watching for what you want."

Once someone requests a book on Walker's list of unwanted titles, she prints a mailing label/wrapper on her home computer, applies the correct postage (the Web site does the math based on the weight of the book) and earns a credit toward the next book on her wish list.

Most books cost $1.59 to ship, Walker says, although some titles ship for less. The Web site also offers hardback books and audio cassettes. Since Walker started using the site last November, she estimates she's received more than 80 books, ranging from mysteries to spiritual growth titles to cookbooks to travel books. She can select up to 50 genres or search for selected titles.