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Bargain Basement Prices: $1.59 A Book

Budget Savvy Magazine (Magazine) - 8/22/2006 by Jodi M. Webb
Budget Savvy Magazine :  Bargain Basement Prices: $1.59 A Book I'm a mystery lover and once you know "whodunit" you rarely want to re-read a book. With no secondhand bookstore in my hometown, I eagerly made my annual trip to the beach bookstore that would make four-for-one trades. Then, I discovered an online treasure trove for trading all year long.

Richard Pickering, a business traveler who had just kept his head buried in a paperback for an entire flight met Robert Swarthout, a computer programmerat a speaking engagement. As they wondered what happened to the millions of paperbacks bought by business travelers, they came up with the idea for www.paperbackswap.com.

On www.paperbackswap.com members can get rid of unwanted books and request books from a list of over 447,000 titles. To join you have to list at least 9 titles you want to trade. For joining, the club gives you three bonus "trading points". Then all you have to do is find a book you want, request it online, and usually within a week the book is in your mailbox. Of course your member account is down to two "trading points".

So how do you get more trading points? Wait for that email that says, "Your book Dr. Atkin’s New Diet Cookbook has been requested. Is it available?" If you reply yes, you print out the mailing label, wrap up the book and drop it in your mailbox. Postage for average paperbacks is $1.59 but oversized books may be more. That postage is the only cost you’ll have—there are no hidden fees.

The name Paperbackswap is misleading. Paperbackswap isn't just about bodice-ripping romances and the latest thrillers. Every subject and genre is listed along with hardcovers, large print books, children’s books, graphic novels and comics as well as audio books(two trading points). To ensure that you get what you bargain for, the site posts cover art, descriptions and reviews. Through email messages, members I've traded with have also been incredibly forthcoming. One reminded me her Agatha Christie was a hardcover, perhaps I wouldn't want it. A hardcover Agatha Christie (in mint condition) for the $1.59 in postage it had cost me to earn the point? I told her to send it out. Another member was worried I might not want her copy of Up Front by Bill Maudlin because it looked "old". I decided to take a chance and received a first edition printed in 1945—it deserves to look old.

Although I agreed to the less than perfect Maudlin book, with the exception of a few dog-ears every other book I received has been in fine condition. You can even report traders who deliver a book in "poor condition". Trading rights can be suspended for too many negative reports.

This book club is the perfect opportunity to try a book you might not otherwise purchase such as Basic Plumbing Techniques, or to find the latest work by your favorite author without the bookstore price tag. Who could resist its charms: clearing off overcrowded shelves, new books to explore, and saving money? The best part is the headline on your member page boasting how much money you saved by using www.Paperbackswap.com!