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10 Shopping Secrets: Buy Textbooks Online And Save

Computer Shopper (Website) - 6/21/2010 by
7. PaperbackSwap.com: A Stellar Source for Nearly Free Textbooks

Here’s a personal favorite of ours: The service PaperbackSwap.com is a flat-out hidden gem for the textbook-hunting bargain seeker. Would you be willing to trade some of your already-read John Grisham novels or copies of the Twilight series for some texts you need for class? PaperbackSwap.com can make that happen. What’s even better: Apart from the cost of shipping away your unwanted books, the service is free.

Here’s how it works. You gather up any books in good condition that you have lying around your home (they don’t actually have to be just paperbacks), sign up for an account on the site, and key in the books’ ISBNs to list them on the site. If another user requests the book, you wrap it up and mail it to him or her. (You pay the shipping.) When the recipient gets the book, they acknowledge that to the service, garnering your account a book “credit.” Each credit entitles you to pick one book from the service, which someone, somewhere will ship to you.

It’s a double win: Not only do you get to declutter your living space, but you also get books in return that you’d otherwise need to shell out real money for. And because members maintain “watchlists” of books they want, there’s a good chance that some of your titles will get requested as soon as you put up your list. And because PaperbackSwap.com suggests the use of Media Mail (the cheapest, slowest USPS method) for shipping, your out-of-pocket cost per credit usually ends up being just $2 to $3 per book shipped.

Note that you can purchase credits outright from PaperbackSwap.com, too (they end up costing between $3 and $4, depending on how you buy them and how many), so if the service lists textbooks you need but you don’t have available swap credits, you can buy the books that way for a real steal of a price.