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Online Swap: Books, Music, Movies

New Jersey.com (Website) - 8/16/2010 by Ashlee Wynne
Prepare for the deal of a lifetime: Order new books and DVDs while getting rid of the unwanted books and DVDs cluttering your home, all for the price of shipping.

Sound too good to be true? Meet Paperbackswap.com and sister sites SwapaDVD.com and SwapaCD.com, which have both gained popularity since Paperbackswap’s debut in 2004.

The objective of these swapping sites is to save members money, all the while sharing books, movies and music across the nation.

Paperbackswap.com allows members to follow a simple format: Books are posted into the system via the ISBN number and can be requested that way by other members. The books are then shipped to the requesting member and, once received, a credit is given to the sending member so that he or she can request a book of their own.

It can become a never-ending cycle, but one that some South Jersey members are passionate about.

Paperbackswap “allows me to sample authors I haven’t read previously,” said Jessica Alvarez of Red Bank, who also joined the site in September. “I hate to take a risk and spend $8 on a book that’ll bore me by page five. If I get a book through Paperbackswap that I hate, I simply put it on my digital shelf and it’ll soon find its way to a new home.”

Member Amy Glessner of Mickleton, a Paperbackswap member for a year, agrees.

“It’s a great chance to get rid of books that you have bought but don’t want to keep. It’s also a great chance to get books that you want to read but cannot find at the library and you don’t want to spend money on.”

The savings are what usually draws people to the site. The cost to ship out books is far less than the cost to purchase books, used or new. Estimating the cost of a used book to be about $4.50, Paperbackswap calculates how much money each member has saved by using the site.

But the enthusiastic Glessner said she “cannot begin to total” what she has saved.

“The average price of a paperback, trade edition, is between $12 and $15. To mail one of these books is approximately $2.38, media mail, so you can see how the savings add up,” she said.

Money is also saved by using Paperbackswap’s sister site SwapaDVD, which was launched in 2006. After posting DVDs into the system via the UPC, members can order movies and ship them out for the cost of a first-class package, which is about $1.90.

Melanie Beasley of West Deptford has been a member of SwapaDVD since November 2007, and is also a member of Paperbackswap and SwapaCD.com. All three sites are connected, and credits can be transferred between them.

“I transfer my book-swapping credits over (to SwapaDVD) and it’s a great deal since I always have books to trade. I love the versatility of these three sites, since I can transform books into CDs or movies. It’s one of my favorite forms of recycling,” Beasley explained.

In addition to their sales versatility, all three websites allow members to rate and review books, movies and music. A book or film that is not already posted into the system can be added to a member’s wishlist and offered immediately when they become available.

SwapaCD.com, also launched in 2006, differs slightly from the other sites as there is a minimal transaction fee of 49 cents plus one credit every time a CD is ordered. CDs are posted through the UPC.

Paperbackswap in particular has proven to be useful in education. Jenny Knox, a reading teacher at Upper Pittsgrove School in Monroeville, uses her credits to provide her students with books.

“I have many avid readers in my classes, and this is a great way to find ‘free’ materials. I have saved about $175 in the past few months of being on the site. I find books for my classroom, my daughter and myself. I have also met readers from all over the United States who share the same love of reading as I do,” said Knox.