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Boston Globe (Newspaper) - 6/5/2006 by Bobby Hankinson
Whether you're soaking up the sun on the beach or tuning out rowdy Sox fans on the T, the hottest accessory for the summer may very well be a book. Before browsing the book shelves at Barnes & Noble or clicking your way through Amazon.com, try finding literary gems at paperbackswap.com (and clean out your attic in the process).

The concept is simple. Users join for free and then post listings for books (hardcover and audiobooks as well) they're willing to part with. When other readers request one of the more than 500,000 plus titles, the original owner pays the shipping and sends the book out. Then, the shipper gets a credit for a book he or she may want. No money is exchanged; one book sent is good for one book in return.

After signing up for free membership and listing nine books, users get three free credits to start swapping right away. Cofounder Richard Pickering said eventually the site would like to charge yearly dues of about $10-$20.

Since books up for grabs aren't screened by the site, PaperBackSwap asks that all books be in good condition- covers intact, no water damage, and no disagreeable odor. To avoid any trouble, it's the site's policy not to get involved in disputes between users over the condition of books, though complaints are kept and could impact future membership.

The site even makes shipping easy. Each request you get for a book comes with a printable wrapper already marked with suggested postage and mailing address. (Books that weight more than 1 pound need to be shipped from a post office.)

Now readers can skip the library and spend the summer indoors enjoying the air conditioning, leaving only, of course, to check the mailbox.