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Readers Trade Books Online

The Johns Creek Herald (Newspaper) - 1/12/2005 by Bob Pepalis
Avid readers can avoid shelling out big bucks by taking advantage of a new service created by a small group of friends in North Fulton.

PaperBackSwap.com allows its registered members to trade books just for the cost of postage.

"I used to travel for business all the time and going coast to coast I found it enjoyable to have a book on those long flights," said Richard Pickering of St. Marlo subdivision, one of the founders. "And when I got off the flights, I found I was just creating a large pile of books at my home."

He thought it would be great for business travelers to trade books with each other without using Ebay or other online sales sites, which charge shipping and handling charges on top of the book price. They average shipping and handling charge of $3.50 makes the cost of using one of those sites prohibitive. Pickering said the cheapiest way to trade books was to create a service listing all of the available books in a virtual books in a virtual library. Readers select the books they want, and they are shipped directly to them.

"It truly is a shared system in that members use the service and get credits for every book that they ship out, entitling them to get another book shipped to them," Pickering said.

Members list paperbacks they have on the site. When another member selects a book online, email is automatically sent to the person with the book. Clicking on the link in the e-mail takes the member with the book directly to a page asking if they want to print the shipping wrappers.

The wrapper includes both the shipping address and the return address. In addition, postage has been calculated by the website. All of the member needs to do is wrap it, add the amount of postage listed on the wrapper and drop it in the mail. Paperbacks cost an average of $1.42 to ship, Pickering said.

Thousands and thousands of books from all genres are listed on the site, which has been online for 2.5 months. One woman listed 900 paperbacks of her own. Readers from 43 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, have registered to use paperbackswap.com.

The site allows members to send family members or friends books through the website. even putting a personalized message on the wrapper. And there is no charge, because the member with the book pays the postage.

The four founders - Pickering, Robert Swarthout, Andy Floam and Jeff Langenderfer - and their wives spent six months planning the service and the site. One of the founders is a Web-programming guru, Pickering said, and he created the site.

For the first year, anyone can join free of charge. After that, contributions will be sought to help offset the costs and maintaining the website and its databases.