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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Books on the Cheap


Photo by Ron Brinkmann

I've been a little obsessed lately by a book swapping site: PaperBackSwap.com (which, despite its name, accepts and delivers hardcovers too.)

Confessions here: I'm a bookaholic. I buy books, and then I don't read them. Or I do read them. But I never get rid of them. It got so bad that at one point we had a whole room filled with books. We called it "The Library," but the books had outgrown the wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling shelves and were also stacked all over to the point where you could not walk in the room.

A couple of years ago, Mr. Poorhouse and I decided to reclaim the Library and, GASP!, get rid of some books. "Some" books turned out to be 30 cartons of books, donated to the "Books for Africa" trailer at our town dump

I vowed not to let it get out of control again. I started using the public library. Which is, oh yeah, FREE!

So now I'm down to a stack of unread books on my nightstand and two shelves of unread books in a bookcase.

In a moment of weakness after Christmas I walked into a Borders and bought, new, 3 books (to the tune of $40.) Old addictions resurface, apparently.

So I was intrigued to discover these cool sites like , BookMooch, TitleSwap, frugalreader, bookcrossing, and of course ebay and Amazon, that will rehome your books.

I find it easier to part with books when I know they will be loved again.

So I came up with a modest list of books (PaperBackSwap.com requires that you post 10 books to be traded to get your first book credits) that I no longer wanted. It was pretty easy--I'm not a consultant anymore, so I started with my consultancy library.

The kids got in on the act and cleared out their own bookshelves once they understood they could get new-to-them books in exchange.

Posting that you have books available is as simple as typing in their ISBNs. Suddenly I had more than 70 books posted, and the requests for them came flying in. (I've since learned this is a newbie phenomenon, as outstanding wishlists from other members are processed against new members' "bookshelves".)

The deal is that you pay postage for the outgoing books. In my case, 11 of my books were requested right away. At about $2.50 a pop to mail, that was a little more than I was planning to spend right away, but I sent them off anyway. (The site provides a mailing wrapper for which you can even buy online postage--for a surcharge), which means no standing in line at the Post Office.)

This may not be the very best solution for me, as I still need to downsize my collection, and swapping means there are incoming books too. For books you don't intend to keep, your community library is still likely to be your best bargain.

But sometimes, having and holding a book is the right thing.

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1 comment:

Melissa said...

You should start a used book selling business on Amazon like I did. You could use the money to pay your taxes. Read my article on my blog about it if you are interested in learning more about it: Selling Used Books On Amazon For Profit.