Friday, May 15, 2015

The Verdict: My Paperbackswap Experience

Okay, so a while back I wrote a blog post stating that I'd joined Paperbackswap, but I didn't say much more than that about it because I hadn't used the service enough to give a fair appraisal. Well, I've been a member for long enough now...or rather, I've sunk enough money into it at this point...that I feel I can give my honest opinion about it.

I'm going to start by saying that I have a few friends who are members of the site as well, so I initially felt confident joining the site. Their membership seemed almost like a stamp of approval for me, at first. I viewed the site, and although skeptical, it seemed like it would save you money to swap books there, because essentially it's easy to look at the site and believe that you're going to be basically swapping books for a small swap fee, receive a credit and that's it. Well....

Here's how using the service has gone down for me:

When I joined, I listed 10 romances (never read, no spine creases) from my "wanted it, but never gonna read it" paperback shelf. I usually reserve those books for relatives or giveaways, so no big loss there, although, I did pay for those books at some point. For signing up at PBS (paperbackswap), I received two free swaps. I wanted to dive head first into trading, so I began a search for books on my wish list. However, none of the books on my immediate wish list were available for order. Hmm. I should've taken that as a sign and backed out of the program right there. But I went ahead and browsed through the titles until I found something interesting to order - which was a couple of horror novels. I tend to read a lot of horror, category romance, and erotica, so you think it would be easier to find posted books. That definitely wasn't the case for me.

Okay, so after those initial free swaps, I received swap requests for three of the books on my list. I dutifully printed the labels, and hauled these bad boys to the post office. I didn't use the paperbackswap printable shipping, because sure enough it wouldn't have been enough for the books I was mailing. I went to the post office and each book shipped with delivery confirmation was about $3.50. So, let's just say $10.00 spent right away. (That's not counting the value of the books, of course, which were between $4.88 and $6.97 per book at Walmart prices.)

About two weeks later, I got notice from paperback swap that two of the books had been received, which gave me two credits total. I thought, cool! I'll go in and order another book. The thing is, I was out of free swaps. Since that was the case, like a fool, I went ahead and paid for a $20.00 yearly membership that gives you "free swaps" (that really aren't free anyway you slice it) thinking that would help save me money.

After ordering two more books using those "free" book credits (the ones I got from my books being received by the people who requested them), I was out of book credits again. Since no one had requested any of the other books I had posted, and the other person hadn't given me credit for their book's receipt yet, the only way for me to get more book credits was to buy them at a cost of $3.95 for 1-2 credits, or $3.79 for 3+ credits. Plus a paypal fee, which is shady territory.

Anyway, you can buy book credits straight up using paypal, or you can buy paperbackswap money and then buy the credits through the PBS site. Either way you go about it, if you buy one credit, once you factor in the .50 cent paypal fee on every transaction**, that's over four dollars...for a used book.

This is why I do not see that as a savings of any kind: You can buy used paperbacks for a penny all day long on Amazon (the shipping will be standard $3.99, which totals out to $4.00, and no paypal fee), and you get to choose the vendor you're buying from and at least get an idea of the condition of the book you'll receive - more about that in a minute.

The fact of the deal is that paperbackswap money doesn't go very far. Paperbackswap money can be used for kiosk transactions, for swaps, fees, and book credits. However, if you go with "a la carte" membership, unless you post a metric shit ton of newly released, high in demand books, (to keep people requesting your books so you can accumulate credits that can in turn be used to keep books coming to your door), you're going to have to pay swap fees, plus paypal transaction fees, plus book credit fees. And if you mail out a book, you're going to be paying shipping fees as well, since you cover the shipping on any book you send out. Basically, paperback swap is good in theory, but this is a fairly expensive service, and you're not swapping anything for free - not even your own books. While I'm sure there are people who love the service and get a lot of mileage out of it, I am not one of those people.  I'm presently out about $40.00 from using paperback swap, and the books I have received are in a condition NOTHING like what I sent out. One book had the wrong cover from what I requested, and the rest were very, very worn. Not "good condition" as the site demands. People are sending out books that need to be retired, end of story.

Anyway, my overall experience with the service has been anything but good. Sadly, I can't recommend this site to friends, and I will be closing my account there as soon as my last book request arrives...if it gets here. To me, it's not worth the expense. I get far more mileage out of buying penny books off Amazon, and using my $9.99 Kindle Unlimited service (which I love and have gotten a ton of mileage and savings out of since I started using it.) As for the books I'd hoped to swap at PBS, I will simply take them to my area used book store, or put them on the giveaway shelf at the local library to cut down the clutter at home. It's far, far cheaper to do that.

**Any paypalling you do from the site costs you .50 cents per transaction, and this is from the paperbackswap side of things. Basically, you are paying Paperbackswap's paypal fees for doing business. That's a tad shady if you ask me, since paypal charges businesses fees for using their service. That's what you're paying - Paperbackswap's business/seller fees.

If you've had a good or bad experience at Paperbackswap, I'd love to hear about it...just please no bashing. I don't welcome that here.

Until next time, happy reading! xoxo


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It's the first time I hear about 'paperbackswap'. I didn't know it. Sorry to hear that you weren't happy with it.

  2. Hi Peggy! I'm sure the service must work well for some readers, just not for me. I think someone would have to be a pretty high volume trader to really get any mileage out of it.


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