My first review of PaperBack Swap went up in March, just a couple months after I registered on the site. Now it’s been another six months, and I wanted to do another review — I hope you find it helpful if you’re considering signing up.
Keeping the balance
In my March review I mentioned that I’d be keeping an eye on my ratio of mailed-to-received books: if I noticed that I was constantly sending books but not ever receiving any that I’d requested, I’d close my account and go back to selling my books to Half-Price Books.
PBS tracks all kinds of stats related to your account, including the aforementioned ratio. By the end of this month I’ll have 18 books received and 19 books mailed since I opened my account in January. Pretty darn good, all things considered.
Unfortunately the numbers are a little deceptive, as breaking them down shows:
|Month||Books Mailed||Books Received|
Things tend to happen in batches — I mail out a bunch of books but get none, or the opposite — which is kind of irritating. I was hoping for a more steady inflow and outflow.
What I like
- It’s nice to hoard credits for a couple months and then go on a “shopping spree” — you can tell I got a lot of items on my wishlist in September after getting only two books in the previous several months combined.
- By combining PBS and my local library, I’ve managed to avoid spending much money on books.
- My wallet is thankful, and so are my shelves. It feels good to pass books on to other readers who want them, so I can make room for others (books, not readers).
What I don’t like
- Mailing! I upload mostly newer books, so they almost all get requested pretty quickly — and it’s annoying when they don’t. Printing out address labels, wrapping books, addressing envelopes, and of course visiting the post office is not my idea of a fun afternoon even if I have to only do it once a month or so; but when I get one book request here and one there, running to mail a single package every couple of days is irksome.
- The same thing I complained about in March: a lack of selection. I’ve got 88 books on my wishlist, many of which have been there since January.
Here are a couple things you can do to get the most out of your PaperBack Swap experience.
- Set it and forget it – Look up all the books you want and add them to your wishlist — you’ll get an email notification when another user posts a copy. The rest of the time you can pretty much ignore it.
- Skim your wishlist for duplicates – The site is smart enough to not add two of the same version of a book, but not smart enough to know when you’re adding two separate versions. In other words it won’t let me add two hardback copies of Pride and Prejudice, but won’t catch the duplicate if I add a hardback version and then a paperback one.
- Upload books you want to give away in bulk – Particularly if they’re newer or in high demand. Chances are they’ll get requested in quick succession, and you can save some time by mailing several packages with just one visit to the post office.
Anyone else have experience with PaperBack Swap? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
6 thoughts on “Review: PaperBack Swap, Round 2”
I was a member for several years and had similar results. Plus there are extra fees.
You can avoid post office trips by printing postage online, but at a small extra cost. Those small costs add up, plus you have to load money into your account to make the purchases. Each time you add funds it costs too.
I am still a member but don’t have any books listed. I decided to donate mine to the library for their book sale.
As for getting books, I have gotten a few winners but overall the selection is mediocre. One of my favorite purchases was Covenants by Lorna Freeman. It looked intriguing and Paper Back Swap made it easy to get.
I’ve seen where you can print your own postage, but I’m so bad at gauging how much postage my packages will need. I’d rather take the time to go to the post office than guess, ship it, and have it returned to me for insufficient postage.
I had a huge pile of books I wanted to get rid of in August, and decided to take them to Half-Price Books instead of uploading them to PBS. I just couldn’t handle the thought of paying $3 per book, with no guarantee that I’d ever be able to use all the credits I’d get.
Looking over the books I’ve received, I must agree with you that the selection is rather mediocre. I’ve liked a couple of the books quite a bit, but overall I just haven’t been able to receive the books I really want.
I love fantasy novels, but Covenants might be a bit too “political intrigue” for me. I’d have to read up on it.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on PBS, Kathy! It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who’s had a less than stellar experience.
I like it, although getting to the post office remains my challenge (I’ve had better success at books not getting damaged by sending them that way rather than paying for postage at home, but I know it’s designed to be easier than that.)
I tend to just leave credits there until something from my wishlist comes up, but I don’t go looking for books very often.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that I’m a lot more picky when I go shopping for books in other places – if it’s more expensive than the $3 it would cost me in PBS, I have to really want it. 🙂
Looks like you and I use PBS just about the same way, Jenny: set it and forget it. 🙂 Periodically I’ll take a look at my TBR and add stuff to my PBS wishlist, but I’m not logging in on a daily basis to search for stuff.
I hear you about cheap books! I’m on a self-imposed buying ban (saving money and space) so it’s gotten to the point where if neither PBS nor my local library have it, it doesn’t get bought. Fortunately my family understands my reading obsession, so I send them birthday and Christmas wishlists with all the titles I just can’t stand waiting for. 🙂
PBS just started charging 49 cents per transaction. They made this change with no warning and I had 26 credits stored up. Now, in addition to the cost of my books and what I have already paid in shipping, now I have to pay 49 cents additional or pay for a membership to use them. This is bad business.
I got one email notice about that change, Mark, and decided right then and there to close my account. I hadn’t gotten any books from PBS in at least 6 months — probably more — and decided it wasn’t for me anymore.
I don’t know enough about their business model to decide whether or not the 49 charge is a good move or bad move. All I know is, their selection was overall paltry and it was a big pain to do all that printing and shipping.
I’ll be sticking with my local library and a nearby Half-Price Books from now on.
Thanks for stopping by!