Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Paperback Swap Review

The Basics of Paperback Swap

Paperback Swap is an on-line used book trading site. When you list your first 10 used books, you are awarded two "credits". You can then "buy" books from the Paperback Swap site for one credit each. The sender pays for media mail shipping and has a specific amount of time to send the book to you. When someone requests a book from you, you pay the media mail shipping. You earn more credits by sending books to others when they are requested. It sounds nice, right?

I think the idea behind Paperback Swap is good. However, when things like this happen on a large scale and books are being mailed to people you don't know, there is a lot of room for error. 

Now is the time that I have to fully confide that I had a bad experience with Paperback Swap a year ago. It still bugs me. Today, I decided to decline a book request based on that bad experience from last year. I took it a step further and removed all of my listings from the site. I don't think I'll trade with Paperback Swap again.

My Paperback Swap Story

My son and I purchased some books at a garage sale. He was really into Pokemon at the time, so he picked out three Pokemon books. The books were in good condition. They were all most definitely readable, however, they were used books and looked like they had been read. That's not a problem for us. He read the books and enjoyed them.

Around the time that he was done with the books, I joined Paperback Swap. So, we listed them all. The first two went without a problem. Then, someone requested the third. I mailed it. A week or so later, I got a complaint about the book. She said it was in very poor condition and proceeded to list several things wrong with it. Of course, at this point, the book is no longer in my hands, so I've got no way to refute her story.

I was pretty irked. Like I said, this was almost a year ago and it still burns me up to think about it. I didn't want to get in a back and forth with her, though I felt she had greatly exaggerated the condition of the book, so I gave her credit back. I thought I'd get over it and still use Paperback Swap, but I just can't get beyond it. I am simply not the kind of person who would send a damaged, unreadable book to someone.

This woman also had the audacity to talk about it in the Paperback Swap forums. I was appalled when I saw that. I left that site feeling like I'd been accused of a crime. 

The sender is at the mercy of the receiver. Unfortunately, there are people who expect their used, free books to be in new condition. I truly don't know why I'm letting this bother me as much as it does. I'm a writer, I have a pretty thick skin!

I'm not going to use Paperback Swap again. I have since searched around the Internet a bit and found other complaints about Paperback Swap. However, there are a lot of people that love Paperback Swap, too. Because of that, I'm keeping it listed in the "What to Do with Used Books" list. I do, however, feel I need to warn anyone who wants to use them to do so with caution. At this point, I prefer to pass used books on locally.   

Have you had an experience with Paperback Swap? What's your opinion?


  1. I have been using PaperBack Swap for about 2 years now. I love how much money it saves me and that my used books are going to a good home. Don't let that one bad apple sway you, it's a great resource!

  2. I know I should just get past it. But, it's that one thing that I just can't seem to. Anyway, I use my local library quite often, so I don't have a big incentive to go back to PBS. If I have books to donate or pass on, I'll give them to the library for their book sale or sell them on Amazon.

  3. My daughter prefers Book Mooch because it lets you post books and talk specifically about the quality. At any rate, I've reached the point with PB Swap where, if someone lists a bunch of conditions, I don't accept their request. I had an unfair complaint, and I also received one really bad book--coffee was spilled on it--but if you're careful, you can get many wonderful books. I was using it to meet the needs of a budget-impaired high school library, so it worked well for me.

  4. This company is awful. :(
    I recently referred two family members while we were at my house, and helped them sign up with my computer. Apparently to the system it 'looked' like I was making multiple accounts. So they subtracted 6 credits from MY account. 2 start up credits each from my uncle and sister in laws accounts, and 2 referral credits. When I noticed, I emailed them, and instead of a response they deleted 3 more from my account. 9 total!!! I emailed again, and they sent me a scathing email about what had 'appeared' (<-their word) to have happened, and how dishonest I am, then they deleted my sister in law's account. I'm so hostile, and offended by the whole thing, but I have requests to send out and books to mark mailed still. As soon as I can I am shutting down my account.... that is if they don't close me down first. Ugh.. one thing is for sure, there's no way I will ever refer another person to them EVER. :(

  5. Jude - I want to check into Book Mooch. It sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    Momma/Nanny - I'm so sorry to hear of your terrible experience with Paperback Swap. That's awful! It's a shame they don't have better customer service.

  6. I have been a member for about 3 years and have never had a problem. Most of the recipients of my books have sent a "Thank-you" via member message. I cannot say enough good things about PBS or the members I have dealt with.

  7. I have been participating in paperback swap for about 8 months, have swapped around 30 books and have had no problems. Some of the books I've sent have been far from mint condition, so I know there are participants who "get it" about used, free books.
    I think paperback swap's website is very poorly designed and confusing to use. I order from Amazon frequently, and the PBS site compares very poorly to Amazon, especially in the recommendations features.
    PBS is a great resource for cookbooks, how-to books, older titles or classic literature. If you are seeking a particularly popular or trendy title, you may have to wait for months.
    I recommend PBS to my friends, but I don't oversell it as a replacement for bookstores, Amazon, or the library.

  8. I've been using PBS for a number of years and have had only one bad experience, where someone sent me the wrong book, then refused to correct it. However, it is not my first choice of swapping sites. I don't really like the credit idea, because if that place should fold, I'm out however many credits I have stockpiled. The reason I have so many stockpiled is because nearly every book I want to read is wishlisted. And it could be months, even years, before they become available. Yet every book I list is immediately requested. I listed 4 Monday and they've all been requested.
    I like booksfreeswap.com, because there are no credits, no item for item swap like Swap.com. You want a book, you pay for postage, period. It's relatively new, just over a year, so there's nowhere near the inventory that PBS has. But if you want books on your terms, that have item descriptions (such as smoking home, pets in home, etc.), then that's the place to go.

  9. I have had several bad trades and have gotten into with the owners at least once many years ago. My daughter had won some credits and because of her age they closed her account down. At the time there was no age limit of having an account there but suddenly after this there was. My daughter lost over 93 credits and refused to every use it again. I have continued to use it but am still very cautious about it.

  10. I would suggest booksfreeswap.com, where you list the condition of the book offered and the person requesting it pays for shipping (which makes more sense to me, after all if you want a hardcover book it costs more to mail and if I want only paperbacks, why should I pay for someone else's higher costs?) Only drawback is you don't know how many people are in line for the same book.

  11. From what i gathered from using paperback swap i was very disappoint.The first and most annoying thing is all the most popular books have huge waiting lines but i do like how paperback tried to compensate by letting you buy books from them it still doesnt work because paperback overprices their book by alot that even with my ONE CREDIT i can use towards the purchase of the book it still cost more than on ebay plus you pay $3 to get a credit and paperback only gives you $4 worth of credit for it anyway.so am am paying $20 for a book that cost $8 on ebay.Hopefully paperback sees my post because i am going to say here how they can get more people on their website and be able to start charging people make like $10 a year to use the website.Here it goes first have you ever been on craigslist well they have this smart category called the barter category if you want to swap a book for another book you post on here instead paperback swap has it where you give your book to someone and then cant find the any books that you want and get left with a bunch of credits and now we get a posting freeze because that person doesnt want any more credits.i remember when i started using your website 2 days ago i didnt post any popular books i wanted to get rid of becuase like all the other swart people i knew that i would never be able to get another popular book in return.So like everyone else i have a bunch of credits but nothing to request so i will be like 95% of your customers and leave in the first week.Also i forgot how many of those requests for books do you think are even from people who still you the website probably less than 50%.So let me say divergent for instance has 700 requests.Even it nobody accepts those request when a book comes around i will be waiting for 4 years and thats if nobody wants the book.how many people do you think paperback are going to wait that long for a book?exactly maybe a month if your lucky.i still think your website is the best book trading website out there but it is bad when you dont even have a place on your website to have people list ideas because as sure as H*ll you need them.