Photo: stack of books, Ballard, Seattle, Washington by Wonderlane

Paperback Book Swap – How Works

I wrote about joining Paperbackswap about one year ago in August. I listed ten books so that I could get two free credits.  Each book is worth 1 credit once it has been received by the requestor.  A few were asked for right away, but the remainder have sat on my “bookshelf” for the past year.

During my last decluttering session I gathered a box full of books that I no longer wanted and they’ve been sitting in my bedroom waiting for me to do something about them. There’s a couple of books I had wanted to pick up, and they were available at Amazon for a mere penny, but shipping is $3.99 so I thought I’d checked Paperbackswap. The books were available, and I had credits, so I went ahead and ordered them.  It’s almost like having a gift card hidden away to have those credits available for what I call fluff reading.

Since my credits were all gone, I decided now would be a good time to get that box of books listed and see how many would jump off the shelf.

I listed over 60 and within a week I had requests for more than a dozen books.

So here’s a few things I’ve learned about

It’s Not Only Paperback Books

Even though the company name is Paperbackswap, they also allow swapping of hardbound and audio books.  Paperback and hardbound books are worth one credit, while audio books are worth two.

New Members List Ten Books and Get Two Credits

Each new member (limited to the first member listing per household) gets two “start up” credits once ten books are listed.  In addition, the person who refers you gets one credit once you list ten books.


You pay for shipping when sending a book, but when requesting a book the sender pays.  I opted to go electronic through Paperbackswap all the way this time, including using Delivery Confirmation. I like the Delivery Confirmation option – it is my proof that I mailed the book. This did increase my overall cost for shipping.

  • I purchased postage through Paperbackswap and used PayPal for the purchase of “PBS Money”.   There was an additional cost of fifty cents each time I “bought” PBS money via PayPal.
  • Most of the requests for books came in the first day so I bought $20 worth of PBS money (fifty cents fee) to cover shipping.  It is rarely over $3.00 to ship by Media Mail so I figured I had six books to mail, $20 would cover it.  Actually I should have bought $21 worth as that would have allowed me to ship seven books.
  • If you use Paperbackswap’s mailing system and print out a wrapper, they calculate the cheapest method for shipping. If it weighs under 7 ounces it’s cheaper to mail it First Class, if it’s heavier than Media Mail is cheapest. I found this to be easiest and took the least amount of time as I could just click to print out the wrapper and wrap the book, instead of having to1)  calculate shipping 2) go to the post office for stamps or have them lying around 3) address the envelope or make a label, etc.

So far it has cost me $46.50 to mail thirteen books and have $4.72 left in my PBS Money account.  By my calculations it has cost me approximately $3.21 to ship each of the thirteen books.   I could have saved forty-three cents for each book if I had put postage directly on the books myself, and did not want the Delivery Confirmation which all total I could have saved $5.59.  I think that amount is worth the savings of time saved.   The other nice thing about doing all the postage printing through is once you click the button to say the book has been mailed, you get your credits instead of having to wait who knows how many days until the book arrives and then the person has to mark that they have received the book as well.  It just saves some time, and I think it’s well worth it (although the cheapskate in me obviously is screaming about how wasteful I’ve been, lol).

But I earned fifteen credits so I will be able to request fifteen books which will be shipped to me free of charge.  If I calculate my costs this way, each book will cost $3.10.  So it’s almost a wash and in the end the books will cost me about one dime each.  That’s pretty good.

Some People Have Specific Requirements

I think the people who have “requirements” have gotten some bad deals in the past. The most common one seems to be that no one wants a book that comes from a home where someone smokes.  I can understand that requirement. My boss smokes and she works on the accounting at home and as a result the accounting books literally reek of stale smoke.  Another common one is that people don’t want a book if you own a cat.  You also have the option to make “requirements” on the books you receive.

Your Account May Be Considered Dormant After One Year With No Activity

This didn’t happen to me when I didn’t use my account for over a year, but apparently your account can be considered dormant so you don’t want to forget about your credits.

I’ve decided I will leave the books listed for six months and then remove them from my book shelf.

If you haven’t tried, and have books lying around, please use my my link to join. Once you list ten books, I will receive one credit. If you do join, I’d like to hear how Paperbackswap worked out for you. Photo: stack of books, Ballard, Seattle, Washington by Wonderlane

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2 thoughts on “Paperback Book Swap – How Works

  1. The only books that are really available on PBSwap are mass market stuff you get in the airport, and old, tired stuff people finally pulled of their bookshelves that they bought in the 70’s. If you want a recent Grisham or a thriller from WEB Griffen, you’re in luck. Anything not sold by the millons that was published in the last 10 years? No way. Stuff published in the 80’s on the latest computer gear? Travel guides from the 1990’s? Other trash not worth the cost of mailing? Whoo-hoo – they’ve got plenty of that!


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