How to Read for Less:: PaperBack Swap

image via Beaufort's TheDigitel (alteration by Unputdownables)

Welcome to the How to Read for Less series here on Unputdownables! For five Wednesdays I’ll be sharing about some of my favorite ways to read for less.

Paperback Swap:

Many of you know I use PaperBack Swap to help keep me in books. If you didn’t know that, you can read about it here or here. I adore PaperBack Swap. Why? Because I get about 1/4 or more of my books from there. I’d say 1/2 my books come from the library and the other half are split between book stores and PaperBack Swap.

So far on PaperBack Swap I’ve:

  • Mailed 189 books
  • Received 181 books
  • I have saved $814.50 in the past 2 years (I joined 6/24/09)!
Ready to learn more? Great, head on over to PaperBack Swap and create your account. Then come back here and let me show you the ropes.


Welcome to PaperBack Swap: Here is what your main page will look like. It shows you books that are available, new things happening on the site, and  how many books you are waiting for/ sending/ etc.


1. My personal updates. Including the amount of money I’ve saved so far this year.
2. Books that are available and are being recommended to me because of information I have provided.


Post Books: Ok, after you set up your account and have been prompted to tell the system your favorite genres, go ahead and post some books, so that you can start ordering ones you want to read. Go to the Post Books tab, and then once on the page, click Post Multiple Books. Enter the ISBN numbers of your books (you can find them on the back cover by the scan code). Once finished entering, click the button on the bottom of the page to post your books.



Search: Now you’re ready to search for some books to order. On the top part of the page, you’ll find the search box. Type in the name of the book you want to search (or an author you want to search) and click the “search” button.



Order Books: Once you get to the page of the title you are looking for, look for which version of the book you want to order.


1. Chose the version of the title that you want to order.
2. If it says ‘Order This Book’, it means that version of the book is available to be sent to you from another member. Click the button, confirm your address, and the book will be on its way! (If it says ‘Post This Book’ it means the book is not available, and you can use one of the options underneath the main button to get the book, including More Options — which allows you to add the book to your Wish List).


Waiting For Books: Once you’ve ordered, and the sending member has agreed to send the book, it will appear on your En Route page. This will tell you which books are on their way to you.


1. The title that you have ordered.
2. Where you will fill out the correct bubble once you receive the book.
3. Confirmation of whom the book is being sent to, and where the book is coming form (I blacked it out for privacy, it usually shows the address, etc.).


More Useful Information:

  • You can create a friend list so it is easier to see what people have available for swapping.
  • To get to your Wish List: My Account (top of page) > Lists> Wish List.
  • To automatically request something from your Wish List (so that you don’t accidentally miss out on a coveting book because of not getting online soon enough after the alert they have sent to you), click the box by whichever books (as many as you want) that you want to automatically get when they become available. Then scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘Auto Request On.’
More questions? Feel free to ask them below and I will do my best to answer!

What You Might Have Missed in the Series:

24 thoughts on “How to Read for Less:: PaperBack Swap

  1. Oh how I love PBS. This post inspired me to check my own stats. I’ve apparaently ordered 282 books, saved $589 and mailed 247 books. It’s such a great site!

  2. Someone I know uses PBS but I’ve not tried it yet. I have issues getting rid of book and most I’d want to are boxed away at the moment.

    Have you tried GoodRead’s book swap? I just noticed it a few weeks ago, but don’t think I know anyone who’s tried it. But it sounds pretty close to PBS, just who pays shipping is reversed.

    • I haven’t tried GoodReads, but mainly because I’m on PaperBack Swap. I don’t know how GR swap works, but PBS is so easy. As soon as I post a book, I have a credit, and I can choose from thousands (actually, probably more than that) of books that are available for swap.

      How does the GR swap work?

      • What it says, you request a book from someone, provide shipping and method to pay for shipping. Person confirms it, prints the shipping label, then you get charged for shipping, and person mails the book.

        Does PBS have specific terms about how fast the book needs to be sent out once the label is printed? GR swap says it has to be shipped the same day the label is printed, and that seems like a big minus to me.

        • Yes, PBS has specific deadlines, but they are more open than GR it sounds. You can choose which date you send it (I think up to 5 or 6 days from the day you accept the book request)… and then they give you a day or two grace period. You can also put your account on hold in case you’re going on a trip or can’t send books for awhile — it keeps them in the system, but lets people know you won’t be able to send books until you take the “hold” off.

          • Would you advise using their method of payment for shipping, or does handling it yourself seem to work just fine? Just signed up, pulled a few from a box destined for the library, and wouldn’t you know someone has wishlisted a couple. Didn’t expect to deal with that so quickly

            Looks like its easy to remove them. Seems like can give them a try on PBS, then remove them if no one requests them after a few months and send to the library then.

          • That’s exactly what I do (remove and donate if not requested).

            I do both, print labels and sometimes add my own postage. If it’s a book that’s too big for a USPS drop box, I take it to the post office instead of printing using their system. Otherwise, I print and drop. If going to the post office, be sure to tell them it’s only a book; they’ll give you the media mail rate, which is less expensive.

            So glad you’re on! Welcome to saving money. ;)

  3. Wow, your postal system must be cheaper than the UK’s. It costs me a few pounds to post a book within the UK, which is about how much it costs to buy a paperback secondhand, so I guess the only benefit of Paperback Swap for me would be finding specific books that I want.

    Oh. Just checked the site and it looks like it’s US-only.

    • Oh no! It’s US only? I’ve sent abroad, but maybe it’s US people who are living abroad (or army families). Bummer — hopefully they expand soon!

    • You’re welcome! I usually pass on the books that I couldn’t finish — or doubles, if I happen to get something as a gift that I already own. Otherwise, I can be like you… I like to keep books around (kind of a physical reading record).

  4. I use paperback swap too. Any tips to get people to request your books? I have posted quite a few, even some very recent and well-known titles but have yet to have a request for a book. I’ve used my two credits for the first ten books posted and received two books – would love to send out some of the titles on my bookshelf so I can get some new ones!

    • Really? New well-known titles and no one is biting? You’re sure your account is active and not on “hold”? Otherwise, you might want to share a link to your list of books on FB, Twitter, or the like. You can post the link to your books here in the comments section if you want to!

  5. Pingback: Catch Up Day « Unputdownables

  6. Pingback: How to Read for Less:: Discount Book Sites « Unputdownables

  7. Pingback: Chime in! | Tuesday2's Blog

  8. Pingback: How to Read for Less:: How to Get Books as Presents « Unputdownables

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s