It recently occurred to me that I have never shared one of my absolute favorite websites with all you loyal blog followers. It's one that my friend Caitria shared with me last fall, and that I have since fallen absolutely in love with... but I've never yet shared it! My goodness, where are my manners? I feel like I've had company in my little hobbit hole for hours and am just now getting around to offering them a spot of tea! So, as long as there are no Sackville Bagginses among you, here goes without further ado:
If you have never heard of or checked out paperbackswap.com, then friends, you must do so. Immediately, if not sooner. Here's the gist of it:
PBS is an online book club that allows members to swap books (and not just paperbacks - hardbacks are welcome too) with each other. Membership is free, and it's a great way to get books that are expensive or hard to find elsewhere, or to get rid of books you don't want. All you do is sign up (you're required to give them your mailing address for obvious reasons) following their simple form. Once you have an account set up, you can post books you'd like to get rid of (they'll walk you through the process, and it's super easy), order books you want that are available, or make a wish list of books you want but that aren't available at the moment.
If another member wants a book you've posted, they send you a request. Your job then is to package the book up (once again, instructions and guidelines are provided) and mail it to whoever has ordered it. Obviously, the heavier the book the more it costs to mail it, but I've mailed dozens and have found that it averages about $2.47 per book, if you use the cheaper Media Mail rates.
Once the book arrives at its destination and the receiver marks it as 'received' in their account, you'll receive 1 PBS credit - good for ordering one book in return. Pick out the book you want, request it from the member who posted it, and they'll send it to you in exchange for your 1 credit, which they can use to order a book from someone else... and the story continues from there. As a 'welcome' bonus, when you post your first ten books for trade on your account, PBS will automatically give you 2 free credits to help you get started. So you get to start off with a bit of a shopping spree. Be warned - it is amazingly easy to get lost in the hundreds and thousands of books that are out there waiting to be read! Granted, there's a lot of dreck out there, and for that matter a lot of plain old filth... but there are a lot of amazing books too, and the layout of PBS's website makes it very easy to completely avoid anything distasteful.
Now, if you're like me (i.e. paranoid, skeptical, and suspicious of everyone) then you'll be a bit antsy about posting your mailing address online. I was more than a little nervous, but after sending and receiving dozens of books through this system, I have never had the first sign of a problem due to my address being posted (and it's only available to the person you've ordered a book from, so it's not like just anyone can access it). And if you ever do have a problem, the PBS system is set up to deal with them quickly and effectively. That goes for other problems too - I once had a book sent to me that was in absolutely horrible shape, so bad as to not even be readable. I filed a complaint in the system, and within a day the problem was taken care of and my credit had been refunded. So don't worry, the system really does work well to take care of its members.
And, aside from the sheer joy of trading and acquiring new books at an amazingly low price, I've had several wonderful experiences with other members of the club. Last year around Christmas I ordered a book about the Marine Corps for my brother. The lady I ordered it from sent me a message asking why I wanted it, and mentioned that her husband was a Marine. I told her that the book was for my brother, who had dreams of also being a Marine one day. She sent me the book, but refunded my credit - her gift, she said, to a future Marine.
I've also had the joy of being able to help out several home-schooling families with books and curriculum. I just mailed a package of 5 homeschooling books today, in fact. The family who ordered them from me saw from my profile that I was a Christian, and sent double the number of credits owed for the books as a gift, just because they are Believers also. Friends, that's something special.
So, all you book lovers out there, get yourselves over to paperbackswap.com with all haste, and give it a look. Like I said, they make it very easy, but if you do have questions, they have answers. And if you stop by and sign up, why, pay me a visit! I'm theflyinglibrarian (one word) and you'll find me in the Member Directory. I look forward to seeing your there!