Thursday, February 16, 2006

What to do with those books you don't want

If you're like me you consume many books, but do not have a limitless disposable income. One way around this is to trade in your books for other books. If you have a really good used bookstore you will usually get a decent trade in value for your books. There is a class of used bookstore that serves as a trading depot. They have a formula. They give credit for used books, generally 25% of the cover price. They sell books for half of the cover price. So your trade in ratio is 2:1, which is pretty good. The downside is that these books skew heavily to romance, mystery and older books. If you are not in the market for these books, trading in won't help you much.

The CS Monitor reports on a new online service to expand the pool of potential books. It's called Paper Back Swap. It works like this. You list books and any one can order it. One they order it YOU pay for the mailing of the book. Once you have shipped three books you get a credit to order any book you want. As an incentive, for adding nine books upon sign up you get three unearned credits. The upside is that the market of books is much larger meaning you have a much greater chance of getting the books you want. The ratio is less in your favor, having to give away three books to get one, but as I said you are more likely to get a book you want. So, for a lot of people this will be a great option. For me Powell's is still the best option despite what I suspect is an even worse ratio. With Powell's credit you can get new books and you are looking at the entire Powell's universe which is gigantic. Not everybody has Powell's though.

Of course, if the book is REALLY good, I am likely to give it to a friend, meaning I have fewer books to trade that Powell's might take. So maybe I will try this service.

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