book swapping

by erin thursby
Book lovers have a few problems. One is where to store their books (there never seems to be enough shelf space) and the other is how to get new books without spending a bunch of money. Getting to the library regularly enough not to turn books in late can sometimes be a issue.
Book swapping helps solve those problems, both by getting rid of old books you won’t read again and by giving you new books. Of course, it can’t be guaranteed that you won’t come home with more books!

why book swap?
Besides the reason obvious to most bibliophiles (more books to read!) there are other benefits to book swaps. It’s greener to swap books (or give them away) than to let that forgotten romance novel lie in a landfill. You can eliminate some of the clutter in your home and get organized by getting those pages out the door.
A less tangible benefit is that you can gain new friends and have interesting conversations. You can build relationships through book swapping, whether it be over the internet or just by discussing a mystery paperback you’ve just swapped with a co-worker.
When you swap books through sites such as, you have the option of giving your books to a charitable organization, while still being able to exchange those books for books you want.

book swapping on the ‘net
The idea of book swapping isn’t new, but application of the internet to book swapping is less timeworn than the concept.
You post what you have to swap and then someone who is interested lets you know. You mail the book to them. For each one you send out, you accumulate “points,” basically a token allowing you to request a book from another reader, who will mail it to you.
On, you receive partial points for every book you post, and one point for mailing a book out. You also get partial points for leaving feedback. Shipping cost is acknowledged. You get two points for sending a book to another country.
The best feature, in my opinion, is the book wish list. You keep a list of book titles that you wish to read and the system flags them and sends them when they become available and when you have enough points.
Most book swapping sites work in the same way as BookMooch, with a few variations. For instance, might ask for donations later on, but you get two free book credits just for signing up. PaperbackSwap also has more info on shipping costs– most of the time, it costs less than three dollars to send a package weighing less than a pound within the U.S. and if your package weighs less than 13 ounces, you can mail it from home.
The sites work not only as a way to read more books, but also as a way to connect socially with others who love to read. While there are other sites out there, BookMooch and PaperbackSwap are the best and most established.

the friendly swap
If you’re less apt to use the internet for book swapping, there are a few ways to go about it. The classic swap is informal and friendly. Many people don’t give their books more than a couple of reads, and are happy to give them to others– especially if those others bring them books in exchange. You can talk books with friends, family and co-workers and ask about exchanging books. Make sure both parties know the terms of the swap. For example, you’ll give the book back when finished, or it’s a straight-up exchange.

book swap party
On a grander scale, you can throw a book swap party. Invite friends and ask them to bring books they wish to exchange. If you’re worried about guests only bringing books with low quality writing, just include a line on the invite: “Bring at least one book you won’t be reading again but you think someone else might enjoy.” As the host, you’ll want a separate, sturdy table to hold all the books. Avoid any mishaps by making sure that you serve food and beverages before people go for the books.
Many people who throw a book swap party combine it with a board game swap party. I’m opposed to it, but it’s popular because even those who shave their book collections on a regular basis through donation might have an old board game they can bring. It’s also a good choice when you have a mix of bibliophiles and those that aren’t as enthused about reading.

commercial book swap
Here in Jacksonville the quick book swap fix is at the two Chamblin’s Bookmine locations Downtown and off of Roosevelt in the Lakeshore area. Other used bookstores often have the same sort of program, but Chamblin’s is the best known. Bring a box of titles you’re through with and you can earn credits toward buying other books. They might not accept everything you bring. If they have too many copies of the book or if it’s in bad condition, they might reject your book. Bring a box of different kinds of books and you’ll be sure to go home with a few titles that are new to you!