9 Ways I Get Frugal Used Books with Paperback Swap

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Y’all know that I LOVE books. And, I LOVE a good deal! Combining the two is my favorite :)

One of my favorite ways to acquire books is through PaperBack Swap. Like the name suggests, it’s a site for trading books.

You give away a book you don’t need and get a new-to-you one that you request in exchange. Each swap costs just $.49!

Since postage alone on sites like Amazon.com is $3.99, $.49 for a needed book is a great deal! However, there is still the cost of shipping the book to consider and as a deal-seeker (and as a homeschooling mom in need of lots of books!), I wanted to do even better.

Over the past couple of years, I have been able to get a bunch of great books for an average of $0.40 each–including all shipping costs and fees! And that includes Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which sells for more than $10 on Amazon. I have saved thousands of dollars, and spent very little. 

If you’d love to get your hands on some frugal used books, here are some tips to get the most out of PaperBack Swap:

1. Sign up!

Get your first 2 books free, just for signing up with this link. Simply add 10 books to your shelf, you’ll get your first 2 credits and swaps for FREE! 

2. Refer your friends.

After you’ve signed up, be sure to spread the word. If a friend uses your referral link and becomes an active member, you get a free credit.

(Full disclosure: That’s my referral link above. I use PBS for a lot of our homeschool books, so I greatly appreciate your support.)

3. List great books.

More high-quality books equals more requests, and more requests means more credits for you.

4. Purchase credits at a discount.

Sometimes I give away books we no longer need and sometimes I’m a tiny bit of a book hoarder, which means that I don’t have books to list and send to other members. In this case, credits can be purchased directly from PBS for $3.79-$3.95. However, PBS also allows members to sell up to 50 credits per month, so you can purchase credits from other members, usually for a discounted rate.

Please note — this is done at your own risk. You’ll want to make sure that you are dealing with someone who has a strong reputation on the site. I’ve done this in the past to purchase credits for as low as $2 each.

5. Become a Boxer.

Since the only monetary cost associated with the site is your shipping, reducing the cost of shipping per book reduces your overall cost. One way to do this is to trade boxes of books with other members rather than single books. There is a fee for this service, but the benefits can outweigh the cost if you’re looking to trade a large amount of books.

6. Network.

In the community area, there is a forum called the Book Bazaar. In that forum, members frequently request or offer “deals,” especially those involving a bulk (multi-credit) purchase. Search the forum for great deals, or simply ask for what you’re looking for.

Through this, I was able to find people willing to offer some great deals, including 25 books for 5 credits. You can also take note of, and friend, those members who tend to have books in the genres you’re interested in, and build relationships with them for future deals.

7. Ask.

When you request a book, PBS will give you the option to request more from the same member. If there are other books that interest you, ask if the member would be willing to make a deal. Even a member who doesn’t have a running deal is usually willing to throw in an extra book or two if you are requesting several.

8. Offer a Deal Yourself.

When I purchased 25 books for 5 credits, the sender spent $5.77 for shipping, but she got 5 credits. If she had sent out 5 books separately, those same 5 credits would have cost her nearly $15 in shipping.

If you have the extra books, this is a great option to get the most out of shipping and bless another member at the same time. You can do this on the forums, or right from your bookshelf.

9. Sign up for a Membership

Swaps are ordinarily $.49 each (after your first 2 which are FREE). However, there are a couple of options for saving on that swap fee.

Limited Membership is $12 per year and offers you 30 free swaps, along with a host of other great benefits.

Standard Membership is $20 per year and offers you an unlimited number of swaps, along with many other great benefits.

Use this link at sign up to save $3 on Standard Membership

Be Patient.

Patience is a virtue here. If you are able to be patient, sometimes you can wait for a deal to come available and save yourself some money. Similarly, if a book you want isn’t currently available, you can add it to your wishlist and wait for it to come available rather than purchasing it somewhere else.

It may not come available, but it’s worth waiting a while to find out. This is exactly how I was able to acquire the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book for such a great deal. Another member saw it on my wishlist, and offered to make it a part of a bigger deal.

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