The Internet age has acim many new ways for people to spend their leisure time. The ease with which text and images can be created and spread around globe is a marvel of our time; and the volume of material continues to grow at an astonishing rate. In fact there isn’t enough paper on the planet to print all the material found on the web so one could be excused for believing that we will one day see the end to the printed word.
However, in the arena of book publishing there has actually been an increase in sales, surprising many who predicted its decline. This can be partially explained by the ease at which we can now find reviews, search libraries, bookstores and databases and get recommendations, and ultimately, make a purchase. A book also continues to be a far more attractive medium for reading. A book is tactile; it has personality and feel. You can read a book in bed, in the bathtub and dare we say it, even the bathroom. So although one medium might be great at opening our eyes to the world, our eyes still prefer the old fashioned method of application.
The role of technology need not end here however. There are numerous methods of online book disposal such as classified listings for buy and sell, or online auctions. Online versions of the second hand bookshop or book exchange store are relatively easy to find and one of the more popular methods is book swapping on dedicated swapping sites.
The usual exchange method on book swapping sites is for users to trade-in their books to people who want them. The book is first listed by someone who no longer wants it and before long, and with a little luck; another user will see the book on offer and request it. Hence the item is swapped. Most sites operate a point system so that no financial transaction is required.
So who gets what? The person listing the book has points credited to their account when it’s swapped. They can then use these as they wish to get other books listed on the site. This person must also arrange and pay for postage of the item. The user who requested the book has the points debited from their account and a few days after requesting the book it will arrive in the post.
As mentioned, the person who is sending the book pays the postage. This can seem somewhat strange at first to new users since it’s usually the buyer who pays for postage in most online transactions. Most people see the advantages once they have requested an item and it arrives postage paid. It’s actually a great feeling when something arrives in the post at no cost and goes along way to explain the popularity of book swapping. Most book swappers find its very easy to keep an even tally of items going in and out so they break even on postage costs. This means members can get some great book titles for only a couple of dollars.
The lack of financial transaction has the additional benefit of making the sites naturally anti scammer since there is very little gain for those who do attempt to defraud others. More sophisticated sites have additional inbuilt checks and balances. Forums and feedback on other members also adds to security on good book swapping sites.
What makes a great book swapping site? Several factors contribute to this. The systems and methods used in the site are obviously very important. Some sites use a fixed-point system whilst others use a more flexible system. They may allow for both low and high value items to be exchanged (like magazines & hard cover books for example) and some sites also allow swapping of other items like music CD’s, movie DVD’s and even gaming software. The next ingredient is good quality listings and a good base of users since the sites rely on a pool of people who are constantly listing and swapping items.