My post today is something a little different as I wanted to share a new book swapping site with you.
Full disclosure – the good folks at Bookswap contacted me to tell me about the site and give me a couple of free points so that I could order some books and try out the system.
The site is really easy to navigate with a clean, stylish layout. Once you’ve created an account, you can begin to add books to your wishlist. If those books are not currently available, you can ask to be notified should they get listed. You can also use the search function to search for titles that you’re interested in, or you can have a browse through recently listed titles. Once you find an available book that you want, you can use one of your points to order it.
If you have points on your account, each book you order will cost you one point, plus a swapping fee (£1.19 at the time of writing this post) and the postage cost (currently £2.39 via MyHermes) for each swap. So, at present, each swap costs £3.58 if you’re using one of your points.
If you don’t have any points on your Bookswap account, you can still order books however you’ll also need to pay to add a point to your cart. At the time of writing, a point costs £3.00 plus you still pay the swapping fee and postage, making a swap without points £6.58.
To acquire Bookswap points, you list your own books for swap onto Bookswap. When someone orders a book from you and you send it to them, you receive a point to your account. As with ordering a book, listing a book for swapping is pretty simple. If the book is already on Bookswap’s database, you just find it and click the listing button to show you have a copy of that title available. If the book isn’t already on the database, you can add it by completing a simple form and (optionally) uploading a jpg image of the book/cover, and adding notes to advise potential swappers about the book’s condition.
When a book you list is ordered, you can choose between printing the postage label yourself or using the QR code to print out the label in your local parcel shop. You then just take your packaged book to your nearest Hermes ParcelShop.
As you can see, it’s a fairly simple system – and from what I can tell so far, it works really well. I’ve ordered two books via Bookswap so far – a hardback copy of Louise Doughty’s thriller Platform Seven and a paperback of Roger Clarke’s non-fiction book A Natural History of Ghosts. Both books arrived within the about a week of ordering and both were in the condition described by the swapper. I received updates via email when the seller dispatched the book via the courier.
I was also relieved to find that there are procedures in place for when things go wrong. For example, if you feel that you have been waiting for your order too long and the person sending it to you is not replying to your messages then you can always cancel your order – all costs are automatically refunded after cancellation, and your ordering point is returned to your account. Similarly, as a ‘swapper’ you can take a holiday and put your account into vacation mode to ensure that you won’t have to dispatch books whilst you’re away/busy – you just need to set the start and end dates of your ‘vacation’ on your account and book offers will be inactive for that period.
The catalogue and functionality of Bookswap is a tad limited at the moment – unsurprising for a website that is relatively new and still growing its userbase. At present, the site is only operating within the UK – so no international swapping – and the majority of the books being listed seem to be contemporary fiction titles. From my explorations of the site, it’s also much easier to find recent releases than backlisted books – although that’s not to say it isn’t worth searching for an older title on the off-chance that someone has it available. And, as you’d expect with a site reliant on users to list titles, available titles do tend to be skewed towards more popular choices from the bigger names.
I would also liked a slightly better search function – at the time of writing this post, there are over 6,000 titles listed on Bookswap but, unless you know the title you want or it’s a recent listing, finding what’s out there involves scrolling through the listings – a time consuming exercise and one that I imagine many people won’t have the patience for. I’d have like a way of searching by genre or age group as a means of narrowing this down.
Overall though, I was pretty impressed with Bookswap. It’s certainly not the cheapest way of sourcing used books – you could undoubtedly pay less by using secondhand sellers on a more established online retailer (who shall remain nameless) in many cases – but it’s a chance to swap books you no longer want whilst gaining credit to obtain books you’re interested in reading.
So if you’re looking for a way to turn your old books into new books – especially during a time when many traditional secondhand bookshops and charity shops are being forced to temporarily close their doors – you might want to give Bookswap a try.
You can visit Bookswap at https://bookswap.co.uk. My thanks go to Katherine at Busby & Bear for getting in touch to invite me to test out Bookswap and providing two points in return for an honest and unbiased feature on the site.