Wednesday, July 2, 2008

BookMooch vs. PaperbackSwap (Part 1 of 2)

I've been using BookMooch to trade books with people, and it's generally worked pretty well for me. However, I found myself ultimately with a number of points and a big wishlist of books that I wanted that nobody offered. Enter PaperbackSwap. I've been a member for about a week now. What do I think about it? I think they got a bunch of stuff right that BookMooch hasn't. Take a minor example: That's a referral banner that I can include in my blog post. I get points if you sign up through it. If you find this post at all helpful, I hope you'll use that banner to sign up for PaperbackSwap. What's the difference, you're asking? The most compelling reason for me is that they have a bigger catalog than BookMooch. Checking out the "Under the Hood" link earlier today, I found that they have around 4 books posted every minute. Right now the site says 2,280,827 books available. One of the most striking differences, to me, is the fact that BookMooch only gives you 2 points to start with (meaning you can request 2 books), and after that you can only ship books to other members or buy points, as a means of getting more points to request books. BookMooch, on the other hand, awards 0.1 points for every book posted and 0.1 points for every book you receive and provide feedback on. This means that BM is creating points constantly regardless of whether you're posting useful books into the system or not. More points received than spent means that it's easy to mooch books, and you don't even have to post books that anybody wants.


  1. Actually Bookmooch has a 2:1 ratio policy. You can't order a book, even if you have points, if you aren't at least sending out 1 for every 2 you request so you kinda have to make sure your books are desirable.

  2. They both have their plus' and minus' paperbackswap really grew by bounds in the last 2 years and bookmooch grew but at a steady rate. Paperback has change policies, where once you got 3 initial credits for posting your first 9 books, now you get two for 10, that's it. Paperbackswap has almost 5 times the number of books but only swaps twice as many (look at their own statistics), I find that interesting. Either they have more active members or more wanted books. In a months time, I have had 6 books requested from PBSwap and 10 requested from BMooch. Thing is only 1/2 my books that are posted at PBSwap are posted at BMooch (I always post first at PBSwap because there are more books I want, so hope they will be requested, also I signed up to PBSwap first). BookMooch is international, which is a big plus for me since I like ordering foreign language books. PBSwap has a labeling system and you can buy delivery confirmation for $.46, you can also buy postage. I use it for my bookmooch books too. I tried the paypal, usps click thing?, and didn't like either, paypal prints the labels portrait (not good for books), and the USps is way more complicated with size, dimentions, weight (OK you need this one), and you can't just cut and paste the address like you can into the PBSwap site.

    Which one do I like best, good question. I think BookMooch is more user oriented with rewards/points when you swap and reply to a receive, also almost all of the people have sent me notes after trades, and you have feedback ratings. If you have a rough book, but highly sought after, you can post it and put a condition comment. In PBSwap you just have to hope they think good condition is the same thing you do. PBSwap seems more stingy with there points. After you say you sent you have to wait for the receiver. Another issue is wishlists, bookmooch has a list of how many times a book was swapped and how many are on the wish list so you kind of get a feel for how long it will take. PBSwap only has how many people are wishing for it. PBSwap has convenience, you don't have to wait for as many titles because they have more selection, and they have a great address labeling delivery conf. system. I kind of feel that people should be a member of both for the different reasons above. I love them both.
    I looked into, but felt that was a selling site that they didn't have to do any of the shipping. At 4.50 (at this time March 2010) per book, it is more expensive than Amazon used books. Another site was swaptree which is true swapping site, a book for a book, so they match people with wants and inventory. I just see it as very complicated and probably fewer trades. Also, which seemed really interesting but it is a pay site, with a yearly membership, and with searching their inventory they had even fewer books of the authors I look for- Niven, Reynolds, David Weber, Moning. They had only one novel from all of these well published authors.
    PaperBackSwap and are definitely great sites. Paperbackswap is threatening to become a membership site, I wonder what will happen then. How many will quit, how many will join, how much fall out will happen each year?
    Frugalreader died last year with no good bye and all the points were lost into cyberspace so while you collect points, remember you could easily loose them. In other words don't collect hundreds of points. You can donate them on Bookmooch, you can transfer them to get CDs and DVDs on PBSwap. Just a word to the wize.

  3. Thank you so much for your insight, Amy! I think you're pretty much on the money there. I've continued to use PBS, but not so much with BookMooch. I need to go ahead and post an update with my experiences nearly two years later. :-)

  4. Paperbackswap works best for me as I am looking for many books but don't want to be bothered with sending them to anyone else.

  5. It's no free lunch. BookMooch is a for-profit site, like Google and FaceBook, and the "members" are the product which is sold to advertisers. Give John Buckman cred for seeing a niche market and creating a successful brand. A cinch for the founder/CEO of Lyris, a direct-marketing firm (sold in 2005 for $12 million). Compare the stats from February 27, 2008 BookMooch Wordpress blog under "Amazon should love us":
    to the numbers on the blogads website:
    Short version:
    2008: "I think Amazon should be happy with us, since we sell about $10,000 a month worth of books for them …. BookMooch is paid an 8% commission …."
    2011: "At BookMooch, our small "amazon info" button sells over $50k of new books each month for Amazon. Just think of how well your highly visible ads will do at selling your books."
    2008: "I don't take advertising"
    2011: "Our users actually love book ads …."
    The slickest part of John Buckman's operation is the poor fools who "give a little" ($$$) to BookMooch (on top of paying for postage, gas, and books, AND wasting time searching for books that will never enter the system). From the BookMooch blog: "Even a teeny donation of $3 per month really helps … My time is donated, as are all the admins … nobody gets paid for helping run BM."
    one last thing:
    Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.