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I have been a member of PBS Book Swap since 2007. While the site has changed and expanded over the years and the paid membership rules are now in effect, I've never seen so many disgruntled people filing complaints against such a well run site, for things that were their own fault and not the book clubs. Is it a perfect site? No. But none will be. And I really am astonished that people don't think that some sort of membership fee is warranted. These sites don't "run themselves". People need to be paid a living wage to run the website, and no one ever claimed this was a "non" profit outfit.
Obviously, the more involved you are in the site, such as in the Discussion forums or the Games section, the more bang You will get for Your buck. But there really is no better place where You are going to get used books for the (reasonable) price of 1 credit, even if You have to pay a 50 cents fee for each transaction if You don't want to be more involved in the overall life of the Club.
I've been a member of PaperBackSwap for many years, probably since shortly after it started. I was dismayed when they started charging a yearly fee, but I chose to continue as an a La Carte member without paying the yearly fee. It's been perfect for me. I use the printed postage, get charged a 55 cent fee and get 1 swap credit (which would be 49 cents anyway - so in essence, I'm paying 6 cents extra). I feel this pays for my membership. I don't care to post messages on the forum; I can do that on Facebook or Twitter if I'm so inclined. I only want to trade books, so for that purpose PaperBackSwap is a good fit.
I joined PaperbackSwap back in 2008 when it was actually the free site they claim it is. I've mailed 603 books and gotten 754, while maintaining a bookshelf of 250 books I can swap. In the beginning, you posted books you were willing to swap to your bookshelf for other members to request. When requested, you mailed the book to the other member (for about $3 in postage) and got a credit you could then use to order a book from other member's bookshelves for yourself. Everybody got a 200 book wishlist. It was great! I mailed out and received books regularly.
Then PBS added a 33¢ fee for using their postage system, so you paid the postage plus the 33¢ so you got an instant credit for shipping your book and it included tracking. Not a problem... I had no issues with this fee. Because if you didn't want to pay this fee, you could mail through the post office and the requester would have to mark the book received for you to get your credit. I always paid the fee because I wanted the instant credit.
A few years ago, PBS suddenly added a 55¢ to every monetary transaction. So if you bought postage, add 55¢ (went from 33¢ to 55¢), add money to your account to pay for postage/fees add another 55¢... Okay, I wasn't happy about the increase of fees and having to pay a fee to add money to my account seemed a bit rude, but okay. There was no warning about this fee, they just added it one day.
About 4 years ago, they came up with a "Gold Key" membership, which was $12/year and was supposed to give you perks: Wishlist increased from 200 to 300 and first book mailed each month using PBS postage the 55¢ fee was waived. The Gold Key membership was optional. I liked the expanded WL so I became a Gold Key member. Around this time, I discovered I could buy credits if I need to from other members. I started to regularly buy credits every month (1 to 20) or so, because I was ordering more books than I was sending out. It worked well. I was still happy with the site despite the additional costs.
Out of the blue, PBS decides to add memberships. With about 3 weeks notice, you have to have a membership or become an Ala Carte member. There are three options: Standard Membership - $20 a year. Comes with a 500-item Wish List and the most new features, you still pay 55¢ per postage transaction (get one free per month) & per transaction fee. Limited Membership - $12 a year. Comes with a 200-item Wish List and some new features, you still pay 55¢ per postage/transaction fee (get one postage fee waived per quarter). A La Carte Membership - no annual fee. Instead, you pay 49 cents (or use a "free swap" that you can earn by mailing with Printable Postage) when you submit a book request. 100- item Wish List. All active members are A la Carte automatically, unless they enroll in Standard or Limited Membership. A La Carte members lose access to the Forums including the Bizarre and PBS questions forum.
Most members were very unhappy about this, myself included. The site lost a lot of members and swaps dropped significantly. I went from sending/receiving books weekly to not getting or sending books for MONTHS... I used to get books from my WL at least one or two per week, now I've gone as long as 7 months without a single book off my WL. An expanded WL doesn't do you any good if nobody is posting books!
The most recent insult to members, PBS suddenly and without notice declared that any credits sold in the Bizarre had to be sold at $3/credit. Anybody selling/buying credits for less is automatically booted from the site. Credits were selling for $2/credit prior to that. Most buying credits STOPPED and folks who were selling suddenly no longer had buyers. PBS claimed this change was to force people to post more books. All it did was make a lot of people leave. When I could buy credits for $2/credit, I was still sending books out and requested about 30 books per month. Since this change, I no longer order books at all unless they are from my WL (and that's only if I'm lucky enough that someone posts the book!).
The number of members and books posted dropped significantly since PBS did this. PBS keeps inactive accounts open in order to falsely inflate their membership numbers. I haven't got a book request in MONTHS and I haven't requested any books but the WL ones in YEARS. The site is not very viable anymore. I'm still looking for an alternative site and once I find one, I will be leaving PBS for good.
The price of my limited membership was $20.00. Plus PBS deducts another fee as a “transaction fee”, which is neither disclosed nor consented to. When I went to pay the $20.00, there was another fee debited from account which I had to email PBS about thinking it was a fraudulent error on the payment processors side. But no, I have an email from PBS saying they take the money as an administrative cost because PBS didn’t realize how expensive their payment processor was going to be and how they are “losing money” when people pay them. Seriously. This was the explanation. I imagine if you take an additional $1.00 from a thousand or so members, you have quite a tidy little monetary fund. Is this recorded as income? PBS does not seem to include as part of the income from membership fees.
Then I bought my books and listed them on their website and when members requested them, I paid $3-4 or more to mail them to the members. PBS says you can buy postage and labels through them and you pay them for the postage but then they charge you another 55 cents to actually print the postage once you already paid for it. The next thing I know, I spent over $100 between the cost of the books and the postage and fees. Each time someone gets a book from me, I am supposed to get a free swap so I accumulated them because the books I wanted weren't available and I was posting in their forums. Apparently I posted something PBS didn't like and they took all my free swaps and closed my account so now I've paid for a membership and spent all the money sending people books but I can't access my account to get the free books other people are supposed to send me.
I did an internet search of complaints about PBS, and it seems this is a very frequent offense that PBS commits against its members. PBS must make a fortune taking earned credits from members and restricting their accounts, after they have already incurred the time and expense of mailing their books to earn the credits PBS prevents them from using based on some perceived slight which seems to be if you suggest a competing website to people or try to talk about other ways to swap books. They also then edit your posts and write arrogant comments under your name using your account but don't say that the posts were edited by PBS because they don't want the members to know.
Meanwhile the members think you wrote those comments and then PBS restricts your account and won't let you post or email with the members you were engaged in conversation with. They also like to claim people have multiple accounts because they give a new account a free credit but they consider different family members the same person if they are using the same address and again they will just close the account if they see the same address - even if it is a multifamily apartment or you moved. They take away your earned credits after you have bought books to ship and paid for the shipping and paid them for the membership and they do this without even asking you about the other account.
Apparently they go out of their way to find reasons even if they make them up to close accounts but only after people have paid them and bought postage from them and mailed books to all the members that wanted them but then you don't get the benefit of the contract because you are unable to use your credits to get free books because they take them and won’t let you email other members or post in the forums which is what the paid membership entitles you to do.
I've been using paperbackswap.com for about 10 years, or almost as long as it has existed, and have mailed and received close to 1500 books. And I can't think of any bad experience I've ever had with them, though a few, mildly annoying ones (book not in good enough condition, order being canceled because the person couldn't find the book, etc.).
I read several books a week, and a lot of classics, and PaperBack Swap has many classics. I've received hundreds of books I've wanted for an average cost of $2.56 on shipping, love the wish list emails notifying me when my wish list books come in, and don't mind paying the $20 yearly fee that was recently instituted because it allows one to have a much bigger wish list, and participate in all the forums. I also love the ability to buy and sell credits, the ability to offer 2 for 1 when you have excess books you want to move out, and the ability to send credits back and forth between one's account at swapacd.com and swapadvd.com. What I don't like is the new rule that credits sold have to sell for $3 minimum with no extra offerings, because I used to sell credits for less and offer free books along with them. Now it's more difficult to sell credits because everyone is offering the exact same deal.
How this site survived for so many years providing such a valuable service without ever charging anything is beyond me. Their support has been fabulous, and it certainly seems to me that they have a right to start getting paid a little for the time put into creating and maintaining the site. Too many people are getting spoiled on the internet, used to getting something for nothing.
As a writer myself, I'm suffering because of all the books being sold used or traded now, and because my royalties have dropped to below subsistence level. People are expecting so much for free, or at almost no cost, and would rather prevent writers/creators to be paid a living wage for their time than pay a small amount. Granted, paperbackswap.com is not helping that situation anyway, but its staff does have a right to be paid for the absolute wonderful service provided. And they have nearly 4 millions books available; I don't think any other book trade site has that much to offer.
We used PBS for years and thought it a great service and a great concept to recycle books. It should be pretty obvious what happened once Amazon, the number one bookseller in the world bought the company. Their institution of fees and membership charges was not done to help them make a profit with a business they bought. Their abusive attitude towards their customers (myself included) was not just poor business by an inept company, but a strategic drive to eliminate the free exchange of books from the market. Their actions were in my opinion, not to try to make money from PBS but to drive it out of business, eliminate an alternative to high priced retail book sales, and so that they could capture retail sales of new books. A classic case.
I'm waiting for another pioneer with the software skills required to start a new PBS. What a tragedy to see this little exchange extinguished by one of the world's largest retailers who didn't want the competition.
I have been a member of Paperback Swap for four years. I have exchanged over 100 books -- getting the latest action thriller, obscure history books, or a needed reference book. The service is very easy and I get books conveniently at a remarkably cheap price. Here's how you earn a credit that gives you the right to request another member's book -- you list your own books that you are willing to send to other members. When someone asks for one of your listed books, you mail it off to them. Once they receive it, a credit is added to your account. With that credit, you can ask for any book listed on the site. Never have I had any issue.
There is an annual member fee of $20, and to start, they give you two credits (good fro 2 books mailed directly to your home). The website makes the interactions incredibly easy and the number of books available is stunning. I can read my favorite author's novels one after another. With a few simple clicks, they arrive in my mailbox one after another. Yes, I do love Paperback Swap.
I found the reviews posted on this site to be quite different than my own personal experiences with PBS. I Have been a member since 2007 and have sent 301 books and received 274. I always use their postage plan because it's easier and less time consuming than going to the post office. I don't think the company is "gouging members", as some have stated they have costs to exist just like any other business. I have only had perhaps one negative experience in my entire 9 yrs as a member - there are always crazy people out there - but that's pretty good odds! The overall experience with other members and the site has been amazing and wonderful. I think people tend to write reviews when they have complaints and that is why I write this positive one!
I've swapped about 30 books on here and, like others, I look the old organization better. The new rules and fees are making the site feel like a rip off at times. A person I mailed a book to first class on 12/20 for delivery Christmas Eve says the book never arrived. I stood in line at the post office like an idiot during Christmas rush so they could have their book. I had a receipt with tracking number. Paperbackswap says that they don't take USPS documentation as proof of mailing. WTF? I mean, seriously, W-T-F??? They don't take our government's postal receipts and tracking numbers as proof of mailing?
I have emails from them stating this in writing. However, they said, if I'd bought their postage through Paperbackswap, I'd have gotten credit for the book being mailed. That's just pure racketeering. Very shady. You know, many paperbacks are now .01 cents on Amazon.com with $4 shipping. Why bother with these racketeers who will only credit you if you buy their postage but won't credit you if you have a receipt from the U.S. postal service?
Paperbackswap.com used to be a really great website. Then I found myself sending out more books than receiving. Once they changed over to a subscription website, less books seem to be available. The selection seems to have drastically decreased. I have sent out way more books which cost me in transactions fees, postage, and PaperBackSwap fees than I am saving. NOT WORTH IT ANY MORE. Bad leadership, bad business practices. You are driving away your loyal users.
After reading these negative things, I felt compelled to write this review. I've been a member of PBS for 5 years now and have had many GREAT experiences trading books. I've mailed out 295 books and received 249 books to date - with only 1 complaint from a receiver during this time and I myself only complained 1 time about a book I received. Where else are you going to get a book for $4 without having to leave your home at all? The 50 cent transaction fee is a bargain in my opinion and I'm more than willing to pay it in addition to the media mail postage fees. I signed up for free, received 2 credits and have been happily trading ever since.
As far as people talking about books in poor condition: as a member, you can specifically state what condition the books you want must be in prior to receiving them, ie: no yellowing, smelly books or no books that have been in a smoking home, etc...so as to ensure the books you receive will meet your specs. All of those people, at any time prior to cancelling their memberships, could have paid the 50 cents per book transaction fee and used up all their credits - there are hundreds of thousands of books on this site! Regarding "bad" transactions - perhaps their crappy attitudes affected the way they were dealt with. I've never experienced ANY negativity from the site runners...and other members all want the same thing - BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS. I love this site and highly recommend it to others and will continue to do so!
I have been working with PaperBackSwap for over 7 years. I get books donated to me by the crate load because no one wants to throw away books or donate them to libraries where they just sit around. I try to find the books great homes and enjoy when I am successful. I have sent over 1600 books and received over 1000. I gave away several hundred points to schools and to help out. When someone asks me about a book, I look here first because anything beats Amazon! I gladly pay the few pennies a day (20/year) to be able to receive as many books as I want. Most of the people who complain are just trading a few books and only care about what they receive. In fact, since people have left the site and locked their accounts on permanent vacation, I have seen the books requested from me double. I will continue to use Paperbackswap.com as long as they stay up.
While I wasn't thrilled with their "new" membership dues, this is still one of the best places to swap books. At around $8 for paperbacks and $20 for hardbacks bought new, one credit (valued at around $4) it still a great deal for a nearly new book. I saw that several people said they had received books in very bad shape. If you receive a book that is unreadable, you only had to state that fact, and PBS generally gave you your credit back. You can also take that one step further by putting conditions on your expected books. I state that I expect them to be in good enough shape to trade again. Then if they are not up to your expectations, PBS definitely gives you your credit back.
I have always bought the delivery confirmation as this was a protection against people not marking books received. Plus you really need to keep an updated wishlist to get books you want and to be prepared to wait awhile for certain books. You can't expect to just bop in and get a book that was just released as the smart reader has had this on their wishlist for months before it came out. I am constantly tweaking my wishlist and adding the next book in a series months before it is released and often am number 1 or 2 when it is released. You simply have to be aware of these new books and be proactive about wishlisting them. The best feature though is discovering a new series that already has several books released and being able to go to PBS and pickup most of the series for a song. I keep lots (hundreds) of books on my to-be-read pile so have no problem waiting months for a particular book or series.
This is not the place for instant gratification but if you are willing to put in the time you will get a few books every week from your wishlist and unload all those books you have read. I enjoy passing on a book that I enjoyed and often discuss with the person receiving it how great it was. My daughter is a high school teacher who keeps books in her classroom for her students and she often has me ordering multiple copies of books from PBS, so this site has been a great benefit for her. And one other point I'd like to make, most of the people I've dealt with from PBS are informed, polite and very helpful. The only rudeness that I've run into has been from other members who have tried to ship books that were water damaged or in bad shape and were called on it.
This used to be one of my daily haunts on the internet. Those days are long gone and it's been especially bad since they instituted the transaction fee. Today I delete my account with them. Very sad. I got some good books through trades with other members. Thanks for the memories.
I gave five books away on Paperbackswap and paid for their shipping. I was promised I could receive 5 books for free in return. Well, after one year, those book swap credits EXPIRED, in other words, were stolen by the site. I paid out of pocket to give away my books and receive nothing in return.
I have put the shipping side of my account on a long-term vacation hold because it now costs me more for membership than the benefits I receive. It sounds like many other members have done the same thing, therefore the pool of books available is less than it would otherwise be. I have done about 15 - 20 searches in the past month looking for books and none of them are available from members. The search pushes me to purchase the book from Amazon. At this point, I wonder if I will be able to derive much future benefit from the membership and the 150 books I shipped out in good faith. I would be ok paying for future swaps but I feel that the 150 shipments I sent in good faith should be honored under the original terms.
My family loved using this site to swap books for years. We mailed over 220 books to other members. We ordered even more books from other members/the PBS/Amazon partnership and via Member Appreciation books and discounted books. And then, this morning, five of my credits for books disappeared. No email first, no phone call first. When I questioned the action, the reasons varied between me mailing books a few days late, to receivers not marking books received (why would that be my problem?) And when I defended myself, the PBS "Librarian" became fully accusatory and just downright rude.
I don't recommend this company. Loved it, but it isn't run by nice people who care about their members. Maybe when they weren't a profit-making company, but not anymore. Give your books to real libraries, to the Salvation Army, to your neighbors... give give give and feel good about it. Don't let PBS take and ridicule you for using their service. We all aren't as perfect as they are apparently.
I am a charter member who has posted and incurred the cost of mailing books to other members. I have mailed large and/or hard bound books at at significant expense. It can be a long wait to have requests fulfilled. The shortest wait has been 3 months. Most of my requests are not fulfilled after two years. It feels unfair to me for Paperbackswap to change policy so that members who invested the postage costs and waiting times now must pay a fee to accept a book.
First to the other person that said they didn't give a reason for the change, there was a long explanation of how they want to develop an app and do more things with the website. We have had very positive experiences with the website and other swappers. We enjoy trying authors we haven't before and with it getting harder to find books in our area we really appreciate paperback swap. I also enjoy getting and making suggestions to other members I swap with and have on my friend list. It costs about $3 to send a book and you get a credit to get another from someone. Try it and enjoy reading!
Like some others here, I was a member for several years and traded regularly before PBS made the unannounced switch to charging for swaps. I was astounded. No announcement, no grandfathering in of old members, no lead time to get rid of books before the new rules took over. This site was already making money due to its affiliation with Amazon. If they needed more money they should have stated the reasons why. If I had had a reasonable explanation, I would have DONATED money to them. Also like some others here, I am keeping my membership only because I have so many credits piled up.
I have no place in my Arizona home to store more books than I already have, so I need to recycle books after I read them. I have specific reading interests that make it impossible for me to find the books I most want at the public library. I was amazed at being able to find a small community of traders at PBS who share my interests. But this curve-ball the club threw to long-time members was unfair, or perhaps more accurately, unscrupulous. Before these changes, I would have given this site five stars. But not now. In fact, I'm especially annoyed that they still refer to their club as a "FREE" way to trade books. No way is it free. Thanks for giving me a place to vent. They made it impossible for me to do that on their site.
I do not understand all the negativity with this swap club. I have been extremely satisfied with my swaps. I have been a member for about 3+ years. Sure some of the books may not be in brand new shape but if you look at the date published you can see why they are a little musty. I have traded several hundred books with one complaint from a receiver. My granddaughter folded back the title page leaving a sharp crease on it. If you look at the price of a new book average cost
$8.00+ the little fees PBS charge is still a bargain!
This "swap club" site switched from a free service to an annual membership with about 3 weeks' notice. I was a "member" for more than 5 years and paid postage to ship books to other members. This earned me "credits" on the PaperBackSwap site. Took me several years to build up credits. I now have 27. Now I just feel like a fool. It cost an average of $4.00 to ship each book. Not a problem if I will get a book from another member. But they switched to a membership fee so now I have to pay a 49 cent transaction fee to do any swap. Worse though is that with the fee, membership dropped drastically. There's now no realistic chance that I'll get even half the money I paid in postage back from others who might ship me a book.
If Paperback Swap needed to start charging fees, they should at least have allowed existing members to use up accumulated credits without having to pay fees. The way they did it was totally unfair and also not nice. I'll try to use up the credits I have but then I'm going to quit.
After shipping 21 books and spending more than $60 in postage, I expected "free" books in return - as were the terms of the agreement. Paperbackswap has now initiated a .49 per swap fee. If Paperbackswap wants to change their terms, that change should not affect people who agreed to earlier terms.
My original free membership has been changed to Ala Carte unless I sign up and pay for annual membership. As an "Ala Carte", I am not entitled to any online help, I cannot send a personal message to friends in my friend list. There are fees for doing everything because I am not a paid "annual membership". I gave my book credits to my friends, deleted my library and closed my account.
I became a member a few weeks ago, after listing 10 books they were requested and I sent them out, the shipping was over 20 dollars and the books were like new. They finally got them and I got credits. I requested my first book. After requesting my first book they wanted a "membership fee", and I had to have swapapaperback money. Which they charge 50 cent per Paypal fee. I thought you could not charge to use Paypal. Even after the membership fee it only gets you a few credits then you have to pay 50 cent per book order. So just to get a "free" book I would have to give them another 20 dollars. Don't believe me. Sign up and find out. Also I have seen and heard a lot of people tell me about the bad condition the books are in. Thanks for wasting my money. I will not recommend this site to anybody from church, library ,school or work. They are false advertising as well it says free and no fee.
I quit paperback swap because they have decided to charge membership fees... about $20 bucks a year or .50 a transaction. I thought that was a rip and canceled my membership, and know my friends will too.
I had an account with paperback swap and I had about 100 books. All my books were picked up really fast, and I got the credits for it, but there rarely was anything I wanted. When I did get a book I wanted, it'd be torn, moldy, or otherwise damaged. I love my books and take really good care of them, so I basically exchanged almost 100 like-new books for books that I had to take to get recycled.
I have been a member of Paperbackswap for several years. All in all, I think it's a great service if you can find other members with your same reading interests. I am only interested in reading books written in Spanish. I have sent out over 150 of such books, but only to members who want them for charities, libraries, an orphanage, schools, missionary projects, etc. In other words, to people who want books written in Spanish to give to others, but who do not read them themselves and, therefore, don't post any to their bookshelf so people like me can order them. I think that I have ordered about a half dozen books, some that I really wasn't interested in (a dictionary, thesaurus, etc.) in my time as a member. So the club works if your reading interests are popular books. If your interests are more esoteric, be prepared to spend a lot of money mailing out your library books and getting little in return.
Consumer WARNING: Paperbackswap.com and affiliated sites Swapadvd and Swapacd STOLE FROM ME! *NOTICE: Paperback swap stole $30.80 from me. I had 8 credits in my account, valued at $3.95 each. PBS closed my account due to my fee complaint and kept my 8 x $3.95 credits. I had $2.55 cash in my Swapadvd account and they closed my account. They blocked my access to my account and stole my money. I have not gotten it back to date. In addition, my 2 credits s $3.95 has not been returned to date.
Don't open an account or give away your books through them. I was a member on PBS for years. THIS IS NOT A FREE PROGRAM. IT IS A "FEE" PROGRAM. Fees increased: Mailing labels they provide from the site cost $.55 ON TOP of your USPS postage fee. If you don't use their labels, you don't get credit for your book/DVD/CD (that you just spent $3-$5 mailing) UNLESS the receiver (weeks later) remembers to log in and record it. In order to "buy member money", you had to put money in your account: another $.50 transaction fee. Your costs to trade a book: $.55 label fee + the cost of postage (averages almost $4.00); $.50 transaction fee to "buy member money"; and don't forget the COST OF YOUR BOOK! + You may or may not get credit.
Additional warning: members often trade dirty, damaged books. Condition requests are often ignored.
Their sister/affiliate companies (same owner) SWAPACD and SWAPADVD makes you pay $.49 for each movie/CD you request. Cost of "credits" are more than the cost of DVDs/CDs on eBay, Amazon, or at your local Walmart. When the new $.49 fee PER DVD was rolled out (without much warning), I commented on their member forum, and listed my eBay page address. Instead of resolving the issue, or giving me a "warning" not to post my website address, they closed all my accounts.
PAPERBACKSWAP (I had 451 books listed and had 8 books shipped, they owed me 8 credits) STOLEN: $30.80. SWAPADVD (I had $2.55 in cash and 2 credits, worth $3.95 each, and I had dozens of requests to receive) STOLEN: $10.45 and SWAPACD (I had a few CDs posted). This company, based out of Georgia, is dishonest and is not transparent with their program costs. Avoid. If you have an active account, I encourage you to cash out (if they'll let you!) and use up your credits before they close their site!!
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