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Careful about depositing funds with these guys. They will freeze your account on a whim and then keep your deposits that you paid. Furthermore, they will ignore you and never respond - to them, their customers are their enemies, not their friends.
I’ve been a member since 2007. It used to be free but a few years ago they started charging a yearly fee ($12 or $20) on two of the three tiers of membership. For me the $20 annual fee is worth it. I can get any book I want shipped to me for one credit or less. That credit cost to me was the postage amount I spend to mail a different book to another member; right now Media Mail is $2.75 for one book, under 1 pound. If I’m mailing two books to the same person and it’s under one pound the rate is the same. Under two pounds the rate only goes up by 50 cents or so.
Media mail is calculated by the pound. That way my credit earned only costs me even less. Sometimes I’ll send out five books to a member and get five credits for around $4. I use my own postage mostly, but once a month standard members get a free postage printout, so I’ll save the .55 they charge for that. And when you use the printable postage from PBS you get your credits automatically as soon as you mark your package mailed; you don’t have to wait for the recipient to indicate they’ve received the book(s).
It is important for members to send books that meet the swapping guidelines, which mean no water damage at all, no stains and fairly good condition. Sending books in ‘unpostable’ condition means the recipient can request their credit back since they won’t be able to re-swap the book. I’ve only rarely received unpostable books and I think most members are careful to send books in swappable condition.
Over the years I’ve sent and received hundreds of books. I still buy books from other online sources too though I try to stay under $5 per book. PBS has a wish list (WL) and you have to wait in a line for popular books to be posted. I will admit it can take a while. But the more active you are and the more books you post the more you will be able to get as well. All the books I get no matter the source are reposted at PBS for credits. On average I get around 5 or 6 books a month. By the way, PBS also sells books directly in their marketplace to members and non-members alike. Members with credits can get special pricing on marketplace books.
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I have been a member of PaperBackSwap and its sister sites SwapaCD and DVD Swap for many years since 2007 and have received 367 books and mailed out 495 books. I pay the $20 yearly fee and do not use the printable postage due to the fee (I print my own postage through Paypal shipping or USPS site free). So many of the bad reviews on this site say they think it's too expensive because they have to pay the mailing fee. If they use media mail, it's usually $2.75-3.50 per book. What they don't mention is that when they receive a book, it is free, less one credit. If they had to buy it on a thrift site, eBay, or Amazon, they would pay the price of the book and usually $3.99 shipping on top of that. I have a long wishlist and it is fun to get a message saying your wish is granted. On the flip side, I like to unload my used books to clean my house.
Recycling books is also the green way to go. I use the site primarily for audiobooks and when I'm done with them, I list them. It's much cheaper than Audible. I transfer credits between the 3 sites when I need to. The CD and DVD sites don't have an annual membership fee. I have had no problems with communication and swaps for all these years and would highly recommend this site. I don't expect it to be perfect and to get a new book at once. I have so many to read that it's not important to me. As soon as I hear of a new book I want, I put it on the list. I also do not mind that media mail is slow. If you want a brand new book quickly, I advise you go to a book store and buy it.
You may find pretty good books here, but please don't be fooled, they are not 'free' as the company keeps wanting you to believe. You are paying a fee each time you swap a book. The shipping is coming out of your pocket and they encourage you to get a membership fee. FYI, you can easily find these books on other used book sites for cheaper than the cost of the shipping js. But my real grievance is customer service. Let me just say, that they don't care about you as a person, they care about making money. They don't sympathize or even try to understand. They are snarky, mean, and write nasty backhanded emails. Save your money and go through eBay, Thriftbooks, BookOutlet, or spend your money on mom and pop used bookstores.
I came across a buyer who wanted my book from Hawaii. I requested 2 or 3 dollars for additional shipping for first class mail. She complained and they kicked me out without warning and I lost my 7 credits that I earned over my first 2 or 3 weeks with them. Later I realized that it doesn't cost more if shipped by media mail to HI. So, it was a learning experience.
The customer support person (no name given, not even a fake name) said that I was trying to deal with the other member outside of the exchange and 3 other baseless accusations. I begged and pleaded. But, she did not budge. I requested that I use my 7 credits and then cancel my account. But no. I guess, they can sell my credits and make themselves $25 approx. Bottom line, this tells me there is a lot of demand for such service and there are not enough sites that cater to the need. I still need to exchange my books. I may end up starting my own, as a non profit so everyone can benefit. If I don't do it, hope someone else will do this and put them out of business for their arrogance.
She/he had absolutely no problem stealing my 7 credits, under the accusation that I was trying to deal with a member to do business outside of the website. She stole from me, for the fear that I may be stealing? What the heck? Who would do that for just 49 cent fee? I was telling the other member that I am willing to buy her book if she will buy mine. I meant on the site. Obviously. So, she can get a credit to buy my book.
Customer service person was just hard headed. I understand that complainers are abusive with their words when they get pissed off at the customer service personnel. I was extremely nice to her and called her sweetie, sweetheart and other nice words. That made it worse. She just couldn't get it as to why I would be so nice? Bottom line, I see God (my beloved Krishna) in everyone. Unfortunately, she did not get it. Hope she will read this.
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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.
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