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PaperbackSwap.com is an excellent source of free books for pastors who are looking to add to their personal learning and their library.

Every pastor I know is an avid reader and book collector.  But books can be expensive and out of reach for many small church and bi-vocational pastors. And even if you do have an expense account to pay for book purchases, you want to stretch that money as far as possible, right?

PaperbackSwap.com is a free website that allows you to trade books you have, but don’t need or want anymore, for books that you do want.

Don’t let the name fool you – Paperback Swap isn’t just for paperbacks – but that’s how it got started years ago.  At Paperback Swap, you can trade paperbacks, hard covers, and books on tape.

How Paperback Swap Works

Paperback Swap is a book trading website that operates on the biblical principle of giving and receiving.

All of us have books we no longer want or need, and sometimes we don’t know what to do with them.  The great thing about Paperback Swap is that it allows you to trade the books you don’t want in exchange for books you do want.

The trading is free.  You just pay the postage to send your book to the person who requests it.  And whomever has a book that you want pays the postage to send it to you.  The average postage cost is around $2.00 via the US Postal Service.

When you give a book to someone else, you earn a credit on your account, which then allows you to receive a book from someone else.

Currently, nearly 5,000,000 (yes, that’s five million!!!) books are available for free at Paperback Swap. Chances are good that you will find plenty of good books that you want – on topics like church history, leadership, theology, ministry, popular titles, and more.

Here’s how to get free books from Paperback Swap:

  1. Create your free account at PaperbackSwap.com.  When you use that link, I’ll receive a free credit for referring you, thank you very much!
  2. Find at least ten books on your shelves that you no longer want, and list them on the Paperback Swap site.  When you list your fist ten books, Paperback Swap will then give you two free credits, which will allow you to receive two books.
  3. Listing your books is easy – you just enter the ISBN number of the books you don’t need, and the Paperback Swap site automatically looks up and finds the information about those books.  The books you list must have front and back covers, all the pages, no liquid damage, no writing or highlighting, and be in generally good condition.
  4. Once you’ve listed books that you want to trade, you create your wish list of books you want to receive. And you can add more books you want to trade, and more books you want to receive, at any time.
  5. When you have a book that someone else wants, Paperback Swap sends you a message with instructions on where to send the book.  We recommend using bubble envelopes or catalog envelopes when mailing your books. When your book is received, the recipient logs into Paperback Swap and confirms that they received the book as advertised.  Then you get a credit in your account which will allow you to receive a book from someone else.
  6. When someone has a book that is on your wish list, you are notified that a match has been made, and the sender confirms that they will send the book to you.  And when you receive it, you log into Paperback Swap to confirm that you’ve received it.  Then a credit is deducted from your account, and added to the sender’s account.

My wife and I have been members at Paperback Swap for several years.  It’s fun to get rid of books we no longer want, and receive new books in the mail.  We ship and receive 3-5 books a week on average.

We’ve had some books waiting on our shelves for months before someone wanted them.  Others fly off the shelf the moment we post them, because someone was already waiting for it.

Paperback Swap Tips

If you use Paperback Swap long enough like we have, the bad news is that you will eventually run out of your own books to trade.

The good news is that we’ve discovered some great free or low-cost ways to get more books to list on Paperback Swap, including:

  • Garage sales, yard sales, estate sales – People often sell books for as little as 5 or 10 cents each.  And if you find some that you want that are priced higher, offer to buy several or a bag-full for a lower price.
  • Libraries – Some libraries has used book sales once or twice a year, and others have books for sale year-round.
  • Thrift stores – You can often buy books for 25 or 50 cents each, or a bag of books for $1.00.
  • Friends, family and neighbors – Don’t be afraid to ask if they’ve got books they want to get rid of.

Remember:  Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Just because you might not want to read it doesn’t mean someone else won’t want it.

We’ve found it very worthwhile to buy a bag of books for $1.00 or $2.00, and then list them on Paperback Swap.  But we’ve discovered that it is best to avoid NY Times best sellers.

You’ll find a lot of old (five to seven years old and older) NY Times best sellers at garage sales, library sales, etc., and you might think, oh, it must be a popular title that people are looking for.  You could be right, but we’ve discovered that there are usually plenty of them already listed at Paperback Swap

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