Posted on 01 July 2009.
Online trading sites are attracting a lot of attention right now. People are starting to become more aware of what they are spending and are looking to trim their entertainment budgets by swapping their stuff. Book, DVD, CD, etc… swapping services that allow you to trade what you already have, for something you don’t are becoming increasingly popular. Two major players in this space are Swaptree.com and Paperbackswap/SwapaDVD/SwapaCD.com. These services are very similar in that they allow you to post the items you want to trade and also browse for items you would like to own.
Swaptree.com is an all-in-one trading service for books, DVDs, music, and video games. The service allows you to post any of these items by simply entering the barcode or ISBN number (it it is a book) that is associated with the item. Swaptree attempts to look-up the item in its vast database and provide you with a photo and description of the item. Once you confirm the information is correct (and add a few details about the condition of the item), it will be posted to your “items i have” list.
Swaptree also allows you browse for items that you want and add them to your “items i want” list. Depending on what you have added to your have list, and what is currently available, you may already be able to swap something you have for an item in your want list.
Since the Swaptree system relies on its users to post items for trade, the more in your “items i have” list, the more options you have for trading. Swaptree looks at the items you posted and finds other users who want those items. Swaptree has a useful feature that shows you to see all the items you can get “right now”. These are items not necessarily on your want list, but are available to you if you swap one of your items with another user. The reason the number of things you can get right now is so high is because of Swaptree’s three-way trading system.
Three-way trading works like this. Say Mike has a CD that he is willing to swap. Joe has a DVD that Mike wants, but Joe doesn’t want the CD that Mike is willing to trade. Joe instead wants a book. Swaptree introduces Jane into the mix. Jane wants Mike’s CD and is willing to send Joe the book he wants (because she is offering it for trade). I send Jane the CD, Jane sends Joe the book, and Joe sends me the DVD. All this happens in tandem – so I don’t have to wait for Joe to get his book before he sends me the DVD I want. It may sound confusing, but you will see how easy it is once you start using the service.
Who pays for it all?
You have to pay shipping on anything you send. If you use the postage center on the site, Swaptree only charges you a small fee to print postage for each item you are sending. When you sign up for the service, your credit card is used to print postage only when needed. If that doesn’t suite you, then just simply pay for your own postage somewhere else, and drop it in the mail. Since they have an extensive database of sizes and weights for each item, it makes it really simple to just print postage through the Swaptree site and drop the item in the mailbox.
Swaptree also has a comments and feedback section where you can see other users ratings and decide on whether to swap with them or not. Most have a good reputation and are genuinely fast to ship and accurate on their items’ wear and tear descriptions.
These three sites, Paperbackswap.com, SwapaCD.com and SwapaDVD.com all have the same look and feel work slightly different from Swaptree. The difference here is that you can only swap a book for a book, a DVD for a DVD, or a CD for a CD, and each site is run independently (meaning you have to create a user account on each site in order to use the service). Also, each site is run on a “credits” based system.
Paperbackswap/SwapaCD/SwapaDVD are each run the same way, so for ease of typing, I’ll just use Paperbackswap for illustration purposes from here on out.
Paperbackswap requires you to post 10 books online to receive your first two credits. Credits are gained by posting 10 books, sending a book to another user, or buying them outright from the site (credits are $3.35 each as of this writing). Most people have at least 10 books they are willing to part with, so this doesn’t seem to be an issue for the most part.
One of the big differences with this Paper/DVD/CD swapping service is that you don’t have to spend any out of pocket dollars to get a book. If you have earned credits, you can request a book. On, the other hand, if someone requests a book from you, you will have to front the dollars in order to ship the item to the requestor. Similar to Swaptree, you can print your postage online through the site.
Paperbackswap’s postage feature is similar to Swaptree’s in that you can print postage directly from within the site, but also includes something called a wrapper. It is the postage printed on a larger sheet of paper that you can wrap the book in and drop in the mail. No need to find a large envelope or box. Simply use the printed wrapper the book, tape it up. and off to the mailbox you go.
Both Swaptree.com and Paperbackswap/SwapaDVD/SwapaCD.com have an extensive database of available media to from which to browse. There will be no shortage of items from which to choose.
I like the convenience of having DVDs, CDs, Books and video games available to swap in one place. Swaptree has Paperbackswap beaten in this arena whereas Paperbackswap offers a nice wrapper feature to make mailing more efficient.
If your looking for a cheap way to consume more music, movies, books or video games – these two services have you covered.