Shafted by The Book Depository!

August 9, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Book Services | 112 Comments

Let me start out by saying that I waited a long time to do this.  I am a firm believer in working things out using good faith and nice manners.  It is with sorrow in my heart that I post this notice warning my readers:  Caveat Emptor – especially when shopping with an overseas bookseller that offers minimal contact information.

It started last August, when I wanted to order everything on the Booker long list to read during my honeymoon.  I ordered a few books from The Book Depository, which had a great selection and low prices.  My electronic fund transfer of $66.12 cleared the bank on 8/21/2009.  Alas, the books didn’t come when I had expected them.

1. I went online to check my order status.  Imagine my shock when I saw that the address my books were being shipped to was missing the entire line of the street address!  It’s entirely possible this was my mistake, but if it was, why did the online order form allow me to submit an incomplete address?

I contacted The Book Depository on 8/25/2009 to ask whether the address I was seeing was actually the address on the label.  Perhaps this was a security measure or something.  They wrote back on 8/26 to say that yes, the books had been sent as shown.

3. I wrote back on 9/30 to ask whether the books had been returned to sender.  They e-mailed back the same day to say, “I can confirm that the books have just been returned to us.”   (Just that very second?  I have to ask, why was I the one to initiate this exchange?  Why was it necessary in the first place, when anyone who has ever addressed an envelope could have noticed that the label  was missing some rather important information?)

4. We decided that I would like two of the books, and a refund for the remainder.  For some reason, they were unable to credit the card I had used to make my order, and asked to mail me a check.

5. The check did not arrive.

6. I wrote to the Contact Us link on the website on 11/25, and received no response.

7. On January 12, I sent an e-mail entitled Fourth Request, asking for a full refund.  I got a response to that one three days later, saying a second check would be sent.

8. The second check did not arrive either.

9. I e-mailed again on July 21 asking whether we could try again by electronic means.  I have PayPal and the money also could have been put directly into my checking account, if the original card or any other card wasn’t going to cut it.  I got no response.

10. Two weeks went by and I e-mailed again, this time to the main customer service address.  That was on Thursday afternoon.  Now it’s Monday afternoon and I haven’t received a response to that message, either.

11. The website includes no phone numbers.  I have no idea whether there is any kind of international Better Business Bureau, and I can’t afford to sic a lawyer on them.  $66.12 is a lot of money to me, but it pales in comparison to what an attorney would charge.

You can see by the dates listed above that I am hardly a Type A, impatient shouter-type.  In fact it’s so much the opposite that I’ve checked my e-mail, my spam folder, and my voicemail twice since beginning this post, in the vain hope that I’d just missed the message that would explain it all and I could avoid this embarrassing contretemps.  I don’t like obsequious waiters, would never hire a personal shopper, and aim in general for the most anonymous, efficient shopping experience possible.  This is, in 15 years of online purchasing, the only time I have ever failed to receive something, even from random sellers on eBay.

You can also see by the above that we had eleven separate issues.  If I were a customer service manager, my team would be memorizing these eleven separate points of failure and we’d probably be revising our training manual.  We can group them into categories:  Shipping QA, customer service response time, and customer satisfaction.

It grieves me to my heart’s core to think that a bookstore – the only kind of business I find truly necessary, other than the grocery store – might not be run as well as it could be.  I like to believe that people who choose to promote reading in any way are people after my own heart:  people who simply love books.  Trustworthy, reliable people.

Book Depository!  Why did you take my money?  What did you do with it?  Why won’t you give it back?

NOTE: As of today (8/11), I am working directly with the manager of The Book Depository to correct this.  I can’t wait to see my refund so I can take this post down.  It would be awfully nice if we didn’t make it to a full calendar year.

NOTE: It’s 8/30.  I received an air-mailed check for $40.27.  I e-mailed back to ask why I had not received the full amount, and was told they would check with accounting.  The last I heard anything was 8/20, so I’m not sure whether the Finance Team agrees with my version of events or thinks I have been settled with appropriately.  (This would have been the amount I should have been refunded had I received the two books from my original order that I still wanted.  And if I had, none of this would have been necessary!)

OverDrive Media!

March 9, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Audio Treat, Book Services | 13 Comments

Once again I’m probably the last person to stumble across something everyone else already knows about.  Anyway, I figure if I rave about my library’s digital audio book service and you’re already using it, you can rave with me.

I bought my first iPod last fall – my parrot chewed up my husband’s headphones, so I took the opportunity to get my own and swap earbuds with him.  I was also listening to a lot of audio books on this sad old CD player I bought at Goodwill for $15.  A coworker kept telling me about all the great books he was downloading for free, and finally I thought I would check it out.

It turns out that my local library offers OverDrive Media, and so does the San Francisco library!  The two libraries have different collections, so I have a Wish List on both.  Technically I could check out five books at a time from each, but who can listen to so many?  You can choose either a 7-day, 14-day, or 21-day checkout period, depending on your library, though the book will stay on your device until you remove it.  I go for the shortest period I can because I can go through an 8-hour book in two days, and I once found myself stuck with no books and a three-day wait before I could check out any more.

Okay, it’s actually fairly complicated.  You have to find out if your library offers digital audio, then you have to download the software, then you have to download the books, and worst of all, you have to figure out how to delete the books once you’re done listening.  They do take up quite a bit of room.

The good news is, comparatively few patrons must be using this service, because there’s a much faster turn-around on hot new books.  For instance, right now I’m downloading Last Night in Twisted River, and if I’d waited to read it, I would have been #94 on the holds list.  Also, as we all know, library audio CDs are perpetually scratched and damaged, while the digital audio is clear.  An iPod will also hold your place between listens – some audio CDs only have chapter breaks every 10 minutes.

Downloading books is pretty quick, but transferring them to the iPod takes about 90 minutes for an 8-hour book.  A 24-hour book like Bridge of Sighs, which is currently on my player, took over 5 hours – but you can do it track by track.  It’s best to set up while you’re doing other things on the computer so it can run in the background.

How to Delete OverDrive Media Audiobooks from your iPod:

I had a heck of a time figuring out how to delete the books once I’d read them, because they wouldn’t show up under Audiobooks in my iTunes.  I’m going to spell out the instructions here for anyone else who has had (or will have) similar problems.  Synch your iPod and click on your device in the pane on the left.  Then look on the Summary tab under Options and check the box for “Manually manage music and videos.”  Click the arrow next to the name of your device back in the pane on the left, and a little menu will appear, including an option for Audiobooks.  You can delete your audiobooks track by track.  Pretty simple, but amazing how not-obvious it is and how many confusing dead ends come up in a Google search!

I Don’t Want a Kindle Any More

July 6, 2009 at 11:19 am | Posted in Book Services | 10 Comments

I did want one.  I wanted one a great deal more than I wanted an iPod, which I talked myself out of.  I figured for travel, even if I only used it one week a year, it would be fantastic to carry a Kindle and leave the 15 pounds of books that normally infest my carry-on baggage at home.  But I got an opportunity to test-drive a Kindle this weekend, and now my crush is over.

Listen up, Amazon, because you need readers like me.  I love e-books.  I’m enchanted with the very idea of e-books.  I find them faster and more convenient to read, and I adore the portability.  I could be wrong, but I also think it would be better for the environment if publishing shifted toward electronic format and fewer books were remaindered and pulped.  More than the fact that I dig using an e-reader, you should know that I read massive amounts of text.  I read about 10 books a week, and I’m also an avid newshound.  If I’d bought all the books I’ve read this year on Amazon, I would already have spent over $3000 – and it’s only July.  So you want readers like me.

Why didn’t I like the Kindle?  There are two main reasons:  things about the Kindle itself, and ways the Kindle differs from my ancient PDA, which also works as an e-reader.  First, I couldn’t get over the flash whenever I turned a page.  That was so obnoxious to me that I actually gave up on the book I was reading after only about 40 minutes.  Is there a way to turn that feature off, or could there be?  Yikes.  Second, I found the ‘next page’ button really clunky to use.  Granted, it was in exactly the right spot, but I kept wanting it to be beveled and press at an angle.  These features might not have been quite so much of a turn-off, but the smaller screen size meant I had to turn pages 2-3 times more often than I would with a paper book.

Now, here’s why I like my [now retail value $3.99] old PDA better as an e-reader.  It scrolls.  I can choose to have the text scroll away to my heart’s content, and change the rate, too.  Having tried this once, I would never give it up.  To my mind, scrolling is the sine qua non of e-reading.  I was profoundly frustrated with the page-turning rate I could achieve with the Kindle, and that feeling was only amplified because I’d had great fun reading an e-book on my PDA only a week before.  The other thing is that the PDA has a touch screen.  If I wanted to switch back to manual page-turning, I could do this by brushing it with my fingertip.

There are other advantages to the PDA over the Kindle.  If I break it, I can simply buy another one on eBay with the cash in my change jar, because everything is backed up onto my PC.  The battery life is comparable or better, perhaps due to its smaller size.  It fits in my pocket.  It’s so jacked up and old that nobody would want to steal it.  (One of its screws is sheared off, so sometimes the cover comes loose and it resets.  But that’s just mine).  It has a stylus, something that’s become unfashionable for PDAs and smart phones but something you can pry out of my cold dead fingers.  Best of all, my PDA has a lot of other functions.  I can and do use it as an address book, calendar, alarm clock, recipe book, e-mail reader, and several other functions.  My nephews can even draw pictures in it for me – in a good way.

So, anyway, I used to want a Kindle but I knew I didn’t after only a few minutes with the genuine article in my hands.  I might come around and buy one in the future, if some significant changes were made.  I understand the page-turning feature is designed to save battery life, but that’s far less important to me than ease of use.  I’d rather it cost less, but if the e-books continue to drop in price relative to paper books, I won’t care so much.  Speed is the biggest factor of all.  I want to be able to scroll, and if the Kindle scrolled, I might even forget that it pretty much only reads books.  After all, that’s pretty much all I do, too.

Cheap E-books!

June 24, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Book Services | 3 Comments

It’s possible I’m the last person on the bandwagon with this e-book thing, and everyone else has already figured this out.  Anyway, you know the whole Sony Reader/Kindle battle?  Which high-priced, sexy bit of electronics are you supposed to buy if you want to read e-books?  I admit that I was starting to covet one, but I just couldn’t get over that whole price thing.  Sometimes even free is too expensive.

It occurred to me that I could use my old Palm Pilot as an e-reader, as I’ve already done with free e-books from for years now.  Sure enough, it is possible to buy books in the Palm OS format, using a free e-reader software.  I went to Fictionwise, which is apparently run by Barnes & Noble, and found the book I wanted (The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink).  I registered and downloaded the book in under 10 minutes, and it’s reading fine.  I compared prices, and while it was about $2 more than Sony’s price and nearly double Amazon’s Kindle price, there’s a kicker.

I bought my Palm for $50 nearly five years ago.  I checked current prices on eBay, and the same model now sells for $3.99.  That’s an awful lot cheaper even than buying the Kindle or Sony Reader devices on eBay at steep discount.  Even if you read a book a day like I do, it would take a pretty big stack of slightly cheaper titles to catch up to the initial investment in either higher-end device.  Besides, they’re all black and white.

The caveat is that my Palm m500 has about a 2″-square reading area.  But I’m used to it.  Plus I carry it in my purse anyway, as my calendar, address book, grocery list, cookbook, e-mail reader, game player, notepad, etc etc.  The battery life is amazing – I only charge it about once a week – and I know if I broke it I could replace it inexpensively and simply download the contents onto a new device.  I hate to say it, but it looks like 2009 is going to have to work harder to catch up to 2001.

May 8, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Book Services | 1 Comment

Have you played with lately?  I love it.  What it does is help you come up with book recommendations based on a blend of features.  You can move a slider bar back and forth between these pairs of opposed qualities:





Larger than life/down to earth




No sex/sex




You can focus on just one quality, or pick several.  Is there something wrong with me that I tend to be more interested in the right-hand side of the spectrum?

There’s also a button for “change to character, plot, setting.”  You can look for books set in a particular part of the globe, or with a character of a preferred race, age, sexuality, or gender.  The best part is the plot.  Do you like success against the odds?  Conflict?  Lots of twists and turns?  Unfortunately you can’t say “yes to all of the above”… Not yet, anyway.

Part of what I love about the site is that it recommends more than just the current season’s books.  It includes anything in paperback in the English language since 1995.

The other thing I love is that is a republic – all the selections are made by a team of 150 people.  Isn’t that an improvement over user-controlled ratings systems that give Twilight and Great Expectations both four stars?  Incidentally, I ran a few titles that interested me through, and they were consistently highly rated by users there.

There really is a certain genius to  Choosing only fairly recent books assumes that we already have a list of classics to work from.  I played around with it a bit, and found only a scant handful I’d ever heard of, much less read already.  It’s terribly exciting, and a bit addictive.

I Broke Up with BookSwim

January 28, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Posted in Book Services | 6 Comments

In the past, I’ve reviewed BookSwim and Paperspine, two book rental services that I have used.  Every now and then I see that someone has searched these terms looking for a review.  To that end, here is the letter I wrote when I cancelled my BookSwim account.

Cancelling one’s account takes multiple steps.  At each point, you are faced with a cute little question asking for the reason you want to quit.  When you check the box, a response comes up reminding you of all their great features.  It takes a while to get to the part where your opinion is solicited.  I take these “exit polls” seriously because I think the information is really valuable for improving services.

Without further ado:

I have been using both BookSwim and Paperspine.  Due to shipping times, my Paperspine books have a total turnaround time of 6 days, while my BookSwim books take 15 or more.  I do not wish to pay extra for faster shipping.

My Paperspine books arrive in cardboard, while my BookSwim books usually come in a shipping bag that has been torn upon arrival every time.  It’s a wonder none of my books have fallen out or become wet or damaged.

My Paperspine books have always come in the order of my queue, save for two exceptions that were in the top three.  My BookSwim books are as likely to come from the bottom half of my pool as from the middle third, meaning I have waited months to read the books I was most enthusiastic about.

Paperspine has no requirement for length of queue.  BookSwim requires a minimum number of books in the pool, which means I have had to add books I was less interested in to fill it out – and then gotten those less interesting books first.

BookSwim sometimes silently removes books from my pool, which I have found tremendously frustrating.  These always seem to be hard-to-find books which then vanish from the BookSwim catalogue.  I have no interest in paying to rent books that I can get at my local library for free.  BookSwim will order books that are in the top 20,000 on, but most of the things I have wanted to rent do not meet that criterion.

Paperspine allows return of single books, meaning I don’t have to wait until I’ve read at least three books before exchanging them for a new set.

I have had trouble getting enough return shipping bags from BookSwim, another problem that delays turnaround time.  I have received batches of four or more books with only one return bag that will not fit all those books.  It’s easy to ask for a new shipping bag to be sent, but there is still a delay.  Paperspine will send an envelope with multiple return shipping bags of different sizes.

I have had a few problems with my account, including books that I have rented disappearing from my list [meaning they are at my house, but don’t show up in my account so I can check them back in].  Maintaining my account with BookSwim has been a bit high-maintenance.

Finally, I’ve read through the majority of the list of books that I could not find elsewhere.  I appreciate the opportunity to rent books with BookSwim, but I always planned to keep my account relatively short-term.

I hope my comments have been helpful.  Thank you for your time.

And there you have it.  I’m still with Paperspine, and I’m still wishing Paperspine carried hardcover books.

Book Rentals Redux

August 7, 2008 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Book Services | 1 Comment

Well, a month has gone by, and I’m continuing my experiment with Paperspine versus BookSwim.  In my experience, the two services are diverging more in what they have to offer.


Compare the two side by side.  BookSwim has the splashier web page, more levels of service plans, and – sing hey! – hardcovers as well as paperbacks.  Ah, but there’s more to the picture than that.


In my earlier post comparing the two services, I found that I saved more money through BookSwim.  It turns out that part of the savings comes from the service plan I selected.  With either one, the higher level your plan, the more you save.  Comparing 7-at-a-time to 2-at-a-time wasn’t really fair.


Paperspine is emerging as my preference.  Their customer service is stellar.  Their shipping turnaround is faster, especially now that they’ve switched to UPS, and they’ve added the option to choose a shipping address.  I’ve gotten my books in the order they appear in my queue, with only one exception so far, and the skipped book showed up in my next shipment.  Best of all, their selection is really broad.  If it’s in paperback, I’ve found that they almost always have it, including some pretty obscure stuff.  When they add hardcovers, they’re going to blow BookSwim out of the water.


Now, I still love BookSwim, because I am able to get those pesky new hardcovers so much sooner than waiting 6-12 months on hold at the public library.  But they’re making me pull my hair out over a couple of things.  First, you have to send books back in batches, to save on shipping costs, which is fine.  But in comparison to Paperspine, you spend a lot longer waiting for the shipping turnaround, because you have a stack of already-read books piling up at your house until you reach your minimum to return.  Second, I am still waiting on three of the original seven books from the top of my “pool” over a month and three shipments later.  There’s absolutely no predicting which books you’ll get next, and in fact the service asks you to keep 50 books in your pool at all times.  The other thing has to do with their offer to purchase books that aren’t in their catalogue.  They post their rules for what they’ll buy, but you only find out the last parameter after you’ve requested something that doesn’t qualify: the book has to be ranked better than 50,000 on Amazon.  This is probably why several books suddenly magically disappeared from my rental pool – those rankings change from one day to the next.


In practice, here’s how it breaks down.  I got 13 books in one month from BookSwim at $27.99, roughly the cost of a new hardcover.  I got 7 books in one month from Paperspine, at $19.95.  There are two factors to weigh, here: one, the higher the plan the more the savings, and two, renting more books than you can actually read at a time has no cost savings.

The Great Rental Book War

July 15, 2008 at 6:31 am | Posted in Book Services | 3 Comments

Currently there’s an epic battle going on between two book rental companies that, evidently, appeared online in the same week in December last year.  These are Paperspine and BookSwim.  I’m currently signed up with both, for reasons I hope won’t be too confusing, so I’m in a position to compare them.  Renting books turns out to be cheaper even than buying used, as long as you read more than two a month.  Since I might read two a day on the weekend, this is clearly economical for me.

First off, both have about 200,000 books in their catalogue.  Second, both offer free shipping.  Third, their pricing structure is virtually identical.  Fourth, both sites will buy books for you, under certain criteria, if you are looking for something they don’t have in stock.  You can rent unlimited books two at a time for $14.95 a month from either one.  The differences are subtle, but enough so that you might find yourself leaning more toward one than another.  They’re both still in beta mode, so there’s also room for new development.

Okay, first off:  Paperspine has only paperback books at the moment, while BookSwim offers both paperback and hardcover.  The way this has worked out for me, so far, has been that Paperspine has had a better selection of older titles I hadn’t been able to find at the library, while BookSwim has a broader selection of newer titles, since these haven’t been released in paperback yet.  Once Paperspine starts offering hardcovers, their selection is bound to take a quantum leap forward, but until that happens, the jury is still out.  It’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison.  (This is the main reason I’m subscribed to both – neither one by itself can get me all the non-library titles on my list).

Second, there’s the delivery address issue.  If all your mail comes to your house, this won’t be a problem for you.  The deal is, Paperspine will only deliver to the billing address of the credit card you used to set up your account.  For me, that’s my post office box.  BookSwim, on the other hand, has a separate shipping address, so I am able to get my books at work, which I prefer.  I haven’t tried mentioning this to Paperspine support yet, but I’m sure it will come up soon.

Third, there are multiple pricing tiers, and while three of them overlap, each site has a range the other doesn’t have.  Paperspine offers a $9.95/month option in which you pay your own shipping – perfect for less rapid readers who still don’t want to pay $16 for a new paperback.  On the other end of the spectrum, BookSwim offers three tiers beyond Paperspine’s largest account.  If you’re really fast, or you live with other readers, you can get up to 11 books at a time.  (I’m on the 7 plan, so we’ll see how that holds up).

The other difference between the various plans is that of how many books you can keep at a time.  Both will allow you to keep any given book as long as you like without late fees, just like Netflix.  BookSwim also offers you a “buy this book” option, at about a $3 discount off their catalogue price.  (Chances are good you could beat this price at Amazon).  With Paperspine, as soon as you finish a book you can drop it in the envelope and mail it back, and they’ll send another one from your queue.  BookSwim, on the other hand, requires you to send back a batch at a time.  On the 7 plan, for instance, I have to send back at least 3 books before they’ll send more.  So depending on how quickly you read and how slow the mail delivery is in your area, this may be a factor for you.  (Right now both services take 7 days to get new books to me, and 3 days on the return trip).

Now for the actual books.  I have found that all my Paperspine books were in virginal condition.  It’s hard to tell if they never were read before I got them, or if they just went through very careful readers.  On the other hand, all my BookSwim books look very “well loved.”  They also have stickers on them – one a bar code, and the other an ad.  The advantage with Paperspine is the lovely newness of the book, while the advantage with BookSwim is that you’re not accidentally going to mix in a rental book with your own books.

As for the queueing, my first four Paperspine books came in the order of my queue, and it wasn’t until the fifth one that a selection came up from further down the list.  I’m still on my first batch with BookSwim – they arrived today, in fact – and only one of the seven came from the first seven slots in my queue.  But then, I set up the entire queue in one session, so it’s hard to tell what will happen with the next shipment.

I calculated my savings on my first BookSwim order today.  It turns out, if I had paid the lowest price for each book on Amazon and gotten free shipping, I would have spent just under $61 for seven hardcovers.  The monthly fee for the 7 plan is $27.99.  So even if these wind up being the only books I read all month, I’ve still paid less than half price.  My Paperspine account is the $14.95 plan.  It looks like I could have gotten those books for as low as $13.69 – pretty close – though I would have had to pay separate shipping for all four books.  I don’t even want to think what that would add up to – I can’t stand paying for shipping, especially when it’s higher than the price of the item.  Why can’t we just teleport these things?  …But I digress.  I guess the main point is that renting is cheaper than owning, and the faster postal service is in your area, the more books you can get turned around in a month, the better the value.

If you’re interested, naturally there are incentives for signing up new members.  If you type in the code JC3109 on Paperspine, I get a free month.  If you’re interested in BookSwim, the incentive goes your way – I would get $5 while you would get 50% off your first month.  Sheesh.  Anyway, if you’d like to do that, send me your e-mail address and I’ll e-mail you the invite.

Okay, time to go read more books now.  Er.  I mean, time to go to bed now.

Paperspine – Like NetFlix for Books

July 12, 2008 at 7:41 am | Posted in Book Services | Leave a comment

(June 13, 2008)

Hey, you guys, I stumbled across something cool today.

This site,, is still in beta, but it’s up and running.  The deal is, pay a monthly subscription fee to have unlimited book rental by mail.  There are four options available; the cheapest one charges $1.50 per book for shipping, but the other three all have free shipping.  So for $14.95 a month, I can have two books at a time and swap them out as fast as I can read them.  Heh heh heh.  How long do they honestly think it will take me to go through 200,000 titles?

It’s true that I hate to spend money on anything.  That’s why I rely on the public library to satisfy my unquenchable desire for books.  I mean, really – my sweetie and I figured out that I would probably spend about $5000 a year if I had to buy all my books brand-new.  And then where would I put them all?  I’d have to move to a bigger place and buy more shelves, too.  That’s why I prefer to love ’em and leave ’em.  Yep, with me books are usually a one-night stand.  I find out what’s between the covers, and then in the morning I dump them off, only to get covered in fingerprints by the next patron.  Sure, I might get nostalgic and want to take them out again, but until then…

It turns out, though, that in spite of the fact that there is a cooperative agreement between all six counties in my area to share inventories, there are still books I can’t get.  I keep a little list in my PDA.  Some are out of print, and some are just too new.  Some are available through one of the neighboring branches, but they take about two months to process and then you can only get three at a time.  So my little list had passed the 50 mark and was heading for 75.  It turns out, though, that at least half of them are available on Paperspine!  So, theoretically, I can read through all of them in a few months and then cancel my subscription when I don’t need it any more.

Renting books isn’t that new an idea – some public libraries reserve a few copies of popular new books for this service.  I’ve seen a fee of $1.50 per day, and plenty of people will pay it rather than pay $25 or more for a new hardcover.  I would say, with Paperspine, it beats the price of buying a used book on Amazon and paying the shipping.  If you rent two books a month instead of buying, you break even, and if you can read faster than that, you’re in business.  The best news is, they’re planning to add hardcovers soon as well.

Just don’t spill on ’em – they’ll charge you for ruined books.

PS:  Naturally they have a referral bonus program too.  Here is my code in case you folks want to throw me a bone (which is funny, considering I’m a vegan – what would I do with a bone?):  JC3109.  Dude!  If anyone joins and pays their bill for a whole month, I get a free month!  Come on, you know you want to.


July 12, 2008 at 7:27 am | Posted in Book Services | Leave a comment

(March 6, 2008)

I signed up for BookMooch this week.  Today I mailed books to Jakarta and Bucharest!

Basically you list ten books you’re willing to pass on.  Other users request them, you mail them out, and then you get points to use on other people’s books.  (1/10th of a point for each of your first 10 posted books).  You get extra points for sending books internationally, although you can set your account so that you don’t have to.  Then you can make a wishlist, and when someone posts a book on your wishlist, you get an e-mail notification.

I put up my ten books.  The next morning, I had requests on five of them.

The only trouble right now is that I haven’t found any books I want yet.  There is a plus side to this, though.  Postage rates are going up in May.  So if I send out a bunch of books between now and then, I’ll be earning points on low postage and collecting books on high postage.

The concept of BookMooch is an interesting one.  It’s almost like a pyramid scheme, in that you have to put money in to get anything out.  (I spent $25 on postage and shipping materials today).  The point system is value-neutral, too, other than the international-trade credit.  So you could potentially post ten copies of “Alive” (available at any thrift store by the stack), collect one point, and wind up trading it in for a popular new book.  The eventual success or failure of the site seems to depend on whether people are willing to let go of their better-quality books, or just stuff it with entries for noxious old mass-market paperbacks that nobody wants any more.

Anyway, I’m an optimist, so I just put up ten books I thought people would want.  (And to my surprise, they went after the five I would have ranked lower).  I have about 15 points now.  I’ll consider whether to keep putting up more books depending on whether I can find anything I want for myself.

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