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Crossing books with paperbackswap

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I have a gripe. But it's ironic.

I joined paperbackswap a while back because a fellow bookcrosser suggested it. My initial impression of paperbackswap, which initially turned me off joining, was that it focuses on getting as much as you give. Tit for tat, accounting accounting. Whenever you send a book off to someone else you get one credit (two if it's an audio book). You can use the credits to order books from other paperbackswap members. One credit=one book. I didn't really like the mercenary quality of it.

The bookcrosser suggested that I might have an easier time finding books that I specifically wanted by joining paperbackswap, though, so I did.

I was primarily looking for books that were on the 2007 "notable books" lists - NYT, Christian Science Monitor, and others. These are not mass market paperbacks and I thought it would be great to be able to obtain them used.

Paperbackswap is all about the swap, as opposed to bookcrossing, which is all about the giveaway. I love giving books away, usually anonymously, with no expectation of any kind of return. Most of the books that I release into the wild go their own ways without ever getting back to me. I hope they find good homes, many of them, but it's just as possible that many of them land in wastebaskets. I don't know. I do know that recently I heard from one that I had released over a year ago. Its original savior passed it on to others and eventually one of them actually wrote a journal entry in bookcrossing.com. So I never know. I figure most people won't like throwing books away so they may well have rich lives.

On paperbackswap I list my better books, as a rule. I don't usually list mass market stuff because that's really good for wild releasing. Why go to the trouble of packaging a book to mail that can be found for a few bucks at a used book store or thrift shop?

There are over 2-1/2 million books listed on paperbackswap. Seems like my chances for finding some good ones would be excellent. But it turns out that no, my chances are actually quite slim. I have been a member for less than 11 months and in that time 25 of my books have been requested. I mailed all but three, which had gone missing by the time I got the requests (where ARE they??). In that same time I have received 13 books. There are 19 books currently on my wish list there - all set for automatic request if someone lists one of them. Seven of the books I requested are quality paperbacks. The rest are odds and ends that I thought I might like to have. Some are quite old, thirty years or more, and one is a thin child's book.

I do searches, custom searches, on paperbackswap frequently, in hopes of finding the good stuff. Most of what I find is chick lit, mass market mysteries, best sellers.

Every time I list one of my current notable books it is snapped up, so I know others are reading these books too (but they don't seem to be offering them when they are done). My gripe is that I offer the good stuff but most of the people on paperbackswap offer crap.Yet one book = one credit regardless. So here I am carping about not getting value for my money, so to speak, when my greatest love is just giving it away. I can't explain it. I just want others to let go as easily as I do.

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