Nancy Barber (nlbarber) wrote,
Nancy Barber

Paperbackswap get together

I've been hearing about for a while now, mostly on romance book mailing lists, but I think it's been mentioned on piffle and elsewhere. I finally got around to joining and posting my first batch of books back in September, and have been moderately pleased by getting rid of some books, and more pleased by being able to get a few things that would otherwise have ended up on the "look for in used bookstores" list or ordered from a UBS online for some degree of expense for the shipping, at least.

PBS is one of the first of the book-swapping sites, and has one of the simplest setups. You list your books, and if one is requested you mail it to the requester using your postage. PSB will print a wrapper or a mailing label for you. Each book you successfully get to a requester earns you a credit. You can then request books yourself, using your credits. I've managed to send 22 books, have received 9, and have another 58 listed that no one has wanted yet.

Over the last few years I've gotten rather annoyed at the closest bricks-and-mortar used bookstore to me, as the trade-in value has shrunk, they now require a cash payment for part of every transaction, and while it's a good sized store, their stock is still pretty limited. PBS is now approaching a million books listed to trade, giving a much better chance of someone having what I'm looking for. And I find the "book for a book" swap to be reasonable, even if I might sometimes get a credit for a $8 paperback that I use for a 75¢ one.

PBS has a set of Web boards, and many members are very active there. Not me--I'm struggling to keep up with my mailing lists, LJ, and SFF.Net newsgroups. But they are trying to build a community, and as part of that suggested that people who live close to each other start a topic and possibly set up a face-to-face meeting. Someone did that for Atlanta, a meeting was proposed and agreed upon for this afternoon, and a group did indeed gather. (I found out about the Atlanta message thread, or more properly the general chapter message thread, through the monthly email newsletter--I'd never visited the forums until this came up.) I confess that I hadn't been gotten around to investigating who's behind PBS, so I was surprised in the pre-meeing discussion to find that the organization was started by a small group in the Atlanta area, and the 2 of that group who are still involved with it, Richard and Robert, planned to come to the gathering.

It ended up being a great time--reminds me of pifflefests and MiniLoisCons, where everyone jumps into the conversation like friends of long-standing. Which on piffle and the Bujold list, we are--but on PBS it's more the shared love of books (of widely varying types), and our experiences with PBS itself. Oh, a few people do use the PBS forums for the same interaction I get from piffle and the Bujold list, but most of us are just book swappers. There were 13 members there plus Richard and Robert, who not only graciously picked up the tab at Cafe Intermezzo, but also brought various goodies for us like T-shirts, pens, and bookmarks. They talked a lot about how it works, some ideas for the future, and were anxious to hear any ideas and feedback we had, too.

Robert, the database/Web guru, really interested me with mentions of the amount of data they have, some of which they are looking for ways to present and share on the site. For instance, they have a pretty good idea how long you will have to wait for a book that you want that isn't listed in the system--with thousands of books going out every week, anything relatively common has accumulated some statistics on the frequency of posting, etc. It would be very nice to know before you get in the request line behind 50 people for some title whether it's like to be 1 week or a year before a copy comes up for you.

Anyway, nice afternoon, and lots of interesting conversation. We're going to try to meet up quarterly--don't know if that will actually happen, but I'll certainly try to come again.
Tags: books, paperbackswap

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