Guilt-free Weeding: the Renewal of Old Titles into New Books


PaperBackSwap is a great service I learned about during my visit to the Mott Public Library. In a nutshell, PaperBackSwap facilitates exchanging unwanted books for titles you can actually use.

Here’s how it works:

  • You place your unwanted books up for offer (you can simply scan in the ISBN)
  • When someone requests one of your books, print off the wrapper and mail it out to them
  • When they receive it, you earn one credit for a paperback or hardcover book, two for an audio book
  • A credit can be redeemed for a paperback or hardcover book, audio books cost two; and, yes, large print titles are available
  • You pay postage when you’re shipping items out, but this is the only cost to you
  • To help get the titles you want, you can create a wishlist and set titles to be auto-requested when they become available

When you sign up for a free account, you get two credits which you can redeem at any time. This lets you evaluate the service at no risk. Huzzah!

There are some really reasonable restrictions on what’s allowable for trade. Brilliantly, ex-library copies in good condition are perfectly viable (though members can choose not to receive them). It’s like library recycling!


If you’re like me, you’re both deeply cynical and curious as to how a free-to-use ad-free platform could be sustainable. Their secret? They sell stuff, too. If you find something you crave and are out of credits, they’ll sell you credits you can trade for books. If you just can’t land a used copy of what you’re looking for, they host an Amazon Affiliate marketplace on their site. They also have sundry other book-related merchandise on offer.

Ultimately, this is a cost effective and reasonably efficient means of freshening up your shelves with new material, while getting items you can’t use or no longer want out of your library and into the hands of readers. Truly guilt-free weeding.


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