Are you an avid reader of books? Do you have a bunch of DVDs, CDs, or video games that you would like to give away? Have you ever considered swapping these items for something else or giving them to a school that has requested them specifically? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the website swap.com (formerly swaptree.com) is a website designed for people just like you. This site is designed to connect people who have things that they no longer want or need with people who want these same items.
My family reads about 40 books each year, which you can imagine is an expensive hobby. Although sometimes I read books on an electronic book reader, most of the time I prefer my books in paperback or hardback form. I typically have a stack of books to read at any given time, and sometimes I trade them with friends who have similar interests. But I usually get rid of these books since they take up so much space in our house.
I have had a Swap.com account for a few years now and would recommend it to people who read a lot of books, play a lot of video games, or like to own copies of movies or CDs. The way that swap.com works is that you register for an account and list all the books, CDs, video games, and DVDs that you have available to trade on your "have" list. Then, you list all the books, CDs, video games, and DVDs that you would like to have sent to you on your "want" list. The swap.com program does some sort of computer match to enable you to get a media item you "want" by sending someone a media item that you "have" and wish to trade. Sometimes you send your item directly to the person from whom you are receiving an item. Other times the computer figures out a trade "chain" so that multiple people are each sending items, and everyone gets an item they requested on their "want" list.
So, you may wonder how much does this cost? According to the swap.com website and my experience, the cost for each trade is the postage that you pay to ship the item to the other person. If you use the swap.com website, it will request a credit card. If you wish to do so, you can charge a postage-paid label to your credit card when you make a trade. If you do this, you do not actually have to go to the post office. You can just print the label on your home printer, tape it to the front of a mailer or envelope containing the item that you are sending, and drop it in the mail. The final cost is about $3.20 (U.S.) per item, which is much less than most paperback books, hardback books, video games, DVDs and CDs.
You may also wonder what happens if you don't receive the item? I was a bit worried about this myself when I first started swapping items using swap.com. So far, all of my traded items have arrived. But if they do not, swap.com has a "safe swap" guarantee. If you trade an item with another person on the website and your item does not come within 27 days, and the person with whom you traded cannot prove that it was sent to you, swap.com will purchase the same item from another user and send it to you.
Another common concern is the condition of the items you receive. When you list a product that you have available to trade on your "have" list, you must rate the condition and describe it so that a potential trade partner can approve or disapprove of the trade. If you are notified of a trade and you feel the condition of the item is not acceptable, you can reject the trade. You can reject the trade for other reasons as well, like if you cannot find or lose the item you listed as on your "have" list. Also, if the trade does not go well or the item is not in the condition described, you also get the chance to rate your trade partner. These trader ratings are available when you are presented with a trade, so if you are worried about the trade partner's record due to multiple negative reviews, you can reject a suggested trade for this reason too.
One thing that I like about swap.com is that it enables me to have a running list of books and other media items that I would like to get if the opportunity presents. When I see or hear about a book that I would like to read, I usually add it to the swap.com "want" list and eventually it comes in the mail.
There are a few negative aspects about swap.com. This site is designed to swap items, so most of the items are so widespread that they have little actual value. You do not receive any money when you swap an item, so if you have any book, DVD, video game, or CD that is really new, rare, or valuable in some other way, you probably do not want to swap it. You would want to sell it, either locally or through another type of website. Make sure that you know the value of an item before you list it on your "have" list so that you do not miss out on getting money for a valuable item.
Also, if you want to get the newest, latest, or first copy of an item, it is unlikely that you will get it very quickly at swap.com. You will need to buy it. I often list books when they are first released, but usually do not receive a copy from a trade for at least a year. It all depends on how many copies are sold. So do not expect to be the first in your community to have something that you list on your "want" list. On the other hand, when you have on your "want" list for a long time, and you finally get it, it is like getting a good surprise birthday present.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend swap.com for trading with a few reservations. In case you were wondering, I do not have any relationship either fiscally or personally with swap.com its owners. I was not paid to do this review. I did not receive any product or credit or anything else in return.