Like most avid readers, I’ve got a collection of books in my house, many of which I’m unlikely to read twice. I’ve come across a neat way to trade those books for other volumes: Read It, Swap It. I discovered the site when I was vainly Googling my own name, to see if there were any new mentions of Chion out there on the far reaches of the worldwide web; I was delighted to come across a past pupil of the school (hello, Megsy) plugging my novels on the site’s forum.
On Read It, Swap It, you create a username for yourself, then put together a list of books you’re willing to exchange. Now you’re ready to browse the full library of books on offer by all users. When you spot something you want, you click to request it. The owner of that book then has opportunity to browse through your books. If he sees something he likes, a successful exchange takes place. What I find charming about this site is that it’s completely devoid of any monetary exchange; even kids can use it.
I’ve made several requests for books, but unfortunately the other user doesn’t always find anything of interest to him in my selection. It’s a pity, because I located a few books that I really wanted (in particular, the original novels behind the movies Battle Royale and Ring, translated from Japanese), but I couldn’t pique the owners’ curiosity. Likewise, I’ve received requests for some of my books, but I don’t always find the other user’s selection interesting. The system works on a simple book-for-book basis, so it’s possible you might end up swapping a perfect-condition 500-page first edition hardcover for a tatty old 150-page paperback. You can think of these as drawbacks, but I actually feel it adds a bit of excitement to the process.
One thing I’ve found interesting is that I’ve had requests for several small-press print-on-demand books by practically unknown authors. It’s probably too early to suggest that there’s any kind of trend to be witnessed here, but it’s possible that in this second-hand trading environment, people are more on the look-out for the unusual and unfamiliar. Thus far, I’ve traded two self-published books (by two authors who have now completely dropped off the radar) for Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Simon Clark’s Blood Crazy. (The plot of the latter got me excited: think 28 Days Later except it’s only the adults who go bananas; kids are left to fend for themselves in a world where every adult is out to slaughter them. What a great idea for an apocalypse!)
Read It, Swap It is a UK-only service. Here’s my book list, if anyone out there wants to trade books with me, whether inside or outside the system.