If you’re a bibliophile, you’ve probably got scads of books that have no significant commercial value (so you can’t sell them used), but that you can’t bear to throw in the trash (because they really are still worthwhile books!). Since that’s us too, i was excited to find PaperBackSwap, a book club that works on a simple cooperative premise: people will share if they’re shared with in return.

Here’s how it works. You post books you’d be willing to give away (without remuneration). In return, after you’ve met the minimum sharing requirement of posting 10 books, you can two credits which you can use to ask others for books they’ve posted. If someone wants your book, you mail it to them and pay the postage: in return, you get an additional credit. When you ask someone else for their book, they pay the postage. While there’s no person-to-person exchange of value (money from me, book from you), it works out overall: people get books they want in some proportion to their willingness to share.

Of course, this is only appealing if you can find books there that you want. As you’d expect, PaperBackSwap isn’t heavy on the latest or most popular titles (but it does include hardbacks, despite the name: there are also companion sites for swapping CDs and DVDs).

The main attraction for me is a less expensive source of books that i can’t find in the local library, and would rather not pay full price for. I generally use Amazon’s Wishlist feature to track books i’m interested in obtaining (feel free to buy me something for Christmas!). So i wrote a bookmarklet (modeled on Jon Udell’s fabulous Library Lookup Project) that simply automates the search for an Amazon book inside PaperBackSwap.

Just drag this link to your link toolbar (see the Library Lookup Project if you need more help on how this works):

PaperBackSwap Lookup