Five ways readers can save on books
NEW YORK (AP) -- One budget line Wendy Li isn't watching even in this tight economy is her spending on books. That's because she uses PaperbackSwap.com, one of the book trading sites that are growing in popularity.Skip to next paragraph
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Ways readers can save money include trading books, buying titles from the library and downloading e-books.
"All I have to pay for is the postage," said Li, a 44-year-old banker in New York City. A diet of three books a month costs her only about $6, clearly a bargain for an avid reader.
Whether it's trading titles, downloading e-books or tapping discounts at major retailers, borrowing from the library isn't the only way readers can cut costs.
Here are five ways to ensure your love of reading doesn't become a casualty to high food and gas prices.
The rules are simple; generally you list the books you're willing to trade. Every time you mail a title out, you get a credit or point, which you can redeem for a book. At PaperbackSwap.com, which currently lists 2.4 million books, you can also purchase credits for $3.45.
Membership is free on all three sites, so your only cost is shipping. Mailing a paperback at the lowest rate typically takes around seven days and generally costs less than $3. After you get a book, it's yours to keep if you wish.
One drawback to these sites is that new or rare titles may be hard to find. Also, because you're trading with strangers, you won't get the same guarantees as with a retailer. But the sites may be able to help mediate a dispute, or award credits for lost damage.
Bookins.com, for example, promises to refund shipping charges and award credits if you don't get the books you were promised. However, there aren't any guarantees at BookMooch.com or PaperbackSwap.com, which, despite its name, also lists hardcovers, CDs and DVDs.
Kelly Fowler, a member of the site for two years, said she once agreed to swap three books with a member in a discussion forum. Yet after mailing out her box, she never received the books she was promised.
Fowler, a 38-year-old homemaker in Clinton, Tennessee, notified administrators and said the member was immediately banned. She never got her books back, but she said it's only happened once in the more than 300 swaps she's made to feed her love of harlequin and romance novels.
For a more unusual approach to trading books, there's BookCrossing.com. The idea is to leave books in public places -- in an airport lounge, on a park bench -- and let people find them. Users log onto the site to note where they "released" the book. For instance, someone recently posted that they left a copy of "The Nanny Diaries" at a Starbucks in the Kingsview Village Shopping Center in Germantown, Maryland.