Bargain: #booksfortrade on Twitter
Overview: #booksfortrade is a hastag on Twitter used to offer up/seek out books to trade (makes sense, right?). A trade is just what it sounds like – I will mail my book to you and you will mail your book to me. Traders will either tweet books (usually in the form of a picture) that they have up for trade or will tweet a list of books they’re ISO (in search of). It is appreciated if US only or international is specified. Typically, trade discussions begin in a reply tweet to the original #booksfortrade tweet and then move over to direct messages for finalization and hashing (haha, get it?) out details. Once a trade has been agreed upon and addresses have been exchanged, you pack up your book and mail it off. You send your tracking number to the other person. After you’ve received your book, it’s customary to tweet out a thank you to the sender (or at least DM them and let them know you got it.)
History: The first instance of the hastag was on September 22, 2014. Based on personal experience, the hashtag has really experienced a lot of activity in the last 3 months with regular traders.
- It’s cheap! Assuming the book you’re trading away is already a sunk cost, you’re only paying for shipping. (Media mail has been about $2.72 for a paperback and about $3.77 for a hardcover, depending on the weight, within the contiguous US. I’ve never done an international trade so I do not know how shipping would turn out.)
- Opportunity to get specific/rare copies (especially ARCs/foreign) for your collection.
- The hashtag has a large reach and bloggers re-tweet other bloggers, so finding that elusive last book for the collection is actually doable.
- It may be a better value to get rid of your unwanted books this way vs. selling to a local used bookstore. For example, if you sell a relatively current hardback to a local used bookstore, you may get $1-4 or so in store credit to use towards another purchase. You probably will not be able to buy a book with this credit alone. If you trade with someone, you’re getting a $17.99 hardcover for just the price of shipping.
- Book mail is always fun!
- Scammers. Liars. Cheaters. They’re out there. (More on how to protect yourself under my experiences.)
- A bit time consuming to sift through tweets and agree on a trade.
- If you’re offering up books, there may be no interest in your books, so it’s not a sure way to get rid of books.
- If you’re seeking books, people that have the rare book that you’re seeking usually want to hold on to it. Rare books are rare for a reason.
- Negotiating a trade can be difficult.
- Some traders are notoriously bad at sending your book in a timely manner.
- There’s a very small possibility that your book would get lost or damaged in the mail.
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment and address the elephant in the room – Twitter is not the most secure location to do transactions. There are liars and cheaters and scammers. I’ve heard of many instances of being scammed out of books – sending yours off only to never receive the trade books in return. It happens.
It’s easy for me to go into a trade with very low expectations because I haven’t spent much on the book I’m trading away to begin with (typically only a few bucks, at most). When I send books out, I hope for the best and prepare for the worst. By the time they’ve left my possession, I’ve already written them off. Either I get a book back in trade (yay!) or someone else pulled one over on me and got a free book (boo!). I’m a firm believer that bad people get what’s coming to them, so that bad juju will come back around.
I can understand how heartbreaking and frustrating it would be if you spent $17.99 on a brand new hardback, read it once, paid nearly $4 to send off the trade, and then never received your book in return. I would be MUCH more upset if this was the case. This is why it is it really is important to do your homework on the trader before agreeing to or sending off anything.
In order to try to prevent a bad experience, I always do a reference check of the person that I’m looking to trade with. I ask for 2ish names of people that they’ve already traded with and send a tweet to ask about their experience. Or I check and see if they’ve got multiple “thank you” tweets from others that they’ve traded with. It’s not a perfect system – people can turn from good traders to bad traders at will. But I at least TRY to cover all the bases.
Honestly, my first trade experience was… not great. We agreed to a trade, I sent mine off, she received it and I waited… for weeks. Almost a month. I did what I could to contact her numerous ways but I hadn’t received a response. At this point, I had just written my book off and chalked it up as a learning experience. But then a miracle happened and she sent the book off. I got it 2 days later and I was elated!
All in all, I’ve traded using #booksfortrade 6 times to receive 8 books (2 trades were 2 book trades).
All of my trades have started with me posting a photo of books I have available for trade.
People replied back and conversations moved over to private messages. Eventually, a gal and I agreed to a trade of my Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children for her Winner’s Curse. We exchanged addresses and I packed up my book to send off.
I’ve heard that I may go a bit overboard on packing, but I pack how I would want my book to be packed. I start with putting the book in a ziplock to prevent water damage in instances of weather. Then I wrap the book in bubble. Then I put it in a bubble mailer. Then I tape like crazy! Away we go!
As soon as I got home from the post office, I sent the tracking number to my fellow trader and got my incoming tracking number the next day. Then, I waited. Media mail takes forever, but it’s cheap so it’s worth it.
Finally, BOOK MAIL! I forgot to take a picture of the package because I was too excited.
Then, the customary thank you tweet!
All in all, I’ve been pretty happy with my #booksfortrade experiences.
If you approach #booksfortrade with the right mentality, it can be a really affordable way to do work on your collection. If you enter into a trade with realistic expectations and take the risk, it can be a great resource to find books you’ve been seeking or get rid of books you no longer want to keep. I like #booksfortrade – I’ve had (mostly) good experiences. I enter into every trade with the lowest expectations possible and am usually pleasantly surprised. I will continue to trade until the risk/reward is no longer in my favor.
Ever used #booksfortrade? Share your experiences!