A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a website called Readitswapit. It was recommended in a book on money saving tips as a place where you can swap books with other members, so the only cost involved is the postage. One the surface it seems like a good idea, especially for book clubs, as many people post the most current popular fiction up there. I thought I would give the website a go and see if it is worth it.
Initially, the swaps that I took part in worked out well as I traded some books that I had bought in my early teens for some newer books that I would like to read. As the books that I was posting were very light, the postage only cost around ninety pence, making it a worthwhile investment. However, when posting books any longer than two hundred pages, the postage cost can shoot up to over two pounds – making the cost of the book more than the average price of its charity shop equivalent.
The cost of posting books wasn’t the only problem that I encountered with the scheme as, before you can even start swapping, you need a large selection of books on there for your fellow swappers to choose from. It is useless requesting a swap with anyone if you have any less than twenty books listed as you will simple get a reply saying that they ‘didn’t want to read any of your books right now.’ Similarly, people often request to swap with you offering only a few titles that you are not at all interested in. The other problem that I have encountered is books not arriving. The website claims no responsibility for ‘lost’ books, so all you can do is email the swapper who will insist they have posted your book which never turns up. Admittedly I would imagine that this situation is rare and the people on the site do swap honestly, however, it is a risk that you take.
Ultimately the website does seem a good idea but it does have its flaws. I have had some positive experiences on the website, especially when swapping old books in exchange for ones that I need for Uni, which has proved and investment. However, with postage costs ever-increasing it is unlikely that much money will be saved; your time would be better spent rummaging around charity shops to find that one book that you are looking for. The other thing the website lacks, like any online store is the real experience of being in a bookshop, whether it is new or second hand. In my opinion, nothing can beat the ‘real’ bookshop experience – everything down to its smell.
So, if there is that odd book that you have looked everywhere for, or if you want to save a bit of money as part of your book club the website can prove very useful. It is also a good idea if, like me, you have hundreds of books that you will never read and no space for new ones. But, if you have a lot of books that you want to swap, you are probably much better off arranging an evening with your book club or book lover friends where you all take along your unwanted books and swap them between you, it will prove more cost effective and you are also more likely to find someone who is willing to swap with you!
If you enjoyed this please read my article on the London Olympics: http://bit.ly/IaTK1X