Things We Like: is a great way of swapping books, audio books and moreThese days, the reality is that you can find almost everything you want for free – or close to free – online. In the case of books, the word “free” may bring to mind ebooks, which can be (legally) downloaded from a number of places, sometimes temporarily and sometimes as longterm offers and incentives.

Finding free paperbacks, on the other hand, seems like it would be an impossible task. Thankfully, it’s not.

Paperback Swap makes it possible for you to read books for free, as long as you can follow some simple rules. While chances are you won’t find every single book you’re looking for in there, most popular paperbacks are represented – and so are some rare gems once in a while.

The Positives

  • You can create a wish list of up to 200 paperbacks. That means you don’t have to continuously log in to check if a book you want is available. Instead, just set up the list once and then set it to “automatically request” (the setting is optional). That means once somebody posts the book as available, the account automatically claims it for you.
  • You earn points by sending books to other people, so the system is fair and prevents abuse (somebody requesting too many books). You can then use those points to “buy” free books.
  • Although the name suggests that this is a place to just swap paperbacks, the truth is that you can also find audio books and textbooks available. Audiobooks “cost” two points each, instead of one, so you’ll either have to give away audiobooks or ship more paperbacks in order to earn enough points.

The Negatives

  • There’s no way to check on the condition of the book you’re going to receive. Although technically everybody’s supposed to send books in good condition, you can’t confirm this in advance and there’s no refund policy and no way to leave feedback if a book arrives in poor condition.
  • While the books themselves are free, you still have to pay shipping to send them to other people, so you’ll be spending money. Still, for those of us who sometimes still enjoy having an actual book in our hands to read, it’s a great website.

All in all, Paperback Swap is a great way to get real books for a very minimal outlay:



  1. I heard about paperbackswap through facebook. A friend of mine was using it. I haven’t tried it out yet myself. It’s not that I don’t read, but I guess I don’t have time for it so much that I’d join a site dedicated to it. I do want to give away old books sometimes, but it’s cheaper to drop them off at the library.

  2. I don’t see how this is better than using a public library TBH. I guess if you don’t live anywhere near one it’s good…

  3. WE do something like this at work….when we are done with magazines or books we swap them out. I like ebooks but sometimes its nice to have real paper in your hands!

    • I do know what you mean about it sometimes being nice to actually have a physical book in your hands. Ebooks can be great too though. I have a friend who travels for work a lot, and she likes the convenience of being able to have a good choice of reading material all on an easy-to-travel-with Kindle. I also have some overseas friends that like ebooks because it saves having to import titles that they can’t find locally.

  4. I met someone in the post office the other day who was shipping off a box of books. They were on paperback swap – and gave it rave reviews. Since I got my Nook, I haven’t picked up a book but I can see how such a system is beneficial to old school book lovers.

  5. To be brutally honest, paperbackswap sounds lovely, but I’m with Emily on this one, since I bought my Kindle I haven’t read a ‘real’ book. This was 2 years ago.
    I still have my book collection in my home, I will never throw them out! I just gave up on buying books, I prefer reading them on my Kindle. It’s easier, especially if the book has more than 500 pages 😀
    I will recommend paperbackswap to a good friend of mine, if she hasn’t heard of it already 🙂

    • I think it may partly be a generational thing: I grew up with books, vinyl records and Sony Walkmans. Lol. I think those that have grown up with smartphones, laptops and iPads view things like books and music differently. I think I’m going to get Kindle for my iPhone: I only just learned that it was available as an app – I thought it was hardware only…

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