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Press & Media » Daily Nebraskan

Dusty Paperbacks Come Out Of Their Boxes And Shelves And Onto The Net

Daily Nebraskan (Newspaper) - 1/18/2006 by CLAY MASTERS
Many homes contain forgotten paperback books that at one time offered their readers a friendship and outlet to dive into an uncanny world of literature.

These once-loved treasures, now spending their time occupying dusty bookshelves and the insides of dark cardboard boxes, can again see the light of day on a new online book-sharing Web site called

The siteís co-founder, Richard Pickering, said he got the idea for the virtual book trading system after collecting a large library of books of his own.

Pickering, who used to read while traveling the country on business, said he never knew what do to with his already-read books upon returning home. Thus, he started for booklovers like himself who were looking for an outlet to trade books.

As part of the free service, members log on to the site and list nine or more books in the system. This allows members to browse the online selections current members have posted and use their book credits to order books.

The only money members have to pay is the postage required to ship the books.

The Web site has been gaining a lot of notoriety lately, Pickering said. The site has members from every state and some U.S. territories.

"Iíve had an excellent experience with PaperBackSwap," said Patricia Lacey, a dental patient coordinator in Lincoln who has been a member for a couple of months.

The site began in September 2004, but the business has begun to gain more members in the last seven months, Pickering said. Discovering the site through word of mouth accounts for the majority of the siteís success.

On an average day, the company has about 10,000 books in the mail at one time, he said.

"Most everything on the Web site is running smoothly," said Robert Swarthout, co-founder and web coordinator.

Unfortunately, the Web site can crash, and this happened recently; just as National Public Radio broadcast a story about the site, Swarthout said.

While Swarthout said he didnít expect the high number of people logging on to the site following the national broadcast, the growth was important in expanding the number of books offered to members. Because the service is free to the public, the staff doesnít make any money from the site, Pickering said. The Web site is a second job for its three staff members Ė Swarthout does computer and software repairs, and Pickering works an outside job in investment real estate. Pickering's wife also works for the site.

One thing making the company rewarding is the ability to watch readers all over the country coming together, Pickering said.The site includes a personal messaging system, a discussion forum and a live chat room where all club members can talk about books.

"The site is much more than a place to swap books," Pickering said. "It is a community of booklovers who are drawn together by camaraderie from all over the country. We just want to invite the people of Lincoln to join us." is an online service for booklovers to trade their old books with other site members. The site lists the following six steps to become involved in the book sharing service. More information is available at

- List at least nine or more books in the system to become an active member and receive three free credits to start trading. List as many books as possible to be more successful at trading.

- Browse the online list of books posted by club members and use credits to order books.

- Selected books are delivered right to membersí mailboxes for free.

- The only cost members need to pay is postage to mail books requested by other members, which is usually $1.59.

- Members get one credit (good for one book) for every mailed book received by the club member who requested it.

- List as many books as you would like. The more books members mail to other members, the more credits they can receive.
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