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Now I realise that there are already quite a few reviews on this website, which I am glad about as hopefully it is spreading the word of a superb site.But in the past few weeks, there have been some changes to the Read It Swap It site, so I hope to either introduce to the site if you haven't heard or visited it before, and if you have, then update you on the new features which have been put in place, making it even better than before!
The Read It Swap It site does exactly what it says. When you have finished reading a book, or for whatever reason you have a book at home you would like to get rid of, then you list it on this site, and swap it for a book belonging to another member that you actually want to read. All you have to pay is the postage to send your book to your swapping partner, which ranges from about 80 pence for a small paperback to around £2 for larger books. Whatever way you look at it, you are saving a fortune compared to the RRP of books which these days is about £6.99.
Now, to the website itself. It is one of the easiest websites to use, even for beginners, which is handy for people like my mum who enjoy reading and browsing the internet, but isn't a computer whiz! The homepage introduces you to the website, and tell you a bit about how it works. It currently also tells me that there are currently 143,493 books available for swapping. There is also a link to register, a box for logging in existing members and a browsing feature enabling you to see what is available on the site without registering or logging in, so you can how it works.
*Joining ReadItSwapIt* Joining RISI is very easy. Upon clicking the Register button, you are directed to a simple form where you fill in your general information such as your name, address, email address, and also your own username which you can choose yourself. This will be the name which represents you throughout the site so choose wisely! (Bet you can't guess mine lol!). After this, submit the form and you are now a member of RISI. This means you can now start adding books to your library and request swaps with other members.
*Adding your books* Adding books is easy. You can do this in one of two ways. Simply click on the My Books tab at the top of the screen. It will then give you a link which says "Add Books" and underneath that, it displays the books you currently have on the website. You can either add a book using its ISBN number, found on the back of the book, or just manually type in the Author name and title of the book. It also asks you to fill in other criteria, such as the condition of the book, any damage and the option to add your own comment about it. It is important to fill these criteria in accurately as swappers will rate you according to how accurately you describe your book so if you say it is "Like New" and your book is a scruffy copy, you will be given a low rating. On the page of the Book Description, it will give you a picture of the cover of the book, a short description taken from Amazon, and a list of available copies. You can also click on the picture of the book which will take you to its page on Amazon so you can look up reviews, something I have done a few times!
*Browsing and the Wishlist* Browsing for books is just as easy. On the main page, there is the option to search the library. You can browse by category. There are 32 categories of book, and also the option just to view the latest books adding to the library. You can view this by the latest 25, 50 or 100. You can also do this either by Book Title or Author. Simply pop in the name of the book, and the site will come up with its answers for you. It will list the book, and tell you how many copies are available on RISI. This is where I can also mention one of the newest features on RISI. If the site does not have any copies of a book that you want to swap for, you now have the option to add it to your "Wishlist". This means that you will get an email notification if the book is added to the RISI library so that you can request it straight away. I have found this feature invaluable and now have a wishlist of about 60 books! I have received about 5 books from this feature as I have been able to request them straight away. You can view your Wishlist anytime by clicking the "My Wishlist" tab at the top of the screen. On this page, there is the option to "Add Books to Wishlist", view your wishlist, and disable notifications about these books being added to the site, for example if you are going on holiday or something.
*Swapping* Now to the most important part of the site, swapping! As I mentioned, you browse the site for the book that you want to swap for. When you have found the page for your required book, there will be a list of people who have the book. CHoose someone from the list who has a copy and click "Swap With This Member". This then sends them an email telling them someone wants to swap a book of theirs, and then they are given the option to choose a book from your booklist. This is why it is a good idea to have a few books on your list allowing swappers a good choice. If they choose one of your books, you will be notified with an Email detailing their address and the book to send them. This is also available on the site too in case you delete the email! Of course, sometimes people won't want to read any of your books, so they can choose the option of "I don't want to read any of their books right now". You get an email saying that they don't want to swap. This means you have to try for another copy, or add it to your wishlist in case someone else adds it to the site.
Obviously once you have agreed your swap, you need to post your book. Make sure it is packaged well, in a padded envelope or similar, and then send it Second Class. This gets there in 2-3 days and is the cheapest option. When you have received your book, you go to "My Swaps" and leave the user feedback. If the book is as described and it came in a good time, leave 5 stars and perhaps a comment thanking the user. For problem users, leave lower feedback but explain why. This feedback for other users, and also the feedback left for you, can be viewed by anyone on the site and may influence someone's decision to swap with you.
Also, once you have swapped with 50 different users, you get awarded a Super Swapper badge next to your name, so users know that you are a good and reliable swapper. The badge and title changes for every other 50 swaps that you do, so it is a good way of increasing your reputation on the site. I have been a member for around 8 months and have just received my first Super Swapper badge, and I'm quite proud!
*My Swaps* The site also has a page entitled My Swaps, which again can be accessed from the top of the page. This displays a list of your current swaps, and also any pending swaps you have with other users, and books which have been requested by other users from you. On here, you can access the details of a swap such as the name, address and email details of a swapper, leave feedback and keep track of your swaps. It is a handy page and one I visit at least once a day, just to keep track!
*My Books* This is the area of the site which has the information about all of your books. When you click the My Books tab, you are given a list of your Active Books. They are listed alphabetically according to the title of the book, with the option to edit the details (damage, comments etc), delete the book from your active books and Make Inactive. Now, making a book inactive takes it off of the library of RISI, but it remains in the My Inactive Books section until you either delete it or reactivate it. When you swap a book and the swap is completed, the book automatically goes into My Inactive Books, ready to be relisted. There is also the option to tell the website that "I'm Going on Holiday", which makes all of your books inactive. When you return, simply click the option "I've returned from holiday" and books which were inactive now become active again.
*My Profile* This section is all about you. On the main page, you can see your registered postal address, email address and username. If you have moved house or changed email addresses, click on Update Details, and you can easily alter the information. You can also view your Public Swapping Profile, which shows you how many books you have available to swap, how many books on your wishlist and your user rating. Also is the date of your last swap, your last log-in, and how many swaps you have requested and accepted from other users. You can also view your Public Community Profile which is for the forums.
*Forum* The website also has a forum which is for the use of the registered users of RISI. I only started using this forum about a month ago, as I didn't really know much about it, but it actually is a great place to pop onto. The users are all really friendly and have a wide range of knowledge about books, so if you have a specific question, these are the people to ask! There are sections to review books, create your own "To Be Read" list, ask users for books you are desperate for (and some even let you borrow a book if you are really desperate, how nice is that?!) and just generally discuss all things to do with books.
There is also a private message feature which allows you to send...well, private messages to other users so you can discuss something privately with them. Several people have sent me messages saying they had seen my wishlist and that they have a book on it if I would like it for free, so that has been a great bonus! If you enjoy a chat about books, or you just want to recommend a great book you have read, then the RISI forums are definitely worth a visit.
*Overall opinion* I think RISI is one of the gems of the internet that unless you have heard of through your friends or a site like this, you sadly won't have heard of! It is a great idea, especially as the only people who will really bother to sign up are book lovers themselves. Obviously there are the odd dishonest people around who will request a book and not send their book to you, but luckily for me, this has never happened and so far as I know, it isn't a regular thing. I think if a user gets lots of low feedback about this, the RISI admin block this user. You can also report members for abuse of the site. But 99% of the people are great swappers, who send you great books quickly, and are such nice people. I always get a sticky note on the front saying they hope I enjoy the book, or something similar, such a nice touch but it makes using the site all the more enjoyable! If you love books, want to save yourself a few pennies, then RISI is the place for you!
I hope my review has been helpful, thanks for reading!
Ahhhh...it all makes sense now. This site sounds amazing! x
chattell 04.01.2008 10:55
what an excellant idea i'm usually taking min down to the charity shop x
jesi 02.01.2008 16:55
like the new pic . . . l'm slightly restricted as to access to postal services, but being able to fulfil other peoples' wishes appeals to me . . . perhaps l'd do better on Amazon Marketplace (fulfilling wishes, l mean), as, at least then l'd have something back for postage if l didn't want a a swap
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