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I love reading books, but buying them can be quite expensive and it can be hard to sell books on, such as on eBay, because the postage costs are quite high for books, the majority of them have to go through as a packet. This leaves you with an ever growing book shelf filled with books you probably won't ever read again, but you're not sure what to do with them. Take them to a charity shop? Loan them to a friend?
A whole year ago I came across ReadItSwapIt.co.uk when a friend online mentioned using it. The front page boldy asks me: "Bought a book and finished it? Don't know what to do with it? If you've read it swap it!" This totally summarises what this great website is all about. ReadItSwapIt.co.uk does exactly what the name of the site states. You read a book, put it on the site, then swap it for another book you haven't read. All it costs you is postage which at even around the £2 mark is alot cheaper than buying a new book, and it makes sure your book is not left gathering dust on your bookshelf!
It's very easy to create an account on ReadItSwapIt, and in no time at all you'll be adding your books. Adding books is very easily done, you simply type in the book's ISBN number (generally found above the barcode on the back of the book) then click on 'Get Book Details.' RISI will automatically find the book's author and title for you, if on the rare occasion it doesn't, you can type them in manually. There is no need to add a picture of your book as RISI add's this for you. You then need to put in the book condition, you choose the condition from a drop down menu and it ranges from Like New to Acceptable. Then there is another drop down menu for Book Damage. You will most likely use this to put in 'Slightly Creased Spine' as this in inevitable with a paperback book that has been read. There is also an optional 'Your Description' field limited to 500 characters. Here you can go into more detail about any damamge to your book (such as a slightly creased corner or a stain) or you mention what you thought of the book itself. This is then followed by another drop down menu asking you to place your book into a category for example, 'Thriller.' After you have done this you simply click on 'Add Book' and your book is added to the RISI library.
If someone wants your book you will recieve an e-mail alert letting you know and you simply click into 'My Swaps.' You can then browse all of the other user's books they have listed, if one takes your fancy simply click on the link to swap with that user. If you don't see any books you can click to say you don't want to swap your book, then you can choose a reason from a drop down menu, the most common one being you simply don't want to read any of their books. That person then recieves an e-mail alert to let them know.
If when browsing the RISI library you come across a book you'd like, you will find underneath a list of members who have that book. It tells you the Username, the user's Rating, the book condition, damage and description, and when they last logged in. Choose a member to swap with and click on 'Swap with this member.' Your request will then be sent to them and it's a case of sitting and waiting. If they choose to swap with one of your books you will recieve an e-mail letting you know and the user's address. RISI ask you to send the book out in 1-2 days, but if I haven't been able to make this then you are provided with the other user's e-mail address. The majority of member's on RISI are very understanding and if you mention you will be delayed in sending their book they are usually fine with it, and prefer to be told rather than just hanging on wondering if it will arrive! When you have posted a book, go into My Swaps and click on 'I have sent this book.' An automatic e-mail is sent to the other user to let them know you have posted it.
When you recieve your book, go into My Swaps and click on 'I have recieved this book.' From here you will be taken to the feedback page. If everything went fine with your swap you give them a 5 star rating. If they described the book's condition as Like New but it was dog eared, you can give a lesser rating and put a comment mentioning this so when other user's read this user's feedback they can see why you left a low rating. The site does operate on trust, but I've never had a problem with books not arriving before. I have sent a book to someone before and they hadn't recieved it, I asked if they wanted to choose another book from my list but they didn't and said it was fine for me to keep my book that I'd recieved from them. Every so often as your feedback grows you recieve a new icon. Once you have a feedback rating of 50 you become a 'Super Swapper!' and gain a yellow icon. This changes at 100, 200 and a whopping 500 which is when you become a 'Super Dooper Swapper!' The feedback rating system is good and if someone repeatedly recieves bad feedback then the admin will remove them from the site. If you do have problems with a swap, for instance a book hasn't arrived and the other user won't answer your e-mails, there is a link saying 'I'm having problems with this swap' on your Swaps page. This goes through to admin to attempt to resolve this on your behalf with the other user. If the other user still doesn't respond admin will most likely remove them from the site. I've never had this problem though, and fingers crossed I never will!
The site has a great community and you can become involved by using the site's forums. Here you can wite and read book reviews, talk about books, give away books for free, vote for book of the month, ask advice on what to read next, join the RISI book group, or even join the non book related chat. There's hundreds of topics and it's very active, everyone is very friendly and people can recommend some great books for you! I have discovered some great books just through this forum alone, books I would never have read otherwise, so I highly recommend taking part.
I really enjoy using RISI I've discovered loads of new books and it's saved me lots of money from buying new/used books from elsewhere. There is a large library containing loads of books from members so you'll never be stuck to find something. The site itself is very easy to use and if you do have a problem, you can post it on the forum and people will be happy to help you.
So if you have a pile of books just sitting gathering dust then get over to ReadItSwapIt now and give them a more loving home, and gain new books to read in the process!