In 2008 I discovered Paperback Book Swap, or as it will be known for the rest of this blog post, PBS.
I read a great deal. If you haven’t already figured that out then you haven’t been hanging around here all that long. Bookstores call me name in the dead of night. I frequent more than one library. Half-Price Books is a great place to spend a day.
And back in 2008 I didn’t own a Nook or an ipad. I owned books, just books. A LOT of books. Books in boxes. Books on shelves. Books in piles. And by 2008 I had actually weeded out many of the books that had moved with me from childhood to college to marriage. But I had so many more and I didn’t want to just give them all to the library. I had already been doing that. I was looking for a way to put these books to good use.
And then a friend pointed me towards Paperback Book Swap and I was hooked. Seriously hooked. I mean who wouldn’t be. You listed books on your “Book Shelf” that you had available to swap. You put books on your “Wish List” that you wanted to aquire. And then you watched the magic happen. Emails poured in with people requesting books that I had listed. All I had to do was print out the mailing label, wrap up the book according to their directions, affix the label, mail the book and watch my pile of books diminish. I had to pay the mailing cost but it was “covered” at the other end by someone who was mailing something to me. After the book arrived at it’s destination the recipient would log into PBS, tell them that the book had arrived and I would be awarded one “book credit” that could be used to order a book from someone else.
I am sure that the postal workers at my local post office thought I was running a bookstore out of my home. I was always going into the post office with a stack of books to mail out.
And then emails started arriving saying that someone had the book that I was looking for and would be sending it. And books started arriving here at Chez Knit. It was like Christmas all year long. A book from PBS, stop the presses what could it be!!!
This went on for quite awhile. I would get a book from PBS. I would read it. I would “re-list” it if it looked like a book that someone else wanted and when the email came I would send it along.
A convoluted version of a library with the Post Office in the middle.
But slowly, over time, the “outflow” of books I was sending and the “inflow” of books that I was receiving became skewed. There was a lot more outflow than inflow. The books that I seemed to want were more obscure, books that I was looking for to add to my growing collection of knitting books or something else that I was studying. And I also had a bunch of credits that were piling up. Credits never expire, they just sit there until you need them. At one point I had 127 credits available to me. That is WAY more credits than I was going to use if every book on my Wish List became available all at once.
Finally it has occurred to me that my time with PBS is drawing to a close. The books that I currently have on my list come up for swap so rarely that it isn’t even worth it. With the exception of three books that I put on the list this year all of the books that sit on my wish list were put there between 2008 and 2010. And none of those books are going to reach me soon that is for sure. Even after 2-4 years my queue position is such that it might be another 2-4 years until I actually get to the head of the queue and have a chance to get the book. I have slowly been taking books off that list, requesting them at the library and just enjoying them that way. There are some books that I will eventually purchase but not many.
I am slowly whittling down my credits by requesting books that are already available. Classics mostly. And when I get down to a level of credits that I feel comfortable abandoning I will be done. I love books. I love to have books around me. They soothe me and make me happy. But I don’t have to collect every book. And with my turn towards a more minimal life style I just don’t really want to have to worry about PBS any longer.
It was fun while it lasted.