Swaptree Review: Barter Your Books, CDs, DVDs, and Video Games

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I’ve spent the last few hours browsing on Swaptree, which is a website that allows you to swap your books, CDs, DVDs, and video games with other members. You just list the items that you want to trade and the items that you want, and Swaptree sets up trades for you. You can also view a big list of other things you could get in trade. If you see a swap you like, you just pay for shipping your items out, the site does not charge any fees. (It appears to be ad-supported.)

You can list items you want to trade quickly by entering the UPC or ISBN code on the item. Everything is one-for-one. For example, one book is traded for one video game. The site tries to create more possibilities by figuring out 3-way and even 4-way trades between members. Trust is gained by an eBay-like rating system. There is also a postage-printing service that makes it easy to make postage labels and drop your package off without waiting in lines.

I kind of view Swaptree as the $3 store:

  1. You list all your old books/CDs/DVDs/games you don’t want and aren’t using. Good weekend project.
  2. You now have a store in which everything is essentially priced at $2-$3, the cost of shipping your stuff out. Just listing a few books can offer up hundreds of options.
  3. If you want something specific, list it on your Want list so others have a greater opportunity to create a working swap.
  4. Be quick though, as some of the good items get snapped up fast!

I know, this doesn’t take into account the value of your media, but I would say this is best for things that have been sitting around for a while. Why list a bunch of items that might be worth a few bucks on eBay and be subject to $1 in eBay/PayPal fees, not to mention paying listing fees for each item that doesn’t sell.

You are allowed to ship via Media Mail, which is based on weight (ex. $3.16 for a 3 lb. package). However, if you ship in a padded envelope and it is under 9 ounces, shipping via First Class is both cheaper and faster.

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  1. Maybe this site is right for some people, but I tried it and found it frustrating. It offered something like 10,593 trades, of which 10,593 of them were useless to me.
    On ebay I can sell anything I want to a humongous market whenever I want. So I’m going to get it’s real online value. I can also buy anything at it’s real value whenever I want, and I can be picky and try and get a good deal.
    Swaptree seemed to be more like stumbling along. Everybody wanted a deal on there where they sell something cheap and get something more expensive. For me my time is worth more than my money, and I’m willing to give ebay it’s 8% cut on a small item to save time and not have a bizarre 4 person trade. Even though 8% seems steep, on a $3 CD we are talking about less than 30 cents to make the sale/buy immediately and for exactly what you want.

    Anybody use and enjoy this site?

  2. You wouldn’t use eBay for books/cds/dvds/games. That’s what half.com is for.

  3. We have used http://www.paperbackswap.com/ with good success.

  4. for selling cds, my favorite site is secondspin.com. they pay well, aren’t too picky, and and its quick and done. selling cds on half.com can take forever, plus 100 trips to the post office.

    I haven’t tried swap yet, though it sounds quite innefficient. Your couple hours browsing has me a bit scared off Jonathan.

  5. I think I would prefer to make it more of a family thing and as an opportunity to teach my kids about money.

    A garage sale, a trade show or some other place where you can get more money for things of value and an opportunity to have the kids learn about handeling money, buying wasteful things you never use, how to haggle with customers or dealing with the public.

    there is so much more

  6. Haven’t used half.com, but a quick look shows that there are several items I’ve sold for more money on ebay, and several items I’ve bought for less money on ebay, so I’m not convinced it’s better for me. It’s a good option to have though.
    My $100 giftcard to the Gap from a credit card reward has been bid up to $87 on ebay with 4 days left, so it looks like I’ll be getting a good price. The current leader has made 192+ purchases with 100% feedback, so I’m not nervous about them scamming me.

  7. TitleTrader.com is another good site, though its interface is very 1998. You collect points for the items you ship, which means you don’t have to wait for someone to have what you want in order to trade – and there’s more semblance of fair market value since nicer items can be worth more than 1 point.

  8. Hi Jonathan,
    I know you try to keep things from the site confidential. The link is an invite with your last name.

  9. Thanks for the tips, I haven’t heard of TitleTrader or SecondSpin before.

    I also just noticed that eBay lowered their listing fees for casual sellers, which is good news. It used to cost 30 cents just to list anything. Half.com is okay but if you have a unpopular book it could take a long time to sell. Their commissions are also higher, although at times you could make it back with careful shipping.

  10. A note on ebay’s new fee structure. Be careful of their 5 free insertions deal. If you are selling more expensive items it is a terrible fee structure where they take out way too much at the end. It’s so bad that to sell stuff I had to do 5 bogus auctions just so I could sell my stuff the right way. For instance if you sold a $100 product it would cost you an extra $5 in fees to list it for free if it sold.

    The new format works fine for auctions under $25 though.

  11. Swapping and recycling are great ideas, especially in this environment – it’s like going green!

  12. I’ve used Swaptree for years. I think it works very well, and is a well executed system. It really is like shopping, which I like, as opposed to other swapping sites that have a points based system.

    My take on the trading of different items is that I don’t really care what I get in return, because I don’t really want what I’m trying to trade (otherwise I would keep it). So a book I’ve read for a CD I haven’t heard but want? Okay, sounds good.

    I love your site.

  13. Dave, thanks for the warning on ebay’s new fee structure, wish I’d been aware of this last month. I rarely sell on ebay, but ended up selling 6 items last month. After a quick calculation found out that I got dinged $10 as a result of the 5 free insertion deal. 🙁

  14. I have done several trades on Swaptree and kind of like the format. You can set up a want list or check other people’s want lists to see what they are looking for and what they have to offer. The multi-way trades also give you a lot more options. I only use it for trading out books that I don’t want or that wouldn’t sell on other sites though. For example it’s nice to trade one of my wife’s old mystery paperbacks that at the most would get $0.75 on half.com for a book that I really want. I’ve even gotten a couple of DVDs this way which is nice. I use Paperbackswap the same way and will have to check out the other sites mentioned here like Secondspin and Titletrader.

  15. First Step says

    I’ve used Swaptree for about 18 months, and there has been only one item that I didn’t receive. We mainly trade video games for Wii and DS, and we’ve been happy with the trades. I recently traded some old GameCube games for books that my daughter needed for school, which still was a better deal than buying used books.

    The ability to use the postage from the site is a huge bonus to me because there are no post offices close to where I live. Also, the swappers seem to be a “green” group of people, as most of my trades have been sent and received in reused packaging.

    I gave my kids and husband games for their birthdays this year, and I spent around $10 for three games. Many of the games we trade have been received as gifts, so we don’t have the same hesitation to trade as we would if we had paid for them the first time.

    I haven’t used Ebay, but I frequently sell more desirable/valuable games on craigslist.

  16. About Media Mail being slower than First Class: one of my trades came from Hawaii, and it arrived at my house on the East Coast in 3 mail days. It was sent with the swaptree label, which also includes tracking. I don’t know how First Class could be any faster.

  17. Another great bartering site is http://barterquest.com. I recommend to everybody, because on this site you can trade almost anything and services.

  18. I’ve seen swaptree.com and paperbackswap.com before, but rarely use either. The site I prefer, and use often, is http://www.bookmooch.com. BookMooch is run off of donations, so there are no ads to contend with. Plus its not a semi-commercial site like paperbackswap.com where they try to sell added services. BookMooch has a great community. For those looking to just offload used books without getting anything in return there are many charities involved with BookMooch that will either take your books directly, or you can do normal trades (mooches) and then gift your earned points to the charities of your choice.

  19. Sure, you can get good books. But there’s no way to message a user about confusion about a book, and they can say they have something when it’s actually not as they described it. People are unreliable, there is no way to contact users, swaptree admins do not respond to questions and complaints, books are often damaged, and you get blamed for rejecting trades even if the books are damaged, not the right book, etc. Blamed means you go down on the list to get trades, which means the more unreliable people try to trade with you, the less likely you are to get good trades. And if you try to contact admin about problems, they don’t respond. They can’t even get books to you that people don’t send

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