Last week, Paperbackswap.com sent out the following e-mail to its users:
We are proud that we have been able to provide PaperBackSwap to you for Free for the past 10 years. However, we have stated from the beginning that there may come a time when we would need to charge a nominal fee in order to support the club's growth and to offer new services.
In order to maintain the service levels that you have come to expect, PaperBackSwap needs to begin charging membership fees beginning on February 15th, 2015. We encourage you to purchase an annual membership at $20 that will allow you to keep the same level of service that you have enjoyed over the years and some new features (including a larger Wish List!). Additionally, there are other options that you may wish to consider, that we have outlined below.
2015 will be our eleventh year of providing this club for book lovers all over the country. It’s been a decade of fabulous growth, in which we’ve overseen the exchange of nearly 20 million books; by any calculation, our members have saved millions of dollars. Through the years, our site has sustained itself with optional services (such as Printed Postage fees and new-book sales). We’d like to do more with the club - fix things that aren’t working well, enhance others, and introduce new features (such as a mobile app, and continuing to investigate ebook swapping). We really can’t do that without some “elbow room” from revenue.
Beginning February 15, 2015, as a member in Good Standing at PaperBackSwap, you can select:
- A Standard Membership at $20 per year ($18 for early subscribers), that includes unlimited swapping, new features, and a 500-item Wish List. Best Value!
- A Limited Membership at $12 per year, where you'll get the ability to request 30 books without paying swap fees, some new features, and your Wish List limit will stay at 200 items.
- For those who don’t swap often or who don't want to commit to an annual membership, there is an “A la Carte” option at 49 cents per book request, with a Wish List limit of 100 items.
- And finally, Printable Postage users will be glad to learn that each printing with PBS Postage will earn 1 free Swap fee.
For me, the new fee structure didn’t affect the way I used the service, because I was already paying for a Gold Key membership so that my wishlist queue could be larger. But I know that a lot of people who are casual users will not be happy to pay 49 cents on every book request, and new users might decide not to take a risk on a paid service. So this new move may very well shrink Paperbackswap’s userbase and, as a result, the variety of books available in the system.
In the week following the announcement, the number of unique titles available in the system has dropped by about 19,000. (That estimate is taken from the Paperbackswap forums, where there are several threads tracking the falling number of books, users, etc.) There are still over 500,000 different titles to choose from, and many multiple copies, so a reader needn’t work very hard to find something. But for folks only interested in finding a few select titles, it looks like it will be harder.
So if you’re a Paperbackswap.com user, will you continue with the service after February 15th? I will, because it’s been a great resource for finding older graphic novels and re-homing books I’ve already read. Like most folks, I wish the service could continue as free. I hope that enough users will stick around that it will continue to have a good selection.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2014: Sailor Moon Short Stories Vol. 2 by Naoko Takeuchi
2013: The Serpent’s Shadow (Kane Chronicles #3) by Rick Riordan
2012: The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
2011: News: Brian Jacques, Redwall author, dies
2010: Possessed by Kate Cann
2009: The Book of Nonsense by David Michael Slater