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Points-based book swap

FROM: Dave Green

What NEED does this meet?
Giving people anyone who'd like access to free/very low cost books (and/or other media) greater access to all the unwanted items currently languishing in homes across the UK.

What is the APPROACH?
I'm clearly thinking along similar lines to a couple of other submissions - Community swapping website: http://mysociety.blogs.com/mysociety/2003/11/community_swapp.html

and Internet charity shop:
http://mysociety.blogs.com/mysociety/2003/11/internet_charit.html .

In a nutshell: users upload details of books/ videos/ CDs they've got but don't want, other users browse for things that they do, and a postal exchange is effected. The clever bit would be to create a LETS (Local Employment Trading Systems)-style points system to enable you to swap things with people who don't necessarily want what you've got.

Eg: say CD albums had an arbitrary points value of 10 each. If someone wanted a CD of yours then they'd mail you a stamped addressed envelope (you'd have to weigh more exotic items so they knew how much postage to put on), you'd just stick the CD in their packaging and, when it safely arrived etc, 10 of their points would be transferred to you, which you could then spend or save for whatever you want.

Off the top of my head, you'd also get 1 bonus point for every item you registered on the site, so everyone could start spending straight away. And obvious safeguards would be required (eBay-style feedback?) to prevent people offering stuff they don't actually have, or getting too many points by collaborating with friends by exchanging non-existent items. But at the end of the day, it's mainly a system for giving stuff away, so no-one should get *too* wound up over their various point tallies.

(In fact, it could incorporate the Internet charity shop idea as well for people who can't be bothered to send off the SAE - they could just make a small donation to an admin centre, who'd send the SAE to the person with the item, who'd send it on to the recipient...)

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Hey, free books and CDs! (Plus the opportunity to get rid of stuff you don't want, to people who actually want it, in exchange for points you can swap for things that you do)

What is the COMPETITION?
Like http://www.swapitshop.com/ , but a bit easier to understand (and not just for kids)

Like eBay, but doesn't cost you anything (other than time, Jiffy bags, and stamps)

Addresses some of the issues around "Internet charity shop" regarding who pays for postage: http://mysociety.blogs.com/mysociety/2003/11/internet_charit.html

Like "Community swapping website" but with potentially much wider range of material plus made-up currency to intermediate economists' "double coincidence of wants": http://mysociety.blogs.com/mysociety/2003/11/community_swapp.html

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Not expensive or difficult at all - a few grand for programming would be nice but basic model could be constructed quite cheaply and easily. Administrative demands would increase the more popular it got but this could perhaps be offset by cross-promotion in some sort of weekly technology newsletter or something.

November 30, 2003 | Permalink


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Sorry mate, there are already some interesting projects that build on this idea:
- http://twenteenthcentury.com/uo/index.php/DistributedLibraryProject (Saul Alberts from University of Openness in London)
- http://books.burri.to/ (Joshua Schachter of GeoURL fame!

Good idea nevertheless...

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Posted by: UK-phonesex at Sep 10, 2004 8:50:02 PM

This is a cool idea, and I just found a site that implements this kind of thing more like what you are talking than one of the previous posts sites. It allows you to swap books, dvds, and cds and has a feedback system similar to ebay's. The site is http://www.titletrader.com

Posted by: Skyhigh at Dec 16, 2004 9:53:49 PM

Another cool site that does much of what you're talking about (swapping books, movies, games and music media) is http://wastepile.com

Posted by: crow at Jan 21, 2005 11:24:58 PM

And yet another site where you can swap your books (for only the cost of postage)...


Posted by: Richard at Feb 17, 2005 10:04:29 PM

The best site that I have found that allows you to swap books, dvds, videos, cds and games is http://www.eswapnow.com

It has the largest selection, has the latest books to swap (and dvds etc.) and is the most comprehensive site. I have swapped 10 books on www.eswapnow.com since I joined and have also swapped dvds and recycled my sons playstation games (no more £££ on games!!). Give it a try...the more members the better the choice so have a look...http://www.eswapnow.com - the place for books swapping!

Posted by: Mike Boogaard at Feb 21, 2006 7:23:35 PM

Don't listen to that post above about e-swapnow. The guy, Mike Boogaard, actually directs the company! Check this out:


Posted by: Anonymous at Apr 18, 2006 12:48:36 PM

Yes, I am the owner and manager of eswapnow.com but that doesnt mean it is not a fantastic and completely *free* web site that gives everyone access to 10000s of items!

I use it every day myself...that is why I set it up and that is the best way to market it...by telling people of my own experiences. Since we have started (less than 12 months ago) over 10,000 books, games and dvds have been swapped.

The more that join, the better swapping sites get so rather than spending time trying to catch people out anonymously, why not do something constructive and start swapping! ;-)


Posted by: Mike Boogaard at Apr 8, 2007 11:22:43 AM

Good post, any update please?

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