As an avid reader, I own a few books. OK, make that a lot of books.

Some of my books I would never part with, but others are currently gathering dust on my bookshelves or piled on the floor of my bedroom.

Since it looks like I will soon have to buy a new bookshelf or wade through books just to get to the living room, I have resolved this year to do what some people do with their wardrobes—don’t add anything until you get rid of something. Fortunately, the Internet is the perfect place not only to unload my old books, but also find those on my “to-read” list for cheap.

Swap

If you like the idea of a fair exchange, try a free membership to PaperbackSwap.com.

Once you post 10 books you want to part with, you receive two free book credits. Just search the site for the books you want, send in your request and the owner will ship the books directly to you.

If someone requests a book you have posted, you will have to pay shipping (typically $2.13 for USPS Media Mail) but you will also receive another book credit once the requester receives their book.

Book swapping sites are popping up everywhere. Check out Bookins.com, FrugalReader.com, or BookSwap.com if you can’t find the books you want at PaperbackSwap.

Sell

If you prefer cold hard cash for your books, Cash4Books.net will buy back your old textbooks, hardback and professional/technical books. They are not, however, interested in your paperback fiction.

As a seller you enter the ISBN numbers of your books at the company’s website to find the buy-back prices. You can print out a shipping label to send the books directly to Cash4Books (they even pay the cost of shipping). The company will either send a check or credit your PayPal account within three business days of receiving the books.

Several DPL readers have had good experiences with Cash4Books. I was thrilled to discover they would take a several-year-old college textbook of mine that other textbook buy-back sites were no longer accepting. Another reader was overjoyed to find she could unload her old homeschool curriculum.

Catch and Release

If you’re curious about the lives of your discarded books once they leave you, you might consider releasing your book “into the wild” as part of the Bookcrossings.com project.

To release a book, register your book on the site, print out a label with a unique ID number and leave the book in a place where you think it might find a new reader. The person who finds the book can visit BookCrossings.com and enter the ID number to find out where the book has traveled and even journal about their experience. You can follow the progress of your book as it travels the world! To hunt for a book that has been released in your area, you can find release locations in the “Go Hunting” section of the site.

Bargain Shop

Booksprice.com is a great comparison site for the frugal book shopper. Just type in your book title, author or ISBN and you’ll get a list of the prices of new and used books on many of the major bargain book sites (Half.com, Amazon Marketplace, eBay, etc.).

Booksprice.com also compares the shipping fees and book conditions so you’ll be sure to get the deal you want.

With all these resources for book owners, it seems there’s no excuse for that pile of discarded books on my floor. This year I plan to indulge my reading habit—frugally of course—while finding new homes for some of those books I never read anymore.

And I’m seriously considering a little catch and release action because I think it might be kind of fun to watch my copy of The Odyssey travel the world.

© 2008 Debt-Proof Living. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 "Debt-Proof Living" was founded in 1992 by Mary Hunt.  What began as a newsletter to encourage and empower people to break free from the bondage of consumer debt has grown into a huge community of ordinary people who have achieved remarkable success in their quest to effectively manage their money and stay out of debt.  Today, "The Cheapskate Monthly" is read by close to 100,000 Cheapskates.  Click here to subscribe.