How I Save Hundreds on Homeschooling Books

Affording homeschooling can be very complicated, especially if your family lives on one income (like mine does).  I’m sure you’ve read all of the common wisdom around the inter-webs about saving money on homeschool books, like using the library and joining local Facebook buy/sale groups (I know I have).

But what if I told you about something you probably haven’t heard of, or didn’t think was relevant to saving money on homeschool books?  Something you could do that wouldn’t even require you to leave home?

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That “something” is Paperback Swap.  What is PaperBack Swap?  In a nutshell, it’s a website where you can post any books that you no longer need and get credits whenever someone requests one of your books and you ship it.  You only pay to ship the books.

In this post, I’m going to show you step by step how to use the website.

1. Visit Paperbackswap.com.  

2. Register as a New Member.  There is a reasonable yearly membership fee you must pay in order to use the site.

Standard Membership costs $20 a year and allows you to request unlimited books using Book Credits but without swap fees

Limited Membership costs $12 a year and allows you to request 30 books per year using Book Credits but without swap fees

Unenrolled (A la Carte members) pay no annual fee and each swap costs 1 swap fee in addition to the Book Credits for the items in the swap.

I currently use the Limited Membership, but lately I’ve been swapping more than 30 books per year, so next year I may switch to a Standard Membership.

3. Post any books you no longer want!  Once you post your first 10 books, you get two ‘startup’ Book Credits and two free “swap fees” good toward the selection of any other club member’s books.

If it has an ISBN number, you can usually post it.  Sometimes a book cannot be found in their system, but they do give you the option to upload your own picture of the book along with it’s information.

The books must be in good condition (no tears, bends, rips, scribbles, etc.).  You can also set your own Requestor Conditions under Account/Settings.  I have a horrible mold allergy, so I am not willing to accept moldy books.  You can put anything you want, like no pets, smoking, etc.

4. Browse the library to find books you want.  Here is the fun part!  Enter a book title, author, or keyword into the top right search bar on the main menu.  You will then be taken to a results page.  The menu at the left of the page allows you to refine your results.

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Under “Search Type,”  you want to select “Posted Books.”  This will allow you to see what is already listed in the database.

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5. If you cannot find the book(s) you want, go to “All Books” under the Search Type, and place the book on your wishlist.

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I absolutely love the wishlist feature!  I check my children’s curriculum requirements for the next few years, and place any books I might need on my wishlist if it isn’t available.  Sometimes you have to wait up to two years to find what you’re looking for, but if it’s a rare book, it’s worth the wait.  Paperback Swap will place it on hold for you and send you an email when someone posts it into the system.  Paperback Swap is also good about suggesting similar titles that you may not have placed on your wishlist (like newer editions, or hardback versions).

6.  When someone requests one of your books, Paperback Swap will send you an email.  When you open your email, there is a link to go straight to your Paperback Swap account.  There you will see what book(s) have been requested from you.

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You only have a certain amount of time to respond to the request before it is cancelled.  Click “I Can Mail Within 2 Days.”  Now you have two options for shipping:  you can take the book(s) to the post office and pay shipping there, or for a fee of 0.55, you can print a wrapper with prepaid shipping right from your computer!  I always choose this option, because I certainly do not want to take my four small children with me to the post office unless I absolutely have to!

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Click to “Print your Wrapper.”  I always choose the middle aligned position because I just fold under the sides and tape it to the front of my package.  Paperback Swap automatically estimates the weight of your book, and I’ve found they are almost always correct.  If you’re mailing multiple books, you may want to double check the weight.  Select the date you plan to mail it, then double check the cost.  You can add money to your Paperback Swap (PBS) account if you need to.  Click “Print Wrapper Now.”

Once the wrapper has printed, you can close the window, and mark the book as mailed.  Once it’s been marked as mailed, you now receive a credit.

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I try to re-use envelopes from books I’ve received or from Amazon packages I’ve received. If the book(s) won’t fit, I wrap the book in shipping paper.

So there you have it!  Feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comments.

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