COOL WEB SITE: is a website that allows people to trade their old books with other book lovers all over the United States. Using Bookins is simple: just sign up for an account (a credit card is needed; I’ll explain why in a moment). You then gather up a bunch of old books and enter the ISBN* of each book into your Bookins “trade list”. When someone wants one of your books, you’ll get an email with a link that prints a free mailing label – all you have to do is print the label, put the book in an envelope, tape the label to the envelope and drop it in any mailbox!

Bookins uses a “points system” to asses how much your book is “worth” and to keep trades flowing. Each book you trade is worth a certain amount of points, depending on which version it is (hardback or paperback) and how in demand the book is. Each book you trade earns you points and each book you buy costs you points. Bookins will start you off with some amount of “introductory points” (I think it’s 20 points, but I could be wrong), but you’ll really need to trade a few books in order to keep buying books. Oh, and when you see a book you want to buy, Bookins charges you $3.99 for the book. This is to cover the postage costs and the upkeep of the Bookins site (you didn’t think they did this for free, did you?).

I’ve used Bookins for over a year now and couldn’t be happier with the service. Most books arrived in excellent condition; I’ve gotten a few books that were a bit too beaten-up for my taste, but they were certainly still readable… and you can hardly complain about getting something new to read for $3.99!

* – ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number”. Almost every book published since the mid 1970s has at least one ISBN assigned to it. Each version of a book (hardback, trade paperback, mass-market paperback, etc.), gets a unique ISBN, so Bookins will automatically know if the book you’re trading is a hardback or paperback. The ISBN is always printed on a book’s copyright page, and is almost always printed just above the bar code on the back of the book.

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