PaperBackSwap (PBS) is a club co-founded in 2004 by Richard Pickering and Robert Swarthout of Suwanee and Rome, Georgia, (USA). Swarthout later left the company to pursue other ventures. The purpose of PaperBackSwap is to use the Internet to facilitate the parity trading of books (or "book swapping") among member bibliophiles in the United States. The club also operates sister websites Swap-a-DVD and Swap-a-CD to facilitate parity trading of DVDs and CDs, respectively.
Membership ranges from zero to $20 per year  and is offered to individuals residing at addresses served by the United States Postal Service, including APO and FPO (military mail) addresses. Commercial enterprises are prohibited from membership. Membership is restricted to adults 18 years of age or older. Membership restrictions are covered in the site privacy statement.
In February 2015 PaperBackSwap began charging a fee for their services.In the beginning, you posted books you were willing to swap to your bookshelf for other members to request. When requested, you mailed the book to the other member (for about $3 in postage) and got a credit you could then use to order a book from other member's bookshelves for yourself. Everybody got a 200 book wishlist.
Then PBS added a 33¢ fee for using their postage system, so you paid the postage plus the 33¢ so you got an instant credit for shipping your book and it included tracking. Not a problem. If you didn't want to pay this fee, you could mail through the post office and the requester would have to mark the book received for you to get your credit.
A few years ago, PBS suddenly added a 55¢ to every monetary transaction. So if you bought postage, add 55¢ (went from 33¢ to 55¢), add money to your account to pay for postage/fees add another 55¢. There was no warning about this fee, they just added it one day.
About 4 years ago, they came up with a "Gold Key" membership, which was $12/year and was supposed to give you perks: Wishlist increased from 200 to 300 and first book mailed each month using PBS postage the 55¢ fee was waived. The Gold Key membership was optional.
Out of the blue, PBS decided to add memberships. With about 3 weeks notice, you have to have a membership or become an Ala Carte member. There are three options: Standard Membership - $20 a year. Comes with a 500-item Wish List and the most new features, you still pay 55¢ per postage transaction (get one free per month) & per transaction fee. Limited Membership - $12 a year. Comes with a 200-item Wish List and some new features, you still pay 55¢ per postage/transaction fee (get one postage fee waived per quarter). A La Carte Membership - no annual fee. Instead, you pay 49 cents (or use a "free swap" that you can earn by mailing with Printable Postage) when you submit a book request. 100- item Wish List. All active members are A la Carte automatically, unless they enroll in Standard or Limited Membership. A La Carte members lose access to the Forums including the Bizarre and PBS questions forum.
The most recent insult to members, PBS suddenly and without notice declared that any credits sold in the Bizarre had to be sold at $3/credit. Anybody selling/buying credits for less is automatically booted from the site. Credits were selling for $2/credit prior to that. Most buying credits STOPPED and folks who were selling suddenly no longer had buyers. PBS claimed this change was to force people to post more books.
A credit system is used to enable members to trade books for credits and credits for books. Credits may either be purchased, or they may be earned by mailing books which have been requested. Consequently, a member need not seek another member who desires a parity trade; credits are the medium of exchange. Both paperback and hardback books may be traded, as well as audiobooks. Within the PBS system the value of any bound book is always one credit, and the value of an audio book is always two credits.
When it was started, PBS expected to have to charge for membership once costs became too high. Instead, they found they could survive by offering a few paid services to the membership.
The Box-O-Books program allows paying members to exchange boxes of books (rather than one at a time) to save on postage and provide variety. PBS offers optional printing of online postage for a small fee. PBS also sells book accessories and other items bearing the club logo.
- PaperBackSwap's Complete Press & Media
- The Today Show (April 21, 2009). “Get paid to recycle! 15 green tips for the lazy” - by Marisa Belger
- O The Oprah Magazine (March 1, 2009). “Books on a Budget” - by Katie Arnold-Ratliff
- People Magazine (February 23, 2009). “More Books for Your Buck” - by Thailan Pham
- PC Magazine (Sept. 18, 2006). “Web Site of the Week: PaperBackSwap.com” - by Sean Carroll
- USA Today, CBS News, The Christian Science Monitor (February 15, 2006). “Avid Readers Swap Their Books Online” - by Marilyn Gardner
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution (April 17, 2005). “He Traded Reading Habits” - by Doug Nurse
- Newsday (July 27, 2005). “Read any good books lately?” - by Andy Rathbun
- The New York Times (October 16, 2006). “I’ll Trade You My ‘Titanic’ for Your ‘Spider-Man’” - by Bob Tedeschi
- San Francisco Chronicle (June 23, 2009). "Book lovers trade tomes through Web sites" - by Tara Dooley