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Reading on the Cheap

Eager to grow your personal library but not flush enough to buy all the books you want? Consider joining an online book swap.

The largest and oldest (started in 2006) is PaperBackSwap, with more than 2.2 million books. After registering—currently for free—you simply list 10 books you own that can be swapped for others. Once a book on your list is requested, you receive an e-mail. Mail it to the person who requested it. For every book you mail, you receive credits that you can use to get books for yourself. The only cost is postage, which averages about $2.13 per book. And despite its name, hardbacks and textbooks are available.

Similar book swaps include BookMooch, with 500,000 titles; Title Trader, which also swaps DVDs, CDs and VHS cassettes; and Novel Action, which charges $25 for a one-year membership and boasts flat-rate shipping of $4.80 for up to 6 pounds of books.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life (AARP/Sterling Books).

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