DISCUSSION: #BooksForTrade FAQ + FREE Trade Tracker Download
*this post includes affiliate links I have with Amazon*
Hello everyone! So, a couple years ago, I wrote a post about something called #booksfortrade and it helped quite a few people (well, I like to think I did) but it was missing A LOT. Therefore, I decided to make a kind-of part 2 and answer the FAQs I see pop up in the tag and offer a free Excel spreadsheet that I use to help keep track of my trades! Hopefully, the post and spreadsheet help you, and definitely comment below if there’s anything you want me to add to the post or to the spreadsheet! Let’s go…..
- FC: finished copy
- ARC: Advanced Reader Copy
- PB: paperback
- HC/HB: hardcopy/hardback
- Swag: not the “too cool for school” swagger; things like posters, bookmarks, buttons etc
- WL: wishlist
- Unicorns: rare books and/or ARCs and/or swag that someone really really really wants; depends on the person’s preferences (one person’s trash is another person’s unicorns)
- INT: international (most people consider INT as anything other than the US)
- ISO: in search of
- DISO: desperately in search of (aka I really badly need this pleaseeeeeeee)
- Ok but like what is booksfortrade?
So #booksfortrade is a tag on Twitter where you can put up pictures or lists of the books/ARCs you have available for trade and your wishlists for the books/ARCs you want in return. There are also two sister tags called #arcsfortrade and #swagfortrade where you basically do the same thing you’d do with #booksfortrade but instead with just ARCs and just swag!
For all my international peeps, there are tags for you too! The UK has #booksfortradeuk and, for my peeps down under (aka all you Aussies out there), the tag is #booksfortradeau. I’m sure there are tags for other places, however #booksfortrade in general covers everything and the INT tags are the main ones I see around (tbh the Aussie tag isn’t even used that much).
There are also quite a few non-Twitter based trading groups that you can use if you don’t trust or care for Twitter (see next question)!
- What other non-Twitter based trading groups are there?
- Can you do this everywhere???!
Yup!! Anyone, anywhere can do it! I won’t say that trading will be really easy or really cheap everywhere though. A lot of traders I know are Americans and it’s fairly cheap to send within the US. It’s a lot more expensive to trade abroad tho (even to Canada costs you a bit). Of course, it’s a lot cheaper to send amongst yourselves (UKers to UKers, Aussies to Aussies) however since a lot of the traders I see are from the US, I want to warn all my INT friends that it can get expensive and you might not be able to trade a lot. Don’t think you shouldn’t trade though! Definitely do it if you want! I just want to make things clear for people, that’s all.
- How do you know if it’s safe?
Most people on the tag are legit and wonderful, however, to make it safer, I always:
- ask for tracking (letter envelopes don’t come with tracking though) and,
- ask that the other person send first and send me tracking, and then I’ll send ASAP.
The first thing is essential because regardless of who sends first, you need tracking as at least a way to know the other person sent and to know where your book is. The second thing is something I do because I’ve gotten near scammed several times before and it’s covered my butt every time. Now, if it’s your first time trading and your trading with an experienced person, you may not have the option to the second thing because you don’t have enough reputation to back you as trustworthy (harsh but true, unfortunately).
Another thing you can do, though, is ask them for the handles of some people they’ve traded with before who can back them up as being legit. Most people will do that since it’s no biggie (I haven’t had to but I would), however, if someone won’t do it, ask them why and be wary. Telling people the handles of public people shouldn’t be a big deal so it’s a bit worrisome (at least for me) if someone won’t do it.
A fourth thing you can do is look at how long the person has been on Twitter for – some people do make a twitter for just trading, though, so check the bio because they’ll say if the profile is just for trades (and you can certainly ask me, to double check) – and definitely check the pictures against other people’s pictures (or do a reverse google images search) and make sure the person isn’t stealing pics and making it seem like they have something when they don’t.
Fifthly – is that a thing? – there’s a Goodreads group for trading and one of the pages is about good traders, and another is about bad traders. It’s not fully up to date though so don’t depend on just the pages.
Lastly, you can politely (and privately) ask people on Twitter. You’re free to ask me anytime if someone is a good trader or “does this person seem shady?” (BTW my DMs are closed on the usual so if you want to ask, tweet me to follow you so you can DM me your qs) It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- How do you trade things??
Ok so, Imma take this straight from my previous BFT post and say:
what happens is you can look at someone’s pics and be like, “yo! I’ve been looking for ‘xyz’ book(s) everywhere! What’s your WL?/Here’s what I have to trade!” and then they’ll take a look at what you have and see if there’s anything they like and if so, boom! commence trade! If not, ‘maybe next time!’. Either way is cool. Now, if you commence trading, you exchange mailing info and then mail on the day(s)/terms you guys have decided on. Big thing to keep in mind throughout this entire process is:
COMMUNICATION IS KEY!!!!!!
And, ya, I mean more than just the exchanging of info and such. You want to communicate through the entire process – confirming you/they sent out the package, getting tracking #s, saying “hey I got your package! Thanks!” – is absolutely key because it should make the process much smoother.
Oh, and it’s even more key when things do go wrong because those things happen sometimes: “hey, I can’t send it today, I’ll send it (…..)”, “hey have you sent out your package yet?”, “hey, I haven’t gotten my package yet and it’s been quite a bit. What’s happening?”. Ya, those things happen all the time. So in order to minimize screwing yourself or the other person over, please please PLEASE talk to each other the entire time until both of you have your packages safely on your person (not your house! on your person!) and are officially done with the trade.
SIDE NOTE: if you are in talks with someone for a trade and they/you don’t officially cancel, you shouldn’t automatically go and trade with someone else. Now if the person takes forever to answer *cough me-who-has-a-horrible-memory cough*, give them little nudges until they get the hint you guys need to talk. But don’t sidestep and trade with another person until you and the first person officially cancel the trade. Who knows, maybe the first person has something you’ve been looking for, for forever and only now brings it up? (it’s happened to me before)
- Where do you go to send things??
- USPS (aka the post office)
I also know that some people have used Stamps.com, PayPal and other websites like that to pay for and print the labels to put on a package so they can just walk to their mailbox for their mailman to pick up and send. If you’re interested in doing that, just know there’s a possibility that you might pay over or under what the postage should actually be. I’ve heard of people buying a package weight scale so it’s easier.
- What is media mail?
It’s essentially a form/category of mail reserved for books and it’s a LOT cheaper than sending via regular mail, and usually, it’s a lot cheaper than priority mail. Not every mail person knows of this wondrous thing called media mail though so make sure that every time you go to send, you tell the mail person to ring it up as media mail!
- What is pay for shipping? What’s the process like?
With pay for shipping, person X pays the shipping costs for person Y to send them things. For example, Jimmy from the US has an ARC of Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo that I really badly want (note: I really do want this so hit me up if you have one) but doesn’t see anything on my trade lists that he wants. He’s okay, though, with me paying the $3 he would have to pay to ship the ARC to me. He ships and sends me tracking and the receipt for how much it really is, I pay and we’re good.
That’s essentially the process. Now some people want you to pay first then they ship but I find this a bit shady since you never know how much it will be to ship (even if you’re a veteran like me) until you actually send it. Plus, the person might just take your money and run so I request that they send it, then send me tracking + show me the receipt of how much my package is (that’s important as you don’t want to pay for everything Jimmy is sending) and then I’ll send over Paypal. If they don’t use Paypal, you can do Venmo but you’ll need to check if there are any extra charges related to sending money. Oh and, if you’re doing Paypal (and probably the same with Venmo), use the “send to friends option” or their paypal.me link (mine is paypal.me/avidreader) as that doesn’t charge you extra. If you have questions about how to do that or where that is, drop me a comment/tweet/DM and I can help you out.
- How much is shipping TO international places (aka anywhere other than the USA)?
So, from my experience, and from some other people’s wonderful help: US to Canada is around $16 (for a book) and about $6 for swag/letter sized envelope; US to Europe and Australia is around $22.5 for a book and about $7.5 for a flat rate envelope. Now, these are estimates and may not be applicable everywhere (and online is actually horrible for checking prices) so please make sure you go into your local PO and have them weigh your package and figure it out. You just need to tell them the country and general location of where you’re sending to, and they should be able to give you a fairly accurate estimate!
- How much is shipping FROM international places?
So, because I live in the US, I wasn’t very familiar with how much shipping is from international places (specifically places like the UK, Canada and Australia). Therefore, with the help of #booksfortrade, here’s an estimated (but fairly accurate) breakdown of how much things would be….
UK to US is about $9 – $10 for a book
Canada to US is a little over $8 for a book, and Canada to the UK and Australia can be from $11 – $25
Australia to US or Canada is, according to my friend Kristy, “$12 for 500 g, $26 for up to 1 kg”, and Australia to UK is “$15 for 500 g, $28 for up to 1 kg”.
Of course, prices vary depending on a multitude of things so always check with your local PO before you send anything!
- What should I use to package things?
- A letter envelope
- A bubble mailer
- Where do I get those package things?
Your local dollar store or Walmart works! I know at the dollar store (or at least all the ones I’ve been to) they have 2 bubble mailers in their own little package so you essentially get 2 mailers for $1. The letter envelopes come in their own various sizes and the boxes they come in usually have a ton (mine’s lasted for YEARS). As for the boxes, depending on what you’re sending and where you are sending, you can probably reuse an Amazon box (or any other kind of box you have sitting around). I don’t typically use boxes though so I’m not as familiar with them so I would definitely suggest you go to your local post office/FedEx/UPS store and ask them what boxes work for them. I’ve also seen some people get a box of 100 mailers from Amazon for like $25 which saves money and time, especially for those who trade a lot!
Of course, you can also just go to your local post office/FedEx/UPS store and buy/use their various packages/envelopes/boxes but usually, if you are using media mail, it’s cheaper to use your own supplies.
- Can I use a PO box? How much is a PO box?
You can definitely use a PO box! I know some people have to use them, and you can also certainly use them as an added security/privacy kind of thing. When trading, there shouldn’t be any problem sending to and from PO box addresses (at least I’ve had none sending to the addresses) so you should be good!
As for how much is a PO box, I went to go ask my local PO once and I’m pretty sure the smallest amount was like $60 per month which is a bit insane. Don’t quote me on that though as that was a year ago, I don’t fully remember and it can definitely change depending on where you are. Therefore, if you’re considering getting a PO box, ask your local PO for a quote and think on it. Definitely weigh out the pros (added privacy) and cons (extra work to pick up, sending to home is free) and decide from there!
Do’s and Don’ts
Ok so within the trading world, there are some dos and don’ts (or rather, “probably shouldn’ts”). This list isn’t the end all, be all and you certainly don’t have to follow them but they are good to keep in mind! Here we go….
- DO take pictures of what you have or make a list of what you have, as well as make a list of what you want – when trading, it’s really helpful to have pictures on hand to show people what you have when you’re asked and it’s just as handy to have a list (general or specific) of things you’re looking for. As someone who (ALHLA) has a lot to trade and not enough storage room, I have a massive Google spreadsheet that has everything I’m trading and everything I’m looking for in one place, so I can easily copy the link and send it to whoever asks. Of course, I take pictures when needed but I love lists so I’d definitely recommend those. As well, list-wise, you can use Goodreads shelves and Amazon wishlists to show what you have and what you want.
- DO ask for pictures of whatever you are receiving, on all sides – this basically means that when you go to trade for something, and before you guys send each other, ask for pics of the front, back and sides of a book or piece of swag so you can check about possible damage or usage that might otherwise stop you from making the trade. It’s a lot better to know of damages or to say no to a trade with some damages, rather than be surprised by them later when you’re opening up your package.
- DO keep track of who you trade with and what you’re trading – this is a good thing for soooooo many reasons like knowing what you’re sending and to who; what you still have; what’s the status of each trade; know who you’ve traded with and who can vouch for you etc! Luckily for you, I have a tracker template that you guys can download and use!
- DO help out collectors if you can – so, in the trading community, most people trade to find books that’s been on their WL or to find new books. Sometimes though, you’ll meet a collector. As you might think, collectors are hardcore fans of usually one or two authors or books and just have to have everything by the author, including all the ARCs, all the editions, all the swag. As a Leigh Bardugo and JK Rowling collector, I definitely get the need to have it all (I don’t know what it is but it is a feeling that doesn’t go away lol) and sometimes, especially with older things, it is a struggleeee (#firstworldproblems) to try and find something and then trade for it. Therefore, whenever someone’s helped me out in making a nice trade for something from one of my collections, or just straight up sent me it, I thank God for that person LOL it’s so wonderful and so kind! I try to do the same for my friends with their collections and I just think it’s a nice thing to do for people, if you can! You definitely don’t have to do it though; esp as trading can get kinda pricey.
- DON’T feel obligated to say yes to every trade – here’s the thing, trading can get really pricey. I mean sure, things are like $3 per package in the US but that adds up so you want to make sure you’re getting something you want out of a trade, too. Therefore, keep that all in mind when considering a trade. It’s okay to say no to trades if you’re not entirely comfortable with the balance of a trade or even with the trader themselves. You are entitled to your things and you are also entitled to make a mutually beneficial trade so don’t think you have to be a yes-man to every trade because you definitely don’t have to.
- DON’T take forever to answer back about a trade whether you’re still in talks, it’s pretty much finalized or you’re sending tracking etc – It’s quite a bit frustrating to chase after someone that has what you want for days (even weeks) on end. I understand that we all have lives and sometimes time differences can suck but pls give people notice if maybe you can’t answer back in a day or two. At the same time…
- DON’T be rude or pushy in the tag or when DMing someone about a trade – you don’t know what’s happening with other people and it doesn’t help make a trade any easier or better. It’s better to be understanding (to a certain limit of course….don’t be a mat to get walked over) and patient. In my opinion/experience, I’d say it’s best to give someone between 12 to 24 hours before you nudge them the first time. After that, the # of times you nudge and when is up to you and your situation.
Something else to keep in mind is to not trade the same book or piece of swag 5 million times over, and in a row. I understand getting an ARC you don’t really want, to go and trade it for something you really do want (kinda like a three-way trade) but I don’t understand doing that with the same exact ARC 5 times in a row. I know that might seem picky but it’s a bit frustrating to other traders to see something go around so much, especially if it’s a book you want. I know that if the traders are getting what they want, it’s more or less okay, but, again, as someone who’s been on the bystander part of seeing it happen and wanting a book that keeps moving around, it’s still frustrating and it puts people on my do-not-trade list. Therefore, I thought I might as well put it as something I wouldn’t recommend doing, at the very least not publicly.
General tips and tricks
- Finished copies are usually traded for finished copies, ARCs are usually traded for ARCs and swag is usually traded for swag, however, most people are flexible with trading FCs for ARCs and vice versa, or swag for ARCs or FCs and vice versa. Exceptions to this rule are usually when people have unicorns or highly anticipated ARCs or swag and are only looking for certain things in specific formats.
- Unicorns are typically ARCs or swag by really popular authors like JK Rowling, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J Maas etc (PS holler at me if you have anything from JKR or Leigh Bardugo!)
- Unicorns or rare ARCs also can include any kind of ARC/swag that is older. The older the ARC/swag, the rarer it is.
- Highly anticipated ARCs are things that are books that haven’t released yet and the newer the ARC (aka the farther out the book is being released), the more wanted it is. So, ARCs that come out in 2019 are more wanted and can be traded for more. Also, books coming out by popular authors are also usually among the list of highly anticipated ARCs.
And that’s really it for the info and tips portion of the post! I do have a Books For Trade Tracker Template for you guys to easily download and use with your own trades! It’s helped me a ton when keeping track of things so hopefully, it helps you too! If you have any questions about the template or have any ideas for additions or changes, feel free to comment them down below!
As well, what do you think about this post in general? Are there any tips you want to add or any thoughts you have on anything I said? Let me know in the comments below! Lastly, if you have any Leigh Bardugo or JK Rowling items (finished copies, ARCs or swag) please let me know and hopefully we can work something out 😉 Other than that, thank you guys so much for reading, I hope you have a wonderful day/night and tata for now!
*this post includes affiliate links I have with Amazon 😀