Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Secondhand shopping sites

Last week's Dollar Stretcher newsletter included a link to a Bankrate.com article on the best ways to sell different kinds of used goods, from clothing to furniture. I clicked on it without expecting to glean much useful information from from it; I seldom have anything of value to sell, since I tend to keep clothes until they fall apart and electronics until they're well beyond what most people would consider obsolete. However, while I don't do much secondhand selling, I do quite a lot of secondhand buying, and the article turned out to have quite a bit of useful information about secondhand shopping sites I'd never heard of before.

Right on the first slide of the 8-frame slideshow, the article recommended a site called Tagsellit.com for advertising a garage sale to the public. I promptly surfed over to the site and entered in my ZIP code, hoping to learn about any upcoming sales in or near my hometown. I didn't discover any—in fact, even Highland Park's upcoming town-wide garage sale didn't have an entry—but I did find that in addition to yard sales, the site has listings for secondhand sellers of all kinds: consignment shops, antique dealers, flea markets, and pawn shops. I found two listings for flea markets within a 10-mile radius of my town, when previous searches had led me to believe there was none nearer than Brooklyn. Sadly, the closer of the two listings—less than 3 miles away—turned out to be for a one-time event that had taken place in June 2011, for which the listing apparently had never been taken down. However, the other one led me to the Warren Flea Market, a bona fide market held each Sunday from April through December in Warren, NJ. True, it's about half an hour's drive away in a direction we don't usually go, but it looks like a big enough event to justify a special trip. We've been enjoying some online episodes of Flea Market Flip lately thanks to our new "TV to Go" service, and having a flea market within striking distance might actually give us a chance to try playing the game for ourselves.

The fourth slide had some useful information as well, this time specifically focused on secondhand books. I had already heard of, and was planning to try, PaperbackSwap.com, a site where you can list the books you have available to give away and get a credit for each one you "sell," which you can then use to "buy" a book from someone else on the site. (The only cost is for shipping, which is borne by the seller, but the site simplifies the process by providing a free, printable mailing wrapper.) However, before you can start requesting books on this site, you have to list ten books of your own, and I hadn't gotten around yet to culling my bookshelves for excess paperbacks that I could list. (Despite the site's name, it does accept hardcovers as well, but I thought it best not to start with those, since they're heavier and more costly to ship.)

The Bankrate article, however, turned me on to another site that serves the same purpose: BookMooch.com. This site works much like PaperbackSwap.com, but its rules are different. At BookMooch.com, you can get credits just for listing books, even before anyone has requested them; for each ten books you list, you earn one credit. (PaperbackSwap.com gives you two "free" credits for listing your first ten books, but after that you have to give books away to earn more credits.) Also, you don't necessarily have to list ten books to get started; if you list five books and one of them gets requested right away, you immediately earn one point that can be used to "mooch" one book from another user. Regardless of how many credits you have on the site, you must give away at least one book for every two that you request—but that's not as strict a requirement as PaperbackSwap's, which requires you to continue earning credits on a one-for-one basis in order to continue requesting new books.

So at this point, I'm wavering between these two sites. I don't want to sign up with both, because I only have a limited number of books to give away, and I can't very well list the same books on both sites (I might end up having the same volume requested by two different users). BookMooch.com seems a little less strict, and it also offers a feature that allows you to maintain a "wish list" of books you can request automatically as soon they become available. However, it doesn't have the handy printable mailers of PaperbackSwap.com, and since it doesn't give you the two free credits to start out with, it might take longer for me to actually have the chance to earn any books this way (since I don't know how popular my library rejects will be with others). I think ultimately it will just come down to a question of which site has a better selection; I'll need to spend a little time browsing both sites and see which one has more of the books currently sitting on my Amazon.com Wishlist. And, of course, in the process I might learn a bit more about how well the search function works on each site, which could also be a factor in my decision.

But either way, getting free books while getting rid of the ones I'll never read again is a definite win-win.
Post a Comment