We have a lot of books, and getting rid of them is tough. We have tried eBay, garage sales and Freecycle, but books are different, They are the ultimate "long tail" product; somebody is interested in it but how do you find them?
Jeff Bezos knew this. There are more books than any store could stock, or that one neighbourhood could absorb. Books are small and dense, catalogued by a universal numbering system and relatively easy to ship; he built Amazon around them and the rest is history.
That is what is so interesting about Swaptree, a new trading system for books, CD's and DVD's, all products that have a code number (in books it is an ISBN) so that their computer's algorithms can catalogue, track and assign a value to them.
You list what you want and what you have, and the computer figures out where it is and sets up trades. All you pay is the shipping, but there are special book rates from couriers that are quite cheap. Swaptree even prints out the shipping label and costs for you.
It is like a nationwide mashup of the technology of an Amazon with the ideal of Freecycle- there is someone for every book, you just need the ability to find them or have them find you. By limiting goods to those with a code and a database, it is easier to manage than systems that handle everything and need a lot of human intervention.
Unfortunately, it only works in the USA, which counts me out; I hope that they rectify this soon. ::Swaptree