If you are an avid reader, you own a few books. OK, make that a lot of books.
Some of your books you would never part with, but others are currently gathering dust on bookshelves or piled on the floor.
Since it looks like you will soon have to buy a new bookshelf or continue to wade through books just to get to the kitchen, I've got an idea. Resolve this year to do what some people do with their wardrobe: Don't add anything until you get rid of something.
Fortunately, the internet is the perfect place to not only unload old books but also find those on your "to-read" list for cheap.
If you like the idea of a fair exchange, try a free membership to PaperbackSwap.com. This is a book club that helps avid readers share their books online by exchanging books they have for books they want.
Once you post 10 books you want to part with to your online bookshelf, you receive two free book credits. Just search the site for the books you want and send in your request, and the owner will ship the books directly to you.
If someone requests a book you have posted, you will have to pay shipping (typically $2.66 for USPS Media Mail), but you will receive a book credit once the requester receives his or her book.
Book-swapping sites are popping up everywhere. If you can't find the books you want at PaperbackSwap, check out TitleTrader.com, BooksFreeSwap.com and BookMooch.com.
If you prefer cold, hard cash for your books, Cash4Books.net may buy back your old textbooks, hardbacks and professional/technical books. It is not, however, interested in your paperback fiction.
As a seller, you enter the ISBN numbers of your books on the website to find the buyback prices. You can print out a shipping label to send the books directly to Cash4Books (it even pays the cost of shipping). The company will either send a check or credit your PayPal account within an average of 13 days from when you mail the books.
Several EC readers have had good experiences with Cash4Books. I was thrilled to discover it would take a several-year-old college textbook of mine that other textbook buyback sites were no longer accepting. Another reader was overjoyed to find she could unload her old homeschool curriculum.
CATCH AND RELEASE
If you're curious about the lives of your discarded books once they leave you, you might consider releasing your book "into the wild" as part of the BookCrossing.com project.
To release a book, register your book on the site, print out a label with a unique ID number and leave the book in a place where you think it might find a new reader. The person who finds the book can visit BookCrossing.com and enter the ID number to find out where the book has traveled, and even journal about his or her experience.
You can follow the progress of your book as it travels the world! To hunt for a book that has been released in your area, you can find release locations in the "Go Hunting" section of the site.
BooksPrice.com is a great comparison site for the frugal book shopper. Just type in your book title, author or ISBN and you'll get a list of the prices of new and used books on many major bargain book sites.
BooksPrice.com also compares the shipping fees and book conditions, so you'll be sure to get the deal you want.
With all these resources for book owners, it seems there's no excuse for those piles of discarded books cluttering my home and office. This year, I plan to find new homes for some of those books I never read anymore. And I'm seriously considering a little catch-and-release action because I think it might be kind of fun to watch a copy of "Debt-Proof Living" travel the world.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.