One perk to not being able to afford Manhattan rent is that those long, packed train commutes lend themselves nicely to tuning out into a good book. I have gone through so many since moving to the Brooklyn (and taking that job in the Bronx!) that my miniscule apartment is overflowing, and my roommate is starting to get irked. Luckily, I discovered Bookins. An online book trading site, you create lists of books you want, and books you have and are willing to trade. When the site finds a book you want, the owner is sent your address, and your book shows up for free in a few days!. When someone wants your book, you print out a packing slip sent to you by the site and pay a set $4 postage fee. Every time you send a book, you earn points for future books. Just be aware, your (hopefully your ) mom’s Bridges of Madison County will not earn you the same amount of points as the newest (hopefully your little sister’s) Twilight. Not only is the service free, but it gives you free points when you sign up, so you get a book or two for free before you even send a thing.
Other book trading sites:
Paper Back Swap: www.paperbackswap.com/index.php
Exclusively paperbacks, but cheaper postage as there is no set fee. Works pretty much the same way as bookins, but all books are treated equal. Two free books for listing your first ten.
Book Crossing: http://www.bookcrossing.com/
This one’s a little more kooky: You leave a book anywhere, log it on the site, and watch it travel. This site is less organized and efficient, but is fun and community-minded. Also, the reader comments and reviews are more extensive: a good place to go if you want to find out more about a book, even if you don’t use the book sharing service.
Swap Tree: http://www.swaptree.com/
This site is for books, but lots of other stuff too. This site has you trade directly with one other user, for the price of postage. List the stuff you are willing to trade, and up pops all the stuff that others will trade you for it! A site to get all sorts of stuff you need. Clearly, the theme of this site (and this paragraph) is STUFF. Get it. For free. And get rid of some, too.
Rather than just consuming more and more, filling your apartment to the point where you can no longer have company out of embarrassment (and sheer lack of space), you’re cleaning off your shelves and making someone happy. You’re fostering a sense of community, and instead of just ditching the stuff in the can – you’re recycling!