I have to admit, I'm one of those book owners who really doesn't like loaning out my books. I mean, I will, to certain people. But I have to be pretty sure I'll get them back. I have a couple out right now that I might not ever see again (fortunately, the books aren't among my favorites. But still).
A recent post on LifeHacker mentioned BookMooch, a Web site that allows you to swap books with others. I'd sort of heard the idea before. When I thought it might be something to blog about, I did a little searching. A few quick searches found several sites. It seems like a pretty crowded market. It will be interesting to see if they all survive in the long-term.
They all work pretty much the same. You list books you want to swap and gain points, which you can then use to "purchase" books you want. So the more you list, the more you can get. The members do the mailing. You can give feedback just like on eBay. In addition to BookMooch, there's PaperBackSwap, FrugalReader, and Bookins. BookCrossing is where the catch and release comes in. The idea is to register books on the site, giving each book a unique ID. Then you leave the book behind in a coffee shop, give it to someone else, donate it to a library, etc. When the next person picks up the book, they can log in to the site using the book's unique BCID (BookCrossing ID) and track where it's been and leave comments. TitleTrader adds the option to also trade CDs, DVDs (and VHS tapes), video games -- even magazines, which should set them apart a bit.
Few of these sites charge a fee; although PaperBackSwap has already indicated they'll be adding a membership fee at some point in the future. It should be interesting to see how all of these sites shake out.
Even if I were willing to give up some of my books, I'd end up with the same total in the end -- which wouldn't do much for my storage space.