Barter and Trade In the Internet Age

Barter and trade are a pretty quaint way of getting the things you need or want or getting rid of your surplus. (Like my eggs.)  Here are some websites designed to facilitate the barter and trade of goods and services. Not all have a local focus but some can be organized for a local focus.

PaperBackSwap I’ve been a member of this site for several years and love it! I’ve gotten rid of many books I wanted to read. It’s not locally focused, and you do have to spend money on mailing out your books, but to request a book is free to you. You earn book credits when your requester marks your book as received. Costs are kept down by using media mail. And it’s not just for paper back books, its for any book, including audio books, which cost 2 credits. Recently they have added the sale of books where you can use your credits to lower the price.  If your the kind of person who is terrible at returning library books, this is a great alternative, if  you don’t mind the postage.  Oh, and just to let you know, it’s USA only, sorry! The same people also run DVD Swap and CD Swap. This is a neat site where people can trade in groups for just about anything! Mostly crafty people use it to make works of art of all kinds to swap.  I’ve done some hand made post card swaps, and crocheted item swaps.  Some people swap things in their crafting stash that they don’t want anymore. Some swaps are very specific and some are as vague, but all members have a profile that includes their preferences: things they collect, wish lists, and things they don’t like.  It’s a typical practice to send extra goodies in with the required swap items.  This site does have potential for local community building because you can form private swaps and private groups, based on a region. Once you join a swap, the site organizes and matches swap partners, and keeps a rating system to let people who when people are dishonest and join a swap without sending out their items. Of course you can avoid this by having private swaps and private groups. I think it would be fun for a large extended family spread all over the country to make a private group and exchange holiday gifts, one partner per family member, with a cost limit on the gift exchange.  The possibilities are really endless with this extremely flexible system.

Babysitter Exchange I just found this site and I love it! You can create communities of local people you know to exchange babysitting with. You start with a certian number of tokens and use them to “pay” for requested services, like babysitting, pet sitting, house sitting, carpooling and other errands.  Groups of 5 or less are free. Larger groups have a paid premium membership. You can also have multiple communities, so if some friend live to the north, and some to the south, you can organize separate groups, though members in the middle can belong to both.  I’m always hurting for some childcare, and looking for someone to watch my chickens when we are away, so I’m really looking forward to using this service.

FreeCycle This is an email list where people can give just about anything away, as long as it’s free. You can also post “wanted” adds. It’s organized locally and the receiver picks up the item, no mailing.  The premise is that we should reuse old things instead of filling up our landfills.  If you hating getting a ton of irrelevant mail, you might not like this group, but you can always choose the no mail option and just read posts at the web site.




One response to this post.

  1. Great post, I love the entire concept of bartering and trading and we have had some real success with it. Traded a necklace for some gardening gloves at a craft show I did a couple of weeks ago and we were both thrilled. Keep up the good work! – from swap-bot, nmterrier


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