Social Trading – One Month Later

About a month ago, I wrote about giving a few social sites a try. Well, it’s been an active month on both sites.

First off, BookMooch. Overall, i have received 7 books, and sent out 16 books. I’ve spent about about $45 sending out those 16 books, so $45 / 7 = ~$6.50 a book Not too shabby. However, one of the problems I am having is finding books to snag. It seems that everyone wants the books that i have listed in my inventory, but not many of the 60+ books I have on my wish-list are currently in anyone’s inventory. It got to the point where I had sent out 8 books without yet receiving a book myself. I had to reject several requests for my books because I simply was spending too much money shipping books without giving. When a book on my wish-list does appear in someone’s inventory, I have to act quick because it’s usually snapped up quickly. More often than not, I don’t get the book.

It’s a useful service, but it’s not quite as robust as it could be. For example, the website has a dashboard that details books you have sent, received, will receive, and requested to be sent. However, when you click on any of those links, they all take you to the same page, where you have to scroll through several pages to get to the one you’d like. Also, the system is based on a request/receive system, so someone could technically request several books without sending any books to anyone else. They do have a requirement to keep your “mooch ratio” above a certain number, but the person making the most effort is still the sender. They have to pay for shipping, go the post office, etc… All that, and they still may not get any books on their wish-list.

Lala on the other hand is a much more robust system. So far I’ve shipped off 27 cd’s and have received 17. Lala billing runs on a monthly basis, so I’ve been billed for 10 cd’s at $1.75 a cd. Lala ships you envelopes so that you can send off cd’s to people who want cd’s you have. The envelopes are prepaid and ready to go, so all you have to do is put the cd in it’s protective case, and drop in the closest mailbox. That’s it. After that, people will do the same thing for cd’s on your wish list. You’ll be notified when people send you cd’s and when people get your cd’s.

The keys to this system are:

1. Lala takes care of shipping.

2. You get billed for cd’s you receive. It costs you nothing to send cd’s

3. You have a limit to the number of cd’s you can have in TRANSIT at any given time. So you must be actively shipping and receiving cd’s.

For me, BookMooch would work a lot better if it was like Lala. BookMooch could send prepaid envelopes to you. USPS media mail is only $2.09 + $1.59 per envelope. You could even choose different size envelopes. Then, people who receive the books are charged for the ones they receive, and have less incentive to sit back and take books from everyone. Shipping books would also be MUCH easier because you wouldn’t have to stand in line at the post office to have them tag the the book as media.

I’m sure I’ll used BookMooch, but i’ll be deactivating my account every now and then. Lala, on the other hand, will remain on and I’m loving it.