Sunday, January 20, 2008


SwapaCD is a popular music CD swap site. I actually discovered this site while checking out Paperback Swap, with whom they're affiliated (I also see they've added a DVD swap site to their offerings. I'll have to check that out!).

I have not, as of yet, used SwapaCD for reasons initially outlined in My CD/DVD Cup Runneth Over and which I will discuss in further detail below.
  1. Shipping

    While not necessarily a complete deal breaker, ideally, a swap site would allow me to generate a postage paid shipping label (either free of charge or for which the costs can at least be prepaid by credit card). SwapaCD members must pay the shipping costs when responding to requests, as well as a charge of 0.49 per trade, plus 1 CD credit. SwapaCD provides a downloadable template for a paper envelope mailer, which pulls the recipient's address information, however at this time, it does not also include the postage.

  2. Avoiding the Post-office

    In terms of ease and convenience, I would prefer to avoid a trip to the post office or waiting on a long line there. If you just send the CD in their special mailer as recommended, SwapaCD estimates that postage costs will probably be little more than a first-class stamp, give or take, and you can just drop it in the mailbox. However, if you add the goodies (jewel case, liner notes, artwork) it will probably be more. Depending on what you decide to ship, unless you have a scale at home or are comfortable guestimating the charges, a post office visit could be in your future. Which brings me to my next point.

  3. Liner notes, artwork & case

    Not so much with DVDs, but for music CDs I like having the artwork and liner notes, which can often include song lyrics or information about the artist and other musicians. A jewel case makes it easier to store, but those are otherwise easy enough to get elsewhere, if you want them.

    While SwapaCD members are certainly free to ship as much of a CDs accompanying materials as they like, in order to keep mailing costs to a minimum, SwapaCD recommends that they only ship the CD itself, using the aforementioned envelope mailer. However, they also provide tips and information about the approximate costs for various other shipping options and configurations.

    Incidentally, I have to say that at the particular time that I was considering SwapaCD, I was skeptical that a mere paper envelope would allow a CD to be delivered through the mail unscathed, while shipping them in their protective, plastic jewel cases might actually increase the likelihood of their being damaged (this in spite of proper padding which adds to the shipping costs). But, that was before I discovered and joined a popular DVD rental club and have since come to experience the efficacy of the paper envelope mailer, as paradoxical as it may seem! So far, in about a year's time, I have only had one DVD to arrive damaged.

  4. Simplicity

    Finally, a swap site should be as simple as possible to use, not only in terms of listing and tracking items for trade, but in comprehending the point scheme. Of primary concern would be

    • How is value assigned to the items being traded?
    • How do you accrue the necessary value to make requests?

    In all fairness, since I did not end up joining SwapaCD, I can't really speak to how easy or not, it is to use the site, but based on the information I was able to read there, it seemed easy enough. Of course, you'll need to take my comments here with the necessary grain of salt.

    The point system in use seems quite straightforward. As previously mentioned, each CD trades for one SwapaCD credit along with the 0.49/trade charge. You can earn one free credit after posting your first ten CDs. If you want to request CDs before you have accumulated enough points you will need to purchase SwapaCD credits available in increments of $5.00.

    Now, depending on your reasons for trading, the point scheme may be less important to you. Perhaps you have a glut of CDs you just want to get rid of and don't care so much about acquiring others. On the other hand, you may get into swapping as a way to acquire and enjoy new content, while avoiding the accumulation of stuff that you don't like so much. As I explained in Something for the Bibliophile, swap sites allow you to hold onto an item for as long as you want (forever, if that's the case), or trade it back once your finished with it.

    So again, logistical matters such as these are something to be aware of and keep in mind when considering a swap site.

Obligatory disclaimer: These are the criteria that are important to me and how they played out in evaluating this particualr site, however your needs may be quite different.

Next up: My experience using SwapSimple, another media swap site.

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