A Few Things I’ve Learned from #BooksForTrade

POSTED ON December 14, 2016 BY Austine IN Discussion

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Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today I want to chat a bit about #booksfortrade on Twitter, both my experience with the tag and a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

For those who are unfamiliar with the hashtag, #booksfortrade is used on Twitter to trade books we don’t want for ones we do want. I know, seems pretty self-explanatory. Often, the books being traded are ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies, for those new to the book world).

These ARCs are sent out by publishers to reviewers like us with the expectation that we will write and post an early review of the book to build hype, or at the very least promote it on social media. It can take a lot of work and effort to get on a publisher’s approval list so ARCs have started becoming a sort of status symbol. The more you get, the “better” a blogger you are (which I don’t believe is true but that’s another can of worms). So when highly hyped ARCs appear in the trade tag on Twitter, that’s when things get messy.

I thing #booksfortrade is a wonderful concept. It’s a chance for reviewers to get copies of books they might otherwise not have been able to get prior to release. It’s also perfect for those who collect books (including ARCs) and need help getting those last few unicorns (one of their most coveted titles to complete their collection).

You can even use it to post books you’re looking for using the abbreviation ISO (in search of), or some even use DISO (desperately in search of) though the extra letter doesn’t seem to make much of a different. When posting these, people can contact you who have the book and are willing to trade it which is a great way to help complete those pesky collections that might be missing one or two books.

But people also abuse the tag when they have one of these sought-after ARCs and hold “auctions” for the best offers. It’s common for people to post a wishlist (abbreviated “WL“) with what they have to trade so people know what they’re looking for. Sometimes the WLs can seem outrageous. Sometimes you can get lucky. Despite these WLs of books that a person may want, they will turn it down because they want something that EVERYONE wants. These titles include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Sarah J. Maas ARCs
  • Victoria/V.E. Schwab ARCs
  • Leigh Bardugo ARCs
  • debuts such as the book Caraval
  • and so on….

The tag can get pretty nasty sometimes and, for a while, drama seemed to pop up every other week. It’s been a bit calmer lately so I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned as a casual trader while using the trade tag.



  1. COMMUNICATE. The biggest complaint I see on the tag anymore is so-and-so isn’t responding to messages, or “can you tell me when you plan to send out the books.” And the easiest solution to all of this? Talk to each other! The vast majority of people on the tag (I won’t say everyone for sure) is understanding. If you have something come up that delays shipping books, that’s life. It happens. All you have to do is send a simple message with a brief explanation.
  2. BE TRANSPARENT ABOUT YOUR BOOKS. Offer pictures of the condition, or if they have any visible damage, etc. The worst thing for someone to find is that they traded a like-new book for one they thought would be in the same condition, only to find out that it’s been ruined in some way or another.
  3. BE POLITE. Don’t demand a book. Ask if it’s available and then you can move the discussion to DMs. Even if you don’t get the book, that person will likely remember the experience and might be more likely to trade with you later.
  4. CONFIRM A TRADE BEFORE OFFERING THE BOOK TO SOMEONE ELSE. If you’re discussing a trade with someone for a book, don’t offer that book to someone else until you’ve either agreed to a trade with the first person, or cancelled it. It’s not fair to the first person or the second. It all comes back to that first point, communication.


  1. HARASS PEOPLE. I get that you really want that book but messaging people who you know have it when the book isn’t in the trade tag, or if you have a trade going and you keep messaging the other person, is going to make you look bad. No one wants to trade with someone like that and you’re far less likely to get the book you want by acting like this.
  2. SPAM THE TRADE TAG. Again, we get it. You want that book. But you don’t need to post multiple times a day for it. I can’t speak for everyone but I know I usually scroll through the entire tag up to the point where I’ve seen everything so far. If I see someone posting all the time for the same stuff, I don’t feel inclined to trade with them. Plus, it buries everyone else’s posts and that’s not fair to them.
  3. BRING YOUR DRAMA TO THE TAG. If you’re having a disagreement or argument with someone from the tag, don’t use the tag in every tweet. We don’t all need to see every tweet you post in a thread. I understand if it’s relevant to EVERYONE using the tag but if it isn’t, leave the hashtag out.
  4. AUCTION BOOKS OFF. Remember: ARCs are given for free. Demanding someone buys you multiple FCs (finished copies) for an ARC is ridiculous. Accepting all offers for a book so you can pick the best one is shady, especially if you are turning books down that are on your WL. Which leads me to…
  5. USE BOOKS AS BARGAINING CHIPS. Don’t trade for one book just so you can trade that book for one you really want. First, not cool. Second, who wants to trade with someone who’s known to use books as currency just to get better books. To me, that means you don’t actually want the book for a collection or to read, you just want the status of having it and that’s not what ARCs are made for (I specify ARCs because I don’t think I’ve ever seen this done with a FC, though it’s possible).

I think everyone can succeed at using the tag in a considerate and meaningful manner. There’s a lot of good there, and a lot of great people to trade with. I’d love to see everyone get the books they want, with a whole community of people to help them.

Have another DO or DON’T for the list?

Let me know in the comments!


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2 responses to “A Few Things I’ve Learned from #BooksForTrade

    • Thank you! I hope they help any new to the tag! 🙂

      I’ve been using it less and less, I’ve found (generally don’t have anything that people want so better off doing a giveaway or donating what the library will accept). And yes! Those are the best, when someone gets a unicorn title!