Conversations | A Guide To Using #BooksForTrade

Hello, everyone! In case you’ve missed it, Katie and I have been working on a series of guides that will (hopefully) be super helpful to you as book lovers. We’ve created guides on attending author events, how to unhaul your shelves, and today we want to help you with how to trade the books you’ve unhauled.

We’re sure that there are Facebook groups and Goodreads groups that do book trading, but Katie and I only use the booksfortrade hashtag on Twitter, so that’s what we will be discussing today. Although it is usually an easy and enjoyable experience, trading etiquette is important to make sure you are making the trading easier for yourself and those you are trading with!

Let’s begin!

What is #BooksForTrade?

#BooksForTrade is a hashtag on Twitter that groups together tweets about books and ARCs people are wanting to trade or are searching for. You do need a Twitter account to access this. If you don’t have a Twitter, please join! The book community on Twitter is beautiful and inviting!

Once you have Twitter, you can find these tweets by heading to the search bar and typing in #booksfortrade. Once the result pops up, click on “Latest” so that you can see the newest trades.


Here you will find users who have books and ARCs they are wanting to trade, their wish lists for those books if they have one, and even people just posting what they are searching for and hoping someone has it to trade.

What types of tweets can I add to #BooksForTrade?

A majority of tweets that you will see on this hashtags are from people who are unhauling old ARCs and books from their shelves and are just looking to trade for something they might be more interested in. These tweets will have pictures of stacks of books they want to trade and sometimes a wishlist (or WL). This is the type of tweet you want to use if you have a ton of stuff you just want to get rid of. Make sure to post pictures, and to post a wishlist if you have one.


Sometimes, especially if people have and/or want newer and harder to find items, they will only post one or a couple items and only want to trade them for one or a couple specific items. With these types of tweets, be specific. Post only what you are willing to trade and say only what you are looking for. Also, remember to be logical. If you’re searching for a hard to get 2019 ARC, don’t offer some random indie ARC for 2011 no one wants. Take into account what you want and what you have, learn their value in the trading community.


Another very common type of tweet you will find on this hashtag, is people just searching for things they want. This is helpful if you want something specific and just want to know what others are looking for. I do this when Katie offers to help me get something by offering up some of her ARCs too, and so I don’t want to just put all of our stuff out there. This allows you to get a feel for what others want for the item and determine what you are willing to give for it. These tweets will usually contain ISO (in search of) or DISO (desperately in search of), so feel free to add those as well.


People want to trade! What now?

Once people start responding to your tweets, I highly recommend keeping conversations to your direct messages (DM). I try to always put in my tweets to “DM me if interested” but people either don’t listen or can’t DM you without you following their accounts. So once someone expresses interest by replying to the tweet, I immediately DM them to keep the conversation private and not take up a bunch of space on my tweet.

These conversations are where the trading etiquette really comes in. Once someone messages you, the ball is in your court to decide what type of trade you want to do. If you don’t have a set wish list, then people will send you pictures of what they are willing to trade for what you have. You can decide if there is something you want and something you are willing to trade for it. If you have a set wish list, then this part should be easy, since hopefully someone is messaging you with exactly what you want!

If you don’t see something you want, politely say “I’m sorry, I’m not seeing anything I’m interested in,” and leave it at that.

After you have both settled on what to trade, exchange addresses and be clear on when you can go to the post office. If you know you can’t go for another week, then tell them that. It keeps the guesswork out of whether or not you’re being scammed, and keeps them from being worried you’re scamming them.*

Once you have mailed your package, make sure to send the tracking number (it will be at the bottom of the receipt) to the person you’re trading with. They should also send tracking to you too. I specifically do this because once it’s in the post office’s hands, it’s out of mine. Accidents happen, but once you have done your part, it’s not on you.**

*Unfortunately, scams happen. There are people that offer trades, only to never send their part of the trade out. So be cautious. If they won’t tell you when they can go to the post office, then don’t send your package out until you receive tracking. You can also scroll through the tag and look for warnings. Usually, if someone has been scammed, they will warn other traders of the account that scanned them.

**Although accidents happen, you can choose to be an exceptional person to trade with. First off, make sure to always package the books carefully. I wrap the shit out of mine in packing tape to avoid tears and water damage. Also, if you choose, you can offer someone another book if theirs arrives damaged. A month or so ago I was sent a book and it looked like the post office ripped it open and water got inside. It was ruined. I messaged the person I traded with just to tell them of the damage so they could be more cautious of their packaging for future trades. She was so nice, and even though I didn’t blame her, she sent me a different book. She was an exceptional trader.

Yay! You got your book and you’re finished now…right?

This last step is optional, and its something I don’t do but want to be more intentional about doing in the future. So remember how I said that people on the tag will call out scammers to warn other traders away from them? Well, these same people will also give you a shout out once they received their books. This is so valuable because it builds up your credit as a trader. So do this for other people. Let people know that your trade went well and that you would trade with this person again!

Some final tips:

  • Always respond to the people that message you! I am easily overwhelmed, so I often post things for trade then have to let my messages sit for a day before responding. But I do try to get back to everyone. It’s polite honestly.
  • Don’t ghost people! I can’t even tell you how many times someone has offered me a trade just to go away mid-conversation. Don’t do this to people. If you change your mind, tell them! Or else they are waiting on you and missing out on something else.
  • There are other tags inside of the BooksForTrade tag that you can add your posts. ArcsForTrade is ARC specific and SwagForTrade is for all non-book bookish things. I tend to always add ArcsForTrade to my posts too, but only add SwagForTrade if I am looking for something that isn’t a book.
  • Browse the tag often. It’s easy to pick up on the lingo and the trends going around. It’s much easier to learn the tag by submerging yourself in it.
  • When going to the post office, ask for media mail. Shipping books is very cheap! One book should only cost you 2-3 dollars. But the post office won’t ask you because they want you to spend money. So always say “I need to send this media mail, please!”
  • Don’t be an asshole. I touched on this before, but it’s worth saying again. Don’t be that person that asks for unicorns (hard to find books) and offers utter shit in return. If you’re asking for someone’s first born child, be ready to give yours up to. It’s also the other way around. If someone is asking you for something difficult, you don’t have to settle and take what they offer you. They are your books, do what you want with them!

Well, I really hope that this helps everyone out with the BooksForTrade hashtag on Twitter. It’ been an amazing place to trade books and ARCs, especially after you acquire so damn much at BookExpo and BookCon! Come back in a couple days to see our Con Survival Guide!


Did you find this guide helpful? Do you have more tips we should add? Tell us in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Conversations | A Guide To Using #BooksForTrade

  1. I kind of hate the shout-out posts in the tag because I always get really excited to see a wanted book and then, oops, nope, it’s not on offer. I didn’t consider that it could be about building the sender’s rep. Maybe because I barely ever pay attention to names in the tag, it’s all about the pictures. Probably not the best way to use it, lol.


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