Perfect picture books by post – a new swap

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After the success of the International Postcard Swap for Families back in May I knew I would want to do another swap before long. And now the time as finally come to announce the Perfect Picture Books by Post swap.

Photo: General West

Perfect Picture Books by Post is all about sending and receiving wonderful, indeed brilliant children’s picture books. It will be a way for you to spread the word about a picture book you are passionate about, and to discover another equally amazing book through a gift from someone else.

Here’s how it will work:

You’ll sign up and I will pair you with one other children’s book lover. You will send each other a picture book that you think is the best of the best. You’ll read your new book, fall in love with it and (hopefully) set off on a new adventure with its story and gorgeous illustrations spinning away in your head.

Anyone can sign up (whether or not you have a blog, whether or not you have children) but when you sign up what you’re agreeing to is purchasing and posting a lovely picture book to your partner. You in return will receive a lovely gift of a book back.

What do you mean by a picture book?
By picture book I mean a richly illustrated book for children, typically marketed at kids up to the age of 8 or thereabouts. To keep things simple, we’ll not be swapping picture books aimed at adults or older children, nor any other sort of book. You may not have children under the age of 8, but you can still sign up for this swap if you love picture books (and, afterall, a good picture book can be enjoyed by anyone, any age).

Does the picture book I send have to be brand new?
No, it can be second hand / pre owned but remember you’re sending something as a gift so please only send something you would be happy to receive as a present. Vintage picture books would be welcome in the swap as long as their condition is good.

How much should I spend on the book?
This swap isn’t about the money. It’s hard to put a guideline on how much you might spend on the book, but I’ll be spending about the same amount I would on a lovely picture book for a friend – it won’t be a fortune, but nor will I try to buy the cheapest book possible.

Photo: Post Box

Will I have to send my picture book internationally?
No, if you prefer to send your book within your own country I will endeavour to match you up with someone else who lives in the same country as you do. However, I would encourage international swaps as I think this will be the best way to discover books, authors and illustrators which are new to you. Also, if you buy the book online you can sometimes send the book for free overseas (for example via The Book Depository). If you are happy to swap internationally I will endeavour to arrange that, but because I cannot know who will sign up for this swap I cannot guarantee you will be given an international swap partner.

Does the book I send have to be written in English?
No, but… When participants sign up for the swap I will ask about language preferences and match people accordingly. If you send a book in a language other than English it might be nice to include a rough translation or a summary. You could of course send a wordless picture book :-) I cannot guarantee anyone that they will definitely be able to receive a book in a language other than English – this will depend on who signs up for the swap.

Photo: donandcarol

How do I sign up for the swap?
Send me an email: zoe (dot) toft (at) kuvik (dot) net with the subject line “Picture Book Swap”.


The email must contain the following information:

  • Your name

  • Your postal address. Please put each line of the address on a new line in your email so I can be confident of sending out correct addresses. Whilst your name and address will be shared with your swap partner, names and addresses will otherwise be kept private.

  • Your posting preference: choose (1) International or (2) Domestic

  • Your language preference for the book you receive: choose (1) Any language, or (2) English only, or (3) Name the language you would prefer to receive a book in (on the understanding that fulfilling this request may not be possible, in which case you will receive a book in English).

  • Your blog address if you have one (You do not need to be a blogger to sign up, but I will collate a list of all bloggers who are participating in the swap so we can visit each other’s sites)


  • Whilst you’re welcome to leave comments and questions on this post, if you want to sign up for the swap you must email me the details I’ve requested. Simply leaving a comment on this post will not count as signing up for the swap.

    Do I need to include anything else when I send my book?
    No. However, as you will be receiving a book from the person to whom you are sending your book it might be a nice idea to include a card or short note to introduce yourself and perhaps say something about why you chose the book you did. If you are sending the book via an online bookshop (and therefore cannot include a card) please consider sending a postcard separately.

    What dates do I need to keep in mind?
    You can sign up for the book swap any time between now and October 22nd. Your book should be posted to your swap partner by November 5th at the latest.

    When will I find out who my swap partner is?
    I will be pairing up people straight away – as soon as I have pairs of people who are compatible (in terms of language and posting preferences) I will email you with your swap partner’s details. This may mean that you will hear quite soon after signing up, or it may mean that you don’t hear until the weekend after October 22nd (if I’m having difficulties matching your language and posting preferences).

    What if I receive a book I already own?
    Sorry, but I cannot guarantee you will receive a book as part of this swap which is a book you do not already own. I do suggest that whatever book you choose to send, don’t choose the current best seller – if you were to do so this would increases the chance that your recipient may already own the book.

    Photo: CarbonNYC

    Why are you looking so stern at this point?
    This swap is based on good will and trust. It’s really important that if you sign up for this swap, you honour your commitment to it. If your partner does not receive a book, even though they will have sent one to you, I will be sad, your swap partner will be sad, and you ought to feel sad. Because I will keep a master list of swap partners it will be very easy to find out who has not sent a parcel. I will contact you if such circumstances arise.

    What if the parcel I send gets lost and never arrives?
    I encourage you to get proof of posting when you post your picture book. I don’t know how it works in other countries, but in the UK if you have proof of postage you can claim back the cost of your lost parcel (up to a certain amount, an amount that would definitely cover the cost of most picture books). Another possibility is to insure your parcel when you post it, but this will probably incur extra costs.

    Is there anything I can do to help with the swap?
    Please spread the word of the swap – via your blog, twitter, facebook, or email groups you’re involved in – any which way suits you. If you blog, please consider adding this button to your blog:

    To get the button you can right-click on it above and save it, or copy the HTML code below:


    <a href="http://www.playingbythebook.net/perfect-picture-books-by-post-faq/"><img src="http://www.playingbythebook.net/wp-content/uploads//picturebook-swap.png" /></a>

    If you have any more questions, or need further clarification, please fire away in the comments – if you have a question, others may well have the same thought and so using the comments section will help us all.

    I’d like to thank Ana Silva who in previous years has run the Holiday Swap for book bloggers. She gave me some really helpful advice about setting up a book swap and I’m much indebted to her.

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    24 Responses

    1. I would love to take part! I am a HUGE horder of childrens books, so the decisions doesn’t come lightly… but equally, we ADORE our books, so would love to share the passion!!! Now, WHICH ONE to send….aaaarrrggh

      Zoe, thank you for organising such a great swap.

      Will tweeting about it today for you!!

      Maggy x

    2. Ooh count me in for this one! love love love picture books! I’ve just blogged about it now so hopefully you get a good handful of other australian’s signing up to join in the fun and make it a bit more international

      • Hi Megan,
        Please email me with your details so I can add you to the swap! Will be great to have you on board. Thanks for blogging about it!

    3. Hi Maggy, I know, choosing which book to send is going to be so difficult for me too :-) But it’s the sort of decision that I think will entail quite some fun along the decision making process!

    4. Certainly signing up for this one, too. Sending over my details by mail.

    5. Just blogged about it. Will send you an invite to my blog as I have gone private for a while. Encountered some distressing troll comments. I have been overhauling the blog completely, so that they cannot find it so easily. My regular readers do visit, however.

    6. Thanks for blogging about it Sandhya! Much appreciated. And the new blog looks lovely :-)

    7. Zoe,

      Just did a blog post about the above … I may also put it on Facebook.

      I hope you get lots of people joining in … a bit of an administrative nightmare for you though!

    8. Thanks MakemineMid-Century – much appreciated! After the postcard swap I did earlier this year I don’t think this book swap will cause me too many problems! This is just pairing up one person with one person, whereas last time everyone got paired up with 5 people from 5 different countries – much more complicate! And I learned from that :-)

    9. Sounds like fun. I love swapping things with other peoples. It’s a nice glimpse.

    10. […] the Book they have another swap going, this time it’s a picture story book swap. Please check the link for the details and consider signing up, it’s a great way to may be find a new favourite […]

    11. Hi Zoe!
      First, thanks for hosting such a wonderful swap! We are from New Jersey, USA and will love to participate…..I just blog about the swap, here’s the link: http://pinkyslearningworld.blogspot.com/2010/10/childrens-picture-books-swap.html
      I’ll send you an email with our information. We’re so happy to participate!
      Airamty and Pinky

    12. Thanks Airamty and Pinky – great to have you participating!

    13. […] before I forget, did anyone check out the picture book swap I mentioned last week? Here’s the link again for anyone who is interested (I’ve already signed […]

    14. We would love to participate in this! I will add the button to our blog and e-mail you our address. Thanks for setting it up! :)

    15. This is a fantastic idea! I would love to participate,and am sending you my details right away!

    16. […] Playing by the Book has a Picture Book Swap: We might be swapping postcards right now… but have a look at this, definitely signing up for the Picture Book Swap. […]

    17. Hi, this sounds like a great idea. Have signed up via email but just to confirm: no money involved other than the value of the book and mailing charges. Right?

    18. Hi Zoe,
      I just found your post through the Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism, and am wondering if it’s still possible for me to take part in your book swap? I’d be interested in swapping with a German partner, as our daughter is learning German and English in Portland, OR.
      Thanks!
      Tamara Staton

      • Hi Tamara, the swap closed in October but I hope to run another one in 2011.

    19. […] diggers, and frankly I think it is awesome!!! And our books of the week: Remember I mentioned a Picture Book Swap… well our books arrived all the way from Canada… not one, not two but three books… Great […]

    20. […] few months ago, the wonderful Zoe at Playing by the Book organised a book swap! Wow! Yes, after the success of her Postcard Swap, she upped the ante and […]

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