An editor of mine used to say that he could tell if someone was new to financial journalism because they would eventually suggest a story on barter as the next big thing. Luckily I'm blogging, not journalizing, now so I can mention Swaptree.com, which wants to be the Ebay or Amazon of people sending each other the junk they don't use anymore.

Swaptree is trying to be a true barter site. There are plenty of barter lite sites out there. There's Tradeaway.com, FrugalReader.com, and others that specialize in music. They mainly use some kind of point system (so it's just another version of currency) or charge per listing. Or both. There is the old fashioned Yankee Swop in Yankee Magazine, but it has the desperate quality of those personal ads looking for someone the writer saw on a train in the rain. You just can't believe the specific right person will read the ad and fulfill the wish. Will the guy who owns "Yankees memorabilia picture" really find an owner of a 1974 Buick LaSabre willing to trade? No, probably not. That's why we have currency.

Swaptree does aim to be a little different. You simply list a bunch of stuff you want and a bunch of stuff you want to get rid of. If any matches up--or even matches in a three-way triangle swap--you'll hear about it. But because there's no point system all your stuff is basically worth one point. You can't swap two cruddy paperbacks for one good hardcover; Swaptree can't handle that. You can only do one-for-one swaps. I put some items on there, but I think I'll still end up just stacking my old books in my building lobby to see if my neighbors want them.

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