In this day of internet sharing, there remains quite a bit of "offline" content in the form of books and DVDs that we can't really share. However, two promising internet sites have developed online marketplaces that allow individuals to share / trade these old media bits using the internet. We have use 2 in my household and they seem to work quite well.
The first one is peeflix.com which has developed a trading site for people to swap DVDs. They have created a marketplace that assigns a value to DVDs and then tracks who has them to trade and who wants them. Because they assign a value to each DVD you can also create a money account and buy the ones you want if you don't have any to trade. The nice thing about this is anyone can join and get a DVD at a good price. For example, my favorite movie "The 5th Element" is available used for $6! What a great deal. One of the many clever things they did is figure how to develop an envelope that you print from your computer that contains the receiver's address AND electronic postage. You just print out the two pages, fold them around your DVD ( you don't send the artwork), tape it and put it in the mail. It works like a charm. Oh, and I did I mention they are powered by GlassFish?
First there was Half.com which enabled the used book market to flourish - but that site quickly got overwhelmed by used book sellers ( who sell some nearly new books at quite steep discounts). We love Half.com but recently we found BookMooch.com. BookMooch is a similar peer to peer trading site that matches those who have books with those that want them. The big difference is that BookMooch does not establish a market or price for books - they are simply a matching service that assigns you points for each book you trade. There is no neat "print your own mailer feature" and you have to pay for postage and you get the same number of points for a 1st edition book as you would for the latest Spiderman comic book. Bookmooch doesn't charge anything for the trades so they must be supported by advertising. I"ll have to look more closely at their biz model. Hey, its a neat idea and when we posted 10 books, 9 were in immediate demand so now we can go get more books (at least the total mass of books in our book obsessed household might stay somewhat constant now!).