No, it's not a hoax. I really didn't pay anything for these books, in a manner of speaking. Paperback Swap is an amazing website I've joined for free. It works like this:
1. You add books (the ones you don't mind parting with) to your "shelf."
2. People request the books from you.
3. You mail them off (media mail costs $2.98 up to 5 lbs).
4. People receive your book, mark it as received in their system, and you get one credit for each book you sent them.
5. You then go cruising for books with those newfound credits! :)
Some helpful tips/advice:
Postage isn't expensive. Only a few dollars. And you can even send out up to three or four books with $3 worth of postage--which will get you four books in return! I think it's a pretty neat bargain.
Sometimes the best books won't be available. Add them to your wishlist! When you do, Paperback Swap immediately e-mails you as soon as someone puts up the book and makes it available. Then all you have to do is head on over to that person's shelf and place the order. Voila! It's very simple.
I've been using this service for almost a year now. It's pretty brilliant.
So--go ahead and join! And if you do, be sure to fell them I referred you to PBS!
(The books in the image are some free books I received today. I've been looking for a hard copy of Life of Pi since FOREVER!)