PaperBackSwap Blog

Archive for August, 2007

New USPS regulation: Newsletter – August 2007

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

After July 30, 2007, all packages weighing more than 13 ounces (it was previously 16 ounces) that bear stamps as postage must be handed to a postal employee to be mailed. If you use metered postage (such as postage bought from an APC), this regulation does not apply. The regulation says:

Due to heightened security, the Postal Service is revising standards for depositing mail bearing only postage stamps as postage…Effective July 30, 2007:

  • All mail bearing only postage stamps as postage and weighing more than 13 ounces must be presented to an employee at a Postal Service Retail service counter for acceptance. This mail may not be deposited in collection boxes or lobby drops.
  • Carriers will no longer pick up any mail weighing more than 13 ounces bearing only postage stamps as postage from customer mailboxes or at a business’ outgoing mail collection point.
  • Mail bearing only postage stamps as postage and weighing more than 13 ounces that is not presented to an employee at a Postal Service retail service counter will be returned to the customer.”

A reminder of this regulation now appears on the PBS wrapper in the upper right hand corner. Read the official announcement on page 64 in this pdf from USPS. Thanks, baccsurfs, for the heads-up and sending us the pdf link, back when this was just a rumor according to the information we could find ourselves.

Dear Members, Newsletter – August 2007

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Midsummer… dog days… thermostat rising. Back-to-school around the corner… wouldn’t it be nice to have something fun to look forward to? Well…

No plans for Labor Day Weekend yet? Why not make the trip to Decatur, Georgia and come to the Decatur Book Festival! PBS will have a booth there, and we would love to meet you! The festival is in its third year; it’s FREE and open to the public. Hundreds of authors will be there and many thousands of readers; one of the keynote speakers will be Charles Frazier (author of Cold Mountain), and there will be author readings, panel discussions and signings, poetry slams (sign up to perform your own work!), cooking author demonstrations, children’s activities, live music and more. Read more about the event here. Don’t forget, it’s FREE. We hope to see a lot of PBS members in the crowds!

As PBS’s third birthday approaches (September 1st), we can’t help but think about how far this site has come. Over 1,500,000 books have been swapped here in that time, and now we’re seeing more than 30,000 swaps per week, every week. But what’s shared here is more than books; it’s conversation, kindness, friendship. We love visiting the forums for a chuckle (some of you are really funny!) and it’s great to stop in Chat and meet you in real time. Everywhere we look, the site is hopping! In the Games forum, the inventiveness of the games is really astounding. Our Data Correction and Image Collection volunteers have been terrifically busy, and the effects of their work can be seen all over the site. More and more, PBS is becoming a co-creation…we may do the programming, but you all make the club what it is.

Swap on, folks!

The PaperBackSwap Team

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Newsletter – August 2007

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

It seems that the book-burning bookstore owners in MO aren’t interested in working with PBS to rescue their surplus books. We haven’t heard back from them, and now the “free time” in our schedules is disappearing as the summer ends. So we have taken down the Stop the Fires petition. Thanks everyone, for signing and pledging. We know they had a lot of worthy groups interested…we hope they decided to work with one of those, and have been able to get the books to readers instead of burning them. However, they haven’t told us if and what they decided. If you see a roiling grey cloud over Kansas City, drive toward it with buckets! They may be burning books again. Sigh. We tried. Thanks again to all of our generous members who were so eager to help out; we were really blown away by the response.

New Features: Newsletter – August 2007

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

PBS to Go. Now you can check your booklists easily from your cell phone! PBS Mobile, a basic version of PBS is available for those with web access from their mobile phone. Check your bookshelf, Wish List, and Books I’ve Read lists on the spot. You can add to your Wish List from PBS Mobile too. Bookmark this site, and take PBS with you, wherever you go.

Large Print really means…Large Print. In our continuing efforts to stem the tide of books being incorrectly posted as Large Print when they are not, last month (July 12) we revised the book posting process: if the ISBN you enter is categorized as Large Print in the PBS database, a pink box will appear telling you this on the Book Listing Preview, and there will be links to lead you easily through the posting process to ensure that your book gets posted correctly. We are hoping this will solve the problem once and for all for our Large Print readers–after all, this is not merely a matter of preference, it is one of necessity!

New “tiered referral” system at PBS – the more you refer, the greater the reward.

  • 1 – 10 Referrals = 1 credit for each
  • 11 – 20 Referrals = 1 credit + $0.50 PBS Money for each
  • 21 – 35 Referrals = 1 credit + $0.75 PBS Money for each
  • 36 – 50 Referrals = 1 credit + $1.00 PBS Money for each
  • 51+ Referrals = 2 credits for each

Your previous referrals will not earn the bonus retroactively, but they will count to put you into a “starting tier”, as of July 15, 2007, and your subsequent referrals will earn the appropriate bonus for each. This will continue on a trial basis, so spread the word now, and reap the goodies!

Member of the Month – August 2007

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

This is a new Newsletter feature: we hear so many great stories about great members who quietly do so much good in the club, and we wanted to share some of these. So each month we will spotlight a member who has really added a lot to the club.

The first Member of the Month is… auntielala

We think our new member (that70sgirl) put it best when she told us: “I just wanted to let you know what a great job Lori G. is doing here on PBS. I had posted in the CMT forum about being a little intimidated about joining the games forum, and she took it upon herself to start a Newbie game, and extend invitations to those of us who had posted. The swap has been going on now for a while, and the response has been great! She was never critical when anyone made a mistake, was always available to answer questions, and was always a gracious hostess. She is an awesome team player.”

Thanks to Lori for helping to make PBS the best bookclub in America, and to Natalie for sending us this message! If you have suggestions for a future Member of the Month, please submit them to us.

TIPS & TRICKS: Newsletter – August 2007

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Mailing an audiobook? If your audiobook is in a rigid plastic case, remember that those can be cracked by USPS sorting machinery–the discs and cassettes can be ruined too! Protect your audiobook by cushioning it for its journey–a bubble mailer, or bubble wrap inside the outer layer of wrapping, will do the job. Keep your audiobooks playable for many swaps to come!

Clean it up! There is a wave of keep-PBS-beautiful projects taking place on the site. When members browse for books, it really helps when listings are complete and accurate: descriptions and cover images help a lot. So do book reviews.

  • For missing cover images: submit these to our Image Approvers using the Upload Book Covers link at the bottom of the site. It’s really easy: contact Sarra B (sarradee) or Beverly P (hockeygal4ever), our Image Collection Co-Coordinators, for guidance if you need it. Check Sherry’s post here for guidance on both image uploading and data correction.
  • For book reviews: Angie B (AngieB901) started it, and a whole slew of members have joined in, posting “inappropriate” reviews in a Forum topic so that members can vote thumbs down on them. An “inappropriate” review is one that contains information about the particular copy of the book (its condition), or that indicates the book copy doesn’t match the listing! These members who wrote the reviews didn’t mean any harm–but they’re not helpful reviews for someone deciding whether or not to request the book. The review-rating process will go into effect when we have enough ratings.

Everyone can help–do a little or a lot! You can clean up just the books on your bookshelf, or your Books I’ve Read list. Make sure the information is accurate, that there is a good description of the book (from the back cover), and that you write a review telling what you thought about it. Just this little effort can get your books requested and on to their new homes. Your books will thank you! And so do we.

Look/listen before you click. Remember to check your books before you mark them received. If there is a problem, you won’t be able to record it on the site after you have marked the book received. So flip through your books when they arrive, check your audioCDs for scratches and make sure audiocassettes are playable before you mark them received without a problem. Yes, you can still contact the sender to ask for a credit refund if you discover a problem after the fact–but recording problem transactions in the database allows the system to track poor sending, so that we can intervene and keep book quality high on PBS. Of course, the vast majority of books are received without a problem–this is just a word to the wise.

DEAR R&R: Newsletter – August 2007

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Dear R&R–I joined PBS and I love it! I posted 9 books and ordered 3 right away. But no one wants my books, so now I have no more credits. I think my books are probably pretty common, and there are lots of folks who posted copies “ahead of me”. Is there anything I can do to get my books moving? I see so many books I want to request! –Bummed in Baton Rouge

Dear Batty,

You’re right: if you posted books that are numerous in the system, your books are waiting in line for requests. That doesn’t mean no one wants them! Even very numerous books are swapped frequently. But your books may have to wait a while for requests if you depend only on FIFO. Luckily, you don’t have to do this! Yes, most books at PBS are swapped according to the dates they entered the system, but members can also order directly from you if they like. To do that, they have to be able to find you. if you increase the visibility of yourself, and your bookshelf, on the site, you will get things moving.

So: first and foremost, make a public profile. Having one means that you are searchable in the Member Directory. Members with public profiles get roughly twice the number of requests that members without public profiles do. You don’t have to put a lot of personal info in there: just choose a nickname, and you’re off and running! Then you can participate more on the site–post in the Discussion Forums (we have many to choose from); members who see your posts can click your Booklist button and order directly from you. Post more books–anyone who requests one of your books in Books Posted Today can browse your bookshelf and send you a multiple-book request. Consider making a deal–visit the Book Bazaar Discussion Forum to read about how to do this.

All of the information above is in the Help document How to get your books requested! that is in the Help Center. Instructions on making a public profile are included there too.

Don’t worry, Bats. You’ll find new homes for your books–you may just have to give them a little push!

Dear R&R–My credit balance says NEGATIVE 2? How is this possible? Give my credits back and correct this system error immediately! –Steamed in Santa Fe

Dear Santa,

This was not a system error. The most likely reason why you would have negative credits would be if you told the system you received more books than you had credits to spend. This happens if you: order a book that is declared Lost in the Mail and get your credit back, then spend it on another book before the “lost” book arrives. You need to mark the Lost book received so the sender gets credit–and the credit is taken from you when you do that. If you don’t have credits when you mark a lost book received, PBS will “lend” them to you so that the sender gets credit–and your balance will be negative for that reason. When you get another credit from a book you sent being marked received, you will automatically “pay us back” and be back to even.

Or, and this is also a common cause of this situation, you went into your Transaction Archive and marked books received that you didn’t actually get. Because members sometimes send books without marking them mailed, the canceled transactions in the Transaction Archive have the “Was Book Received?” button on them. That button should be clicked ONLY if you got THAT copy from THAT sender. If you confused a canceled or lost transaction for a book with a transaction for a book of the same title that you received, and marked more than one transaction for the same title received, you were telling the system that you got more than one copy of that book. If you do this, you need to contact the sender first, to explain what happened so he or she can return the credit for the book that was never sent/received. If you don’t hear from the sender after a week, you can contact us.

Look before you click! You can read the Help docs How to Mark a Book Received, How to Use the Transaction Archive, Why are there canceled/lost books in my Transaction Archive that I know were sent/received?, Why is my account balance NEGATIVE? and I accidentally marked a book received! for much more information about this.

Oh, and Santa? Is it too early to remind you about that iPhone for Christmas? 🙂

Dear R&R–Why do I have to contact the sender if I mark a book received by mistake? Why can’t you do this for me? –Santa again

Hi, Santa!

Well, you understand what it’s like to be one person trying to help millions. We don’t have millions of members at PBS (yet), but we are really outnumbered. We can’t manage member transactions on a routine basis–but of course we will help if it is necessary–e.g., if the sender doesn’t answer your PM in this situation. Most of the time this can be taken care of between the members, and we don’t need to get involved. So we ask the members who make mistakes to try to correct them first themselves, before contacting us. It really makes a difference if we aren’t asked to address every issue personally–that means we can get to all those new features that our members want so much. Ho ho ho.

Dear R&R–I really love this site, and wish you allowed us to swap videos here. How about it? –Swapaddict in St Petersburg

Dear Addy,

A video swap site? Now that’s a big project! I wonder if we will find the time to put something like this together…hmmm….

COMING SOON: The Decatur Book Festival over Labor Day weekend in Decatur, Georgia…also, the currently absolutely most-requested feature at PBS may become a reality…Shhh, the Founders are working…