It’s beginning to look a lot like…you know. Shopping is crazy, the malls are packed, the US Mail is bogging down–all the joys of the holiday season!
Wonderful as this time of year is, it can be pretty high-pressured. So practice some survival skills: Set aside some time for yourself to read a book or watch a movie. Bring a CD with you to listen to music while you’re in your car fighting the traffic. Try to show patience with others who are no doubt feeling stressed also. Reach out to someone who may be spending the holiday alone. Take a break from your mad pace to reflect on the year that is drawing to a close. The presents don’t matter–the present does. Enjoy your present! the rest will follow.
We ourselves look back on a very full year: the million-book milestone (a million books available in the PBS library) was passed in March; a new site layout went into place at PaperBackSwap and SwapaCD; a whole new sister site for swapping DVDs was launched. At PaperBackSwap, the membership growth has been staggering, and we have added a ton of features. The number of bookswaps passed TWO MILLION in the last month (not counting Box-O-Books swaps), and the number of books available on the site is at nearly two million now.
We also need to take a breather from our massive To Do lists to say Thanks to all of you for coming here, for swapping your books, for everything you do. We wish you a great holiday, whichever you celebrate at this time of year. Happy Chanuka, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Eid al-Adha and Winter Solstice.
From our PBS Family to yours, we wish a wonderful season to all.
Richard and Robert and The PaperBackSwap Team
Archive for December, 2007
It’s beginning to look a lot like…you know. Shopping is crazy, the malls are packed, the US Mail is bogging down–all the joys of the holiday season!
Duh, SwapaDVD, of course. The goatmail that went out announcing the launch of the site didn’t fool anyone–thousands of members signed up the first day we opened, and the rush continues. There are almost 25,000 DVDs available to request now, after only a week. The swapping is fast and furious and the Wish List is really working beautifully. We noticed the SwapaDVD forum topics “complaining” about getting TOO many Wish List items (!). Since DVDs are light they can mostly be mailed first-class, and thousands of DVDs have changed hands already. Only the goats are saying baaaaaa humbug over at SwapaDVD; everyone else is having too much fun. Don’t forget, SwapaDVD is free to use just like PaperBackSwap!
We have a winner in the Cover Image Contest! There were a lot of great designs submitted; thank you all so much. The winning cover looks like this:
It was submitted by Jeff & Carolee P. and we think it is great! (Jeff & Carolee submitted the runner-up, too.)
You can pre-order your PBS Cookbook in the Kiosk. We are nearly ready to put in the order to have these printed; we’re so excited. Thanks to Sherry N. (royaltech) and all who have helped with this, for their very hard work!
We now have the LightWedges in hardcover size; these are really cool! We have also added Shadow Suede Purple as a color for the BookMate II–it was a very popular choice for BookMate I. Remember that you can custom-order your color if it is not one of our stock colors or patterns for the size BookMate you want–just put in the order for “custom color” and send us an email at email@example.com, and give us some extra time (approximately 3 weeks) to fill the order from our supplier. You wouldn’t be able to get a custom color BookMate by this Christmas, but we have plenty of patterns and colors to choose from in stock, in both sizes. We are still looking for new items for the Store, which is a very labor-intensive process: the quality has to be high and the price low. And we have to like it. Nothing gets into the Store unless it is PBS-approved. So keep your eye on the Store (in the PBS Kiosk) to see what we come up with.
Wow, we got a lot of nominations this month! We have so many folks on our list who have accumulated a number of votes. We do have one front runner as of today. The member of the Month for December is:
Cozette has been with PBS for less than a year, but she has really made her presence felt! She is everywhere in the forums with a positive attitude, a virtual smile, a cheerful word for anyone who is having a tough time. She spreads calming oil on troubled Forum waters, and spreads sunshine behind the scenes. Cozette, they like you–they really like you! Thanks for being such a great example of the PBS Spirit.
If you have any nominations for Member of the Month, submit them to us here. Your nomination will not “expire”–anyone you nominate will have a chance at getting Member of the Month if enough nominations accumulate over time. Each month the person who has the most votes accumulated gets to be Member of the Month. So go for it! Tell us who’s helped you in the Forums, who’s been a great swapper, who in your opinion is a credit to PBS. We are keeping a list of all the nominated members. Who knows–one of them might be YOU!
Dear R&R–I wanted to ask you about… Hey, are you wearing a Santa suit? –Inquiring in Indiana
Ho Ho Ho! Why yes, we are. We thought it was appropriate. Why, does the costume make us look fat?
Dear R&R– Well, yes, but that’s the point, isn’t it? Anyway. I wanted to talk to you about a book that I received. It was the wrong book! I ordered the Revised Edition, and that was in the title of the listing, but I got the old edition. And now the sender refuses to give me my credit unless I send the book back. I said that’s fine, but please send me postage to ship it, and she said that I was outrageous and scamming her. She made the mistake in the first place!! This isn’t right. Why should I pay postage to send back the book SHE listed incorrectly? This really steams me. –Irritated now in Indiana
Yes, we understand your irritation. We have made this clear in the Help Cent–
Dear R&R–Sorry to interrupt but I have the same problem. I ordered a paperback book because hardbacks are hard for me to hold when I read. I got a hardback! The ISBN didn’t even match! The sender is saying I shouldn’t complain because it is the same book, and is also asking me to send back the book HE posted wrong, at MY expense, if I want my credit back. Don’t I have a right to get the book I requested? He is saying that I should be happy with the hardback, since it’s more valuable, and I shouldn’t get to keep the book AND get my credit back. I don’t like hardbacks! Why do I have to justify wanting to get the book I requested? Why would I have to pay to send back the book to get my credit back? Tell him he’s being a jerk! –Fuming in Phoenix
Now, now, Santa doesn’t use words like “jerk”. Boys and girls who do are taking the fast road to the Naughty list. As I was saying to Indy, the Help Center Doc does explain that the requestor doesn’t have to return the wrong item, if it IS a wrong item. When you request a book, you should receive the book you requested: the book should match the listing’s ISBN, title, author and binding type EXACTLY. It does not have to match the cover image or publication date.
So if the title included the words “Revised Edition”, Indy, you did get the wrong book. But if the title did NOT include those words, and everything else (ISBN, author and binding type) matched the listing, you didn’t. When this happens–
Well the ISBN does match! But the listing said paperback, and I got a hardback! So it’s YOUR fault, for having the wrong listing in the database. –Indy
Publishers sometimes do reuse the ISBN for reprintings of books, which can confuse things. PBS can assign one ISBN to only one listing. When a member puts the ISBN into the Post Books page, she or he will see the listing previewed on the right, with the words in red text asking him or her to confirm that the ISBN, title, author and binding type on the listing preview ALL exactly match the book being posted. If the title or binding type doesn’t match, that book can’t be posted with that listing, even if the ISBN matches. In that case, the book needs to have a custom listing created by the posting member, which has the correct info on it. The Post a Book Without an ISBN feature allows the posting member to create that custom listing for a book if it is necessary.
And Feeny, if you requested a paperback and got a hardcover, that was also the wrong book. And if the ISBN didn’t match it is doubly wrong. If the ISBN doesn’t match we suspect that the posting member went to the Club Wish List and clicked “post this book”. There is a window that comes down that will ask you to confirm that the ISBN on your item matches if you do that, but the sender didn’t check it if you got the wrong ISBN.
When a sender makes an error and sends a wrong book, then the requestor does not have to return the wrong item at his or her expense. Again, this is clear in the Help–
Hey! I am one of the senders being called names here. It’s the same book. So what if it’s a hardcover? It’s the same story! You’re telling me that I spent postage and sent a book and now I have to spend postage AGAIN to get the book back, and I won’t even get a credit? That’s insane. –really Peeved in Pittsfield
We are sorry that this happened, but Santa has some tough love for you: You made a mistake. Yes, you did. You clicked Post This Book when your book didn’t match the listing. We put those words in red on the listing preview on the Post Books page for a reason. And if you are looking at the Club Wish List and clicking Post this Book if something matches the title of a book you have without checking the ISBN and binding type to make sure that they match your book, then that is not the correct way to list a book.
Think of it this way: if you order a sweater in blue, and you get a green sweater instead, do you have to send back the green sweater at your expense? Do you have to justify that you wanted blue and not green? No. The sender of the green sweater either replaces the wrong item with the correct one at no charge, or refunds the money if the sender doesn’t have the blue sweater that was ordered. Yes, the sweaters both fit the same and you can wear them both, no matter what color they are. But if the requestor wants a blue sweater, don’t say you have one if you don’t. And don’t send a green sweater and ask the person to be happy with it, or to pay to send it back to you in order to get a refund.
We know that no one means to do this, but when you make a mistake posting a book, you need to deal with it properly. Some requestors don’t make a fuss about getting the wrong book. But to others, the specifics (like binding type) really matter. You can’t know how the requestor will feel about a wrong book, so you should post the book correctly in the first place, to avoid a problem swap. Otherwise, yes, you can end up losing item, postage and credit…but that will only happen because of a mistake you made when you posted the book. If you list your sweaters–er, books–correctly, you will not have this trouble in future.
And please stop pulling Santa’s beard, okay?
Dear R&R–Well how about Large Print books? Large Print isn’t included in the “ISBN, title, author, binding type” thing. If I request a book for my mom who needs Large Print, and I get a regular-font book she can’t read, what do I do? The last sender who did this to me told me just “Sorry, that was the way it was listed on PBS! Hope you enjoy the book!” What about me? What do I do here? –Seeing Red in San Pedro
Large Print is a special case. If a member enters the ISBN of an item into the Post Books page and that item is categorized at PBS as Large Print, the book listing preview will have some special text in a red box on the right of the Post Books page. This text says very clearly that this listing can be used only if the book being posted is Large Print. There are also links there to help post the book properly if it is not a Large Print book. Because Large Print is not a preference in most cases but a necessity, Santa is taking a hard line on these problem swaps: if the sender does not return the credit within a week of your Personal Message that states the problem, the title of the book, and the request for a credit refund, let us know and we will do it if the book was really listed incorrectly. We don’t intervene in problem swaps when the issue is subjective (such as book condition) or in dispute, but in the case of Large Print, we will. Be sure that your Personal Message lets the sender know that you want your credit returned, and also that the member can read instructions on how to do this in the Help Center.
We do sympathize with the members who post books incorrectly; we know they don’t mean to. But if you post a book incorrectly, you do run the risk of losing book, credit, and postage. It is easy to prevent this: just follow the instructions on the Post Books screen when posting your book, and if you have trouble, read Solutions to Common Book Posting Problems in the Help Center, and this will help you get your book listed properly.
And if you get a problem book, do be clear in your Personal Message. Be gentle, but do say that you would like the credit to be refunded. Sometimes a sender is new and doesn’t even know this is an option. And remember, if you report a problem swap (of any kind) to a sender, in a PM clearly requesting a credit refund and you get no response at all from the sender within a week, let us know, and we’ll look into it.
Dear R&R–I got a book that smells funny. I specifically requested no funny-smelling books in my Requestor Conditions. This sender HAD to know the book smells funny. Even my neighbor says it smells funny. What about that? Will you get my credit back from that sender for me? –Olfactorily Sensitive in St. Olaf
No. Santa can’t intervene in subjective cases, or when the issue is book condition and it is in dispute. Members have to work these ones out; if a member has a pattern of problem sending on an account, it will emerge if you choose “yes but with a problem” while marking the book received. We will intervene if there is a pattern, since several requestors having the same trouble with one sender is an objective situation.
Dear R&R–what if I send the book to you so you can smell it? Or I can send a picture of my neighbor holding her nose. –Olaf
We’re not even answering that.
Hey Santa–you don’t sound very jolly. –Amused in Ann Arbor
Sorry. Santa gets weary of squabbling, especially at Christmas. That doesn’t mean that Santa doesn’t care about each and every one of you! Um, Ho ho ho.
Hey, did you know that in the Netherlands, Santa is called Sinterklaas, and comes to the home of naughty boys and girls and beats them with sticks? There’s actually a burlap sack involved. The naughty person goes into the sack, and out come the sticks.
Dear R&R–We didn’t know that. Why do you mention it? –Ann
Just a fun fact. And we like saying Sinterklaas. Sinterklaaaaas. Really rolls off the tongue.
Anyway, to get back on track here: Problem swaps aren’t actually as common as you might be led to believe if you read the Discussion Forums–the vast majority of swaps take place without a problem at PBS–but of course with a membership of this size, they will happen. Please everyone, if one happens to you, take a step back and look at things from the other member’s point of view: The member who posted a book by clicking on the Club Wish List may have thought “Hey! I’m granting a wish!” The member who posted a hardcover instead of a paperback may have thought “This member will be so happy because she’s getting a more valuable book”. The member who posted the “Revised Edition” may simply not have noticed those words in parentheses in the title.
The person who sends you a wrong book is not trying to scam you. He or she has taken the time to wrap up the book and mail it to you because he or she thought you wanted it. If he or she made a mistake, BE NICE. You may make a mistake someday yourself, after all. In fact, if you search your memory, we bet that you can probably recall having made a mistake yourself at one time. So BE NICE in your Personal Messages to each other. We have a club of humans who sometimes make mistakes; they are not “scammers” if they do.
And if you made a mistake and someone lets you know about it, BE NICE in your reply. Check the Help Center and see if the requestor is correct about the way you listed your book. Suck it up and take the loss if you made a mistake and the requestor asks you to refund the credit. You’ll be a better person for it, and a better swapper. And Santa–who knows all–will keep you on the Nice list if you behave well during the communication about a problem swap.
If you are naughty… there’s always the Sinterklaas clause to invoke. Santa could use a little cardio.
Dear R&R–Now I’m afraid to post a book. You are a scary Santa. –CindyLou in Whoville
We are sorry we scared you! Don’t worry–it is easy to post a book properly. Just read the information on the page when you post, and check your book against the listing shown. And even if there is a problem with a swap, most members ARE nice about it. They understand that the sender could be someone like their own mom or grandpa, and they treat them as they would want their Mom or Grandpa treated. We have a nice club overall. But tempers do get short sometimes. Even ours, sorry.
Dear R&R–That’s okay. I wouldn’t want someone asking me to smell a book over the internet either. –CindyLou
Thanks for understanding. I know a little Who who’s getting a Wii this year!
Enjoy your Roast Beast, everyone! HO, HO, HO!
- For Facebook users: a PaperBackSwap application that will let you share your booklists with that community…
- The New Wish List: You love to say you’ll hate it, but we think you will love it. We are working to perfect it, and we will explain it thoroughly when we are closer to a release date…