PaperBackSwap Blog

Archive for August, 2008

Dear Members, Newsltetter – August 2008

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Little-known fact about August: it is a thief!  The months used to alternate between 30 and 31 days all through the calendar, but when the Romans decided to give Caesar Augustus a month, they didn’t want to annoy him (= they did not want to be beheaded) by giving him a shorter month than Julius Caesar’s month that fell before his.  So, poor February shuffled up and sacrificed a day to prevent an Imperial Tantrum.   And September had a day wrested away from her too, so there would not be four “long” months in a row.    The Romans were all about symmetry.  And um, not getting beheaded.
In modern times, August is the Dog Days of Summer, the last gasp before Back-to-School.  It boasts National Wiggle-Your-Toes Day and National Blame-Someone-Else Day and National Book Lovers’ Day!  Not to mention Sneak-Some-Zucchini-Onto-Your-Neighbor’s-Porch Night, which is always a rollicking good time.

At PaperBackSwap, we like the dictionary definition of August: inspiring awe and admiration; majestic. In keeping with that, we are happy to roll out some interface changes, some brand new features, and some upgrades to existing features on the site.  We think they’re pretty awe-inspiring, and we hope you like them too.  We also did a lot of “behind-the-scenes” work on the site to make it work better and faster and be more pleasing to the eye.  Check out the Book Details page (for any book) for one example of the interface changes–no more scrolling to get to the book description! You can expect the features described below to “go live” this week.
Have a great month, everyone, and don’t trip over the zucchini!
Richard and
The PaperBackSwap Team

Member Homepage. Newsletter – August 2008

Friday, August 8th, 2008

You can expect the following changes (and more!) to be implemented the week of August 11th.  To read about all of the items below, you can go to the Help Center and read the items under What’s New on the left side of the Browse Help Docs page.

Member Homepage. New feature. This is the page you will see now if you click Home when you are logged into the site.  It has all kinds of nifty stuff on it, including recently-posted AVAILABLE books in the genres you are interested in, recently-posted AVAILABLE books in all genres, Recent Book Reviews, and the New Member Spotlight.   When you first go to the Member Homepage you will need to choose your favorite genres (you can edit these at any time!) to personalize the books displayed at the top of your Member Homepage.  The most recently-written Review will also appear on the Homepage (this will change frequently), and the New Member Spotlight will showcase  recently-joined members who have posted books.  So, for all those members who never click Home because it’s always shown the same old stuff…you can go home again!  Read more about the Member Homepage here.

Book Browser. Newsletter – August 2008

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

New feature. This new page under Search at the top of the site lets you do a kind of advanced search with a more user-friendly layout.  And there are new options: one example is the sort-by-star-rating, which will display your search results with the most-highly rated books at the top of the list.  The star rating system has been an underutilized feature on the site, so this sort will become much more powerful as members “star” their books.  (So if you have a great book on your shelf but no one knows how great it is, rate it! If you rate it, they will come…. Apply star ratings to every book you have read.)   Read more about the Book Browser here.

Reach for the Stars. Newsletter – August 2008

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Upgraded feature. The first time you go to your Books I’ve Read list after the site changes go into effect, you will see the BIR conversion page which will ask you to star-rate every book there, before you can access the list itself.  If you have been using that list a lot, you may have a lot of clicking to do!  Think of it as public service, for the good of the club.  Star ratings really help other members by giving them an at-a-glance notion of whether they will like a book.  The more people who contribute stars to a book’s rating, the more helpful/representative it is.  Star ratings also contribute to the Similarity Index (read below) and make it a lot more powerful.  So get a-clicking!  Read more about the Books I’ve Read List Conversion Page here.

Features: Newsletter – August 2008

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Separated at Birth? New feature. You can now see how similar you are to your Buddies, with the new Similarity Index!  When you go to your Buddy List you will see a notation beside every Buddy that says Similarity: xx%.   Your similarity is based largely on whether or not you and that Buddy like the same books, and the Index accuracy will depend on whether or not you and your Buddies have star-rated your books and selected your favorite genres on your Member Homepage.  If you want to boost the accuracy of your Similarity Index, apply star ratings to books.  If your Buddies also do this, you will see your similarity indices adjust.  We have a lot of fun new features in mind, based on this index…and every book you rate gets us closer to being able to tackle those projects!  Read more about the Similarity Index here.

Renewed Review page. Upgraded feature. The Review page interface has been spiffed up, so when you choose to review a book you can Tag it at the same time, and you will now be able to apply a star rating right from the Review page (in fact that will be required)!  Recent reviews will be spotlighted on the Member Homepage now.

Push a Book.  New feature. You can now suggest a book to a Buddy that she or he might like to read. The Suggest option is available from the dropdown menu under More Options on the Book Details page.   You can see all the books that have been suggested to you in a new My Lists item in the menu under My Account; you can order from there (this will order from the suggester, if the book is on the suggester’s bookshelf when you click the Order this Book button on the suggestion), and you can also click “Not Interested” to remove any item from the list.  Check it out!  Read more about the Suggest a Book feature here.

PBS Store News: Newsletter – August 2008

Monday, August 4th, 2008

We have a new pattern of bookcovers!  A little touch of spring in the depths of summer…


We also have several new items “in the pipeline” to add to the Store when they arrive…magnetic PaperBackSwap “bumper stickers” (we are having these made), and more.  So watch the Kiosk for new arrivals!

Member of the Month – August 2008

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008


Many members expressed their appreciation to Liese for her efforts in compiling many of Lester (ThreeCats)’s forum posts into a topic for all of our members to enjoy!  Lester’s words are truly inspirational and he will be missed terribly in the club.   We are lucky that Lester shared so much with us, and we know that it was a lot of work to organize the topic.  It is a wonderful tribute to Lester–who was MoM himself in May–and it will keep him with us.

If you haven’t seen the topic, it is “stickied” at the top of the Club Members’ Thoughts Discussion Forum here.

Liese, thanks so much for doing this!

You are our Member of the Month for August. Congratulations!

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 when the Newsletter goes to press gets to be Member of the Month and gets a newsletter mention and a nifty MoM icon to wear on profile and forum posts with pride.  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!