PaperBackSwap Blog

Archive for November, 2008

NEWS: Newsletter – November 2008

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

All books have 5 star member ratings…. or read the latest book reviews.

If you can’t say something nice… Of course not all of our members will get along all of the time, but that’s no reason to lament!   You can tune out any “forum voice” that bothers you very easily, by clicking the Ignore this member link on the bottom of any forum post.   This action will apply to every past and future post by that member.  You can ignore as many people as you like; the member(s) won’t be alerted if you do this, and it is easy to undo if you have a change of heart later.   Read about how the Ignore feature works by clicking the What’s New link at the very top of any page on the site.

It’s back…and better than before! The Similarity Index wasn’t functioning as smoothly as we wanted when we first launched it.  So we retooled it and streamlined it, and now it’s working great.  We even expanded it–now the Index works not just for Buddies, but for ANY member who has a viewable profile – you can see the % similarity whenever you look at a public profile.  You can read more about this feature, why you might want to use it, how to use it, and what you can do to make it more accurate, by clicking the What’s New link at the very top of any page on the site.

Number the stars: Ever wondered how many ratings those stars under a book represent?  Now you can see the number of members contributing to the club’s average star rating, shown right next to the stars!  This tells you if a 5-star rating was one person’s opinion, or a consensus of dozens of people.

PBS Store News:  The PBS Cookbook is in the final stages.  We are just checking over the recipes to be sure everything is original (not copied from any bound or online source–recipe instructions can be copyright-protected).  So if you receive an email from us asking you to confirm that your submitted recipe is original, please reply to that email as soon as you can!  We want to get this book out as much as you all want to receive it.   Thanks to all who have been so patient about this – we think it’s going to be better than you even expect!  Anyone who wants to get a pre-order in can do this in the Kiosk.

Dear Members, Newsletter – November 2008

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

This is being written before the election returns come in; when you read this, we should have a new President-elect!  Which is great news, because…well…Now that the fuss is over, we can all get down to REALLY IMPORTANT matters…
Like, should we roast the turkey or deep-fry?  What about the mini-marshmallows-on-the-yams dilemma?  And are they called yams or sweet potatoes?  Oysters in the stuffing–yummy or gross?  Chestnuts in the stuffing–luscious or revolting?  Stuffing at all –mandatory or potential salmonella deathtrap?  Green beans, creamed onions, Jell-O?  Whole-berry or jellied cranberry sauce?  Turkey, Tofurkey, Turducken, Goose?  People can argue ferociously over questions such as these; each person has his or her own strong convictions about what makes a traditional holiday meal.
Thanksgiving is such a deeply American holiday.  It’s a celebration of diversity–there are as many different “traditional Thanksgiving meals” as there are Americans–and of hospitality.  It’s a day for welcoming strangers and extending kindness; it’s about opening your doors and opening your hearts (and opening your mouth to wedge in that last bite of pie!).  Thanksgiving is about inclusiveness and generosity.  What could be more American?
Whatever makes up your holiday meal three weeks from Thursday, we hope it is also nourishment for your soul.  For those who have loved ones far away, we send our hopes that you are reunited soon.  For those who will be traveling during the holiday, we wish you safe journeys.  For those who are cooking, we wish you enthusiastic clean-up crews.  To those who are on cleanup detail, we wish you the ability to fit all the leftovers into the fridge.  To Black Friday shoppers (you intrepid souls!), we wish you quick reflexes and triumphant checkouts.
And to ALL of our members we wish a healthy and happy month, and a wonderful Thanksgiving!
from Richard and
The PaperBackSwap Team

TIPS AND TRICKS: Newsletter – November 2008

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

The weather outside is frightful… But recycling’s so delightful! Try using the (clean, dry) plastic bag your newspaper gets delivered in to wrap your books before packaging them to mail.  The inner layer of plastic is terrific for protecting your book from the rains and snows, and the effort is really appreciated by the requestor.  And re-using the plastic is so much better than putting it into the landfill!

Never too soon to mail! USPS is setting a “deadline” for Christmas mailing to APO/FPO addresses and overseas of November 13th for Media Mail.  The deadline doesn’t mean you can’t mail after that date, but that date is the last mailing date that will guarantee your package arrives by December 25th.  See the USPS table of destinations/postal rates/deadlines to mail here.

Books You May Have Missed: Newsletter – November 2008

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Many of you know Lori G, auntielala-thebookpimp, from the Forums.  Her book recommendations get rave reviews.  So many members have been helped by reading Lori’s recommendations that we asked her to send us some.

Lori Recommends…Location, Location, Location!

This Side of Married by Rachel Pastan (witty women’s fiction)
The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty (a coming-of-age novel)
Blooming All Over by Judith Arnold (contemporary romance)
The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington (literary fiction)
But Inside I’m Screaming by Elizabeth Flock (contemporary fiction)

Member of the Month – November 2008

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008


Nominations for Connie have been coming in for a long while.  She has a quiet but passionate “fan base” in the club.  Those who sent in comments with their nominations all touched on the same qualities they feel make Connie special:

“…one of the kindest, most sincere people on this site…”

“..honestly cares about people…”

“She is always kind and caring.  And she puts on some great swaps in the games!”

Connie, ferrets may love you, but they’re not alone!   You are clearly well-loved by humans too.  You are our Member of the Month for November. 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!

DEAR LIBRARIAN: Newsletter – November 2008

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Dear Librarian–I was totally psyched by the Similarity Index.  But then I looked at my Buddies, and no one is more than 10% similar to me!  Am I such a freak?  Why don’t I have higher similarity to other people?  –Outcast in Orlando

Dear Lanny,

Don’t worry!  You’re not a freak.  Well, you might be, but not because of low Similarity Index numbers :).   The Similarity Index is inaccurate if it doesn’t have good data to work with.   If you haven’t chosen favorite genres, haven’t rated many books using the star-rating system, and haven’t put a lot of books on your Wish List, then it’s hard for the system to tell who is similar to you!

You can improve the accuracy of the Index by (1) choosing favorite genres on the Member Homepage (you don’t have to choose three- one or two are fine), by (2) putting items on your Wish List and (3) by rating books with the star rating system.

Number 3 above is super-powerful – the more books you rate with 1-5 stars, the more likely it is that you will rate the same books that someone else has rated.  Giving the same books the same number of stars is really the most accurate measure of your similarity to another member.  So turn to the stars to find your reading soul-mates!  They’re out there, we just know it.

Don’t forget, you can see your similarity on ANY viewable profile -not just on Buddies.  You can view a member’s profile by clicking his or her highlighted nickname anywhere it appears on the site.

Dear Librarian–I keep my books in a bunch of different places, and I have been using the Book Tags to help me find the books when they are requested.  I have been tagging books “box 1”, “box 2”, “Living Room Bookshelf”, etc.  The problem is that when a request comes in the Tags don’t even show on the pending request!  Is there a better way to do this than using the Book Tags?  –Cluttered in Colorado

Dear Rad,

Yes!  There are two much better ways to do this: (1) the Book Journal (which you can read about in the Help Center – it costs 8 dollars per year to subscribe) will show the “space” to which you have assigned a book, right on the request on your account page.  (2) the Book Notes – you can apply a note to any book on your bookshelf and that note will follow the book wherever it goes; you just have to mouse over the note to read the text.  You can read about using the Book Notes in the Help Center (they are also described in What’s New linked from the very top of any page on the site).

Both of these are more useful options than Book Tags for information relevant only to you, that you want to show on an active request.

Dear Librarian– Well, then, what are the Book Tags good for?  Should we all be clicking the “R” on tags like this, to report them as inappropriate?

Good question, Rad.  No, you shouldn’t click the R on tags that are clearly “personal”.

Personal tags are tags that have meaning only for their creators (initials, numbers, “save for Joanne” etc).  You can leave these alone – even though Notes are often a better way to manage this information, personal tags are not confusing or misleading, and if left alone they will disappear eventually, since other tags will be applied to those books and only the 10 most commonly-used tags are shown on any listing.

The Tags that SHOULD get the R click are the tags that are misleading: tags that describe book condition (“yellowed pages” or “ex-library book” or “some underlining”).  Why?  These tags do not apply to all copies of the book and do not help other members know more about the copy that is “next up” for requests.  Note also that underlining is not permitted in books swapped at PBS (see the Help Center Book Conditions Guidelines for the exception to this rule for textbooks).  You can read more about “personal”, “inappropriate” and “club-useful” tags in the Help Center (or click What’s New at the top of any page on the site and read “Book Tags”).

So you can use these personal Tags, Rad.  Members can remove them (if enough  members click on enough of your Tags you could wake up and find them gone!), so for personal information like this, Book Notes are safer – and more effective for your purposes!  Plus, they’re really keen-looking, aren’t they?   We can’t stop looking at them!

  • The unification of this wonderful nation.  It’s time to remember that U.S. = US, not Us versus Them.  We Americans have so much to be proud of already; yet if we all pull together, despite our differences of opinion, the country’s finest hours are yet to come!