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Archive for the ‘Dear Librarian’ Category

Dear Librarian: All Snowed In, Returned Book

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Dear Librarian – We were hit by the big blizzard and we’re snowed in!  I promised to mail a book by tomorrow.  I don’t think we’ll have the car dug out by then.  What should I do?  Can I get an extension on the deadline?  – Buried in Boston

Dear BB,

Seems like everyone has been affected by snow storms this month.  We don’t want you to risk life and limb to mail the book of course!  There isn’t any way to extend the deadline in the system (the software isn’t designed for that) so in this situation, the best thing to do is to (1) not mail the book and let the transaction cancel (or cancel it yourself) – then repost the book when you are able to send it OR (2) read the Help doc “Can I send a book later?” in the Help Center and follow the instructions there.  They tell you how to contact the requestor and ask if it’s OK to mail later, and they remind you that if the requestor consents to the late mailing you have to mark the book mailed before the deadline (even if you haven’t mailed it yet!) so that the transaction doesn’t cancel.

Whichever way you go, stay safe at home!  We hope you have a lot of good books to read while you’re snowed in. 🙂

Dear Librarian – I sent a book but it came back to me!  What happened? What should I do –Boomerang in Belmont

Dear Bella,

A book can be returned for a number of reasons: if you forgot the postage, or the address was illegible, or if the requestor moved while the book was en route.  Since Media Mail is not typically forwarded, requestors are responsible for ensuring that a current, dependable mailing address is on every request.

What you should do now is contact the requestor, to check the address, and read the Help doc “A book I sent was returned to me!” in the Help Center.  This explains all of the common reasons a book gets returned, and has information about what to do in each case.  As the Help doc explains, if the requestor doesn’t respond to your Personal Message within 5 days, you should send in feedback from the Contact Us page on the site, and we’ll look into the situation.

One timely tip for this wet and snowy season – remember that a layer of plastic inside the package will protect your book against moisture damage, and a single layer of clear shipping tape over the TO: address on the package can keep the ink from running, and help your package get to its destination!

  • As always, don’t forget to start your Amazon shopping from the link at the top of the PBS site – when you do this, a small percentage of your purchase amount comes to us.  Please note that if you are an e-book reader, it used to be that e-book purchases at Amazon did not count to support the PBS site, but now they do! So whenever you plan to purchase on Amazon, start from the Amazon link at the top of the PBS site. It’s an easy, free way to support the club!

Dear Librarian; Buying from Amazon, Unpostable Book Conditions

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Dear Librarian – I read about how using the link here to order from Amazon will help the club.  I already have an Amazon account – do I need to open a different account at Amazon in order to give you credit for my Amazon purchases? – Shopping in Charlotte

Dear Charly,

Thanks so much for wanting to support the club in this way!  All you have to do is click the Amazon link (any one you see) on our site to go to Amazon, and then from there just make your purchases using your Amazon account as you normally would. This works for whatever you buy at Amazon (it doesn’t just work for books) – whenever you start your Amazon shopping from the link on our site, it helps the club!   The part that gives us credit is your clicking the link on our site as a way to get to Amazon, before purchasing. It’s a great and free way to support PBS.

You can find the link at the top of any page on the site, or click the “Buy from Amazon” button on any book listing.

Dear Librarian – I see that the rules here for postable books say “no damage from water or any other liquid.”  How can I tell if a book I have is water-damaged? Are there some pictures of examples I could look at?  –Unsure in Uncasville

Dear Unc,

Generally, water or other liquid will make paper swell or ripple, and dried water/liquid damage will make pages stiff.  It’s hard to describe in words, though!  Water damage is one of those things that “you know it when you see it”.  We have been meaning for a while to get photos of water and other damage to books, to provide a helpful gallery to members in the Help Center.

If any members have images they would like to share to illustrate different book conditions, we would be happy to receive them.  We would be interested in photos clearly showing water damage, foxing, mold, mildew, etc. on books.  You can submit the photos to us one of two ways:

(1) upload them to a photo-hosting site and send the URL(s) to us in a feedback message – your feedback message should include a description of the condition (ie, “foxing on end pages” or “water damage”) so we know what the image is supposed to be illustrating.

(2) attach them in jpg format to an email sent to librarian@paperbackswap.com – your email text should include a description of the condition (ie, “foxing on end pages” or “water damage”) so we know what the image is supposed to be illustrating.

We may not be able to acknowledge each submission with a reply, but we will credit the photograph’s submitter if we use the image in the Help Center gallery.  Thanks in advance to those who submit images!

The Last Word:

  • Holiday shopping? Don’t forget to start your Amazon shopping from the link at the top of the PBS site – when you do this, a small percentage of your purchase amount comes to us.  Please note that if you are an e-book reader, it used to be that e-book purchases at Amazon did not count to support the PBS site, but now they do! So whenever you plan to purchase on Amazon, start from the Amazon link at the top of the PBS site. It’s an easy, free way to support the club!

Dear Librarian; reduce, reuse, recycle – safely

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Dear Librarian – Yesterday I got a book wrapped in the sender’s credit card statement!  He used the PBS wrapper but the book was big and needed extra paper to cover it.  But a credit card statement?  I had his credit card number, name, address, everything.  I was shocked that in this age of identity theft someone would be so careless with his personal information! – Amazed in Altoona

Dear Amy,

At PaperbackSwap we are very much in favor of reduce/reuse/recycle, and we love it when members repurpose materials in their book-packaging, but personal safety must trump environmental concerns, so Members, please don’t use paper with sensitive information on it to wrap your books!  Shred that paperwork (and recycle the shredded paper) and use other, neutral paper for supplemental packaging materials.  We want our members to protect themselves as well as their books when they package – let’s all stay safe AND green!  You can read more about wrapping books in the Help Center.


The Last Word:

  • As always, don‘t forget to start your Amazon shopping from the link at the top of the PBS site – when you do this, a small percentage of your purchase amount comes to us.  Please note that if you are an e-book reader, it used to be that e-book purchases at Amazon did not count to support the PBS site, but now they do! So be sure that whenever you plan to purchase on Amazon, that you start from the Amazon link at the top of the PBS site. It’s an easy, free way to support the club!

Dear Librarian; expanded wish list

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Dear Librarian – I put a book on my Wish List yesterday, and today I happened to be browsing the site and I saw that a copy was available!  I grabbed it up.  I am thrilled to get the book I wanted, but why wasn’t it offered to me? –Puzzled in Providence

Dear Vida,

You must have put one version (ISBN) of the book on your Wish List, and this was a different version –  one that may have been available all along.  To avoid this happening in future, we recommend the Wish Expander, which allows you to see ALL versions of a book known to the database when you click “+Wish” on any version of that book – you can choose which version(s) of the book you would like to wish for, or even order a copy if one is available.  It’s one of our favorite features, and we think it will quickly become one of yours too!  You can read all about using the Wish Expander in the Help Center.


The Last Word:

  • As always, don‘t forget to start your Amazon shopping from the link at the top of the PBS site – when you do this, a small percentage of your purchase amount comes to us.  Please note that if you are an e-book reader, it used to be that e-book purchases at Amazon did not count to support the PBS site, but now they do! So be sure that whenever you plan to purchase on Amazon, that you start from the Amazon link at the top of the PBS site. It’s an easy, free way to support the club!

Dear Librarian: Facebook Share, too many email alerts, those little stars

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Dear Librarian – The “share” thing on Facebook has me confused.  I thought books were always ordered in the order in which they were posted.  Are you saying that if Joe Blow shares his book on Facebook it will jump ahead of mine that I have had posted for a month now?  That’s not fair!  – Worried in Weehauken

Dear Hawk,

We understand why this seems confusing, but don’t worry  – your book isn’t “knocked out of position” by a Facebook-shared book posting.  If Joe shares a book after posting it, then if any of Joe’s friends clicks that link on Facebook, Joe’s copy will be the one requested.  However, anyone else searching the database for the same book will get the earliest-posted copy.   Yes, Joe can “jump the line” for his friends to order from him.  Although this may not seem fair, we know that members often want to request books from their friends, and this is no different than “advertising” your Bookshelf in the Book Bazaar Discussion Forum, or recommending books on your Bookshelf using the Suggest a Book feature on the site, or just telling a friend to order directly from your Bookshelf.   So if a Facebook-shared book “jumps ahead” of your copy in line it may reassure you to know that the member who requests it from that link might not have requested that particular book at all without having seen the link from his or her friend.

Again, anyone searching the database for a book (instead of using that specific link) will still request the earliest-posted copy of that book first.  So FIFO is still the backbone of the swapping system, as it always has been.

Dear Librarian — I want the audio CD version of a specific book, because it’s going to be a great one to listen to while I am commuting to and from work.  I have the audio CD version on my Wish List.  I am getting a lot of notices telling me that other versions are available, but I don’t want other versions!  I usually love those emails because I can get wish list books so easily that way.  But I don’t want these emails for this book.  How can I stop getting them, and ONLY get notified about the audio CD version of this book?  — feeling Bombarded in Boston

Dear Bossy,

Thanks for writing in about this!  It’s actually really easy to control these alerts.  You can do this from the links **within the emails themselves.** An overview of the different options you have:

(1) If you do not wish to receive any alerts about a certain book at all, and you don’t want the book, just remove all versons of that title from your Wish List.

(2) If you are wishing for specific versions (ISBNs) of all of the titles on your Wish List, and you do not wish to receive notifications about any other versions of any of your Wish List books, you can opt out of this category of email alerts. To do this, just click that link in the alert email, OR adjust your email settings on your Account Settings page.

(3) If you want to block alerts about alternate versions of a specific title only (but you want to get those alerts for other books on your Wish List), you should click the link in the alternate version alert email to opt out of alerts for that title only.  There is no way to do this from the account settings – that option is available only from the email.

So in your situation, Bossy, you would want to use option #3 – click the link in the alert email that will let you opt out of alerts for alternate versions of this title.  That should cure your bombarded feeling. 🙂

Of course you can read more about managing your PBS emails in the Help Center.

Dear Librarian – I just posted a book and the stars next to it on my Bookshelf are grey!  What do the grey stars mean?  – Puzzled in Pataskala

Dear Pat,

The stars to the right of the book are grey because no one in the club has yet rated the book. If the stars were blue that would mean other people (but not you) have rated the book. If the stars were yellow it would mean that you have rated the book.  If you have read the book, you should definitely rate it!  Those little stars do a lot to tell browsing members what books they might want to request.  If every member rated just the books on his or her Bookshelf, it would be really helpful to the whole club!


The Last Word:

As always, don‘t forget to start your Amazon shopping from the link at the top of the PBS site – when you do this, a small percentage of your purchase amount comes to us.  Please note that if you are an e-book reader, it used to be that e-book purchases at Amazon did not count to support the PBS site, but now they do! So be sure that whenever you plan to purchase on Amazon, that you start from the Amazon link at the top of the PBS site. It’s an easy, free way to support the club!

Dear Librarian: APO Military Address, Textbooks for Students

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Dear Librarian – Is there any way to send out a specific thank you to great swappers here?  We’re at a military address, and it is so hard to get books in English for our family.  PBS is a godsend!  We are so grateful to the members who are willing to make the extra effort to mail from the Post Office and fill out the customs forms, and to wait a little longer for their books to get to us.   How can we say thanks?  –Appreciative at an APO address

Dear Appy,

You just did! 🙂

Not everyone is able to go the extra mile to send to military addresses – we understand that, and they shouldn’t be blamed for it – but those who do are special people indeed.  They are booklovers who really care.  They sympathize with how tough it would be to be so far from a source of books.   So they make the extra effort to fill out the (short) customs form and take the package to the PO, and they don’t panic if it is declared “lost” en route – they know it might take time to get to its eager reader.   The requestor does her part here too, by marking the books received as promptly as possible – from the Transaction Archive if they are already “lost” before they arrive.

Our members are wonderful in so many ways – this is one of them!  We are made proud every day by the spirit of sharing and caring that exists at PBS.

Dear Librarian — I need a specific edition of a sociology textbook.  If I order the book here, can I be sure I will get the exact edition I need?   –  College Student in California

Dear Coco,

PBS is a terrific resource for students!  We have some tips to help you use PBS to take a bite out of your budget:

(1) Check the edition! The club is a great source for some kinds of schoolbooks – classics, Shakespeare plays, and the like — and for texts that do not get updated very frequently.  Keep in mind that although ISBN, author, title and book type must all match the listing, publication date does not have to match – and if more than one edition of a book shares the same ISBN, it can be possible to get either edition when you put in your request. That means that for textbooks that are frequently updated, you’ll need to make a little extra effort to be sure you get the edition that you need. If the edition is specified in the title on the listing, then the book should match the listing, but a Personal Message to the sender when requesting the book is not a bad idea, to be sure he or she didn’t make a mistake in posting.  (Sometimes a member, despite the instructions on the Post Books screen, will enter the ISBN and click Post, and doesn’t make sure the rest of the listing matches.)  Since some textbooks will keep the same ISBN through many updates, this can be a pitfall for the school-shopper.  Keep in mind, however, that some updates don’t change the book much, and depending on the subject, sometimes more than one edition will be usable for a class.

(2) Order early. Remember that Media Mail can be variable in its transit time.  Even though the average book arrives within about a week after it is mailed, sometimes books take longer.  So be sure to put in your request in plenty of time to get the book for your class.

It can be a little extra effort to make sure you get a version of the book that you can use, Coco, but it’s worth it!  The price of new textbooks can really be shocking.  If even one textbook can be gotten here instead of buying it new, the savings could be substantial.


The Last Word:

Don’t forget to start your Amazon shopping from the link at the top of the PBS site – when you do this, a small percentage of your purchase amount comes to us.  Please note that if you are an e-book reader, it used to be that e-book purchases at Amazon did not count to support the PBS site, but now they do! So be sure that whenever you plan to purchase on Amazon, that you start from the Amazon link at the top of the PBS site. It’s an easy, free way to support the club!