PaperBackSwap Blog

DEAR LIBRARIAN, Newsletter – August 2008

Dear Librarian–A couple of months ago, I printed a wrapper to send a book and after I did that the SAME member ordered another book from me.  I didn’t realize that the second request was from the same person so I printed the second wrapper and ended up with two wrappers with the same address, which was really annoying because I used DC so I paid 27 cents twice and only used one of the wrappers!  I have been brooding about this incident ever since.  Can’t this be avoided somehow?  –Irritated in Iowa

Dear Wa,

Well, we fixed that!  And that is why it hasn’t happened to you lately.  We knew this was bothersome, so now the system will combine requests that are going to the same address, all behind-the-scenes and crafty-like.  If you have already accepted a request and printed the wrapper, and the member adds a book to the request, no problem!  The book request will “reset” itself so that you will need to print another wrapper–it will NOT charge you again for DC if you printed with DC–in order to assign that added book to the shipment and adjust the weight estimate for the shipment so the proper recommended postage/postal class  will print out .  (There is also an option to send the books separately if you already ran out and mailed the first one before the second request came in.)  The only time that requests cannot be combined if the same member adds a book to the order is if you have printed already with postage.  Because the weight of the shipment may change significantly when books are added, we cannot guarantee that the first wrapper printed with postage will have enough postage on it to mail the whole shipment with the additional book(s) in it.  If the additional weight of the added book(s) doesn’t change the postage needed or the postal class, you can still use the printed wrapper to mail the books all together, of course; but the requests will be displayed separately (not as a bulk request) on your My Account page. In this case, of course, you would need to weigh your shipment with all the books in it and check the Postal Rates (available from the Need Help? tab on the upper right of your My Account main page) to see if the added books would require more postage.

The “combining-requests” feature took a huge amount of programming, but it went into effect so quietly a month or so ago that most people didn’t even notice.  We hope this makes everyone’s swapping easier!  If you are the requestor, keep in mind that it is ideal to add additional books to the order (using the Order More From Member button on the request, or during the process of the initial request) as soon as possible, before the sender accepts your request.

Dear Librarian–Color me frustrated.  WHY has my request for a book passed from one sender to another without a response?  I saw on my Reminder List before I ordered it that this book had many available copies. WHY am I sitting here twiddling my thumbs waiting for someone to respond?   You should punish these inconsiderate jerks!Aggravated in Akron

Dear Aggie,

We are so sorry you have had to wait for someone to respond to your request! No, no, these are not necessarily inconsiderate jerks.  They could be members who had an unexpected absence due to an emergency….they could even be in the hospital themselves….they could also be members who have abandoned their accounts and the system hasn’t detected their inactivity and shut the accounts down yet.  But most commonly these are otherwise excellent swappers who went on vacation without using the Vacation Hold.  Yes, Aggie, this horror DOES happen, and the result really IS inconsiderate to other members, even though the perpetrator may not be an inconsiderate person normally.

Members who ignore or decline too many requests will have their accounts suspended automatically and will have to contact us and pinky-swear that they will use the Vacation Hold appropriately in the future, in order to resume membership.  The suspensions aren’t really punitive but practical: we want to limit the occurrence of this very frustrating situation for requestors!  Too many incidents in an account may cause permanent account termination, of course.   We know this doesn’t help you in this situation, Aggie, but the members who are “ignoring” you may be great swappers who just didn’t think to use the Hold when they went away, and the request that is being ignored now may be the one to trigger account suspension for that member.   We hope your request reaches an active member soon.

The moral of this story: Don’t be one of those careless members--read about the Vacation Hold in the Help Center, and use it whenever you need it (whenever you will be unable to send books, not just when you are going away from home).  You’ll be glad you took the few seconds to do this–and so will all the members who don’t have to wait for the request submitted to you to “time out” in order to get the book from someone else!


  • Your delight and surprise at the site changes…your joy and amazement when you first lay eyes on your Member Homepage…your careful perusal of the Help Center to explain anything that isn’t absolutely clear to you…your obsession with clicking the arrows on the sliding displays of books on the Member Homepage…your frantic clicking to order all the available books you didn’t even know about that you simply have to have…your increased overall Happiness Quotient at the imminent burgeoning of your TBR pile…
  • See you on the other side, in the Brave New World of PBS (cue “Theme to 2001: A Space Oddyssey” here…leave out the monkey noises).
  • You can make monkey noises if you want.  🙂

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