PaperBackSwap Blog


DEAR LIBRARIAN, Newsletter – June 2008

Dear Librarian– Why am I not getting my PBS emails?   I just got a “FINAL NOTICE” email to respond to a book request…but that is the first email I got about this request!  And I missed a Wish List offer last week.  What is happening?  –Out of touch in Ohio

Dear Hi,

If you look in your Club Communications file (linked from the top of your My Account page) you will see that we have been sending the emails to you.   Your email provider may not be delivering them, though.   Sometimes this is because PBS emails are being treated as spam.  If you (or anyone who uses your same email provider) clicks to mark a PBS email as spam, this will tell that email provider that PBS emails should be blocked and not delivered.   Some people mark mail as spam as a way to delete the email from their inbox!  Yes, it’s maddening, because it affects not only their reception of PBS emails, but also yours, if you use the same email provider they do.

Anyone who is having this trouble should add “librarian@paperbackswap.com” and “noreply@paperbackswap.com” to his or her email address book (or list of accepted email senders), and this should work against the “spam-markers”.  If you have done this and are still having trouble receiving PBS emails, you should contact your email provider, and consider changing your email address on your account to an alternate address until the matter is sorted out.  A reliable email connection is crucial to managing your PBS account, and it is really frustrating when request notifications and Wish List offers are missed because the emails we sent were not delivered. You can read more in the Help doc If you think you are not getting your PBS emails… in the Help Center.

Dear Librarian–Why am I getting wrong books?  First I get a Wish List book that had the wrong ISBN on it.  I wanted one ISBN (it has the author’s notes in the foreword that I want) but someone sent me a totally different version of the book, with a different ISBN on it.  And another time, I got the wrong ISBN and the member who sent it to me said she DID enter the ISBN  and she used the listing that came up on PBS.   She swears that’s what she did.  And another time a member sent me a hardcover instead of a  paperback.  The ISBN on the book DID match the listing of the book I requested, but the book was hardcover and the listing said paperback!   Is this a system problem?  –Disappointed in Duluth

Dear Lulu,

No, it’s not a system problem!  The member who posts a book using the listing for an ISBN that is not on the book is wrong to do so.  When posting a book, the ISBN, title, author and binding type shown on the listing used must ALL match the book being posted.  But some members do strange things when posting a book.   The study of erroneous posting is known as Posteology, and we are (sadly and involuntarily) experts on it. 🙂

Posteology defines wrong-book posters as species Postus Erronatus, and there are several sub-species, distinguished by characteristic behaviors.

  • Titlius Solius Matchius. Familiar names: Match-by-title posters or “click-happy” posters.

These members match by title only. You can find them searching the Club Wish List and clicking “post this book” if the title on a listing matches the title of a book they have.   A box comes down asking them to confirm that the ISBN matches, but they click past this to post the book.   That’s how you get a Wish List offer for a book the member doesn’t actually have, and when the book arrives it has a different ISBN than the one you wished for.

  • Imagius Importantus. Familiar names: Cover-image posters or “so-close-and-yet-so-far” posters.

These members match title/author and cover image (but don’t match ISBN or binding type). They start off okay: they enter the ISBN on the book they have. But then their behavior abruptly becomes erratic: even though the Post Books screen says that the ISBN, title, author and binding type must ALL match, and that the cover image doesn’t have to match, they won’t use the (correct) listing that comes up for the ISBN they entered because the cover image does not match.  They click one of the alternate versions shown below the listing preview, and use that listing to post their book, even though the ISBN (and sometimes also the binding type) does not match the book they have.  That’s how you get a book with a different ISBN on it than the one you requested, and the member will insist that she entered the ISBN on the book she had.  Yes, she entered the ISBN on the book she had–and that listing that she saw first would have been correct–but she didn’t use that listing.  She passed it up to seek out and use one with a matching cover image.

  • Tertio-quaternarius. Familiar names: Three-out-of-four posters, or Drat-the-publishers posters.

These members match ISBN and title/author, but not binding type. They enter the ISBN on their book, check the title and the author and then click Post The Above Book, even if the binding type says Hardcover and the book they are holding is a paperback.  Their characteristic cry is “PBS is to blame!”  Sometimes the PBS listing is in error, actually (our database is compiled elsewhere, and does have some errors)…BUT that doesn’t mean it’s okay to use a listing with the wrong binding type on it.

Most the time this is NOT a database error.  This happens when the publisher(s) re-used the ISBN when reprinting a book in a different format.  When that is the case, ONLY the binding type on the listing at PBS can be posted with that ISBN: the “other” format(s) need to be posted without an ISBN, so that the correct binding type appears on the listing being used.   To make the distinction between publisher re-use of an ISBN and PBS database error (and to figure out if the listing at PBS should be corrected), the ISBN needs to be researched on an internet search, and if there is NO evidence that more than one binding was used for that ISBN, the ISBN can be submitted to us for correction, as described in the Help doc “If the information on a book listing in the database is incorrect…” in the Help Center.    If a member matches only ISBN and title/author, but does not match binding type, when he or she posts, that is how the requestor can end up with the right ISBN but wrong binding type.

  • Swappus DentusFamilar names: “Bite me, PBS!” posters, or “We-don’t-need-no-stinkin-iSBNs” posters.

These members seek  ISBNs to use to post their books that don’t have ISBNs at all! Some even go to other databases on the internet to find these ISBNs to use with their ISBN-less books. This takes a good amount of effort–far more than using the Post a Book Without an ISBN feature which would work to post the book properly.   We find this behavior curious indeed; it is not adaptive in the least, and is correlated with poor longevity in the club.

There are other sub-species of Postus Erronatus, but the above are the most common.

Posteology indicates strongly that all of these sub-species will become extinct if all members follow the instructions shown while posting a book (full instructions can also be read in How to Post a Book in the Help Center), and if a member runs into trouble posting a book, the Help doc Solutions to Common Book Posting Problems in the Help Center will usually solve the problem.

All kidding aside, Lulu, we know that members don’t make these mistakes on purpose when they post books.   You need to follow the instructions in the Help doc There is a problem with a book I received if this happens.  The good news is that problem swaps are not as common at PBS as it might seem to you if you happen to get a couple wrong books in a row.

Everyone should post their books properly, to make sure that when a book is requested, that book is the one that is actually wanted!  There is no point in sending a wrong book–no one is happy when that happens.

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