PaperBackSwap Blog

DEAR R&R: Newsletter – January 2008

Dear R&R—I requested a book from another member, who apparently read my Requestor Conditions wrong. My conditions say “I only want hardcovers if they have their dustjackets”, but this was a paperback book! I have no conditions for paperbacks. She declined the request! How do I get this book from her? –Frantic in Phoenix

Dear Franny,

Bottom line: you can’t. If the sender declined your request by clicking “My book does not meet these conditions”, then you will not be able to re-request that copy of the book from her.   It is very important to word your Requestor Conditions as clearly as possible for this reason: once the book is declined, you will not be able to get this copy. If you have Requestor Conditions on your account, review them to make sure that they reflect exactly what you mean.

In your case, Fran, the sender may have read only as far as “I am only willing to accept hardcovers…” before she clicked to decline. Yes, that’s her error, but you can’t eliminate human mistakes! Everyone makes them sometimes. The best you can do is prevent them as much as possible, by wording your Requestor Conditions as clearly and unambiguously as possible.

We suggest that all members read the Help Center item “How to Use Requestor Conditions” to learn how this feature works from both the sender and the requestor’s point of view.

Sorry, Franny, you will have to wait until another copy of the book is posted into the system.   If this book was on a Wish List, it was passed to the next Wishing member when the sender clicked “My Book Does Not Meet Conditions”. If it was not on a Wish List, it will have to be requested by another member before you can put it onto your Wish List.

Dear R&R—My Requestor Conditions say “I don’t want books that smell funny. If you have any questions, PM me.” I got an email from PBS saying that the book couldn’t be sent, but the email included a message from the sender saying “It doesn’t smell funny to me, but I was born without a sense of smell.  I had my sister smell it, and she says it smells okay to her.  Do you still want it?”     YES, I do!  How do I tell her that?  –Disappointed in Denver

Dear Denny,

You can’t.   She clicked “My book does not meet conditions” on the request, and that copy of the book can’t be requested by you now.

There are a couple of things about your Requestor Conditions to consider: (1) they are very subjective.  What smells “funny” to one person may smell fine to another.  If you have a problem with odors, it may be tough for you to get books here that meet your conditions, and you may miss out on some books you might have been okay with.   And (2) Requestor  Conditions should NOT ask members to PM you to ask for more details. The Conditions should be clearly interpretable by themselves, without added PM communication. The reason for this is that the sender does not have a way to PM you before accepting or declining the request; she or he may think declining is the first step toward further negotiation/discussion about this book.  And once declined, that copy of the book can’t be re-requested by you! So if you MUST have something like this in your Requestor Conditions, it should be worded as “If you have any questions, please ACCEPT my request and send me a Personal Message. If you decline this request, I won’t be allowed to request the book from you!”

Dear R&R–I am allergic to cats, so my Requestor Conditions ask for “No books from a household containing cats, please, due to severe allergies.”  I requested a book as a present for my sister, who is NOT allergic to cats.  But the sender declined it.  How can I tell her that it would be okay to send?  –Sniffly in San Jose

Dear Jose,

Did you know that you can toggle your Requestor Conditions on and off when you request a book?  Yes, you can do this in your account settings: choose “No” at the top of your Requestor Conditions and then click Update.  Then request the book, and go back to your Account Settings and choose “Yes” again, and click Update again.

If a book that you don’t need to apply Requestor Conditions for is on your Wish List, don’t set it to Auto-Request: if you do, it will be requested by your account and your Requestor Conditions will be applied to the request.  Instead, set it to Auto-Request: No, and when the book is offered to you, you can turn OFF your Requestor Conditions before accepting the offer.  Then turn them back on again, and they will be applied to your future requests.

We are sorry that you will not be able to get this copy of this book from this sender.  We hope that it is posted again soon, and you are able to get it by turning off your Requestor Conditions just before accepting the offer, as above.

Dear R&R–I am so upset about the coming Wish List changes at PBS that I can’t sleep at night.  What should I do? –Insomniac in Idaho

Dear Ida,

Don’t fret.  We know that change can be tough.  Will it help if we sing a little lullaby? (to the tune of Brahms’ Lullaby)

Lullaby, and goodnight…don’t let the Wish List upset you…You will be quite sur-prised…By how well it’ll work, we bet you!
You will not… lose out on books… you have been waiting for…In fact, we expect…that you’ll get even more.

The club… needs to evolve…to keep alive for many more seasons…We wouldn’t make this change if there…weren’t a heck of a lot of good reasons…
We don’t have…a date yet…for im-ple-men-ta-tion… You will see…when it comes…that your fears were largely mis-in-for-mation.

Shhh…she’s sleeping….

Dear R&R–Why don’t you shut up about the coming Wish List changes?  Either do it, or don’t do it, but stop talking about it! –Annoyed in Arizona

Dear Ari,

We only mention it because it came up in the Discussion Forums, and there has been a lot of incorrect info bandied about.  We don’t want to ignore our members’ concerns, even if they are premature.  We would have informed the membership well in advance of the change, but some members demanded we discuss it now. So we did.  We’ll be happy to shut up about it.  This is how it sounds when we shut up.  🙂

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