PaperBackSwap Blog


DEAR R&R: Newsletter – June 2007

Dear R&R–I am bothered by your denouncement of the bookstore owner who had to burn his books. He did it to send a message–didn’t you get that?!? People in America don’t read anymore, and he tried to give his books away, and nobody wanted them! You shouldn’t blame him for trying to get the message out. And there are plenty of good causes to which those books could be donated. Why should PBS get them? –Inquiring in Indiana

Dear Inky,

The Stop the Fires – Save the Books petition is not intended to denounce Mr. Wayne! We do understand the message that he was trying to get across: that reading has declined in America to the point where he could not even GIVE books away. We sympathize with his frustration at not being able to find a home for these books. The PBS petition is meant to let him know that there ARE still readers in America–and many of them are at PBS! We are pleased to know that other groups are interested also; we trust the bookstore owners to make the decision about who should get the books. We know that PBS members would put the books to good use, but of course we will be happy also if the books go to another group–as long as they don’t get burned!

Dear R&R, I received two books, but can’t find them in my Transaction Archive when I went to mark them received! I requested the books, and then they just disappeared from my account. Where did they go? –Perplexed in Petaluma

Dear Lexie,

When you receive a book, the first place you should look to mark it received is on the En Route to Me tab in My Account. The Transaction Archive holds only PAST transactions–not those that are still active. To get to your En Route to Me tab, click My Account in the toolbar at the top of the site, and scroll down if necessary to see the En Route to Me tab. If you have books to mail or books newly requested from you, the Books to Mail tab or Requested from Me tab will show by default; the En Route to Me tab will be to the right. Click that tab and you should see your books, which you can mark received as usual.

Dear R&R–I looked at the new Transaction Archive, and I see that some books I sent (and thought I got credit for!) were canceled! I also see that books I marked received were canceled! Didn’t these books get marked received correctly? Did I get credits for the books I sent? Did the senders get credits for those books I received?? I am really confused. How did this happen? –Panicked in Palo Alto

Dear Pan,

The Transaction Archive is very useful, and a huge improvement over the previous site design, but you do need to familiarize yourself with how to use it properly. Remember that ACTIVE transactions will not appear in the Transaction Archive. ACTIVE transactions are on the tabs in My Account: click My Account and scroll down if necessary to see the different tabs (Requested From Me, Books to Mail, Books I’ve Requested, En Route to Me, Wish List Holds). Clicking each tab will show you the active transactions in that category. (If you do not have any active transactions in that category, no corresponding tab will appear on My Account.)

The Transaction Archive (TA) shows ALL PAST TRANSACTIONS, which include canceled, lost, problem and successfully completed transactions. That means that one title may be appear in more than one transaction. For example, if one sender declined to send you a book, that transaction will appear in your TA as “Canceled” (red X on icon to left of transaction). And then when the request was passed along to a new sender who sent the book, and then you marked it received, that second transaction **for the same title** will also appear in your TA, but as “Completed Successfully” (green checkmark on icon to left of transaction). You can see more information about the status of a book by putting your cursor over the icon to the left of it and seeing the text that pops up.

When you mark a book received, it will give the sender credit. If you are unsure if you have done this for a book you received, simply sort the TA by “Requested by Me” – “All” – “title” – “Descending”. Then scroll down to look at all the transactions for that specific title. If one of them has a green checkmark beside it, you marked that copy received. You can see who sent it to you by looking at the name of the sender on the right side of the transaction. If none of them has a green checkmark, you never marked any copy of this title received. Again, you can tell the different senders apart by looking at the names to the right of each transaction.

To see if a book you sent was marked received, do exactly the same thing as above, except choose “Requested From me” at the top of the TA (everything else the same as above), and re-sort before scrolling down to see the transactions for the title(s) you want to check on.

You can also read the Help information on the Transaction Archive in the Help Center, accessible from the toolbar at the top of any page on the site. The Transaction Archive can be understood and used without reading the Help information, but if you need guidance, the Help information is available.

Dear R&R–I can’t understand why you think the new Search is better than the one we had before! I can’t find any of the books I am looking for. For instance, I wanted to find books in the genre Science, subgenre Education, but putting “Science Education” into the search field in the toolbar got me all kinds of unrelated books! What’s up with that?! Also, it seems you are missing a lot of authors in your database–I put Jodi Picoult into the search field and it said there were no books by her at PBS! And when I wanted to find a biography of Truman by David somebody, I put “Truman” into the Search field and I got a bunch of mysteries! Then I wanted to look up books on beekeeping (I am interested in taking up this hobby) but putting “Bees” in the search field gave me novels and Winnie-the-Pooh! This is crazy! How can I find the books I want? –Frustrated in Fort Wayne, IN

Dear Russ,

Yes, the Search is very different, and it may take some getting used to. But really, it is much more powerful than the previous Search. Let me give you some help with these searches:

  • Genre/subgenre search: Putting genre/subgenre terms into the Keyword Search will find you all books in those genres, as well as any books with Science or Education in the title or description. That’s why you saw other books in your search result.The Genre/Subgenre search is best done using the Browse by Genre tab in the Search area. Click Search in the toolbar at the top of the site, and choose the Browse by Genre tab. Choose your genre/subgenre and click Go. You can refine your search from there if you like by selecting a further subgenre at the top of the page, or Recent Additions only, or WishList books only, or Unposted Books only, or choosing a letter to view only titles that begin with that letter. You can also widen your search by clicking All Books from the top of the page. You can also “jump” to another genre/subgenre right from the top of the page.
  • The default Search is for Only Posted books. Jodi Picoult is a very popular author–her books are ALL on Wish Lists at this time. Which means that none of them appear as Posted (Posted books are available books that have not yet been requested). So when you put “Jodi Picoult” into the search field, you got no Posted results. Just click to widen the search to All Books (or click the link “Don’t see the book you are looking for?” on the upper right of any search results page) and you will see the titles in the database for this author.
  • To avoid a “Search Avalanche”: The added power of the new Search means that you can get overwhelmed with results! (You don’t have to know the exact title of a book though, like you did with the previous Search.) The Search will get you books that have your search terms in the title, genre, author field, or description. To avoid getting “buried” with results (and having the books you want “buried” somewhere in the results too), put MORE terms into the search field. A one-word search is almost always too broad (an exception would be if you are searching for an author with an unusual first or last name). You can put in all the basic information you know about the book you are looking for right into the search field in the toolbar, to narrow your search from the start. You can then further focus your results (if necessary) by clicking the Advanced Search link at the top of the search results page (your previous search terms will auto-fill in the appropriate fields on the Advanced Search) and choosing additional constraints: publication date, booktype, genre, Large Print, etc. You can also choose how the results will be displayed (by relevance to the search terms, alphabetically by title or author, etc) from the bottom of the Advanced Search. In the example you give, Russ, “Truman Biography” would have turned up biographies on President Truman. “Truman Biography David” would turn up just one–that great Truman biography by author David McCullough.
  • To Search by subject: again, with this Search, MORE (in the Search field) is usually better! “Bees” is pretty broad, and will get you all books that have that word in the title or description. “Beekeeping”, or better “Beekeeping how-to” turns up no Posted books with the intial (default) search, but clicking on the search results page to widen the search to All Books gives some excellent results. You can put any of those Beekeeping books on your Wish List (or even click to Buy it New if you can’t wait to get started!).

There is more information about how to make the PBS “turbo” Search work for you in the Help item “How to find books to request” (in the Help Center and also in the Need Help? tab at the upper right of the Search page, the Homepage, and My Account). But the best way to tame this search is to try it out; we are confident that those who were able to cope with the limitations and quirks of the old Search will be able to get the hang of the new Search with a little practice.

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