PaperBackSwap Blog

DEAR R&R: Newsletter – November 2006

Dear R&R—I have a book that has only a 13-digit number in the front where the ISBN should be. The Help Center says I have to use the 10-digit number to post the book, but my book doesn’t have one! What gives? –Frazzled in Frisco

Dear Frazz,

The 10-digit ISBN will give way to the 13-digit ISBN (now known as the EAN) on January 1st, 2007. The book industry has made this choice in order to bring the U.S. ISBN system into line with the EAN system used in other world markets, and also to alleviate “numbering shortages”. Some publishers have already started to publish their books with the 13-digit EANs. They should be publishing with BOTH numbers to ease the transition, but some aren’t doing this, we hear. On January 1st, 2007, the EAN will become the ISBN, and the use of 10-digit ISBNs will be phased out in all aspects of the book industry. PBS will make this change too, at that time. Until then, you can convert your 13-digit EAN to a 10-digit ISBN using the information at this site, IF your book was assigned a 10-digit ISBN by the publisher: http://www.bisg.org/isbn-13/conversions.html (scroll down to see the portion under the heading “Retrieving the 10-digit ISBN….” ). If this doesn’t work (or is too complicated and you don’t want to mess with it), just post your book as if it does not have an ISBN (using the link beneath the graphic on the Post Books page). Or you can hang in there until January, when your book’s 13-digit ISBN should be in the database. If you worry that your book won’t be noticed if it is posted without an ISBN, you can always “advertise” it in the Book Bazaar. Doing so usually results in a quick request.

Transitions are tough, but the 13-digit ISBN promises to be a good thing once everyone has changed over. In this case, 13 should be considered a lucky number (but not until January 2007)!

Dear R&R—I joined PBS, and then moved, and now I can’t change my address in the Account Settings. Why is that? How can I request a book to be sent to my current address? — Bewildered in Boise

Dear Bee,

You probably haven’t received 3 books from PBS yet. Only after you receive 3 books from PBS will you have the option to change your address in your Account Settings. If you move, and need to change your address, but haven’t received 3 books yet, send us a note in Feedback with your current address and we will help. After you have received three books, you will need to “validate” your address, which is very easy to do—just visit your Account Settings and click the Update button at the bottom of the information in the top section. Your address will be converted to a USPS-validated address automatically. If there is a problem with validating your address, you can read the Help Center item “I can’t change my address in my account settings!” under the heading “Account Options”. There is a link in there to a site which can guide you in validating your address. USPS is very picky about how addresses appear—the change can be as simple as “LN” instead of “LANE”–and a “valid” USPS address is necessary in order to use Delivery Confirmation for that destination.

Dear R&R—I got a package postage-due. It was marked “First-Class Mail”! The sender had put only enough postage for Media Mail rate on the package. Arghh! –Reading too much in Alabama

Dear Bama,

Yes, Media Mail is the cheapest way to send your package if it weighs 6 ounces or more. The PBS Wrapper (and label) is marked MEDIA MAIL. But some of our members don’t have a printer, or their printer is malfunctioning, and they hand-write the addresses to send their books. Please give the sender feedback about this, so that she doesn’t send these “postage-due bombs” to other requestors. You can always refuse a postage-due item (and note the return address before you hand the package back to the mail carrier, so that you can send a PM to the sender letting her know what happened), or if the amount is significant enough, ask the sender to send you postage (or “buddy” you a credit) to compensate you. And be sure to indicate that the package arrived postage-due, on the mini-survey when marking the book received. If the sender makes a habit of this, we will contact her. I am sure it was just a mistake, and one that she will be eager to correct for future mailings.

Dear R&R—I got an email telling me that I mailed a book late! I swear I didn’t! Will this affect my swapping record at PBS? –Panicked in Pomona

Dear Mona,

The email you got was generated automatically when a requestor entered the postmark from a package received from you. Don’t panic! There are several reasons why you could have gotten this email even if you didn’t mail late:

  1. The requestor indicated the wrong date when marking the book received on the optional “mini-survey”
  2. You sent the book late BUT you had gotten the requestor’s consent to do this
  3. You put the book in your outgoing mailbox and it took a few days to get its postmark from USPS
  4. You sent the book on time, but it came back to you for some reason (insufficient postage, the hand-written address was wrong, etc). and you resent the book, which naturally arrived with the postmark of the resending date.

One report of a late-mailed book will not affect your account status. It is only if a pattern shows that we will take action, and ask you to change your habits.

PBS is dedicated to timely shipping, but the system is designed to be flexible. We understand that a delayed shipment can happen on occasion. As long as you keep the requestor informed (so she doesn’t re-order the book if it is declared Lost by PBS), an occasional late mailing is acceptable. It is ideal to get the requestor’s consent BEFORE a book is mailed late, but we also understand (and so do most requestors) that this is not always possible.

Please see the Help Center item “Can a book be sent later?” under the heading “Sending a Book” for a thorough discussion of this topic.

If you receive one of these emails, and you didn’t mail the book late, don’t worry about it. We won’t!

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