PaperBackSwap Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Shipping Books & USPS’

Dear Librarian; Story Time with Soldiers, Wrapping Books Better

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Dear Librarian-  I am so thrilled to give to the Story Time with Soldiers program!  Why don’t you have a program to send books directly to the soldiers, though? I would love to give credits for that. – Patriot in Patalaska

Dear Pat,

We’d love to make that available!   Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to source the right type of books (our current sources are for children’s books) and the costs of buying books and shipping them overseas are just prohibitive.   We are working on it, though, and maybe someday we will have a solution.  In the meantime, folks who want to get books to soldiers can check out Books for Soldiers – they are doing a great job!

And thanks for giving to Story Time, Pat – we know that by doing that you have made a real difference in the lives of these children, who are truly our country’s littlest soldiers.

Dear Librarian –  I got a book that barely made it through the mail!  The packaging was hanging off the book and the sender used Scotch tape.  The wrapping job was appalling.  It is sheer luck that the book got to me and wasn’t lost or severely damaged.  How can we tell people to wrap better?   – Determined in Detroit

Dear Troy,

We have all that info in the Help Center about wrapping, and the information about not using Scotch tape right on the wrapper itself!  What you may not realize is that the package probably looked pretty good when it started its journey, but along the way the tape peeled off and the wrapper tore.  We can tell folks all day long in the Help Center (and we do) about wrapping, but nothing brings the message home like a helpful word from a member who actually got the book at the other end.  Just let this sender know that the USPS journey was tough on this wrapping, and that Scotch tape doesn’t hold up very well in general, and we bet that your advice will have more effect than a zillion reminders from us.

Please be gentle, if you do have to give feedback about wrapping to a sender.   Remember that the person was trying to get the book to you and was doing his or her best.  Even if it looks like their best was “appalling,” it probably did not start out that way, and if the sender knew that the wrapping would fall apart, he or she would have done better.  Give him or her a kind and positive helping hand to know how to do better next time.  It will make the club experience better for everyone – including the books!


  • Crazy fun stuff. We’re working hard on new features that we know you’ll enjoy!

Dear Librarian,

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Dear Librarian- The other day I got an email reminding me to repost a book I’d received.   But I’ve already reposted that book!  Why did I get that email?  –Curious in Chillicothe

Dear Cue,

The email was actually encouraging you to rate or even review the book, if you had read it.  Assigning star ratings is one of the most helpful things a member can do for the club — it helps other members get a better idea if they might want to order that book.  It also helps any member who has posted the book – a highly-rated book is more likely to be requested.  So rate those you have, and those you don’t have but have read!   And if you’re feeling chatty, reviewing a book is really a terrific thing to do also, to let other members know what you thought of a book.  It doesn’t have to be a “literary” review – but hearing from another member why she or he liked (or didn’t like) a book can really mean a lot to someone who is browsing for his or her next read.  “Real words” from “real members” carry a lot more power than the publisher’s blurb!

Dear Librarian-  I am in a military family and we are at an APO address.  That means sometimes the books we request take longer to get to us, and many of them are declared “lost” by PBS before we get them.  Not to worry – I have read the Help Center information on managing accounts from USPS-served addresses outside the contiguous US, and I know how to mark the books received from my Transaction Archive and give the senders credit.  What I am wondering is, why do I sometimes get another offer of the book after I have marked it received?  Shouldn’t the system know I got the book and take it off my Wish List?  — All Puzzled Over this at APO

Dear Po,

Yes, the system should know you got the book.  When it was declared “lost” it went onto your Wish List automatically – it makes sense that when you mark it received it will come off your Wish List automatically.  But that is not how things have been happening – up until now, members have had to remember to go take the formerly “lost” books off their Wish Lists after marking them received from the Transaction Archive.   Yes, we did say “up until now”!  How observant of you, Po!  Yes, we have finally fixed this and now when you mark a “lost” (or canceled) book as received, the item will come off your Wish List automatically (unless you mark the book “received, but with a problem”).   Just a few more clicks we’re saving you in your day!  Thanks for nudging us to take care of this – we’ve had it on our To Do list for a while. 🙂

Dear Librarian,

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Dear Librarian- What happens if I get a request on Friday or Saturday (or Sunday!) before the postage change on Monday, and the wrapper prints out with the “old” postal rate on it?  What do I do to be sure that the package has enough postage on it?  –Worried in Worthington

Dear Worthy,

Don’t worry – you’ll just have to pay a little extra attention for a few days.  Remember that anything you mail on Monday or after must have postage that satisfies the NEW postal rates.  Anything you mail before Monday can have the OLD postal rate postage on it.  So if you get a request on Friday or Saturday before the rates change, you should be sure to mail the books on Friday or Saturday, using the old postage rate.  If you have to mail on Sunday, you should use the NEW postal rate – because packages mailed on Sunday (for example, put into a blue mailbox on Sunday) will not enter the mailstream until Monday, and on Monday the new postal rates will apply.

Dear Librarian-  OMG the flu is scary!  Did you read The Hot Zone?   Is it safe to mail to and from strangers?  Why doesn’t the government talk about the US mail as a risk factor for getting swine flu?  OMG OMG OMG –Caffeinated in Carson City

Dear Caffy,

While influenza is not Ebola virus (as described in The Hot Zone), you don’t want to get it if you don’t have to!  If you are careful to wash your hands frequently and well (using soap), avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth while out and about, and stay away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing, your risk of getting this recent strain of influenza appears to be small.  No one is talking about the mail as a risk factor because mail is not a risk factor.  Yes, if someone with the flu were to sneeze wetly onto your mail and then hand it to you, that could be a risk.  But the influenza virus does not live very long on surfaces, especially in warm weather.  If you are very concerned, you can be sure to leave your mail in the mailbox for 2-3 hours before bringing it in.    Reasonable precautions will keep you safe, Caffy.  Hey, have you ever tried herbal tea?  Just a thought!


  • The Twitter background contest beginning May 7th submit your designs, and vote on the submissions, on TwitterBackgroundsGallery.com
  • Postage increase May 11th…the new rates will be in the PBS system, and in the Help Center, on the 11th.

News: Better Browsing, Postage Increase, Survey, Twitter BG Contest, Requestor Conditions & Caps!

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Holy Better Browsing, Batman! Check out the new browsing options on the Member Homepage.  Click Home in the top menu to get to this page, on which you can choose up to 3 favorite genres for your sliding display of available books; below that, you can now also browse available books in other genres – just one click displays the genre you choose from the list.  What used to be the Recently Posted Available Books display is now viewable by genre – so you can look at cookbooks — mysteries — Libros en Espanol — whatever you like.   One click “refills” the display with available books in the genre you have chosen.  There’s no quicker way to browse for your next great read!

Postage Increase THIS MONDAY. Effective Monday, May 11, postal rates will increase slightly.  The price of a First Class letter stamp will increase from 42 cents to 44 cents (so stock up on those Forever stamps this week!).   A 1-lb Media Mail package will be $2.38 (up from $2.23). Download the USPS’ new price list, or read the information at USPS‘s website.  Please note that PBS Printable Postage will shut down for Sunday May 10th, so you will not be able to print the “old rates” on that day.  It will be enabled again on May 11, and the new rates will print out.  Remember to mail your books  you have agreed to mail on or before Saturday the 9th of May, so that you are not sending packages with insufficient postage!

We’ll give you something to talk about…. We’re looking for member input on the club, and we will be sending out survey emails to random members in the next couple of weeks.  When you get one of these emails (it will come from librarian@paperbackswap.com and it will have the PBS logo in the message body), click the link inside to take the survey.   The surveys will be short, and your responses will help us make decisions about what direction to take new features in the club.   So if you get a survey email, please take a few minutes to take the survey.  Your opinions could have a big impact!

So you think you can design? Prove it in our upcoming Twitter Background Design Contest!  We want our members to be a part of representing the club on our Twitter profile @paperbackswap.   The contest begins May 7th and ends June 7th. You can submit your entry on the site http://www.TwitterBackgroundsGallery.com after May 7th.   Winners get cold hard cash, credits, and Swap Money as well as unending glory!  And those of you who dont design…you can still get in on the act by voting on the submissions. There will be “people’s choice” AND “PBS Team choice” winners!   For more about how to submit, the prizes, and all the nifty details, check out the PBS Blog. A huge thanks to TwitterBackgroundsGallery.com for helping us set this up & use their website to run the contest.

Oh, we didn’t mention the Blog? It’s just a little somethin’ we threw together…. You can find it under Community at the top of any page on the site.  It has info from previous newsletters, plus stuff you can’t find anywhere else on the site, and you can comment on the items there.  Check it out.

Requestor Conditions Refinement. Now when you request a book you will have the option NOT to apply your Requestor Conditions to that request, during the process of submitting the request.  No need to go into your Account Settings to turn them off, then back to the request, then back to your Account Settings to turn them on again.  This new streamlined option should make things easier for those who use the Requestor Conditions feature.

And to top it all off… PBS Caps are in the Kiosk!  100% cotton in black or mustard, and a sueded cotton blend in stone.  Don’t tell us you don’t love them.  It’s not possible not to love them!   Ten bucks to protect your face from sunburn and proclaim your membership in the best online bookclub on the planet?  It’s ridiculous not to buy these.

Dear Librarian,

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Dear Librarian- I got an offer of a book on my Wish LIst and then I got a Personal Message from the other member, saying it is an ARC and asking if I minded getting an ARC.  What’s an ARC? What if I don’t want it?  Should I click “Cancel” on the request?–Flummoxed in Florida

Dear Flo,

An ARC = Advanced Reader Copy.   ARCs (also known as Uncorrected Proofs and Review Copies) are not permitted for swapping here.  Actually, each time a member posts a book she or he is asked to confirm that the book is not an ARC. We don’t allow ARCs because they are not the “final” copy of books – changes can be made before the final version is printed.   Some members will post their ARCs anyway in violation of the rules — if they do this and send the book out, they have to refund the credit if the requestor asks (and the requestor does NOT have to send the ARC back!).  So posting ARCs, just like posting any unpostable book, is not a wise thing to do!

If someone posts a book that is on your Wish List and then tells you in a PM that it is an unpostable copy and you don’t want the unpostable copy, you should say “Please do not send this book to me” in your Personal Message but still click the button on your account to accept the offer – this is the only way to stay on the Wish List for the book.  The SENDER needs to cancel in this situation, so that you stay on the Wish List.  (The sender should not repost the book after cancelling, obviously.)

ARCs and other unpostables can be swapped in the Book Bazaar Discussion Forum or offered as “freebie incentives” to request books from a bookshelf.  So they can still be exchanged here; it is just that they must not be posted to PBS Bookshelves.  All books posted to bookshelves must meet swapping criteria.   You can find new homes for your unpostables using the Book Bazaar – the items can be described in the Book Bazaar and members will know what they are getting.  The Book Bazaar is in the main list of Discussion Forums, accessible under Community at the top of any page on the site.

Dear Librarian-  I got my empty wrapping back for a book I mailed, along with a “sorry” note from USPS.  Does this mean someone in the Post Office stole the book?  What do I do now? — Stumped in Sweetwater

Dear Sweetie,

We’re sorry that this happened!  No, it is exceedingly unlikely that anyone stole the book.  Sometimes wrapping can tear and the book can fall out.  Take a look at your packaging.  If you used an envelope, was it taped down tight around the book, with no flaps to catch in postal machines?  If you used a PBS Wrapper, did you use tape to reinforce the corners and seams of the package?  Not that this situation always is attributable to wrapping inadequacies; even the best-wrapped package can fall afoul of the mighty USPS machines, but your chances of a mishap are greatly lessened if you wrap well.  You can read about this in the Help docs on wrapping in the Help Center.   If you are using other wrapping besides the PBS wrapper (envelope, padded mailer, brown paper, etc) you can place the “information for the receiver” inside the book itself.  This can increase the odds of your book being “reunited” with its packaging, or being sent on to the requestor, even if the package gets ripped open.

Now that the book has been separated from the packaging, it most probably is lost.  USPS may recover it  – but if they do, they should send it back to you.  The requestor should not have to wait for the book to be declared “lost” before she or he gets credit back to try to get another copy.  If you get a notice of loss (or the empty wrappings for a book) back in the mail, let the requestor know in a Personal Message, and then contact us and ask us to cancel the transaction, as explained in the Help doc “USPS lost the book I sent” in the Help Center.  When we cancel, either the request will be passed to a new sender (if there are more copies in the system), or the book will go onto the requestor’s Wish List and she or he will get credit back.

If you wrap well, this will be extremely unlikely to happen again!


Cool stuff…we’re always working on cool stuff. But you knew that. 🙂


Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Yes, no kidding, you won’t have to hover over that darned ! anymore.  Plus, we’re psychic. Look for these changes in the next day or so: your Wish List will show your position in line right on the listing, AND will project if possible when you might get the book offered to you.  Because we want the predictions to have some accuracy, a lot of your WIshes might not have enough data to have a projection – but when you see an estimate on a listing, you will know it has some substance.

…And we’ll give you a sense of history. For each Wish List book on your list that has been posted in the past (but has not been posted within the last week), you will see the “last posted on” date, to give you an idea of how often the book has entered the system in the past.

Objects on Wish List are closer than they appear…Remember that any estimates you see on the Wish List will always be worse than reality.  Since as the membership grows more books come into the system, your Wish List odds are always improving!

Postage Increase Coming in May. Effective May 11, postal rates will increase slightly.  The price of a First Class letter stamp will increase from 42 cents to 44 cents (so stock up on those Forever stamps!).   A 1-lb Media Mail package will be $2.38 (up from $2.23). Download the USPS’ new price list, or read the information at USPS‘s website.

One, two, one, two – Get Your Account in Shape for Spring! Come on, everyone, take a minute to look over your Bookshelf and be sure that all items shown there as “available” are actually available to be sent when they are requested.   Now check your WIsh List to be sure that all items there are ones you still want.   Delete any items that don’t belong (books you no longer have to swap, books you are no longer wishing for) on the lists, and you’re done!  Now, that wasn’t hard, was it?

NEWS: Newsletter – January 2009

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

We have heard your cries! Yes, the chant (What do we want? Printed Postage for Box-O-Books! When do we want it? Real soon!) has finally been answered.   All you Boxers can give your vocal cords a rest because Printable Postage for Box-O-Books is now available!  (Yay, Team!) You can read about the Box-O-Books service here.

New Forums! Yes, we have lovely new icons in the Discussion Forums, if we do say so ourselves…AND new Forums to boot!  Check ’em out:

Health & Fitness Forum

Going Green

Money Saving Tips

Postal Rate increase. NOT for Media Mail or First Class mail, folks, which are the only rates we recommend using here!  But for those of you who sometimes use Priority Mail, here’s a heads -up from USPS:  On January 18, 2009, prices will change for Express Mail, Priority Mail, Parcel Select, Parcel Return Service and some international shipping products. Overall, shipping services prices will increase an average of 5 percent. The new prices are available at http://www.usps.com/prices  (click “New Shipping Prices” box). Don’t worry if you are a typical PBS member who uses Media Mail or First Class mail – this change won’t affect you.

Thank you! We appreciate how many people have given credits and/or money to become Friends of PBS.  We applaud your generous spirits, and please know that with each donation you are helping PBS stay strong and grow better!  Members can give here, and see the list of local and recently-added friends here.