PaperBackSwap Blog

Archive for the ‘Dear Librarian’ Category

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: Missing Emails, Books On Hold,

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Dear Librarian-  I got a “second notice” about a book request, but I never got the first one!  I am getting my other PBS emails, so I know my email provider is not blocking them.  What happened?  -Out of the Loop in Lancaster

Dear Loopy,

We’re sorry that you are missing emails.  Actually, they were blocked by your email provider.  Email providers sometimes choose specific types of emails that they consider “spam” for various reasons, and we don’t know why but the first email notification of a book request (and Wish List offers!) are the emails that most frequently get blocked.  You can see the emails that we sent you (that were accepted by your email provider, even if they weren’t delivered to you) by looking in your Club Communications file, linked from the top of the My Account page.

You can prevent missing emails by adding the PBS system email addresses (librarian@paperbackswap.com, noreply@paperbackswap.com and market@paperbackswap.com) to your email account address book, and removing us from your “blocked senders” list, if we appear there.  This should fix the problem. You can read more in the Help doc “If you think you aren’t getting all your PBS emails…” in the Help Center.

We hope this gets you back in the loop!  Reliable email reception is key to managing an account here.

Dear Librarian – I was looking at my Wish List, and I see there is a book “on hold” there.  How did that happen? – on Hold in Hackensack

Dear Hacky,

An item goes on hold on your Wish List if:

(1) You put it on hold. You can put individual items on hold using the buttons on your Wish List if you are not ready to accept those items when they are offered to you. This will preserve your “place in line” for the book but will hide the wish from the system. This is useful if you have no credits in your account and don’t want to decline a copy of the book (and lose your place in line) if the book becomes available while you have no credits.


(2) When a Wish List book is offered to you, then alternate versions of that book will go on hold on your Wish List. This prevents you from being offered two different versions of a book and having to choose between them.  When the first version arrives, you can remove the alternate versions from your Wish LIst.  If the first version is lost in the mail or arrives damaged, then you can re-activate the wishes for the other versions without having lost your place in line.


(3) When you order a book from the PBS Market and it is mailed to you, if the book is on your Wish List it will go on hold, so that you are not offered a second copy while your Market book is on its way to you.   Again, when the first version arrives, you can remove the alternate versions from your Wish LIst.

To take the item off hold, you just need to check the box to the left of the item, then click the “Unhold” button at the top of the Wish List.  That will make the wish active again.


  • Spring! And we can’t wait!

Dear Librarian; PBS Market,

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Dear Librarian-  Wow!  I am so psyched by the PBS Market.  Do you have any tips on how to find out quickly if any of the books on my Wish List are in the Market right now?  – Shopping in Cheyenne

Dear Shy,

Sure!  There are three really easy, quick ways to find out if any of your Wish List books are being offered in the Market:

  1. On the Browse page, under the “Welcome back!” message, is a link to “New Bargain Books” – if any of your Wish List books are in the Market, there will be a link in parentheses, next to the “New Bargain Books” link.   This will take you to a list of your Wish List books currently for sale in the market.
  2. On the Market page, if there are any of your WIsh List books currently available, a link will appear above the Search options to take you to the list of Wish List books that you can purchase from the Market.
  3. If you go to your Wish List and choose “Market books” from the dropdown menu next to ReSort, your Wish List will display any books in the Market at the top of the list.

We hope this helps you find your next great read!

Dear Librarian – The Market is great, and I do plan to get books there, but I hope PaperBackSwap will keep on SWAPPING.  Isn’t that the main point of the club? I love PaperBackSwap!  Are things going to change?  – Stalwart swapper in Springfield

Dear Springy,

Not at all!  PaperBackSwap is dedicated to bookswapping, and the Market is just a great way to get more wished-for books to our members, while supporting the club and keeping membership free.  Every purchase will help defray the cost of running the club, so we can all keep on swapping!

The Mathematics of LoveMy Nerdy ValentineThe Nerd Who Loved MeA Time to LoveBye Bye LoveMust Love DogsSomewhere in HeavenLoveBark When You Love MeAdoredThey Did it With LoveLove Kills

Dear Librarian: Refund Credit, Book Reviews, No images,

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Dear Librarian-  I sent a book I shouldn’t have sent, I admit it. It had writing in it and I didn’t really pay attention to that when I posted it.  So the other member complained and I realized I hadn’t checked the book for writing before posting it!  I’ll be more careful next time and I won’t ever post another book that doesn’t meet the club criteria again.  I refunded her credit using the Give Refund button on the problem swap in my transaction archive, but she says I didn’t refund!  How can I prove that I did?  – Repentant in Rehoboth

Dear Hobey,

We’re glad to hear that you have learned the error of your ways. 🙂  You can tell this member that she can look in her Credit Registry (by clicking credits at the top of any page on the site) to see the credit you gave her.  And if you have to refund (or if someone refunds to you) in the future, this will be easier – an email will be sent when the Give Refund button is used, to tell the member that the refund was given.

For anyone reading who doesn’t know where the Give Refund button is – it is on the Request Details page on every completed outgoing transaction in your Transaction Archive.   Go to My Account > Transaction Archive  and click Request Details on any book you sent that was received (whether or not it was marked received with a problem).  You will see the Give Refund button at the top of the Request Details page.

Dear Librarian – I ran across a Book Review that was great.  The reviewer said EXACTLY what i think about the book.   Now I want to know what that reviewer thinks about other books.  But there’s no link on the review to show me that member’s other reviews.  Why not?  – Disappointed in Denver

Dear Denny,

If the link is not there it means that either (1) this member has not reviewed any other books or (2) the member has the option for “show other members my list of reviews” set to Private or Buddies Only in his or her privacy controls.

We know this is disappointing!  You should check his or her profile, if that is public, to see what books are on the Bookshelf and Wish List there, and check out your similarity index to this member.  You can invite him or her to be a Buddy, since you liked that review so much.  If she or he allows Buddies to see his or her review list, then you will have the “inside scoop”!

Dear Librarian – Something is seriously wrong with PBS when I try to get on from my work computer.  There aren’t any images and it’s just a bunch of text on white background.   It works fine from my computer at home.  What’s up and how do I fix it? – Officeworker in Orlando

Dear Lando,

Your office’s computer system must be set to block unfamiliar domains.  We have images stored in a number of places, and your work system must be refusing to let those domains be accessed to show you the site properly.  If it is OK for you to access PaperBackSwap from work, you should ask your IT person to unblock the following domains:


These are the domains that host the site’s images, among other things.  It is safe to allow access to these domains.

We add new subdomains when necessary to balance the workload across our servers, so this list can change over time, which is why accessing PBS from a very strict location such as a workplace or a school may pose difficulties intermittently.

We hope your boss is OK with letting you use the site during work hours, but if not, PaperBackSwap is always there for you when you get home!


  • Audio Author Interviews
  • More ways to find you your next favorite book!
  • Here are some more “new” themed books to browse…

New Moon Moon Bk 7All New PeopleI'm Not the New MeNew Day RisingA New LuNew GirlsBraveNew CardiffA New DayA New LeafThe New WomanAnnie's New Life

Books for Schools donation program photos

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

We got some photos from our first round of Books for Schools donation program. Here is Clear Creek Elementary showing us the delivery of the books you so generously donated credits to get for them! Clear Water Creek Elementary was just one of the lucky first round of donations.

What it's all about!

They’re thrilled with the books, and it looks like they had a lot of fun sorting through them. The school received more than a thousand books — some will go into their classrooms and library, and some will go home with students to keep.  From the first two rounds, member credit donations to the program got books for 25 needy schools. We’ll let the membership know when we’re ready for the third round of Books for Schools- stay tuned!  Read more about Books for Schools donation program.  See more photos of Clear Creek getting the books below: (click for a larger image)

books for schoolsbooks for schoolsbooks for schoolsbooks for schoolsbooks for schoolsbooks for schools

Dear Librarian; Printable Gift Certificates

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Dear Librarian-  I love the new Gift Certificate pictures!  I have seven buddies I’d like to give gift certificates to, and I want to use a different message and picture for each card.  But I can’t seem to save the card I am working on and add another – every time I finish one card and click Discard to start over, it throws away my design!  There has to be a better way to do this.  — Donder

Dear Dondy,
We’re sorry you are having this experience!  Yes, the template can save only one design at a time, so what you need to do is buy the giftcodes (purchase 7 gift certificates) in the Kiosk and then come back to the Gift Certificate page and make the cards, applying a gift code to each one. Once you’ve created a card and it has a code, you will be able to re-generate it from the list in your Receipts link in your account.  In other words, you can save your design by applying a gift code to it and printing it or sending it as an eCard.

We hope that helps.  Please give our warmest regards to your “deer” buddies, and be careful on those icy roofs!


  • The next round of Books for Schools schools...keep your eye on the donations page for updates.
  • Christmas…if you’re going to Amazon to shop, use the Buy From Amazon link on any book here to get over there, and your purchases (of anything, not just books) will support the club!

Dear Librarian: Email Notification Settings, Wish List Expander,

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Dear Librarian-  I love the sliding displays of available books on the Browse page, but I have such a hard time browsing from there!  Every time I click a book in the display to read more about it, and then go back, I go to a different place in the sliding display and I have to find where I was. I  get totally confused.  I wish I could just go back to the book I clicked on in the display! –Lost in Lexington

Dear Lexy,

We hear and obey!  It’s actually pretty tricky to make the sliding display remember where you were when you go back to it, but we have done this now. So from now on, when you are browsing from the sliding display and you click “Back” in your browser you will go back to the same place in the sliding display,  We hope this helps!

Dear Librarian– Why am I getting so many emails telling me that books similar to the ones I am wishing for are available?  I get a lot of these. How can I stop getting them? –Bombarded in Boca

Dear Bom,

We’ve improved the method that the system uses to recognize alternate versions of your Wished-for books.  That’s probably why you are getting more of these alerts: they go out to anyone wishing for a version of this book, whenever an alternate version of the title (different ISBN) is posted. They’re super ways to get the books you want when a version you didn’t know about comes into the system.  But we know that some members want ONLY the versions of the books that are actually on their Wish List – so you can opt out of these alerts altogether, or for a specific title.

If you do not wish to receive alerts about this title AT ALL, you should remove this title from your Wish List.

If you are wishing for a specific version (ISBN) of a title, and do not wish to receive notifications about any other versions, you can opt out of these email alerts in your Account Settings. Just click the link in the email to do this, or see the Help doc “What’s in Settings in My Account?” for instructions on how to adjust your email settings.  You can read more about “similar item” emails in several other Help docs in the Help Center.  You can access the Help Center from the grey menu bar at the top of any page on the site.

Dear Librarian – I’m getting those emails too –  I love getting them about Wish List books usually!  I do have one book on my Wish List that I want only in audio for my mom.  Can I stop getting alerts about just that one book?  I don’t want to turn off the alerts for my whole wish list! –Wondering in Westport

Dear Westie,

You sure can do this!  This is another recent innovation on the site.  If you want to block only similar-item alerts about one specific title only, you should click the link in the alert email to opt out of alerts for that title only. There is no way to do this from the account settings – that option is available only from the email.  So you can wish just for the audio of this book and never get an alert about any other version.

Dear Librarian– I check the What’s New link at the top of the page regularly, and the other day I saw that there had been changes to the WIsh list.  I tried the Wish Expander by clicking the Expand WIsh button on the listing for a book I had had on my Wish List FOREVER.  To my surprise, there was an available copy in a different version!  I snapped it up.  Needless to say I enabled the WIsh Expander using the Options button at the top of my Wish List ASAP and now I am going back to check the rest of the wishes on my list.  This is awesome!  –Cheering in Chattanooga

Dear Chatty,

We’re so glad you like this new feature of the Wish List!  We’ve had a number of reports of this happening, all in the first few days after the feature was made available.  We hope it makes everyone’s wishes come true faster than ever before!


  • Snazzy new items in the Kiosk….just you wait and see!