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Topic: An answer I DID NOT expect

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Subject: An answer I DID NOT expect
Date Posted: 7/9/2012 1:35 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2008
Posts: 2
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I received a book I ordered a few days ago and was VERY unhappy with it.  The paperback book itself appeared to be in good condition but when I flipped through it I found that the spine was broken in three places.  Pages 215-218 were being held in place by dried crackling glue.  This book will not survive more than one reading.

So I wrote to the send and to PBS explaining that I simply cannot accept this book in the condition I received.  However, there are so precedents in the "rules" regarding broken spines and pages barely coming loose and/or barely "hanging on".

This is the response I received:

"Dear Margaret,
Thanks for writing in. If all the pages were attached when the book was mailed, and it met site criteria for book 
condition in other ways, then the sender did not do wrong to send you the book.  
Sometimes you will get a book that has only one more reading left in it; this does not happen often but it can happen 
to any member once or twice during her membership.  When that happens, you need to read and retire the book. 
Again, this does not happen often so you should not expect to have this trouble again unless you are in the habit of 
requesting older paperbacks (we see this book was published 25 years ago). 
We hope this information is helpful,
The PaperBackSwap Team

So this is "OK" since it doesn't happen often... even though it DID happen to me... I should still accept it, right. 

Hey, I know it's just a paperback book.  I have dozens of paperback books in this condition and I could post them but 
I don't want someone to be as disappointed with their book as I am with this one.  Someone has to have some integrity.

And to be honest, this isn't really the first time it has happened to me.  I received a book with a loose cover that I did
repost after I read it.  The person who received it complained about the cover.  I lost the book and the credit.  
Yet, here I am.  Making a similar complaint and "I" should just read the book and retire it (meaning throw it away).

I am only livid about this because basically PBS is telling ME to "shut up and color".  It's not my fault they have never 
set precedents for books with broken spines and barely set pages.

I guess I'll have to chalk it all up to experience.  I've since updated specific requests for any book I might want.  
Sad that I have to do that to get a book in readable condition.



Date Posted: 7/9/2012 1:46 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 8,022
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There's a possibility it got damaged in transit and was fine when it was originally sent, especially for being a 25 year old book.  All it takes is for the book to get hit the wrong way if the glue is old.

Date Posted: 7/9/2012 1:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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Well it sounded like that book was in readable condition. PBS does not say that the book has to be postable after you read it.  It used to say in the help docs somewhere that everyone should expect to be the last one to pay a credit for some books.  Some books are also borderline and the journey through the mail sends them over the edge which is often the case with binding issues.  I usually don't post books that are borderline personally. But I accept the fact that they are technically postable and that I will get some and be the last one to pay a credit.  I read it, hopefully enjoy it and either goes in teh damaged books box here or the donation box.

ETA: it does still say something about a book will sometimes not be postable after you read it and sometimes you will be the last one to pay a credit for a book here.  It's under the section on what to do if there's a problem with a book you received.

Last Edited on: 7/9/12 1:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/9/2012 1:54 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 2,027
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The response makes total sense to me.

If you are concerned about recieving books in this condition, you should set up a requestor condition.

Date Posted: 7/9/2012 1:58 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,283
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I understand why you are upset.

But, honestly, there does come a time for every book where it crosses the line from "yes, probably still postable" to "hmmm, probably not postable". And, sometimes that line is after you receive and read it, but before you can repost it.

It actually happens to pretty much everybody, that they eventually receive a book that will need to be retired from trading after they read it.  I know I've gotten a few. And, yes, they do tend to be older books.

I trade older books in more worn condition (Sometimes. I also have plenty of "like-new" books to trade as well). But, especially if there are only a few copies (or zero copies) of the book available, I feel just fine posting "yes, technically its still postable" books to the site.

And, also, sometimes people just aren't going to agree on books that are "on the bubble". You could take 20 members and have them look at the same book, and some would feel it is fine to post, while others would feel that it is unpostable. I've come across many books that do not break a rule at PBS, and yet I still feel that they fall on the "slightly more unpostable" side of the line than the "slightly more postable" side. And vice versa.

So, hopefully you will get some enjoyment out of just reading the book.

Date Posted: 7/9/2012 2:41 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2005
Posts: 1,328
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I used to RWAP books that had broken spines so I see where you're coming from. I considered that a separation which was not acceptable for posting. It wasn't until someone posted in the forums that they had asked TPTB for clarification and were told pretty much what your response said, that if the pages were all attached that the book was postable.

Date Posted: 7/9/2012 3:26 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,226
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 Pages 215-218 were being held in place by dried crackling glue. This book will not survive more than one reading.

From what I read y your definition, you got book that did not have a cracked spine, opened to a specific spot with the pages still intact, but will likely not last past your use. Yes, you will sometimes have to be the last reader of a book, it won't always be someone else that has to be the one to retire a book. Do many of us retire a book before its last read? Yes. Are we required to by the rules? No. A cracked spine is when the pages are completely separated, your definition said they were "still being held in place". If that defnition was not exact, then that may have been the problem, but if the pages were in place then the book was swappable by the rules. If the glue was dried and crackling, then who knows how much damage was sustained in transit and what condition it was in when it was shipped.

Last Edited on: 7/9/12 3:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/9/2012 5:13 PM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2005
Posts: 7,719
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Seems like a perfectly reasonable response to me too. Books, like most everything else come to the end of their useful cycle. It a book comes to the end of its cycle when I am reading it, then it is up to me to not repost it. If it is a book I want to read, then it is well worth the credit I spend to get it.

We forget that PBS was started by an avid reader to share books that were already read with other readers.

It is the old argument, is a book an object or is a book the sum total of its words, ideas, information, feelings, experiences the book brings to the reader.


ETA: And just curious as to the OP's motivation of posting this. Was there a question?


Last Edited on: 7/9/12 5:20 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/9/2012 5:43 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,603
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If the book had one more read in it when you got it, then the sender did not do anything wrong in sending it. If the pages started falling out while you were reading it and you passed it along to the next person instead of retiring the book, THAT would be wrong. I think PBS's response is perfectly valid, and I've had a few books from here that I've "retired" after reading them...it's just how it goes. If you read a lot of older books, that's bound to happen occasionally. There really is no need to take it personally. It happens.


Date Posted: 7/9/2012 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2008
Posts: 170
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Ok, so it is fine to post a book with a cracked spine?  I have a paperback with a cracked spine.  It falls open to the same two pages.  The pages aren't falling out. I haven't posted it because I thought it unpostable (the UBS wouldn't take it).  So, it's fine if I post this book?

Date Posted: 7/9/2012 7:43 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Define 'Cracked' spine. 

A cracked or creased spine is different than separation from top to bottom (sometimes referred to as cleaved).  If the book is only creased, and thus falls open at a particular place in the book...but all pages are secure then the book is still postable.    If the spine shows separation all the way from top to bottom (so only cover is holding it together) and the ends of the pages are pulling loose on the top and/or bottom, the book is unpostable.

From the Help Documents:


  • Must be intact, with no separation on the inside or outside of the book
  • If the book tends to open at a particular page, this is OKAY
  • Small amount of fraying or denting at top or bottom is OKAY


  • No torn or chewed/gnawed pages
    • yes, that does say "chewed/gnawed".  That means no pet-chewed (or human-chewed) books.
  • No loose or missing text pages

Last Edited on: 7/9/12 7:46 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/9/2012 8:49 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2008
Posts: 170
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Sounds like my book is creased and is postable.  Thanks.

Date Posted: 7/10/2012 12:08 AM ET
Member Since: 12/3/2005
Posts: 3,409
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Here's a link to a topic in 2009 that I bookmarked that discusses that "cleaved" spine issue.  From TPTB, if the pages are still in tact and not loose, the book is still "technically" postable.  Personally, I don't post anything with cracked spines but they are acceptable.


Date Posted: 7/14/2012 12:05 PM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2006
Posts: 8,426
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Let me ask you this: the book in question was 25 years old. Could you have found a copy in another format in another location? Is this a hard to find book? You would have paid a minimum of $4 from Amazon (1c + 3.99 shipping), $4 from Half.com (75c +3.25 shipping). Driving around to various garage sales and used book stores in search of this 25 year old book? You'd burn way more than $4 in gas only to get there and still have to pay for the book itself if you could actually find it. Most Goodwills and UBS's don't keep copies of 25 year old books on their shelves. Once you read it, how long is it going to sit on your shelf before someone else requests a 25 year old book from you and you pay $2.47 to send it out?

I think you got a bargain. Read your book, enjoy your $2.47 special "I scored a rare book for 2 bucks" find, and then toss it or donate it to your library after that.

Date Posted: 7/14/2012 8:31 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Re-read your OP Margaret.  "...Pages 215-218 were being held in place by dried crackling glue..."  Does this mean those pages appear to have fallen out of the book at some point and glued back in (glue now cracking)?  If so, I would consider the book unpostable...same as tape covering a tear does not return a book to postability.

If the glue appears original but is getting brittle due to age, it's likely the book is still postable but nearing the end of it's PBS career.

Date Posted: 7/14/2012 9:17 PM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2005
Posts: 7,719
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No offense, Denise, but I dont think the OP is coming back to answer any questions here. This was an effort to tattle on the PBS Team, not to ask a question.

We all hate the word 'No'. We hate to say and we hate to hear it. But it is what it is, sometimes if you risk the question, no matter how sure you are of the answer, the answer maybe 'No'.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 7/16/2012 7:03 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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In a case like this I think you also have to consider the temperature lately. It has been damn hot and when I bring in my mail it is hot. I'm near the end of the line as far as deliveries with the p.o. and UPS so when I get packages they're HOT after being in a metal truck all day in Arizona. So the glue may have been fine when it was sent. 

I've retired a couple too, it didn't bother me. A really well read book has it's charms, especially if it's a good one. I kinda like that a lot of people got to enjoy it. If it happened a lot then yeah, that would get annoying, but once in awhile is ok.