Discussion Forums - Questions about PaperBackSwap Questions about PaperBackSwap

Topic: dealing with non-ISBN books

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: dealing with non-ISBN books
Date Posted: 3/3/2011 6:16 PM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2011
Posts: 126
Back To Top

I've got a bunch of older books that are from the pre-ISBN era. I've noticed some weirdness in how these types of books get dealt with. For example, I have a paperback copy of "The Story Of My Life" by Helen Keller. I notice that there are multiple editions out there, both with and without ISBNs (understandable, as the book got reissued over the years). I see when I list posted books, that there are 10 different editions that are posted and available. But on the other hand, there are 8 different editions that are on at least one member's wish list.

This confuses me. Why don't the people who wish for the book take an available copy? Are they just unaware that copies are available (in different editions than the ones that are on their wish list)? Or do people specifically want that one edition and won't take any others? I'm only looking at paperback versions here, so it isn't the case where for example, the member wants a hardcover and not a paperback.

I've got several books like this. E.g. I have "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac posted, and there are lots of other editions out there that have members wishing for them. How do I let the people who want the book know, hey, I've got this other edition available?


Date Posted: 3/3/2011 6:41 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2010
Posts: 68
Back To Top

I've seen others suggest that once you post your non-ISBN book and get your short (PBS) ISBN you can add a Tag to other posted editions of the book directing the requestor to your copy.

I've never done it myself and hope I explained it correctly. If not I'm sure someone will correct me!!


Date Posted: 3/3/2011 7:32 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2009
Posts: 2,540
Back To Top

I often get e-mails from PBS letting me know that a book similar to one wished for is available, and I have gotten books that way. Members who really want any edition should occasionally search by title or author just in case esp. with older books. I hope you will post one of my wished for older books...

Date Posted: 3/3/2011 7:52 PM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2011
Posts: 126
Back To Top

Fara: I seem to remember reading in the help docs that the notice of similar books doesn't work for non-ISBN books, unfortunately. I do hope that people who want older books search periodically to see if new copies have been posted.

Diane: Adding a tag sounds like an interesting idea. I'll have to look into that, thanks!

Date Posted: 3/3/2011 8:24 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
Back To Top

Some of those oddball wish lists for books with no ISBN could be inactive accounts. THey don't get cleared out because those ISBNs are supposed to only be for 1 time usage.  So the book stays there WL and the account stays "active" because they haven't had enough time outs/non-responses to get them closed.  Or it's people who don't frequent the forums and know that those are really a wast of WL space.

And them sometimes it's because someone wants a specific cover version or they know that a specific version is trade sized or large print and that's what they really want. 


Last Edited on: 3/3/11 8:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/3/2011 11:50 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2010
Posts: 577
Back To Top

The PBS e-mails WILL NOT notify you about short-ISBN postings (as per a PM from TPTB).

When you input a non-ISBN book then make sure to include as much information as possible.  I've heard of using the tags for books that have an ISBN that is Wish-Listed, and the Book Bazaar has several threads for this as well.  When you are inputing it make sure to set the binding type to the correct one (I've forgotten twice and had to re-input everything after deleting the book).

As for some of the editions especially with the classics, I'm careful as there are several edited or abridged copies out there and sometimes neither the PBS nor Amazon entries say.  That may be why the different editions.  The other thing that will make a difference is Large Print is always more sought after (some books that will have 700+ copies in the system will still have the large print version wishlisted).

Hope that helps.

Last Edited on: 3/3/11 11:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/4/2011 11:06 AM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2011
Posts: 126
Back To Top

Ah, inactive accounts, that makes sense, and that sometimes it is because people want a specific edition.

I have added a tag for my copy of On The Road, hopefully that will come to the attention of someone who wants it.


Date Posted: 3/4/2011 11:46 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
Back To Top

So, if you have a book with an ISBN that does not match the binding type in the PBS system and you post it, how does your book ever get viewed?  When I search for books, I search by ISBN.  If your book is the title I want but the ISBN does not match, I will never see it with and ISBN search, right?  Also, if I search by title and author, the system is going to pull up and list books with ISBNs that match the title and author. 

I'm sure it's a little different for older books and pre-ISBN books because if I'm searching for it, I'll know what I"m looking for but when a publisher uses the exact same ISBN for two different bindings (ie. trade paperback and hardcover) but the PBS system has assigned that ISBN to the hardcover version, there is no way for me to post my trade paperback with the same ISBN into the system.  If I post it without an ISBN, no one will see it when they browse for the book.

Date Posted: 3/4/2011 12:26 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
Back To Top

Well not everyone searches by ISBN.  A lot of members religiously check the Books Recently posted section and regularly search by title/author for their WL books just incase.  When I search for a book I search by title/author because I know books can be reissued many times in multiple ISBNs.  So why limit yourself to searching by ISBN only if you don't care about binding?  The only time I search by ISBN is if I'm posting a book or adding it to my TBR.  Then of course I want the ISBN that I actually own.

Date Posted: 3/4/2011 12:30 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
Back To Top

If you search by title/author it will bring up the 5 digit ISBNS if they're spelled right. If there are spelling errors then they might not get picked up. 

Whenever I've posted a non-ISBN version of a WL book it's been snapped up pretty quickly with little effort on my part. Simply from being on the recently posted page. If it's truly a WL book as in there aren't any other full ISBN versions with multiple copies in the system and just a couple random WL ones. 

It's very common for a book to have several hundred copies posted in various versions but have a couple WL versions that are audio, large print or hardcover.  And sometimes people who like old books will WL the original versions.  Other times people prefer brand new books and will WL a recent edition when there a lot of copies of older editions in the system already. 

Date Posted: 3/4/2011 1:12 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,601
Back To Top

I routinely go through my wishlist and click on the author's name and have found quite a few non-ISBN books available in the system that way.

The key for those of you LISTING those books is to make sure the author's name  and the title of the book is spelled correctly. I've seen lots of those short-ISBN books with horrendous spelling errors in the title or even author's name, which greatly decreases the chance of having people find the book.