I’m a very active BOB trader. I haven’t been doing it for years, but after a year of normal membership I finally signed up to generate more trades. At one point I had 29 active trades in the works from pending to books received. At one time I had an accepted list of books coming to me totaling 98 different books.
Do I read a lot? Yes. More importantly, I like to read series books in sequence without missing one, not having the first and last one, and not even starting if I know I can’t get the rest in the series.
The problems an active trader runs into stem from lack of organization. Have you had any of the following happen to you?
1. Received multiple copies of the same book,
2. Finding the cost for 1 book is too much,
3. You just completed a book you liked but found it was #3 out of a series of 5 and you don’t know what the beginning or the end of the story is,
4. Missing books you might want, or
5. Finding the same person is telling you again that they don’t have any interest in you bookshelf.
PBS, especially the BOB system, is wonderfully organized and automated. With a few basic skills you can use this very effectively and quickly to avoid the above mistakes. This treatise is to help members new to BOB trading. It is based on my experience and designed for the active trader defined as:
1. Wanting a lot of books
2. Trying to fill author lists
3. Doing multiple swaps at the same time
If all you’re going to do is trade a few books from time to time or only do a few BOB swaps at the same time this is not necessary for you.
The important skills you should be able to use are tied up in your word processing program. They are:
1. Copy a section of text and be able to paste it into a different document.
2. Select a section of text and delete or move it to a different location in the same document.
3. Format the text so each line has the complete information necessary.
4. Be able to sort the a list of text by the first character on the line.
5. Open multiple tabs or windows in your browser.
6. HELPFUL BUT NOT NECESSARY - be able to create macros in your word processor (WP) to automate repetitive actions.
As you can see, all but the last are very basic. My 86 year old mother can do most of 1 - 4. 6 is way beyond her. If that’s you, don’t worry. It will just take you a little longer to do things.
THE VARIOUS SECTIONS ARE:
Cost Effective BOB Trading
Tracking Trading Members
Finding Books You Want
Tracking Books Until Completed
Adding to Your Bookshelf
Cost Effective BOB Trading
Each person is different. I find that sending and receiving 3 books at a minimum is about the least I want to trade. It take time to package the books, costs more money per book to send fewer books and becomes difficult to manage individual book trades. I will sometimes do a 2 book trade but only if I really want both books. If it’s a single book, I’d rather use a book credit.
Tracking Trading Members
This is a point of frustration of many members, especially those with lots of books who have been at it a long time. Would you like to receive a new request from the same person every few weeks or months that you’ve already responded to that they have nothing new you might want? This step is based on one action for each member you’re reviewing. The first (or second time or third time - Thanks for your patience JOHN M.) go through their entire list and select every book you can imagine you might want from them for a BOB trade. Consider “A”, “B”, and “C” lists mentioned below. This will give them an opportunity to generate a bigger more cost effective trade, let you know how many they will actually trade, and most importantly, allow you to not pester them again in the future. After all, they just sent you two books at a cost of $2.24 and now you want 2 more. Why didn’t you just ask for all 4 at the same time for $3.17?
1. Create a new document called PBS Members List (or something similar).
2. Go to the BOB section and select the tab Completed Boxes.
3. Start at either the top or bottom of the table and drag to copy all the data in the table.
4. Paste the data into the WP.
5. Go through and delete everything but the name and nickname.
6. Sort the list alphabetically.
7. Print the list.
8. Every time you begin to look at a members bookshelf pass by those on the list.
9. Do the same for Pending and Canceled Boxes to create one complete list.
At this point you should have already tried for trades for everything on your “A” and “B” lists. If you find that you can’t find at least 3 books don’t trade and do place the person on this PBS Members List so you don’t bother going through their list again in the future. Even if you only find 1 book to begin with you will end up going through their entire list to see if you can increase that number to 3 or more.
I have found that the largest trade I have done was 13 “A” and “B” books. There are a few examples of my wanting all 37 Star Trek books, but they are on my “C” list so I usually don’t do that. When this happens you should send a Personal Message (PM) to the member stating that there are a lot more from them you’d like so if they can find as many of yours as possible and add them to their request list, you can add more to your list.
Before you get very far you should decide which authors and which series by those authors you want. Use Google.com to search for “(author name) book list”. From the returned links use the following domains - www.wikipedia.org , www.fictiondb.com and www.iblist.com , or a domain created by the author as in www.author’sname.com. They give books by authors and usually will list books according to the specific series they belong to.
1. Copy and paste the list of books and their series into a WP document. It’s easier to copy most of the page and then delete what you don’t want.
2. Delete and format the list down to a point where it has the author’s name at the top and each title under its specific series heading.
3. Try to get the page formatted to one page. Use smaller fonts, duel columns, shorten long names, etc. This will become important later. You will find that you will keep this series of pages handy and want to leaf through them quite often. Multiple pages for authors creates too many pages and makes it harder to find specific book titles.
4. Print out the page.
5. Draw a line through each title you’ve actually read.
6. Put a check mark next to each title you have but haven’t read yet.
7. Now you have a complete list of that author’s books in order according to series you can track to make sure you don’t miss something in the series and when you have the series done you can start reading at the first book in the series. I have focused on Tom Clancy. He has 10 different series - 3 of which you have complete and 2 I’m still working on.
One thing the authors’ lists do is let you catagorize books you find interesting into three groups. “A” group is those in specific series you’re trying to complete. “B” group is by those same authors or others you definitely like, but you’re not concerned about any specific title. “C” group is anything not on the other lists that sound good as you’re going through a member’s bookshelf.
Finding Books You Want
There is an excellent search engine for PBS and I’ve used a lot of different ones for many years. You can find almost any book, author, member, series, etc. you want if you look for the right things in the right way. I will go through as a BOB trade, since simply finding a book to order is what most people know how to do. I will take is as starting broad and getting fine tuned.
1. Click on “Community” and them “Box-O-Books”. This will take you to the start page. This is important to prevent simply seeing the Order List with members who don’t do BOB swaps.
2. Select the genre you want and click on Search Boxer Books (SBB).
3. If you want a specific author just type in the author’s name and SBB. Don’t bother with genre.
4. The displayed page will tell you several things. The members that have titles by that author, how many they have, and how many books they have on their bookshelf. 14 by a member with 649 books will yield more than a member with 1 from a bookshelf of 23.
If you are just beginning with an author you might only want to look at the first few members that have the most books to see what is available. If you’re going after a specific series you will want to go through either all those down through the first 5 or 10 or all the members if there aren’t very many. Open each member in a separate tab or window so you can more easily keep track of what you’re doing. It can be simpler to save the single book members for a later and final review and pick up several books from a single member now.
In each member tab the first page will show only the specific results of your search criteria. If it was genre it may be a lot of books. If it was author it may be several or more. A single book will show only one book. Select “ADD” for each book you want. Select the same book in every member it shows up in. Don’t worry about duplicates now. Some will have several books. Some will only have a single book.
On each tab click on “Clear Search Terms” after you’ve “Add”ed the books to the list. Now you use the search process in that specific member’s bookshelf to look for more books you might want in your “A”, B”, or “C” list to make it cost effective for you. You’ll find the same book on several bookshelves. That’s OK.
Next, go through the various tabs to see which are most cost effective and give you the biggest bang for your buck. For example, one member may have 9 books while another only has 3. The 8 extra books include one “B” book and the rest “C”. The other member’s list has 2 books that are both “A” from other author lists. Try to make the final number selected cost effective for all trades.
Nothing is saved or sent for a trade until you click on the “Save The Above Box” button. you always wait until you’re done with all the tabs before this last step for all those you finally have set for what want. You may or may not want to try this next step. You can sometimes select two or three members for trades knowingly duplicating an “A” book you want. The other member must select books from your list and give you a final chance to Accept the trade. you do this to monitor the trades you’re wanting to watch for which one is accepted first. Then you go back to the other offers and delete those duplicates that show up. Since you check once or twice a day, you usually catch it before the other member has even looked at the potential trade. If they have and sent me their list you decide to either ask them to substitute a different book or accept it to put back on my shelf as a duplicate. It’s important to monitor your pending trades closely in doing this.
Once the member has responded you can add them to your PBS Member List for future reference.
At some point you may want to get the last few books in a series. At this point you open EVERY member listed in a separate tab that you haven’t reviewed in the past. Now you specifically look for those books. Or you could type in the title in the search criteria to avoid those members with books by the same author but the wrong title. One step you should always do here is consider ordering the book with a credit from someone who is not a Boxer to complete a series. If it’s a series you are just starting to consider, look in this way to see if the ones you may want are even available. Some authors may only have a couple of many of their books on PBS. Don’t waste your time if there aren’t enough to even start to collect the series.
Tracking Books Until Completed
This is an extremely important process and not that difficult. There are a series of events that are monitored in PBS Boxers you need to understand. They go in this order. You “Save The Above Box” and the Pending Boxes tab in the B-O-B page under the Community menu will add it to the table there with who ever started the trade listed first. Selecting either name will take you to the same trade page. That page will show you each of your book lists. It will also show each member’s status in the trade. The list of books numbered can be copied and pasted. The following status listing are Pending, Offer Accepted, Address Printed, Mailed, Received, and finally Completed once you’ve entered feedback (please don’t forget this step). Until the box is marked Mailed, it can be altered in the trade. Don’t mark a box Completed until you’ve actually received it and check to make sure the books are what you wanted in a condition you accept. Be considerate and keep in close PM touch with other members if anything is happening out of the ordinary, a book you’re sending is not up to snuff, or there was a problem on the receipt of your books. Try to resolve it amicably first before complaining.
1. Create a WP document called “PBS Accepted Books” or something similar.
2. Copy and paste the books on your list into this document.
3. Make sure there is a new “Enter” at the end of each selection so they don’t run together as you do this over and over again for every one in the Pending Boxes tab. The end results will show two lines for each book with a number at the beginning of the book line if you copy properly.
4. Pay attention to two things. Under your name it will show your status. If it shows Received or Completed you’ve already received the books and don’t need to do this for them. If it says Pending AND the trade number in the “Books” column shows a 0 then the other member hasn’t accepted the trade and it may fall through. These will go on a separate list that may show duplicates.
5. Once you have all the books listed in the WP document, delete the numbers, additional author’s names you don’t want in multiple authors (the co-writers with a major author), extra TABS and put a comma behind each author’s name.
6. Highlight and move each author’s name from below the title to in front and on the same line as the title.
7. Delete any blank lines. At this point each line should read “Author, Title”.
7a. Hint: Add the member’s name after Title on each line they are supplying to track pending trades.
8. Use the sort function in your WP to sort by first word on a line.
9. You now have a list sorted by author showing every book you have coming to you. Make sure you check this list before you order a duplicate by mistake. Keep this up to date.
10. Do the same thing with those trades shown as “pending” with a 0 to monitor duplicate books and to be able to move them to the first part of the list as they are accepted or delete them when rejected.
This process will let you quickly find duplicates so you can PM members to ask for a substitution if necessary. It will keep you from ordering and receiving duplicates by mistake. It will help you keep track of your receipts of books.
If you can create macros you can automate the above process. Once you have the complete list copied and pasted, simply tell the WP to run the macro X times to automatically turn the page into an unsorted list ready for the final sort. Nice and quick. Then print out the updated list for reference while you’e searching for new trades.
Adding To Your Bookshelf
I have found quite a few BOB member with less than 30 books. I wonder what they are expecting. Even if they are in a genre you want, you might find it difficult to select more than 2 or 3 books you want. An active trader will want to have about 200 titles or more in several genres available for others. If you only have 30 to begin with try these suggestions:
1. Go through the Wishlist to see what people are wanting. The reason they are there is they are scarce. You probably won’t find those titles, but you can get an idea of authors and genres people want.
2. Go through the genres and make a note of those BOB books you find over and over again. Avoid them. Too many people already have them.
3. Use the “Finding Books You Want” section above to avoid what is plentiful.
4. Check out libraries that have sales. Two close to me have a final section they sell books at $1 per shopping bag.
5. If you see garage sales, bargain to buy all their books at 5 or 10 cents per book.
6. Even some thrift stores and used book stores will bargain with you.
7. Find different places to put up small signs saying “Wanted - Used book donations”.
8. Check out the Book Bazaar in PBS. You’ll find many members willing to give 5 or more books for 1 credit. Quite often members will even offer their final books, the whole shelf, for 1 or 2 credits.
9. DO NOT ONLY LOOK FOR BOOKS YOU WANT. You will be amazed at some of the strange books you will pick up and others will want. The less common the book is the better chance someone may want it.
If you add a bunch of new books to your bookshelf consider going back to members you’ve already put on your completed list that still have books you want. One thing you might try if you can get consistent really cheap books is ask the other member in a trade with a lot of books you want what their favorite genre is. Try looking for those specific types of books when you’re looking. Notify them when you’ve added a lot of books in their genre.
I hope this has been helpful. It took me several months to work the kinks out of the system and make active BOB swapping effective, efficient and fun.
Dr. Ken Rich
Last Edited on: 1/28/10 10:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1