Discussion Forums - Questions about PaperBackSwap Questions about PaperBackSwap

Topic: How picky ("discerning") should I be regarding the condition of books I lis

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: How picky ("discerning") should I be regarding the condition of books I lis
Date Posted: 6/20/2009 4:16 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2009
Posts: 437
Back To Top
This probably has been asked in a million different ways, but I guess I am a pedant and need things spelled out for me.

I find PBS's quality standards to be perfectly fine—I buy a lot of used books on eBay and Amazon marketplace and am not super "picky" about the condition of the books, as long as they aren't falling apart. But I'm finding myself getting kind of paranoid about what books I list, in particular the "no water staining" and "no soiling."

One of my family members gave me a bunch of books to list, and I've had a lot of trouble knowing where to draw the line, so I'm erring on the side of caution, and I'm not sure if I need to be. Some of her books have "scuffs" on the page edges that look like chalk or graphite scraped against the book. This is not a "stain' as in some sort of goober stuck to the book, it's a scuff of a different color. Is this acceptable to post? I won't get huffy if it isn't—she can take them to the local used bookstore if she chooses, but I just don't want to have any problems.

Also, some of her books have what I consider almost imperceptible "waving" of the very edge of maybe 3 or 4 pages. We're talking about maybe a half inch in length, going in maybe 1/16 of an inch (or less) of some sort of "wavy" kind of action, which might be interpreted as water damage, though I have no idea what the cause of it is. Some books do have very small amounts of water damage (small areas of just the edge of the book) and I am assuming those are not postable. (Or are they?) But I'm not talking about that. I'm just talking about pages that have teensy bit of "wavy" to them but don't have that different texture that water damaged pages get.

And then there are the books which have a slightly "warped" shape (like they were stored not completely flat). They are still readable, no loose pages, nothing like that. Postable, or will someone assume that the "warped" shape is water damage or something?

I KNOW I'm sounding completely paranoid and anal-retentive, but after reading some of the posts here, I'm feeling a bit nervous! I still have plenty of books that I am sure are postable, but I just want to get a clearer picture about what is and is not okay. Thanks!

Date Posted: 6/20/2009 4:57 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,485
Back To Top

I lean to more picky on the newer books and less on the ones that are 20 years old. 

The marks on the page edges can be cleaned up with a fine grade sand paper.  Have even been able to remove chocolate finger marks with it.  Just make sure the marks don't go down into the pages.  (Sort of chocolate or ink vs coffee.)

Putting a heavy book flat on a curled book might help.  I keep an old dictionary with my posted books just for that.

I'll let someone else tackle water damage. 

Date Posted: 6/20/2009 5:01 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2008
Posts: 5,638
Back To Top

I don't blame you. I've gotten a few books lately that were fine...I PMd a thank you, and then while I'm reading them I wonder if I should post them back in.  One is a thick paperback, and looks a little thicker than it should. Is that considered a water problem? I've only gotten one book ever that was RWAP. It was falling apart. You'll probably have to use your own judgement.  Some people just want a readable book without anything foreign on it, and others want them perfect.

Date Posted: 6/20/2009 5:20 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
Back To Top

For me, any water or liquid damage/staining renders a book unpostable.  I believe that's what the guidelines say and I am very picky about that one.  If one page has an obvious stain, it is unpostable. I don't send these books out and I will always mark the RWAP.  The readability of the book does not play into the postablility at all.  Perfectly readable books can have water/liquid staining and they are not postable here at PBS, according to my reading and interpretation of the rules and guidelines.

The wavy page issue is another matter altogether.  Cheap paper and binding means that more and more books, espeically when you are talking about mass market paper backs and books that come from humid climates.  Here in Denver I don't worry about humidity and books but I definitely understand the difference between "wavy pages" and water damage and I will never RWAP a "wavy book".

I have sent out more that 150 books and I've never had to return a credit for an unpostable book, primarily because the books that I swap meet the guidelines.  They are all used books, some of them are more than 20 years old with yellowing pages but they are all in good condition.  Whenever I post a book, I examine it and ask myself if I would be happy to receive it.  That is my main criterion.

Last Edited on: 6/20/09 5:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/20/2009 5:44 PM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2008
Posts: 3,308
Back To Top

Whenever I post a book, I examine it and ask myself if I would be happy to receive it.  That is my main criterion.

This is what I use as well.  I tend to err on the side of being pickier.  Of course, things that bother me may not bother others and vice versa.  For example, Iam less fussed about things like a crease in a cover than about marks or any kind of spine breakage or cleaving.

Date Posted: 6/20/2009 7:33 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2009
Posts: 437
Back To Top
Thank you for the comments and suggestions, all. It seems my (paranoid LOL) instincts about water damage or "suspect" water damage were right-on. I'm glad I asked, to make sure. Thank you for the suggestion about the fine sandpaper and the heavy dictionary to flatten out books. I will definitely be trying that!
Date Posted: 6/20/2009 7:55 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,283
Back To Top

I think scuff marks are OK as is (postable). I do also use sandpaper to remove light soiling from the edges of a book, it works excellently.

Like others have said, any water damage makes books unpostable. I have seen some books recently, that get small amounts of waviness just from your fingers holding the book. I have seen this on a few books I have received, and I have felt OK about reposting these. There is absolutely no staining or texture difference on these books, so I don't think they are "damaged". I also have seen brand new books in the bookstore with wavy pages lately, so much so, that I didn't buy the books, because the extent of the waviness made me believe that if I posted them, someone would say they were RWAP. (and I live in southern CA, practically in the desert, so I don't have a humidity problem).

So, if the waviness is minor and there is absolutely no staining and no texture difference, I usually chalk it up to cheapness, and I feel OK about reposting those. But, so far I have only seen this on newer books, so if an older book had waviness, I would be more suspicious of water damage.

Date Posted: 6/20/2009 9:07 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
Back To Top

Last Edited on: 1/30/11 6:30 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/20/2009 9:24 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2009
Posts: 437
Back To Top
Cindy, yes, there were some books which had the edges so slightly wavy and they had that tell-tale "texture" that told me they were water damanged. I've already put those books in the "do not post" pile. But other books had a few very slight wavy spots on a few select pages, but the pages didn't have that "water damage" feel. I don't know what's the cause, other than maybe someone handling those pages more than the others. I'm leaning towards not posting the books just to be on the safe side, even though I don't see any evidence of water damage.

Also, thanks for the photo of the "wavy paged" book. I don't think I've got any books with that degree of waviness, but I've seen plenty like that.

Last Edited on: 6/20/09 9:28 PM ET - Total times edited: 1

Date Posted: 6/21/2009 11:47 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2008
Posts: 175
Back To Top

I have just encountered my first poblem with a member claiming I sent a water damage book. I was told that when she held the book a certain way under a light she could detect some waviness on the firstpage and back page. I never thought that cheap paper could be the problem. I am waiting to see a picture of my book as this is the first problem I have encounterd with my books ( I have 70 traded books) She did have a lengthly list of conditions on certain books and I know I was very careful with examining mine as it is a wl book and I could have easily passed on her. 


Date Posted: 6/21/2009 3:26 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,485
Back To Top

There is a whole wave of new books with wavy pages.  The printers must have changed paper or process in the last few months.  Went into a new bookstore and there was a whole row of books waving at me.  Supposedly, if boxed while still warm and fresh, the paper will wave.  Thinner paper also waves.

For me, the clue is the texture.  Some books have a wave to them from reading where it is warm and humid.  Those "poolside" books and sweaty hands.  But the pages have not lost the smooth finish.