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Topic: Idea for handling book conditions

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Subject: Idea for handling book conditions
Date Posted: 4/21/2010 2:29 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 32
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I've noticed a lot of people are pretty sensitive to what condition the books they receive are in (probably from experience). Why not put a field on the 'post a book' page to describe the book's condition, poor /fair/good/excellent or 1-10 or something, and then have a field in preferences for minimum acceptable quality level. Personally I don't really care what condition it's in as long as it's readable, but others seem to. To prevent disputes over what the terms mean there would have to be definitions of course.

Date Posted: 4/21/2010 2:56 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,485
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Putting a like new book loose in a envelope sent media mail can drop it down several grades to pretty much ruined.  It is not just the condition.  It is also the wrapping.

Date Posted: 4/21/2010 3:03 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,232
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Yes, but one person's "good: is another person's "fair" ... and then people would just be endlessly wrangling over that.

I like the book condition guidelines. Sure, there are lots of gray areas, but for the most part, it seems to result in acceptable books.  I have received close to 600 books now and only a handful have been RWAP. One of those was a spectacular RWAP ..... but since I have marked less than 6 books RWAP, that comes out to 99% of the books I have received are just fine.

I don't really see that this is a major issue.

The forums give an impression of lots of complaints, cause people come here to complain. Last time I checked, more than 50,000 books get traded here every week. There are maybe 5 or 6 complaints in the forums per week. (The other 49,995 people don't come to post about their OK transaction or their easily resolved RWAP). That amounts to a tiny tiny issue. IMO. 

Last Edited on: 4/21/10 3:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/21/2010 3:05 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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Why not put a field on the 'post a book' page to describe the book's condition, poor /fair/good/excellent or 1-10 or something, and then have a field in preferences for minimum acceptable quality level.

Because then it would mess with the way the site is set up, with an FIFO system.

And for those books that don't meet guidelines, there's always the bazaar. In fact, it works in your favor if you don't care what condition theyr'e in. You'll get a lot of good deals ordering unpostables there, because they'll ususally come with other books. More bang for your credit.

And I've been on book trade sites that rated books. People that can't seem to post books that meets one set of guidelines will just lie and 'bump up' their books to get them moving.

I find this system much better. One, basic set of rules to cover all books. FIFO in and out, FIFO WL lines. So much easier.

Date Posted: 4/21/2010 3:24 PM ET
Member Since: 4/21/2007
Posts: 304
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The problem is, even with the conditions stated and ranked, those rankings and ratings are still subjective. Two people can look at one book and rate it in two different ways. That's where there are so many posts asking "Is this RWAP?"

One good example of  subjective RWAP's is foxing. It has been explained what it is, how it looks, and that is is acceptable to post. However, some people insist it is a stain. Which it is not. A stain is residue from a foreign object. That is not foxing yet there are still debates about whether it is RWAP because it does look like a stain.

I agree with the OP. I wish we could contact the members involved before the deal was done just to help keep these problems at bay. Still, if we could do this subjectivity is still and issue. Blah. I hate circular arguments. They give me a headache.


Well, I guess I have been no help in solving this dilemma. Sorry. :-(

Date Posted: 4/21/2010 4:26 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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It wouldn't really work with FIFO. There are other trading sites where you can choose who to order a book from and they can list the book's conditon. I do one of those other sites and I find that few people ever fill in the condition notes and with no posting guidelines, you still don't know what kind of book you will get.  Or they may say it's in good condition when it's really falling apart. 

The system works the way it is now.  If someone wants better than PBS conditon they can have an RC asking for that.  The requestor can decide if they want to send the book with those conditions or not.  If your book  doesn't meet PBS posting guidelines then you can offer it in the BB or on another trading site.

Date Posted: 4/22/2010 10:04 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,276
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Book condition is so subjective -- I just recently received a book that looked like it had been dropped in a bathtub -- totally swollen, misshapen and wavy. But when I marked it RWAP the sender totally could not understand why "since this is a used book site and it is completely readable." My point, what I saw as a major problem, the sender saw as a typical used book flaw. Hence the guidelines; if it falls within the posting guidelines, it is just fine. Otherwise, use an RC if you are looking for a book to be sent that has been "gently read".

Date Posted: 4/22/2010 10:19 AM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
Posts: 6,386
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I do think a lot of the standards on this site are pretty objective - is there staining or not?  Is the cover tear more than an inch or less?  Are the pages loose or not?  Sure, the standard for what constitutes a "good" condition book is still subjective, but in a lot of cases I think the site has done a good job explaining what objective qualities make a book not "good."  While I do sometimes get a very worn book in the mail, as long as it does not violate the objective standards I don't mark it RWAP and accept that some books' useful life for this site will end with me.  I like the FIFO system and the way it runs, and I have been fortunate that in most cases the people I have dealt with are polite and reasonable.  In the few instances I have had problems with a book, I have always promptly had my credit returned - even in cases where the book was damaged in transit.  I do agree that the forums inevitably are focused on the problem swaps - there's just no way they can reflect the huge number of swaps that work with no issues.

Date Posted: 4/22/2010 10:44 AM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
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If it aint broke, don't fix it.

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 11:43 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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And it really can't be too broke with the numbers showing under the Pulse of PBS!!! Check them out sometime, you will be amazed at the traffic this site generates. I'm always amazed at how many books are coming and going and how many more members we have now than when I first started, and of course the number of titles to choose from. It's just amazing the success this site has had based on the same basic rules for 5 yrs and been commented over and over that it is better than the xx site the person used to be on and is now only on PBS. I see that constantly.

It really is a true to the saying for this site, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" Sure, there are little things here and there that could use some improvements, but as for the overall general method of tradeing, that doesn't need any work, since it does work so well.

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 2:32 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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No matter what the different rules are or may be for a book trading site - at some point it's going to come down to subjective decisions.  Some people will take anything and others take only "like new".  Some people will lie to get their credits.  Others will bend over backward to keep the peace.  Having a few objective standards are the best that can be done so far because PBS doesn't have physical contact with the actual books (except for the PBS Marketplace).  

So take the RC's with a grain of salt while complying or declining.  Don't worry too much about things you can't control since these are only books with a worth of about $2.50 to $3.50.  I think it's asking too much to get tied in a knot over that, but life is full of stresses and some people don't handle it well.  We don't need to add to the stress and strain by adding more requirements to a system that is designed to be able to run automatically.  It does run automatically quite well if allowed to do so.  

And we would get fewer of the substandard (PBS standard) books if everyone would RWAP books that don't meet standard, and if we would honestly only send books that meet standard.  But that's where the subjectivity comes in. 

As for those books that don't meet PBS standards, the Book Bazaar and the bookshelf blue headers as well as profiles and signature lines in PM's work quite well to move them within the membership.   I've gotten credits for books that were WL'd but unpostable (mildly) when members agreed to receiving them.  That's where the relaxed standard really works for members.  WE can get great deals and move books easily that way.  And no one gets hurt.



Last Edited on: 4/23/10 2:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/25/2010 1:17 PM ET
Member Since: 9/11/2005
Posts: 905
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I think this site works VERY WELL!  I have now sent out >5700 books and only hears a few RWAP notes, probably all of which were justified with conditions that I didn't notice when I sent them out---refunded all of their credits, too.   I guess the site is indeed working very well for me and almost everybody else, too.  If I have a book that is questionable in any way, I send a PM to the requestor and they get to check it out after it arrives and let me know what they think then---I don't think I have had more than 1-2 of them that they decided was unacceptable.  (I'll then refund their credit but I don't want it back.)  DON'T CHANGE ANYTHING!!  It works OK if all follow the rules.