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Topic: New Member - How is PBS culture? - My poor first experience

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Subject: New Member - How is PBS culture? - My poor first experience
Date Posted: 3/18/2010 9:10 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2010
Posts: 3
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Hi everyone,
I just signed up for paperbackswap this morning, and listed about thirty books. I've been a member on a similar site bookmooch.com for a while and have been extremely satisfied with the service. I joined up here in order expand my options for finding books I might like, as well as getting rid of some old books I don't have room for anymore. This evening when I got home and checked my book requests I was extremely shocked at what I saw.

I am not willing to receive books that are currently in a smoking home or smell of smoke, mildew, or are musty, sorry I have allergies.
I am no longer willing to accept excessively worn books with loose/missing pages, torn covers/pages, rolled/cracked spines, I can not re-swap these.
I only want hardcover books if they have dust cover.

Wow seriously? Am I going to be seeing this type of thing alot here? It starts off okay lots of people on bookmooch list if they have pets or smoke, but on that site the burdern is on the receiver rather then the sender. But this request very quickly gets into crazy territory. First, the book they are requesting from me is a paperback childrens book printed in 1995, this is not something that is printed on archival quality paper. They are worried it might be musty, seriously? That old book smell is the best thing about books anyway.

Loose/missing pages, okay makes sense. Torn cover/pages, I could go either way here but personally I don't care or see the big deal as long as you can read it. But rolled/cracked spines and only hardcovers with dust covers that is just insane, isn't the point of this website to swap used books? How can you be that picky? I can't understand this attitue at all, you're about to get a book for free in the mail. If you want it in perfect condition go to the bookstore and buy it brand new. Sure I wish all my books were leatherbound 1st editions signed by the author with the limited coverart, but we have to look at the reality of the situation.

Sorry that was sort of a rant, but my question is am I going to be seeing this type of thing alot? I'm not sure but I don't think I'm going to send this book on general principal (It happens to be in perfect condition) What hapens when I click on the Does not meet requestors conditions, or the I cannot mail this book buttons? Also is there a way to put up a message to the effect of if you are going to be a jerk about what condition the book is in don't waste my time? I personally don't care whether or not you get this book from me. I don't think that I want to block all requests with conditions, but is it possible to do if I decide so?

I'm looking foward to swapping books with you guys (maybe?) and I hope this doesn't upset anyone too much.

Date Posted: 3/18/2010 9:12 PM ET
Member Since: 8/5/2009
Posts: 8,077
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First, welcome to PBS! You'll find that most members don't have RC's (requestor conditions) that go above and beyond the "postable" requirements of PBS. Just as the requestor has a right to have conditions, you have the right to decline those conditions.

Happy swapping!


Date Posted: 3/18/2010 9:21 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2009
Posts: 10,167
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Happy to meet you.  You will discover alot of people here are put off by RC's as you are and just automatically decline any requests with them.  But don't forget it takes all kinds of people to make the world exciting to live in.   Don't get put off by this first experience.  There are many more members without conditions out there too.  PBS is for the most part a fun place to play.


Scott (scalta) - ,
Date Posted: 3/18/2010 9:34 PM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2010
Posts: 723
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Last Edited on: 7/15/11 5:42 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/18/2010 9:35 PM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2009
Posts: 6,852
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Welcome to PBS.  First this site works much differently than any other book swapping site.  All books must meet PBS Book Conditions for Swapping

Members have the right to ask over and beyond those conditions and if  your book doesn't meet those conditions then you should click on does not meet conditions.  I ask for dust jackets on my hardcovers because they are for my local library to add to their catalog or replace worn books. 

Many members will out right decline all RCs.  I will accept all RCs as long as they are not subjective and my books meet those requirements. 

I have seen maybe 1/2 doze RCs and I have mailed/received over 150 books.  I would take time to read through the help docs, they are well written and informative. 

Enjoy the site.  Robin

Last Edited on: 3/18/10 9:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/18/2010 9:44 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,581
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I can't understand this attitue at all, you're about to get a book for free in the mail.

The books here are not free. The PBS credit does have a dollar value and while no cash is being exchanged, you do pay a credit for each book you order.

Try not to take RCs personally.  Many requestors who do have RCs have them because they have allergies to smoke, pet dander, etc.  These are people who realize that they may have to wait longer to get books they want, but they'll take that chance rather than risk having an allergy attack.  Yes, there are people have some weird or overly picky RCs and you are under absolutely no obligation to trade with them.  The second RC you listed is close to a restatement of the existing postability rules; loose or missing pages make a book unpostable, if by cracked the person means cleaved that makes a book unpostable and torn covers are only postable if the tear is an inch or less.  Sounds like a person who has a few bad swaps and wants to make sure it doesn't continue to happen.  The dust jacket RC is also understandable.  Many people order hardback version as keepers and want the dust jacket to go with it. I don't have an RC, but I definitely prefer my hardbacks to have the dust jackets. If you don't have the dust jacket for a hardback listed, just decline.

Make sure you read through the postability guidelines carefully to ensure that all of the books you post are within the club rules.  New members can find themselves having problems with swaps because they don't always read through the rules.  I'm certainly not implying that you haven't read the rules, mind you, just saying that it would be a good idea and might save you a headache down the line.

Welcome to PBS.  It's always great to see new members.

Date Posted: 3/18/2010 10:07 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 16
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RC's can be annoying. I will swap with people that have them if I think I meet the conditions. When it appears they really want a brand new book, I don't accept the request. But please understand and read the swapping conditions. It is required you have books in good condition. Broken binding, moldy smelling books , covers that a ripped more than an inch are not postable to name some conditions. Most books I have received through this site have been in great condition. It is why I like it. And the selection is great. I have used bookmooch. I found the selection awful, people taking forever to mail a book out and more often than not receiving a book in poor condition. I have credits there that I can't even be bothered with. I like the rules here . People mail out books in good condion promptly ( required by 7 days). I have had requests at bookmooch that weren't mailed out for 6 weeks!

Date Posted: 3/18/2010 10:33 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2010
Posts: 3
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Hey everyone thanks for the feedback, I was seriously getting ready to delist all my books if you guys jumped on my. 

Yes I did read the rules that I saw when I signed up and when I posted my first books, and any book that started it's life new in my possession is in good condition.  I'm a bit obsessive about this actually, I have a copy of the ISBD International Standard Bibliographic Description that I use to organize the books on my shelves, and every book is entered into a small script I have on my computer that tracks things including the book cover color and size/weight. But I also get a lot of books from library sales and used book stores. I wasn't thrilled about the good condition rule in the first place though, there are lots of books around that aren't in good condition but are still perfectly usable. In this regard I like the way bookmooch handles things better, you can list the condition of the book if it's not great that way people have the option to decide if they want to book or not. 

Sandy H. : I undersand what you mean about the credits and not being free but the way I see it when I mail a book for practically nothing and get a credit for a book in return I consider it a wash. I totally understand why you don't agree though.

Lisa R.: I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience with bookmooch, I have personally found it to be great although it requires a bit more work on your part. I definitely recommend checking a members feedback before mooching from them, and leaving negative feedback to warn other about your poor experience.

Anyway I'm looking forward to participating in the community.  


Date Posted: 3/18/2010 10:42 PM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2006
Posts: 4,541
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Hi Jeffrey,

Well, you're off to a good start!  lol.   Really, the vast majority of members have No Conditions - as long as your books meet the PBS posting requirements, we're good with it. 
There are those who have severe allergies to pet dander, or smoke, or mold - that's understandable.  There are also some of us who only specify hardcover books if we are looking for a 'keeper'  - then, we might prefer to have one with a dust jacket. 

It really makes it easy - if your book doesn't fit the bill,   ** Just Say No **      :^]  
Your book will retain its place in the First In-First Out (FIFO) line-up, and the requester has to look elsewhere. 

Some of the things you mentioned as Requestor Conditions didn't need to be - torn covers and pages are  addressed in the posting requirements, as are dust jackets (NOT a requirement for any book) - BUT if you are looking for a particular item, then the RC's (requestor conditions) are very helpful.  Not only does the requester  get what they want (or a refusal), the member offering the book doesn't have to deal with someone  'after the fact'  stating the book wasn't what they expected.    Win - Win ...

M.E. (ryenke) -
Date Posted: 3/18/2010 10:52 PM ET
Member Since: 1/6/2009
Posts: 625
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Hi Jeffrey,

I've been here a year, sent out over 225 books and have seen maybe 10 RC's.  They were easy to accept or reject and move on.  I don't know if that is the norm or not - but my experience for what it is worth.

There are stories on the boards of some really wacky ones RC's out there - but the ones I've seen are all smoke/pet related for alergy reasons. 

They can be off-putting, but it really is your choice to send or not to the person with the condition - I hope it hasn't put you off - RC's are not exactly uncommon, but I don't think they are a constant either.

Welcome!  Hope you love it here as much as I do!

Date Posted: 3/18/2010 11:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 2,016
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Welcome to PBS, Jeffrey!

For the most part, we're a friendly lot but of course in any community not everybody always gets along...

The guidelines for postability are firm, though. It's not like the speed limit where everyone is 10 miles over and rarely does anyone get pulled over. I think as long as you observe the postability guidelines and/or RCs, no one will give you any trouble. Most of the requests I get don't have any Requestor Conditions (RCs) attached to them.

If you have lots of books that you feel are in good condition, you can still swap them unofficially. Don't post them to your shelf, but you can advertise them in the Book Bazaar forum, in your signature in forum posts, or as a list in your profile. For example, I have a list of unpostables in a google spreadsheet linked to my shelf header. Especially if they are wait listed (WLed), people may be willing to spend a credit, or a part thereof, on them.

... but personally I don't care or see the big deal as long as you can read it. ...  isn't the point of this website to swap used books? How can you be that picky? I can't understand this attitue at all, you're about to get a book for free in the mail. If you want it in perfect condition go to the bookstore and buy it brand new.

I only had your words borne of frustration to go by, but the points you bring up very often turn up in theads where members describe how senders who mailed bad books defend themselves. I am not saying that you are going to be a problem swapper, but I don't  think it goes over well when you say things like that ... I mean, if someone sent you an unpostable book and that's their defense, what would be your response?

again, welcome, and happy swapping. :)

Last Edited on: 3/18/10 11:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/18/2010 11:46 PM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2008
Posts: 1,869
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Welcome!  I've been here for a couple of years, and I have seen very few RCs and only one that was very specific about the cosmetic condition of the book.  Most have been allergy related.   It is kinda weird that you had so many so soon.  I can see how that would make you think.  I'm sure one day a swap will not be as pleasant as most, but I've had people go out of their way to be helpful and nice and generous.  I think that you'll have so many good experiences here that the few swaps that aren't smooth or friendly will fade away.

Date Posted: 3/18/2010 11:51 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2010
Posts: 3
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Hey Sophia,

   If  someone gets an unpostable book then I agree that they have the right to be upset, but only because that's how the site is structured. Personally a book would have to be in really bad shape for me to get upset about, I'm a hobbyist bookbinder and would just toss a bad book into my practice pile. But it would be nice if the site had a way to officially list books that were in only fair or even poor condition, the more books that are listed the more choices there are and the better chance I have of finding something I want. For example here is a listing I had on bookmooch that I would never list on this site:

Condition:        This book has a different cover than the one listed, also appears to be published 1989 not 1990. The book in my possession does not have an isbn on it, this listing was the first match on amazon. The books cover is a bit worn, and there is some writing in the margins. Mostly concentrated in the first few chapters.

The book is still perfectly usable, and people can decided for themself if that is acceptable. Personally I think writing in a book is a grave sin, but obviously a lot of people don't care. And here is the feedback I got from the person I sent it to

Feedback left:        (+1): Thanks so much. Mike

Seems like a win win situation to me.

I know I know, if I like bookmooch so much why don't I just go back there  :-p

PS: These forums are totally broken in safari, very annoying.

Date Posted: 3/19/2010 12:17 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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As Jeanette said, you will have some bad experiences here, there are rotten apples in every basket. But, as long as you always remember that the basket has to have more good apples than bad, or the whole basket wouldn't be worthwhile, you will be good to go. I find PBS so much better than BM and have moved sooooo many more books on here than there. I don't find near as many books that I want over there, nor do I get 1/10th the orders I get here.

I've belonged to PBS for 4.5 yrs, and to BM for nearly 2. The difference is amazing from the amount of trading going on, to the conversations in the forums. That email type forum is so archaic on BM it isn't funny, and so totally worthless, that I can't imagine why the couple dozen people that continue to use it continue.

Here you will find forums for a wide variety of topics, and some where a wide variety of views and subjects are discussed. It occasionally gets a little ugly in some topics, but that's life in the world of people with different views. I just try to leave those topics without posting, but I get drawn in every now and then

I have traded over 3,000 books on here with the regular trades and the Box of Books program, and have had less than a dozen bad books overall. I've had a few gone lost, but only about 6 shipments (a couple were more than one book, but I only count those as one each.

I hope you enjoy PBS and find it a great place to swap books as well as a great place to hang out. Welcome & Enjoy!

Date Posted: 3/19/2010 1:10 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,805
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First of all welcome.  This site does take some getting used to, especially if you have been dealing with other book sites.

This is my take on requestor conditions.  I read them and IF my book fits, I accept and mail the book.  Why should I lose out on a credit if my book meets their conditions?  If it doesn't meet the conditions, I say so and move on.       I don't spend a lot of time analazing why they have the conditions they have.  Honestly, since the site puts no restrictions on them, I don't care.  I only care if my book meets them or not.

Again welcome - I hope you enjoy swapping as much as I do.

Date Posted: 3/19/2010 1:33 AM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
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RC's really aren't a big deal and I totally agree that they should not be taken personally. On bookmooch it sounds like you can list the condition of a book and if that condition isn't what someone is looking for they just don't order that copy. Because of the way this site operates (the "First In First Out" system) this process has to be done in a different way, but in essence is no different than someone ordering another copy of the same book instead of yours. I'd even argue that it is better, because if the book has a wishlist (which, being so new, I assume the books you are getting orders for are), when you say your book doesn't meet a members conditions it gets offered to the next person in line, and the person with requester conditions is left waiting for someone else to post the book into the system. More often than not it is the person who has Requestor Conditions who is going to be inconvenienced by having them, all the sender has to do is say yes or no. If the RC is too subjective or doesn't make sense than by all means turn it down

Date Posted: 3/19/2010 6:52 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I just decline any RCS I find overly demanding, unreasonable, rude or just too vague (I don't PM about RCS)

I also do Bookmooch and I get a whole lot more WL books here with the FIFO line system.  I think I"ve gotten maybe 5 WL books from Bookmooch in 2 yrs as apposed to a couple hundred here. 

I hope you took time to read the site rules and learn what can and cannot be posted here.  I use bookmooch for my heavily posted (to PBS) books and my damaged books.  I use PBS for a better quality books.  I have more trust in PBS so I don't mind buildling up credits here but I don't find BM to be as realiable between the lack of rules and the frequent site downtimes. 

Anyway PBS and Bookmuch are run very differently and you should read up on all the PBS guidelines before you get into deep. 

Date Posted: 3/19/2010 7:36 AM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,602
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Welcome! I've been here coming up on five years now, and have had almost 3,000 transactions (1, 500+ books sent and almost as many received ) and a great majority of those have gone smoothly and been positive experiences. As others have said, PBS gives members the right to set up a Requestor Condition that ask for things above and beyond what PBS postability guidelines are, but they also give you the right to decline requests with RCs.

Some people decline ANY request with an RC attached as a matter of course, but I consider each one. I do decline those I find unclear, open to subjective interpretation or that ask me to "contact them" for further clarification. Sorry, not going to happen--tell me what you want and if I can, I'll do it. If you can't clearly communicate that to me within the RC itself, I'll decline and move on. RCs that are huge rambling paragraphs, I don't even read and just decline. Those are my own personal views and way of dealing with RCs--you'll develop your own way after awhile. I find most of them to be very reasonable.

I like the FIFO system that PBS is built on (First In, First Out) which seems the most fair and has worked well for me. It's this system that makes any sort of individual feedback pretty much useless here. I looked at Bookmooch's system a couple years ago but I've been so happy with PBS I never saw a need to bother with another trading site.

Anyway, I hope your next few days go better for you. :)


Date Posted: 3/19/2010 8:32 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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Hi Jeffrey! Welcome to PBS. :)

Like Cheryl mentioned, you'll develop your own way of dealing with RCs - in my time here, I'd say that less than 20% of the requests I've received have them. Once I got an RC with 7 paragraphs, which compelled me to contact the PBS team. They said I could decline RCs for any reason - including, I don't have time to read an RC that has 7 paragraphs, LOL! - so since then, I don't feel bad declining them if they are overly demanding, unreasonable, rude, too vague or too long.

Torn cover/pages, I could go either way here but personally I don't care or see the big deal as long as you can read it.

Reading wise, I don't have a problem with a book that has torn covers, pages, stains - I read books in worst conditions from the library. The problem is that if you receive a book in that condition, you cannot post them back. I post almost every book I receive - I have very few keepers and not much space - so I don't want to spend a credit in a book I'll have to throw away once I'm done.

I've never tried Bookmooch so I can't compare but from what I read from the posts above, they have different strenghts. So I recommend you give PBS a try on its own. Don't think of the things you like on BM, but discover the ones you like from PBS (that's like trying to compare two dates, LOL!)

Date Posted: 3/19/2010 8:55 AM ET
Member Since: 3/5/2009
Posts: 102
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I usually feel for the people who have RCs about mildew, stains or excessively worn books. I assume they have been burned in the past. I can't imagine ever posting a moldy book. Eww, nasty. I don't have RCs or allegies, but I understand the smoking one. I've recently received two books I had to immediately put in the garage because of the smell. One was a cookbook, which grossed me out.

Jeffrey, welcome and you can accept/reject any RCs you choose. However, I would be careful of which books you post. You say you wouldn't mind cracked spines or loose pages, but they really are not acceptable here.

Date Posted: 3/19/2010 11:49 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Welcome to PBS Jeffrey...and Scott too!!  As a new member, you will want to become familiar with postability guidelines.  As you have noticed, PBS does not have member ratings or feedback.  Instead we have the option of RC's...and the sender always has the option to decline any or all RCs.  Hope you enjoy PBS  :P

Date Posted: 3/19/2010 12:06 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Hi, welcome.
All you can do is read the RC, accept or decline.  Yes so people have allergies or are alittle OCD about book conditions. Such is life, either the book meets their condition or it doesn't.

NOT sure if someone has mentioned this BUT you can put unpostable books on the book bazaar, list their condition and if you want to do a deal (2 for 1 credit) or even for 1 credit. Might help you unload some of your books that do not meet the PBS rules or are apart of a series you do not wish to break up.

Date Posted: 3/19/2010 12:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I find PBS and Bookmooch compliment each other well.  I rarely manage to get WL books on BM but I have gotten a lot of books there-most of htem would not meet the PBS posting guidelines and I find that few people take the time to fill out the conditon notes.  So it won't say anything about damage and you get a book with a broken spine and loose page-which I might not have ordered if it said it was that way.  And there's no recourse on BM because they don't have any posting guidelines.  This is why I don't like to send out my really nice books there-because chances are the book I order with the point will be pretty beat up. 

Boomooch is great for getting rid of that book with the small splash of coffee on it or with the iffy spine.  Or that popular book that has 1,000 copies on PBS. 

Whenever I have a slightly unpostable WL book, I'll advertise it in the genre forums WL threads or the book bazaar and frequently get a credit for them. I just worked out a deal with someone for my Dresden File books.  I have 5 of them and 3 are borderline postable and will probably be just over the side of unpostable after I read them.  2 are like brand new-so they are getting 5 WL books for 4 credits and I'm saving on postage while I give them a freebie.  All I did for that was put a note in my signature. But I post a lot.

Last Edited on: 3/19/10 12:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/19/2010 12:20 PM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,289
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Welcome to you and all the new members out there.

The majority of the swappers here do not have RC's like you mentioned.  Most just want to read the book and maybe pass it on.  My books are in awesome condition and the older versions have been well loved and cared for.  I read the RC and if I think the person is being too picky or too subjective then I decline.  Some people decline no matter what.  Completely their option. 

I wouldn't worry about it.  It sounds like you are off to a great start here.  Look forward to chatting with you in the near future.

Date Posted: 3/19/2010 12:39 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 4,412
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Welcome Jeffrey!  Hope you'll enjoy many successful trades in the future.

I wanted to speak to the language of the RC you received.  I was very put off by the phrasing of the first one I received, which was very similar to the one you got ("I will not accept..."), but I found out later that it's the phrasing PBS Help offers an an example.  What?  To me, it sounds rude & demanding -- sorry, it just does -- that's just my opinion & other members actually prefer such unconditional language.  I personally believe clear & concise can be achieved while still sounding polite.  Anyway, just wanted to mention this in case that aspect of the RC had bothered you like it did me.  The Reqestor may not have intended to come off sounding the way that they did.  Remember, just as anyone can have an RC for any reason they wish, you can turn down an RC for any reason you wish.  It's a Win/Win for all members this way.

Edited to try and achieve clarity!

Last Edited on: 3/19/10 12:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1