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Topic: Let me get the postable/unpostable conditions right...

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Subject: Let me get the postable/unpostable conditions right...
Date Posted: 6/19/2008 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 103
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I've read the help section on "What can be posted here." In that section it says nothing about bent covers or broken spines, but  I've recieved free unpostable books from here that seem to have nothing wrong with them, but a dog-eared cover.  Which leads me to believe that sending books with worn covers for a credit is not allowed.  I've sent out several books with a broken spine, and covers that look a little disheveled and have never gotten any complaints.

And what's the deal with water damaged books? If a book has a few wave pages is that considered water damage and therefore not be able to be listed in the system?

People always tell me that if I wouldn't like to recieve a book in a certain condition don't send a book in that condition. The thing is, I don't care what condition my books are in as long as they have a front and back cover, it's in tact and none of the text is obscured.  Hopefully some of you can clear these things up for me. Thanks.

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 7:09 PM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2008
Posts: 1,728
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broken spines usually lead to pages falling out. while they may have still been intact when you sent it, they may not be after that member reads it. a little wear and tear is expected, but only to a point.

there is a difference between water damaged pages and wavy pages. newer books are being made with cheaper materiels, and the humidity causes them to go wavy. water damage is noticable by a stain and/or hard, brittle pages. water damage leads to mold (which isnt good)

i am still kinda new at this too, so if anyone else has anything to add, please do so

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 7:18 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 103
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Thanks for clarifying the wavy pages vs. water damaged.  I have a wishlisted book that I was hoping to send out, but thought I couldn't since the pages were wavy.  And since there was just a heat wave in my area it's the humidity that's causing the wavy pages.

I have a few more questions for anyone who wants to answer:

What about pages that have turned yellow from age? 

For all these books that are questionable, do you recommend I PM the reciever of the book stating the condition before I send it out?


Date Posted: 6/19/2008 7:18 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2007
Posts: 369
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Bent covers?  I don't think I've ever seen a prohibition on bent covers - broken spines, yes.  CREASED spines are fine - I have thousands of  books go through my hands every month and, really, broken spines aren't all that common.  I've actually listed a few books that don't quite meet PBS standards, usually when I see a book is wish-listed.  I know I shouldn't, and I might have to refund a credit here and there, but I have.

I've gotten to the point that I PM every requester and tell them the condition of the book and ask if it's okay with them.  If they say yes, I assume it'll be fine.  If it isn't, losing a credit isn't going to kill me.  ;-)

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 6/14/2008
Posts: 417
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I think that's a great question!

I was just sending off some books today that I thought were just fine, but after reading some of the posts on the message boards I'm afraid I might not get credit for them.

They seem to meet all the requirements (front and back cover, no missing pages, no water damage, not EXCESSIVELY worn). But they're cheap paperbacks printed in the early 70's - over 30 years old! - so of course they have some wear, like the paper of the cover flaking a bit, fading of the cover art, a small amount of tearing at the base of the spine. Obviously I think they're fine for 30 year old used books, I bought them in that condition after all.

But now I wonder if I should have posted them at all, even though they're in high demand. :(

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 7:21 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2007
Posts: 369
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Tanning is fine.

This is a used-book swapping site; books are not expected to be in like-new condition.

  • Older books may have some page yellowing or spine-creasing or dogeared pages; these are all OKAY.

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 7:31 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,750
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Don't worry people!  No one expects new books here.  Just try to follow the rules as best as you can and use your best judgement.  Here are a few things that I hope helps.

*Creases, dog-ears, natural age yellowing of pages are all OKAY.

*Water or liquid damage or food stains are NOT OKAY.  Especially the water/liquid damage because of the potential mold problem.  Food stains are just gross. (Cookbooks are an exception to this, although you have to check with the requestor first)

*This one is a little trickier-broken spines.  If a book falls open to a certain page, that's OKAY, unless the spine is broken to the extent that you can see it between two pages.  Because basically, the pages are going to start falling out soon.  So if you are holding a book open to read it, and you can see the spine through the space between the pages, don't post it.

*No writing, highlighting, or underlining on text pages unless it's a textbook and you have checked with the requestor first.

Books get old, books get read, pages and covers get creased.  People just don't want books that are marked up, torn, falling apart, have been wet, or are yucky.  So if you are posting a book and feel like you can answer yes to the posting guidelines, then you should be fine.  :)

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 9:38 PM ET
Member Since: 5/1/2005
Posts: 262
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Liz, what is a "free unpostable books ", do you mean from a game or the bazaar? They can offer damaged books in the bazaar.

link to guidelines for posting:http://www.paperbackswap.com/help/search.php?terms=a+damaged+book
I just received another book that I will not be able to repost.
 I am a 3 year member and I probably get 3 or 4 bad books a year. Up till now I have been nice and let it slide. But in the past 4 months I have gotten some books that should not have been posted. 2 in 2 weeks that had sections of loose pages, one book was very old, the other was in good condition and looked new.
 I have started using the "received with a problem" option. I post the link and tell them what is wrong with the book. One of them I did ask for my credit back, she was rude but sent me the credit. 
On this last one I also put a note to the librarian that I would be doing  that from now on.

People are not reading the guidelines. I dont expect new books, I expect people to follow the guides.
 I dont send out books that look like they are too nasty to touch, I dont send out books with the pages loose from the spine. This book today looks like a mouse has chewed on the bottom of it, it is still readable, but I just dont want to to even put my hands on it. And I cannot repost it.

I dont think it is a good idea to say  what is acceptable to a newbie, just remind them to read the guidelines.

[JB .....off the soapbox]


Date Posted: 6/19/2008 9:53 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 103
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Yes judyeB I mean from the Bazaar. There is a thread there called "Post your damaged books here" where members offer unpostables for free, (no credit required and no one needs to order anything from the persons shelf) as a random act of kindness.

Date Posted: 6/19/2008 9:55 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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Hi Liz--

Your questions are perfectly reasonable, and very common ones.  Judye has helpfully provided a link to the PBS guidelines and Amanda has addressed many of your specific conditions.

<<For all these books that are questionable, do you recommend I PM the reciever of the book stating the condition before I send it out?>>

This is a tough judgement call but, in my opinion, if you're really unsure if the book is postable, it probably isn't.  You can offer unpostable books as deals in the Book Bazaar, and there are many discussions there you can check out.  You don't want to get into regular situations where you're having to PM members and discuss book condition with them, except in the 2 exception conditions (cookbooks and textbooks), as allowed in the PBS guidelines. 


Aside from those 2 categories, members will assume that your books meet PBS guidelines and discussion shouldn't be necessary -- this is intended to help keep the system flowing smoothly.  Some members don't always respond to PMs, and you may find yourself in situations where the request may be ready to expire and you haven't heard back from the other member.  It is also frustrating to other members to request a book, or wait in a wish list line, and then be told "this book has water stains on the first few pages, is that ok?" or something similar via PMs.  I'm not saying you'd do that, that's just an example.  I know there are other book swapping sites where condition guidelines are much looser, and discussion is expected between members before sending, but this isn't one of them. :-)



Date Posted: 6/20/2008 12:16 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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On the broken spine issue, if the thick adhesive binding located underneath the cover is broken and/ or you can see through - between the pages - the back side of the cover, that's a broken spine by PBS standards, and it's not postable.  Spines can have external cover creases: visible lines running up & down the spine or the worn, white lines.  But the way PBS defines a "broken spine"  is an actual separation of the binding - which is hard to mistake if you've ever actually seen it.  Some people say "Spine Cleaving" - which I've noticed is not a term PBS encourages the use of (and with good reason) - and it's more subjective/ambiguous.  It could mean anything from a few small visible binding cracks (between pages) to an all out binding separation from top to bottom, but I've actually seen at least one person who thought a book flopping open to a specific page when placed on its spine meant a "cleaved spine", whether there were any visible cracks or not.  Some of the terms and standards some members are stuck on are just carry-overs from buying used books online at places like ebay & Amazon.  And that goes both ways.  People are willing to buy old collectibles, etc. that wouldn't meet PBS standards - believe it or not.  It happens every day and is considered perfectly acceptable, but you're also getting a pretty good description of what you're buying (or I hope you won't buy it:P), and it's almost easier to get a refund from an ebay seller than it is to get a credit back from some members:P  Collectibles are usually WL books here, but I bet a lot of people overlook or dismiss flaws in very old WL books they wouldn't be as accepting of in a newer one.  Likewise, I know that some people really do have standards that aren't very realistic for a used book.  It's just hard to tell until you're actually faced with that situation as to whether or not the person you're dealing with has a very subjective view of the PBS posting guidelines, or has interpreted them correctly.

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 7:41 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 103
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Thanks for clearing up the broken spine/ worn spine.  So worn spines are okay. I've never actually sent out a book with a broken spine. I've just been misusing the term.

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 9:01 AM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,750
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Some people say "Spine Cleaving" - which I've noticed is not a term PBS encourages the use of (and with good reason) - and it's more subjective/ambiguous.

Actually Kim, PBS was the first to use the term "spine cleaving", and had it in the help section for a while before removing it, which is why so many people still refer to it.  They were trying to clarify the issue for people, but it just confused too many people, so they removed it after a few months.

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 9:15 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2006
Posts: 4,972
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I know I shouldn't, and I might have to refund a credit here and there, but I have.


You're right. You shouldn't. I would be very unhappy to receive a book that shouldn't have been posted .You are also jepardizing your PBS membership by refusing to play be the rules. Everytime someone marks a book received with a problem from you, it is noted on your account. If it continues, PBS can suspend your account. Is it worth the risk to you?

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 10:41 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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I thought "spine cleaving" was pretty straight forward, myself.  I always took it literally, where "cleaved" means separated into two separate chunks of pages at some point in the spine.  Basically the cover has to be attached to the glue strip which has to be attached to all the pages and vice versa.

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 10:44 AM ET
Member Since: 6/13/2007
Posts: 4,731
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I sometimes offer WL books I think are questionable in the thread of the related genre and explain the condition.   This way I'm comfortable knowing the book is going to someone who is aware of the condition.  In fact I did so this week...reading a book pool and beach side it definately had wavy pages.  By PBS standards I thought it was postable but I didn't want it to go to someone who would claim water damage.   Obviously if I know it's not postable I don't do this....but at least I don't have to worry about someone requesting their credit back!   

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 10:55 AM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2005
Posts: 147
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Here is my rule of thumb, somebody orders a classic sci-fi paperback from the 60s, I think they know it will be kinda yellowed!  I have received a few myself, and always judge it against age.  I think that most people are very reasonable, they just don't want books that are smelly or could trigger allergies (ie mold!!) or fall apart on them.    If I have any doubt in my mind, I PM the person with a description so they don't get upset when the receive it... gives them a chance to cancel if they must.  However, if the print date is from the 60s, the book is decent, intact, not smelly, no broken spine, readable, not water damaged - I send it without PMing, even if the pages are yellowed and the cover is kinda worn out looking.... that is reasonable condition for a 30-40 year old book!

Of course we all LIKE the new looking books, but I just consider that a bonus, not a requirement!  :)

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 11:08 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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Sheryl O., now that's what I'm talkin about!!

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2007
Posts: 369
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You're right. You shouldn't. I would be very unhappy to receive a book that shouldn't have been posted .

That's my point - no one ever gets those books from me by surprise. When I list them, I've already got notes of  the condition and when I get a request, I PM the person the condition.  I PM the condition on EVERY book, every time, even those that are clearly within the guidelines. 

90% of the time, they accept the condition.  And, so far, 100% of those who accept the condition don't complain when they get the book.  I would refund the credit of anyone who did complain, even if they didn't mark it RWP.  Being nice, fair and honest matters more than a credit to me.

For example, I listed a hardcover book with several wishers that weighs almost 5 pounds.  It had a very minor moisture mark along the outer page edges.  I suspect there will be few listings of the book because listing it on other sites will get more credits (as a hardcover) AND because it cost nearly 4 bucks to post.  So I listed it, told the person about the damage and even pointed out that it was outside PBS guidelines.  One person turned it down because she couldn't swap it back into the system, another took it because she wants to keep it permanently and didn't mind the damage.

Is it worth the risk to me?  I like PBS, by far it's got the best community.  Other sites are better at other things, but community is a huge factor and PBS outshines everyone there (here!).  I don't WANT to lose my account, but if I were to lose it because people here accepted conditions and then reported them, without contacting me and giving me a chance to make it right, I suppose I'm dealing with far less trustworthy people than I think I am. 

So, to me, the risk I'm taking is trusting PBSers - who have always, knock wood, come through for me.  It's always worth it to trust people.  JMO!

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 11:29 AM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,226
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The problem with that process is that the site clearly state you CANNOT ask for a credit for an unpostable book. There is no, unless it is highly sought after or only minor damage exception.  I would report anyone who was posting a book to their shelf and then PMing me that it is unpostable no matter how much I wanted the book. It would be one thing to post the book and then notice the damage and PM, but to knowingly post a book that is not acceptable by the site guidelines is just wrong.

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 12:11 PM ET
Member Since: 6/13/2007
Posts: 4,731
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I have to agree with Melanie in that situation Anna...the book is unpostable and against the guidelines.  It should be offered as a freebie or as you stated at one of the other sites where you can describe the condition of the book.  If I got that offer from you...I'd probably report it as well. 

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 12:22 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2007
Posts: 369
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Ah, well, that's where honesty takes a beating.  If I posted the book and then claimed that I'd just noticed the damage, I'd be within your circle of acceptable, because you wouldn't know I'd lied.  For honesty, though, you'd report me.  And I realize you don't mean it that way, you mean you'd report me for the infraction, not for being honest, but that is what would happen. 

Let me ask a question, then.  Perhaps I can find another way.  Understand that there are people here who are perfectly happy to get a book in less-than-PBS-standards condition and that, as I said, nice, fair and honest outweighs a credit in my sense of morality.

Periodically, I look at people's profiles and have noticed that few of them frequent the forums.  I can offer a freebie on BB, which will be seen by a fraction of PBSers.  I find this less than appealing to my sense of fair play.  You don't have to agree with that and probably don't.  That's okay, that's not the question.

Since the issue in your post seems to me to be the asking-for-a-credit aspect, would this "process" be more acceptable to you:  List a book with a minor moisture marking.  These are almost always wish-listed books.  PM the wisher/requester the condition and, if they're cool with that, send the book AND refund the credit immediately - even before I GET the credit.  I've not gotten a credit for a book deemed unpostable, but someone who really wanted the book got it, rather than just someone who stumbled upon a freebie in BB.

I really am, genuinely, asking for an answer.  I post every book here first, then move them slowly to the other sites, where I can list the condition and then eventually, most of them, onto the funeral pyre.  But I list them here first because PBS IS the site I prefer, and PBSers are the people I'd prefer to have first crack at the books.

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 12:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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Anna, you said "Understand that there are people here who are perfectly happy to get a book in less-than-PBS-standards condition", and yes, that is true, and that is why the existing system exists as it does.  There are approved methods for offering these books.  I get what you are saying, but "unpostable" means not fit for posting- period.  Also, I'm not sure what your goal is with what you proposed.  You post an unpostable book, it gets requested, you mail it out AND refund the credit- making you out the postage AND the credit.  Why would you want to do this, especially when you can post it elsewhere and get something for the book?  I would think that you would be better off advertising the damanged WL book in the Book Bazaar for free with an order from your shelf.  Then at least you can mail out the two books together for close to the same postage you would pay to send one, and still receive a credit.  But if all you want to do is send out the book and not get a credit, well, there is a thread in the BB for that purpose, and posting there is well within site rules.

The bottom line is that the site has rules and posting guidelines for a reason, and they are for ALL to follow.  There is a system set up for dealing with books that do not meet minimum standards- so why try to invent other ways of getting around it?  And by the way- those who frequent the forums are the most active members, so by advertising in the BB or in your forum signature, you are reaching the most likely people to want your books.  It's not only the preferred method, but also the most effective.

Date Posted: 6/20/2008 1:41 PM ET
Member Since: 9/24/2007
Posts: 453
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First of all let me say that one of the inherent problems with e-mail/board posts is it's always hard to read intent/emotion so I want to say upfront that I'm not trying to give you grief/judgement, etc. because it looks to me like your general intent is certainly good.

But there are a few things I want to point out so I hope they don't sound rude/slammin.

Here's the really blunt one.  The requestor should not have to deal with you and your pm's.  The site is not designed that way.  Books have a standard of postability so that people can log on, put in an order, and walk away with the expectation that an acceptable book has started working its way toward them.  In the case of the woman who turned you down, for instance, you delayed that process for her.  She now has to start over with another sender.  Yes, sometimes books go through multiple people before being accepted but PBS even tries to weed those people out if they do it too much so in general the idea of completing the transaction as quickly as possible works.

Sometimes I request books and then I'm away from my computer for several days.  Now I don't have any conditions so there shouldn't be any issues with my requests.  In your case, I would return several days later to find a pm from you to deal with, instead of a book presumably on it's way.  Now I would have to move on to another sender, etc.  This all adds time and complication to what should be a simple transaction.

Also, you implied that people who would report you for posting unpostable books were doing something wrong.  Sorry, but that's simply not true.   Those kinds of reports are what keeps PBS working correctly.

The bottom line is, lots of us have things that we would do slightly different if we were in charge.  You see things posted all the time in the forums "I wish we could...", etc.  Yours would be something like "I wish we could post books that were lightly damaged and check with the requester because they might still want them."

But you can't.  PBS just can't be customized for all of our preferences.  You need to follow the rules whether you agree with them or not if you want to be a member.

And I hope you do because you sound like a kindred "book-lovin'" soul.



Date Posted: 6/20/2008 1:48 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2007
Posts: 369
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Hi Lesley!  I've been babbly recently... I'll try to be shorter this time, lol

Why would you want to do this, especially when you can post it elsewhere and get something for the book?

I have in excess of 15,000 books that I'm listing as fast as I can.  Trading book-for-book would be insane and unnecessary; losing a credit is of little importance in the grand scheme of things.  Of the 80-odd books I've received from PBS, one was for me.  The others have been for friends, or donated to various programs.  So what I get for my books is usually their gratitude.  Or nothing.  Getting something isn't my greatest goal.  If I don't find a home for a book, it is destroyed.  Some are donated to a PBSer who sends them to the troops (if that PBSer happens to read this, sorry I've been so lax!  More soon!).  So I guess my goal is good karma.  Knowing some folks would report me makes that somewhat ironic, lol.

by advertising in the BB or in your forum signature, you are reaching the most likely people to want your books.

I disagree.  By listing a wish-listed book, I'm reaching - the only way I can do it with any certainty - the single person who has been wanting the book the longest.  I'm not talking about listing piles of water-damaged books, you know - I'm talking about books that, in general, have a wisher.  A couple have been ones where there are no copies listed and no wishers, but in general, wish-listed books.