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Topic: A question about book images

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Subject: A question about book images
Date Posted: 5/31/2014 1:43 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 10,282
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I know patience is a virtue and all that, but I've never had book images take so long to be approved.  On my bookshelf are several books that have this new "non-cover" cover and I submitted images for all of them (or at least most) I think 2 days ago. In the past it's taken up to 24 hours for images to be approved and I realize things may be backlogged and I can be patient if it's simply a matter of waiting, but these new non-cover book images have me wondering if those are considered the book cover images.  I know in the past I've occasional submitted a better image than already appears and it has been disregarded until I contacted someone on the image team and they realized I did submit something better.  I'm just wondering if something similar is happening - that maybe my images are seen, but the book already appears to have an image and therefore my submission is being disregarded.  I know I could ask behind the scenes again, but I post here because I always figure if one person has a question others are wondering too.

I''ve been seeing these new non-cover covers on Amazon, too.  I, personally, dislike them - immensely - mostly because I suspect they keep people from bothering to post images (they did me at first).  Anyone know where they came from?

But more importantly I'd love to know if the images we submit will be accepted as better options and if the image team is replacing the non-cover images with acceptable replacements.

Last Edited on: 5/31/14 1:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/31/2014 2:10 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,485
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PBS's system will automatically load the image from Amazon.  If they use the pop portrait of the author, we get it.  This is by the computer, not manually.  Then we have to edit it.  Many of the images I've seen are the filler that Amazon uses.

All images are approved by volunteers.  There are some things you can do to make it faster.  Make sure the image is straight, without extra space around it.  List where you got the image from. And think about volunteering to be on the image group.

Hopefully a data image person will jump in and add more information.  

Date Posted: 5/31/2014 2:27 PM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2007
Posts: 17,422
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Even after we've approved the images, it can take quite a while (weeks) for the servers to re-sync images.  Sometimes it is instantaneous, sometimes it is forever and a day.

Date Posted: 5/31/2014 7:40 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 10,282
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Oh wow, Mary - then patience really is important.

Emily, I don't know what you mean by listing where an image is from.  I upload photos under the "Member Tools" and have to give a source for the picture.  Mine are always scanned and uploaded from my computer - I have many, many old books and do this when I have time - often it's a bunch at once and then many moons between my uploadings.   I assume you're talking about if someone uploads a picture from some source online.  But I don't even know how to do that.

I'll keep being patient.  I'm so used to it all being very quick.  I wondered if something had changed since these new "covers" have shown up.


Date Posted: 5/31/2014 7:53 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,354
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If you are uploading an image to replace a blue "no image available" box, the image should appear soon after approval -- within a few hours or a day.  But if there's already an image in place, including one of those fake non-cover images, it will probably take two or three weeks for the new image to appear.  The reason is that the old image, the one you are replacing, is stored in various data storage locations around the country, and each of those data locations will have to be updated. 

Date Posted: 5/31/2014 8:08 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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I didn't know that, is it helpful to mention in the comments box (Book Data Edit Screen) where the image came from?  Most of my submittals are scanned from a copy I'm posting, occasionally from an online source.

Date Posted: 5/31/2014 8:32 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 10,282
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Oh man.   Another reason I don't like those non-cover images.  But thanks for explaining that, Patty.  So when someone uploads a photo here it goes all around the country replacing the fake book cover images in various places?   Did it always work like that?  Or is that a result of the new fake cover images?

Last Edited on: 5/31/14 8:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/31/2014 8:34 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 10,282
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Denise,  where is this comment box or Book Data Editing Screen?

Last Edited on: 5/31/14 8:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/1/2014 2:45 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,178
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So when someone uploads a photo here it goes all around the country replacing the fake book cover images in various places?   Did it always work like that?  Or is that a result of the new fake cover images?

I'm not on the data editing team, but I seem to remember a post explaining this that went something like this:

In the not too distant past, PBS made their integration with their data sources better .. and thus, more images come in altogether (including pre-release "bad" images) (where before, less (or no?) images came in).

Also, if I recall properly, they do not store the image files in their own databases, but rather, they rent storage from a company that does that, and then just link to the images when a listing is rendered to the browser. Apparently, it can take a little while for the offsite data stores to be synced properly when an existing image is replaced with another image.

Date Posted: 6/1/2014 4:17 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
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The length of time for new images to show up in one's browser depends upon several factors. The primary factors are whether a new image is replacing a blue box or is replacing an image already in the PBS database, and whether the image is acceptable as-is or needs to be cleaned up or fixed in some way.

Image approvals and rejections are usually done within a day from the time they are uploaded, and sometimes within a few hours or even minutes if you get lucky. If the queue of pending images is really backlogged, the approval process may take up to two days but that is not common.

A blue box with "No Cover Available" indicates that PBS has no image at all for the book, and images that replace these will show up very quickly (usually within minutes) after they have been approved.  However, note that images may be in the queue anywhere from a few hours to a day or so before they are reviewed and either approved or denied by volunteers in the image group.

In contrast, images that are uploaded to replace ones already in the PBS database as a rule will take much longer to display correctly in one's browser. This is due to the way that images are cached and updated on internet servers that store and display data for many, many websites in addition to PBS. It may take well over a week or two for servers to sync up and display images stably, and in some cases even more than a month. In addition, be aware that it is not uncommon for images to flip-flop several times between the old and the new before internet servers are synced up. This is because each time you open your browser you may or may not be connected to the site through a given server and servers do not all update at the same time. This can be very frustrating, but is not under PBS's control. 

Furthermore, new images might not display on your computer if an old image is cached by your browser, so you may need to either clear your cache to see the new image or do a hard refresh (Ctrl-F5) to force your browser to update the image.

Also, note that the fake covers referred to earlier in this thread are actual images and are not the same thing as blue PBS blue boxes. The PBS blue boxes indicate that the site has no image for the listing, whereas fake covers and other non-blue-box "image not available" indicators are actual images that are stored in the PBS database and are treated no differently by the servers than true book cover images. This means that it takes just as long to replace and update these as it does to replace and update poor or incorrect book cover images on the site.

All that being said, there are several additional factors that can affect how long it takes for a new image to appear on the site. The foremost of these is whether the image is acceptable as-is, or whether it needs to fixed or cleaned up in some way. Images that are acceptable as submitted will get approved quickly. Images that are not acceptable as submitted will either be denied (with a PM to the submitter regarding the denial) or will take longer to approve because the image approver has to do some work on it. The way in which an image that does not meet our standards is treated depends upon the nature of the problem, and whether a given approver is willing either to fix the image and resubmit it or to search for a better image and submit that one in its place. Image approvers have four basic choices: either approve an image as submitted, fix the image and resubmit, find an alternate image to submit in its place, or deny the image. The better an image is, the better will be its chance of being approved quickly or of having an approver willing to fix minor defects.

Regarding image standards, remember that images must be straight (i.e., not out-of-square or skewed) and must be cropped to the edges of the cover before they can be approved. Also, images that are fuzzy, blurry, truncated, too small to be legible, have parts that are missing or covered by stickers or overlays or obscured by glare, or that show excessively worn covers or have other serious defects may be subject to denial or replacement. Images that need to be fixed or replaced (rather than flat-out denied) may sit in the pending image queue for a day or two before an approver has time to deal with it or find a replacement.

In addition, it is imperative that the title and author shown in the cover match the PBS listing for the book. If not, a data edit will have to be submitted and approved before the image can be approved, but that is beyond the scope of this post.

Although the above overview is not an exhaustive account of the approval process, I hope it helps to shed light on why some images show up quickly while others do not.

Last Edited on: 6/2/14 12:49 AM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 6/1/2014 8:14 AM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2006
Posts: 2,434
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I want to just take a moment to address Emily's statement "List where you got the image from." and Denise's question "I didn't know that, is it helpful to mention in the comments box (Book Data Edit Screen) where the image came from?"

Actually, a little tidbit about Images and Data Edits is that they go to two different "queues" to be approved by two separate Approver Teams: one Team approves Images and another Team approves Data Edits. While some of our approvers can approve both (images and data edits), several of our Image Approvers (like Chris and Mary) do not have access to the Data Edit "queue" as they are not Book Data Approvers so they will never see a member's data edit submission to know that the submitting member has posted a comment about the location of an image.

As stated in a previous post, Image Approvers only see the image submitted, the title, the ISBN, and the member's name and then there are the options to "ACCEPT", "DO NOT ACCEPT" or "SKIP". Image Approvers don't see the "Reason for Edit" box which is the only place to list an image location so it really doesn't do any good to list an image location because more often than not, an image will be approved before the data edit. Data Edit submissions can take longer because the research and verification process is a bit more involved.

So back to Becki's way of uploading images (using "Member Tools" / "Upload Book Covers") - it is the preferred way to upload an image if you're ONLY submitting an image, especially if you're uploading several images at the same time. Another way if you're ONLY uploading images, is to go into the Edit Book Data screen, click on upload, upload the image, and back out of the Edit Book Data screen without clicking on "SUBMIT EDITS". That way we (Data Approvers) aren't dealing with an unnecessary data edit where nothing has been changed and which adds to the volume in the data edit queue.

Again, this is for uploading images only...if you need to make data changes to a book, then you can do both (upload image AND submit data edit information) using the Edit Book Data option. You can list the image location if you want but it is not necessary as usually the Image has already been dealt with separately by another Team member.

Hope this helps!

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 6/1/2014 10:43 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,150
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For those who would like to check and see if their new image has already been approved and has just not made it out to all the caches before resubmitting, here's a method you can use to see the image that PBS has at its central servers. These directions are specifically for Firefox on Windows, so you'll have to adapt them slightly for other browsers or Macs.

  1. Locate the "bad" image.
  2. Press Ctrl+F5 to make sure you're looking at the latest image from the caching server.
  3. If it's still wrong, right click on the image and select "View Image" from the pop-up menu
  4. When the image is displayed, edit the URL in the address bar to replace "xx.pbsstatic.com" (the name of the caching server) with "images.paperbackswap.com" (the name of the central server that supplies all the others) and then press enter to reload the image.

If you still see the wrong image when you retrieve it from images.paperbackswap.com, then your submission has not yet been approved. If you see the right image, then there's no need to resubmit it. Eventually it will make its way out to all the caches.

For anyone who wants even more detail, here are a couple of basic explanations of how CDNs work:



Date Posted: 6/1/2014 1:22 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Fascinating info in this thread...does this mean I'm a geek?

Becki - To access the Book Edit Screen, open a PBS book info page such as this one.  Under the "More Options" button, the list includes Edit Book Data.  A window should open, the first box is Upload New Cover, the second box is Reason For Edit, and the third box has spaces to fill in book size, weight, cover blurb, subject(s), publisher, dates, etc.

Last Edited on: 6/1/14 1:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/1/2014 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 10,282
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This is fascinating (even if over my head).  I'm glad I asked my question and thank you all for being patient - and with such thorough responses!  Wow - you are the greatest.

I tried your directions, Cathy, and when I right click on an image I don't have a option to "view image".  But I accidentally left-clicked on the image and I was given a little pop-up window that showed the image larger - and there I could see two of my images evidently made it through.  I'm pretty careful about submitting good images so I'm trusting what I submitted was acceptable (or at least good enough to work with).

l'll just be content to wait 'till the other shows up.

Ack - wait a minute.  I just checked an image that pops up with what I have in a file on my computer and they do not look identical (mine has a library sticker slightly overlapping on the bottom left side - I could not crop it out without taking out part of the title).  The one in the pop-up has no sticker (better image, but I'm thinking it's not mine).   So now I guess I'm back to wondering if my images are approved or even in the queue at all.  I'll wait.

Thank you, Denise.  I forgot...I've submitted data edits on occasion, too.  It's evidently been quite a while because that wasn't coming to me at all.

Last Edited on: 6/1/14 7:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/1/2014 8:47 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2010
Posts: 8,492
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Images with stickers will not get approved, but good people like Patti and Paula will sometimes search for a better image (or fix it) and submit it.

eta:  Obviously I posted this without reading through the whole thread.  I didn't even realize Chris and Mary were on the image team.  Chris pretty much covered what I said.

Last Edited on: 6/1/14 8:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 6/2/2014 1:41 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
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Paula N., Good points, clarification, and recommendations.

Cathy A., Thank you for your explanation and links. !

Sassy, I am also one of the approvers who will either fix member-uploaded images or find replacements as needed. That said, however, I strongly encourage members to upload good images and not to rely on "good people in the image group" to fix these or find replacements.

I know that many members do not have the software or expertise to fix images they have photographed, scanned or found online, and this is to be expected.  Having to deal with poor images, however, can be very time-consuming so it really helps the image team and speeds up the approval process when good images are submitted. All I can ask is that we each try to be conscientious and do the best we can.

PBS has one of the best book image databases available online as a direct result of its many dedicated members and volunteers, and it is a pleasure to be engaged in making it even better.