Discussion Forums - Questions about PaperBackSwap Questions about PaperBackSwap

Topic: Received 2 unpostable books

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Received 2 unpostable books
Date Posted: 1/10/2008 5:27 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 92
Back To Top

I received 2 books that I consider unpostable today. Both were sent by the same person and were send together. The package was not damaged by the post office. So I know this is from before the books were sent.

Both books do not sit flat and when I open them i'm affraid I'm going to crack the spins of the books apart and that the pages will start to fall out.  It doesn't look liek there was water damage to the books but, I dont' knwo what else might have caused this. The books do have a number of bends across the covers.

I know I need to contact the sender about this (she's only been a member since 10/07 and I want to be able to send her the guide lines for what books can be sent but, the only ones I knwo about are for water damage.

Can anyone help me out with this?

Date Posted: 1/10/2008 5:30 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,513
Back To Top

Here are the Book Condition guidelines. I'd be as polite as possible, I had that situation come up when I was a newbie, and I was mortified, I had no idea I'd violated the rules. However, the person was kind and helpful while I tried to figure out how to return the credit.


Date Posted: 1/10/2008 5:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,374
Back To Top

Edited to say: I started typing this before Mimi had posted her comment.  I really like what she said about being kind and gentle! :-)

Hi Jennifer,

I'm sorry you received a couple of books that you aren't happy with.  You'll want to take a look at the conditions guidelines and see exactly what it is that you feel makes them unpostable before you talk with the sender.

It's okay to post a book that doesn't lie flat, or that opens to a particular page.  If the spine is not actually cracked, and the pages are not yet falling out,  it doesn't technically break the guidelines on that score. 

You may feel they are excessively worn, and want to discuss that with the sender.  I agree with you that I would not post a book that looked like it was about to fall apart, but that is pretty much a judgement call.  One of us along the route will be the last one to read a particular book before it becomes unpostable, so I figure sometimes I'll receive a book that is on its last reading, and "the book stops here."

If you go up to the Help Center and in the Help Docs search window type in "conditions guidelines" you'll come up with the following.  I'll paste them here, but they're easier to read up in the Help Center because of the formatting.  I have deleted some paragraphs that don't apply to your case.

I hope you can come to an agreement with the sender that you're both satisfied with. :-)

Book Condition Guidelines:

When you Post a book, you are asked to confirm that the book is "in good condition, and not excessively worn".  It is impossible to list all of the ways in which a book might be considered excessively worn, but the criteria below are as comprehensive as we have been able to make them.

If you feel your book falls into a "grey area", you can either post the book and send a Personal Message to the requestor, or not post the book.  We have delineated what we can, and we expect members to follow these guidelines, and use their common sense in cases that are unclear.  If you would not mind "paying" a credit for a book you are considering posting, then it is probably okay to post.  However, book condition can be a subjective matter.  Keep in mind that a pattern of sending out poor-condition or inappropriate books will jeopardize a sender's membership.

All of the information below apply both to swapping for credits and Box-O-Books swapping.

General remarks:

  • 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.
    • Decirculated library books may have various markings and/or stamps inside or outside or on the page edges of the book; this is OKAY.
    • BookCrossing books may have stickers or stamps or markings on the outside or inside covers or page edges of the book; this is OKAY.
    • Hardbacks do NOT have to include their dustjackets.
    • Audiobooks MUST be the original cassettes/CDs, but do NOT have to include the outer "box" that held the set.
    • Audiobooks must be playable.
    • There is an exception to general condition guidelines for textbooks; see below.
    • There is an exception to general condition guidelines for cookbooks; see below.
  • We do NOT have a place for members to describe the condition of a particular copy of a book.
    • ALL books on PBS are expected to be in "good, not excessively worn" condition
    • Books are requested in FIFO (first-in, first-out) order
  • If you would like your books to be in "better-than-PBS" condition :
    • You are responsible for setting Requestor Conditions on your account.


Overall Condition:

  • No damage at all from water or other liquid
  • Not soiled
  • No stains (exception for cookbooks--see below)
  • No mold


  • Must both be present (front and back)
    • note that a paperback missing its front cover is  usually an illegal, unsold copy
    • "cover" does not = dust jacket.  Hardcovers do not need to include their dust jackets to be swapped here.
  • Cover not torn or chewed/gnawed
    • some used book stores cut out a small part of the cover; if the amount missing is less than 1 inch, this is OKAY
    • a small rip (less than 1 inch) in the cover is OKAY
    • yes, that does say "chewed/gnawed" above.  That means no pet-chewed (or human-chewed) books.
  • A bookplate inside the cover or on the flyleaf is OKAY


  • Must be intact, with no separation on the inside or outside of the book
  • If the book tends to open at a particular page, this is OKAY
  • Small amount of fraying or denting at top or bottom is OKAY


  • No torn or chewed/gnawed pages
    • yes, that does say "chewed/gnawed".  That means no pet-chewed (or human-chewed) books.
  • No loose or missing pages
  • No writing or highlighting on text pages
    • a signature or note on the flyleaf or inside front or back cover is OKAY
    • an author's signature on the title page is OKAY
    • writing or highlighting on the text pages is NOT OKAY
      • Exception: if it is a textbook or workbook, these are expected to have highlighting/writing
        • if you post a textbook/workbook, the condition must be described to the requestor in a Personal Message
        • AND the described condition MUST BE AGREED TO before the book is sent
        • This is the one of the ONLY two cases in which a PM exchange about a book is required before the book can be sent(the other is for cookbooks--see below).
  • No staining

    • Exception: Cookbooks may have some mild staining, since these are used in the kitchen and while cooking, and some minor degree of staining could be expected in a used cookbook.  Also a small amount of writing in cookbooks could be expected
      • HOWEVER, if you post a cookbook and it is stained and/or written-in, the condition must be described to the requestor in a Personal Message
      • AND the described condition MUST BE AGREED TO before the book is sent
      • This is the one of the ONLY two cases in which a PM exchange about a book is required before the book can be sent (the other is for textbooks--see above).
      • this exception applies to the covers of cookbooks also.


Last Edited on: 1/10/08 5:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/10/2008 5:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 92
Back To Top


Thanks for the guideline info. I don't expet my books to lie 100% flat but, these books are so bad that i'm starting to think that she spines are suffereing from water damage. I'm going to PM the sender with the guidelines and see what happens.


Date Posted: 1/10/2008 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,374
Back To Top

Sounds good.  Communication is a good thing. :-)

Date Posted: 1/10/2008 7:38 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2006
Posts: 15,930
Back To Top

If you don't know for sure there is water damage, then the sender probably doesn't either, and sent them out in good faith. 

Perhaps as a compromise, you could split the difference and ask for one credit back and have it done with.

Date Posted: 1/10/2008 8:00 PM ET
Member Since: 10/1/2007
Posts: 230
Back To Top

I just responded to a post from the other half of this swap...I recommended she offer one credit as a compromise, and I agree with Rhonda that this seems like the fairest resolution if there's just a difference of opinion on the books' conditions and you're both acting in good faith.  Good luck!

Date Posted: 1/10/2008 11:22 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 13,347
Back To Top

It's not against the rules for a book to not lie flat, or to open to a certain page.  A worn book is not against the guidelines and a book has to come to the end of it's life somewhere.  I've purchased brand new books only to have to pages become wavy before I've finished reading it.  A lot of newer books are just not made of the same quality.  Water damage is pretty obvious.  Pages can wave for other reasons, and are still postable.

I say all this to say that unless there's a clear violation of the rules, it's not fair to ask for your credits back.  Not all postable books look the same.  It's for sure disappointing, but if the sender gave you both credits back, and there's no clear answer, I would, if it was me, only take one credit. 

Date Posted: 1/11/2008 10:31 AM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 8,139
Back To Top

Jennifer, your description of the books does not sound like they are unpostable. The binding is still intact, the pages are attached, the covers are intact, there isn't obvious water damage, the pages aren't wavy with water damage.... They don't sound unpostable to me.

If they're older, they may be unpostable when you're done. That happens with books, sometimes even new ones. (Let me tell you about the time my brand new book ended up a brand new but unpostable book, thanks to my todder... LOL!) But each book only has a certain lifetime.

As long as the book met PBS guidelines when you received them, you shouldn't ask for your credit back or mark it RWAP. There is no guarantee that a book will be postable when you're done reading it, there is only a requirement that it be postable when it's sent.

Last Edited on: 1/11/08 10:32 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/11/2008 12:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,231
Back To Top

I also cannot see anything unpostable in the description. Without seeing the book it is hard to tell if they are excessively worn, but I probably would have just read them and retired them.