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Topic: My suggestion to PBS: allow multi-credit per book?

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Subject: My suggestion to PBS: allow multi-credit per book?
Date Posted: 2/7/2015 4:03 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2014
Posts: 14
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I know it's late, but I'll try my best to make sense :) I don't know if this suggestion has been made before, and if so, what people have said about it. I'm sure there'll be objections, probably many, but I also hope there'll be some support too.

OK, so let's say I'm a newcomer to the site, all excited to try and everything. I list my first 10 books, no takers yet. Alright, those 10 are not wanted by anyone, so I went into my super precious library and bring out 2 books with a long list of wishes. They fly off my shelf just like that. Now I go and look for 2 equally precious books in the system, with equally long wish lists. I added myself to the list, and, uh oh, I'm at the very tail end. It looks like it's going to be years before I'll get anything.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's an obvious disadvantage against newcomers. In general the old-timers will always greatly outnumber the newcomers, so there's probably not a lot of sympathy for the latters, but sooner or later the newbies will wise up and will realize "it's good to hold back". In fact I've seen many people advising new members (and old members alike) "it's OK to hold back, keep your credits low, wait until you need new credits before listing WL books".

That's good for the individuals, it's a defensive measure against a weakness, but I'm not sure it's good for the system as a whole. A healthy system should encourage people to put more books, more WL books into the system. If the system has strong incentive for people to hold back, that's not a good sign.

What I'm proposing is to allow multi-credit per book. When you list a book in high demand, you can set a "price" of how many credits you'd like for it. It's then up to the requestor to decide if it's worth that number of credits or not. If you really want it, you can pay more credit for it. If you don't want it that much, you just pass it on to the next in line. In fact, when you add yourself to the wish list, you can also set a hidden "bid price" of how many credits you'd like to pay to get the book. (The "bid" number is hidden from the book lister).

The way it is right now, a member with a book in high demand cannot "trade" his book for another one with equally high demand. A heavily WL-ed book has the same credit as a multiple-copy book. There's really no incentive for anyone to put such a book in the system, since if he needs credit in a crunch, he can just buy one at $3.95 (or less, elsewhere). At $3.95 a credit, the residue value of the book (after shipping cost) will be only about $1. Why parting away with a book you like (long WL books are usually of keepers' type) for essentially just $1, when that doesn't improve your chance of getting another book you like one bit?

Take an example: the other day I saw this book (Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand) in excellent condition in a library book sale for $5. Although I had no intention of buying, I happened to know that it's a very good book with a very long WL list here at PBS. If I had wanted it, $5 would have been a steal, and I thought of buying it just to send it into the system. But eventually I decided to pass. Doing that would have meant paying $8 ($5 + $3 media mail to send) just to get a credit (and no chance to get another similarly WL-ed book). For that amount of money I can easily get a couple of credits in the bazaar, for less trouble too. That money should also be enough for 2 WL books bought used from Amazon.

I'm not saying the abilit to set "credit price" will magically mean you instantly get what you want. You'll still have to be the end of the queue, just that now you have more "currency" to deal with, which should increase your chance somewhat.

Once it's allowed to have multi-credit per book, then the swap fee scheme can be changed to tack on that too. For example the 1-credit books won't need any swap fee, while the the 5 -credit books will have $1 swap fee, something like that.

Tell me what you think. Of course if you've been here for a while and you're currently near the top of all the books you've wish listed, then this won't appeal too much. But if you're just starting today, won't you consider it? Or do you still advise patience and not rocking the boat? (One drawback I can think of is an explosion of the black market for credit. Since there'll be so many more credits coming into existence, it'll probably evolve into some form of virtual currency. Not that it isn't already but the number of credit-related chatter will probably increase a lot).

By the way the "newcomer" example is just an example, it's not me :) I learned the right way early, and by now I can work the system just fine. Just that I'm a engineer, so I'd like to offer optimization where I can. Even if you think it's not worth the trouble, at least it's something to think about.

Edit: This probably wasn't a very good idea, but I added some other suggestions in my post below. Thanks for reading.



Last Edited on: 2/8/15 3:05 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/7/2015 8:44 AM ET
Member Since: 12/3/2005
Posts: 3,328
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This will never happen. If it did, it would actually kill the site faster than the uproar over fees.

The site is a simple book exchange site. You mail a book, you get a book. Not you mail a super awesome book you get a super awesome book back. New members can also stalk the WL multiples posts and snag books faster than FIFO.

On another trading site, Titletrader, people started to feel their items merited more than the system allowed so now you have tons of things posted for 1 to 2 points with people demanding several extra points. Once they went from a simple 1 item = 1 point system, it pretty much imploded.

Date Posted: 2/7/2015 8:58 AM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2014
Posts: 8,186
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Plus, I'd leave the site. The WL would always by pass me because I would never have 5 credits for a book. I can for that..i'm going to say 5 credits is 13.00 even for math purposes. I can get that cheaper elsewhere. In the case of a p/ b, for that much I'd buy it new.
Date Posted: 2/7/2015 12:23 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 2,404
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This had indeed been rehashed many times. The bottom line is, yes, newcomers will be at the end of the WL line. But, anytime any member adds a book to their WL they're going at the end of the line too. Doesn't matter when you started here. Books I wanted seven years ago may just now be coming up, and I have waited. but I'm never without something to read.  I'm always posting books I've read, WL or not, and likewise adding books to my WL up to my limit; as soon as a spot or two opens up (getting a wish usually opens more than one spot if you wish for several versions of the book since you can delete the others) or I decide I don't want something after all. Some WL lines move incredibly fast. Others, not so fast. Of course, the posting to friends feature adds into this, as does the WL multiples thread, but ultimately patience is what keeps me here. I have bought books I had no intention of reading just to post here and I've even ordered from WL multiples books in order to meet a minimum order that I turned right around and reposted. Doing that takes me out of the line if I was in it (not at the end just to make the deal) and moves it faster to the next wisher as well.

What genres you wish for plays into it just as ordering popular but not heavily posted books seems to keep the wheels turning too. For instance when I got Gold Key I added 100 books right away. Some of those were what I call on the edge of the WL. They were posted quickly and once I read them and reposted they weren't even WL. But they only sat on my shelf for a week or two before they were requested. 

I collect series. Say it takes a writer four years to release three books. I WL Book 1 and 2 when 1's been out for a year but the line is so long  it takes a another year to get it; 2 comes to me a year later. and so on with Book 3.  But by the time I get 3 the series has been out for three years. That means Book 1 is almost 5 years old and possibly no longer WL, or maybe only a couple of copies are in the system. It took years to collect the series and now that I have them all I read them and repost them, either to one member looking to have the set or back into WL or FIFO, whichever the case may be. If they are WL, the next person wishing is likely getting their wish a lot more quickly than I did. I think it all evens out in the end.

 

Date Posted: 2/7/2015 12:39 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,186
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Its illegal for PBS to set up a bidding system, so it won't ever allow people to ask for more credits themselves. A book today might cost $26 in one retailer, $15 in another and $3 at a used book store - how would PBS set the credit price based on the "retail value"?

And as for having books costing more credits helping new members at the end of WL lines, not even remotely. They couldn't even come close in competition with the long term members that have more credits than they know what to do with. It would not hurt the long term members, only the poor.

And if the new fees that are set up to generate revenue for the site are only attached to the books that cost more, then they don't attach to the books that will be swapped in the largest volume. Thus missing out on generating the revenue that they are meant to and the fees wouldn't do what they were implemented to do.

New members are going to have a couple advantages in the new system if they become Standard Members. The 500 spot WL will give them more spots than many long term members that have opted to go without a membership because they no longer swap much. More spots means more opportunities. Its also a fresh start for everyone on those last 200 spots. On February 15th, a new member will be able to add 500 books to their WL at the same time a member that's been here for 10 years is building their last 200 spots.

Ronda (RONDA) - ,
Date Posted: 2/7/2015 6:26 PM ET
Member Since: 3/3/2009
Posts: 415
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there was a book trading site that allowed you to set the number of credits for your books... but it closed many years ago.

PBS had better book selection than that site, so I did most of my trading on PBS.  I did a little on that site but never had many credits and was not really sure of what the credit level should be for any particular book.

I did get involved in one of their forums that was a bit of a book auction that was kind of fun.  People would take turns listing something they were wanting to get rid of and the others would make offers and the person would pick the offer they liked best.... mostly it was other books, but sometimes it was other stuff.

There is another site that does not do FIFO.  It has the first person to notice the wishlist book being posted gets to order it.  or the poster decides they want to post it to someone in particular.  I found that one to be more difficult, cause I don't want to stalk my wishlist, I want it to be automagic.  (PBS also has a much better book selection than this website)

Date Posted: 2/7/2015 9:51 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2009
Posts: 2,469
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I suppose it depends on your motive . One credit =one book (except audio) works . Many people hold back on hardbacks and larger books because of the cost. I don't always worry about the WL of the books I post. I post books with fewer than five books in the system {in general} . We're all individuals with different goals.

Date Posted: 2/8/2015 12:57 AM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,327
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The IRS would classify the site as a book selling site rather than a book swapping site, and the tax rules would be different.

I was interested in what Melanie said -- hadn't thought of it that way:

New members are going to have a couple advantages in the new system if they become Standard Members. The 500 spot WL will give them more spots than many long term members that have opted to go without a membership because they no longer swap much. More spots means more opportunities. Its also a fresh start for everyone on those last 200 spots. On February 15th, a new member will be able to add 500 books to their WL at the same time a member that's been here for 10 years is building their last 200 spots.

Date Posted: 2/8/2015 3:02 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2014
Posts: 14
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Uh, that went well :)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to cause upheaval or make the site implode/explode. I guess my main peeve is with a system where there is an incentive to hold back. Think about it, you have a book that someone somewhere really wants, you're ready to part with it, and yet you don't want to, because it places a small financial burden on you, and it doesn't help you get any closer to a WL book that you already got a credit for and you know it won't be your turn for months/years anyway. In the mean time the book is just collecting dust in your garage, while somewhere out there someone is dying to read it but can't.

What if everyone all does that? What if the reason your WL book doesn't come to you sooner is because their owners are also holding back just like you? Wouldn't it be nice if we have a way to nudge everyone who is on the fence/holding back to just put his/her WL books in the system?

Although a bid/ask system is probably too much, there are some other ways. For example PBS may consider "rewarding" someone putting in a book with a long WL with extra credits (while the cost to the requestor is still just 1). Note that we have precedence for this type of behavior here: the 2-credit-for-first-10-book policy is just a way to incentivize/encourage members to list books. Now we can expand it slightly to say, for example, if someone put in a book with 50-long WL and the transaction completes, then he/she gets rewarded with an extra credit by PBS. If it's 200-long WL, 2 extra credits. Entirely legal and doable, right?

Another option I've thought of is the choice for the requestor to pay actual shipping instead of credit. Technically a credit is supposed to be as good as shipping, but for some people trying to clear their bookshelves and already having credits, it may feel like a heavy burden shelling out money for shipping to get back a lot of credits you don't really a use for anytime soon (and reselling them won't be enough to cover your shipping). At that point, it'll be nice for the owner to post the book with a flag that says "actual shipping in lieu of credit". The book will still go through the queue as usual, just that now you're asked to cover the actual shipping (let's say PBS printable postage is used, to avoid complication). That way the owner won't feel like she's having to pay money to send the books away. If you don't want to or don't have the money in account, then it goes to the next person, etc.

Date Posted: 2/8/2015 9:58 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2010
Posts: 220
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Thang, none of those suggestions can really work under current IRS (?) rules about what is a swap site and what is an auction site.  (Or they're so dodgy that PBBS isn't going to try them.)

The not-posting-WL-books thing has been around for years.  For example, I have about a dozen wish-listed books to post.  But I also have a couple of dozen credits, which is more than I'll need for months.  Why should I sink more money into postage now?  (Look at all the people who accumulated hundreds of credits and now discover that to redeem them they need to pay another 49 cents each?)

Date Posted: 2/8/2015 11:13 AM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2014
Posts: 8,186
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I still go back to..if you think your book is worth more than the credit and you want more, you cut out all the folks who have low credits. Why would I give 3 or 4 credits for a book I can get cheaper at that point and use up half the credits I have? As far as paying actual postage plus a credit? No way..people are annoyed at paying .49. That too will collapse the site because people would stop using the site. When folks say they can't afford it now, asking for more won't work. I buy WL books..even ones I won't read..it's a pay it forward thing for me. I'm someone that doesn't hold back on books but I don't have a lot of credits. Yes, I know I may never get many of my WL books but I have received some and was extremely pleased to get them. Your idea and I'd stay for a year cause I paid for it but I would leave after. I'm not going to bid, pay shipping and a credit or credits, and of course someone like me with little credits loses out. There are other members like me too. We'd just leave if your idea is implemented.
Date Posted: 2/8/2015 11:50 AM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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For example PBS may consider "rewarding" someone putting in a book with a long WL with extra credits (while the cost to the requestor is still just 1).

It's been years since they've explained it, but PBS can't just make up credits. For tax reasons, they have to have money in a reserve to cover the cost of each credit, or a book listed in the system. That's why they say they don't make money on selling credits, because that money has to go to backing a credit up since it's not representing a book. Private members can sell credits because each credit was earned by sending out a book.

It's why they've asked for donations of credits in the past to keep giving new members two credits on posting. (It used to be three, IIRC) They can't just create a credit that's not backed up.

So, where would those extra credits they're giving out for WL'd books come from?

The not-posting-WL-books thing has been around for years.  For example, I have about a dozen wish-listed books to post.  But I also have a couple of dozen credits, which is more than I'll need for months.  Why should I sink more money into postage now?  (Look at all the people who accumulated hundreds of credits and now discover that to redeem them they need to pay another 49 cents each?)

I think this is going to make the WL problem worse. I, and a lot of others, are leaving since we're not big traders now, (although many of us have traded thousands in the past) and we're not paying $12 to just be able to talk to our friends in the forums. 

We just post WISHLIST books as we need credits. So we'll be taking our WL'd books with us. (I have, with just one author, 13 WL'd books that I could have traded in the future. Not now.) By making a la carte members feel unwanted, they're cutting off a huge source of WL'd books. 

That, and the trust of the people to accumulate large credit stashes is gone. Why not post a WL'd book if you don't have a need for more credits? Used to be you could count on using that credit in the future, as your reading tastes changed and you worked through your TBR pile. 

So, until there's trust again, those who got caught with a large credit stash aren't going to do that again. So I see WL'd book book postings get further and further between.

Until they fix that problem, there's no real way to get people to post WL'd books faster, or pick up extras just to post. They'll just hit the system as they get read, and as people need credits.

Date Posted: 2/8/2015 1:02 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2014
Posts: 8,186
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I don't understand, why are people who are choosing a la carte unwanted? I read all options before I chose one and none made me feel unwanted.
Date Posted: 2/8/2015 1:34 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2014
Posts: 2,793
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lext, do you know about the new changes? 

Dear Members,
Happy February! 
We are proud that we have been able to provide PaperBackSwap to you for Free for the past 10 years. However, we have stated from the beginning that there may come a time when we would need to charge a nominal fee in order to support the club's growth and to offer new services.
In order to maintain the service levels that you have come to expect, PaperBackSwap needs to begin charging membership fees beginning on February 15th, 2015. We encourage you to purchase an annual membership at $20 that will allow you to keep the same level of service that you have enjoyed over the years and some new features (including a larger Wish List!).  Additionally, there are other options that you may wish to consider, that we have outlined below. 

2015 will be our eleventh year of providing this club for book lovers all over the country. It’s been a decade of fabulous growth, in which we’ve overseen the exchange of nearly 20 million books; by any calculation, our members have saved millions of dollars.  Through the years, our site has sustained itself with optional services (such as Printed Postage fees and new-book sales).  We’d like to do more with the club - fix things that aren’t working well, enhance others, and introduce new features (such as a mobile app, and continuing to investigate ebook swapping).  We really can’t do that without some “elbow room” from revenue.
Beginning February 15, 2015, as a member in Good Standing at PaperBackSwap, you can select:
A Standard Membership at $20 per year ($18 for early subscribers), that includes unlimited swapping, new features, and a 500-item Wish List.  Best Value!
A Limited Membership at $12 per year, where you'll get the ability to request 30 books without paying swap fees, some new features, and your Wish List limit will stay at 200 items.
For those who don’t swap often or who don't want to commit to an annual membership, there is an “A la Carte” option at 49 cents per book request, with a Wish List limit of 100 items.
And finally, Printable Postage users will be glad to learn that each printing with PBS Postage will earn 1 free Swap fee.
We’ve loved providing a totally free club for as long as we could. We’re happy about the solution we’ve come up with - there’s a plan available for you, no matter how often you swap! You can read more about memberships and read an FAQ in the Help Center, and you can pre-purchase membership(which will start on February 15th, 2015) by clicking the button below:

We’re excited about the future of PaperBackSwap, and we hope you are too.
We’re very glad to have you in the club, and hope that you will continue to read, swap and save with us!
Richard and
The PaperBackSwap Team

Date Posted: 2/13/2015 4:10 PM ET
Member Since: 6/7/2010
Posts: 22
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I find Cindy R's post reflects some of my views, especially because when my 'backlist' on my bookshelf approached 100 books I began to get two or three orders a week, after having first supplied supplying what I could to wish lists when the exact title was wanted.  This makes credits on hand increase rapidly with considerable outlays of postage, the latter having amounted to several hundred dollars and so beginning to outweigh the satisfaction of putting a book into the hands of the reader who actually wants that title rather than leaving it for passersby on the shelf at the old soldiers' home, the VA Hospital, or the 'free' book truck at the branch library.  I find a lot of wish listed or 0 in PBSwap system at the latter location but people are prone to pick up things willy-nilly, the operative word being 'free' rather than look them over a little to see if they have a friend or they themselves wants to read the book.

Although all my bookshelf was 0 listed when I added a title and a few that I have delisted recently to add to the package I am sending someone who ordered another book show a return to 0 listed, I delisted 98 of 112 books today and will dispose of them to the shelves of the VA, home, free book truck as appropriate.  I did ask a PBS member who lives nearby if she wants a bagful of them to add to her bookshelf, but no reply.  And I was worried about YA books as I have quite a few ex-library hc that often circulated nearly never so I asked three different PBSwap members who recently ordered a YA book but specified 'no ex-library' if there is a goodly supply of YA hc that are not ex-library in their area of the country, but received no response.  My family has lived on the Coast for generations and we didn't generally have that many books, especially YA books, so there don't seem to be all that many YA hc floating around here that aren't ex-library.

We have so many college and public libraries here that I myself usually can find the book I want to study available.  My wish list is mostly obscure stuff such as modern railroading, local histories of towns in New Mexico, a moderately popular English historical novelist, and the like that my acquaintances have asked for.  These things don't come up often and thus credits pile up.  My offers to fellow workers and old soldiers to order a book for them are seldom taken up.

 

Date Posted: 2/13/2015 5:50 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,186
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That, and the trust of the people to accumulate large credit stashes is gone. Why not post a WL'd book if you don't have a need for more credits? Used to be you could count on using that credit in the future, as your reading tastes changed and you worked through your TBR pile.

This may be the feelings of some, but all. I'd say not many out of the overall PBS population. There is quite a few books being requested by members to spend credits before the change, but a lot of people are filling those requests and amassing those credits themselves. The credits available are just shifting hands, they aren't retiring. Even those getting sold in the Book Bazaar are getting bought by people amassing more credits!

There are remaining members accumulating large credit stashes right now. Likely those that tend to swap a lot of books and the memberships make sense. Those leaving are those that don't swap a lot so the membership doesn't make sense and a few that are just upset about the changes.

Date Posted: 2/13/2015 8:48 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2013
Posts: 741
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It appears as if you want an 'ebay' type system, where you list and everyone bids on the book (except it is offered one at a time instead of consecutively).  If you have a WL book, and you want to input it into the system, what is wrong with listing it now?  I list them as soon as I am finished reading them, and don't have a problem building up my credit base.  By withholding a WL book, you need to also remember that as others list them (and they do), the request line dwindles and you move closer to the top; but by withholding a book, it takes longer, and also by the time you decide to list your book, there may be no one who wants it anymore.  I'm sure it has happened.  This screams more of greed than anything else.

I would never pay more than one credit for a book.  And what happens to the person who decided to "pass" on the book?  If they kept passing on books, they would continually be at the bottom of the list, and never get their WL book.  If they want to get their WL book, using this thought, you are practically forcing them to pay more than one credit, which certainly isn't going to make them want to be here.

Also, all those people wanting that book might be the newbies, and they'll be just as reluctant to spend more than one credit than the old timers. You need to remember that the "oldtimers" were "youngtimers" once and they had all their WL books at the bottom, too.  

I want you to know I haven't said these things in order to upset anyone, just being logical about it all, so please don't take offense.

Date Posted: 2/13/2015 9:58 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2009
Posts: 2,469
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Thanks for reminding me JoAnne M. that we were once at the newbie = bottom of the wishlists . With time old timers have just learned patience and so we wait. LOL

Date Posted: 2/13/2015 11:13 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,186
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We had a faction of PBSers a few years back that didn't like that they couldn't ask for more than 1 credit for their highly sought after erotica books. So they went offsite and started listing what they had and trading among themselves for more credits. All they were doing is asking each other for more credits and not of them were netting more than if they traded them for 1 credit. What happens when you raise the # of credits to get books is all your do is deflate the value of the credit.

Right now if you earn 1 credit on a WLed book you can get 1 WLed book. If we change it so you get 4 credits for a WLed, you would need those 4 credits to get 1 WLed. So you've gained nothing other than maybe forcing out the new people from the Wish List 'cause they haven't amassed enough credits yet. You could raise the amount earned to 100 credits for the book, but then you get charged 100 credits for an equivalent book. PBS doesn't come in and pay any part of it the swap for you. That's the point of the PBS system, it makes all books equal. You can spend your credit earned on a heavy book, wish listed book, etc on something similar to what you swapped if want to.

Subject: Book Credits
Date Posted: 2/14/2015 6:15 PM ET
Member Since: 9/10/2007
Posts: 15
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I've been on PBS over 7 years, if I'm reading a series and I don't want to wait til my name gets to the top of the wish list, like I'm #75 or so, I just buy the darn book, then if it's not a keeper I post it on here so someone else can read it, what goes around comes around. That being said I'm not sure If I'm going to renew or keep my membership now, I've got so many books to read, and just bought about 20 more yesterday at Goodwill. Not sure how many members are a part of PBS now, but if we all bought memberships, we're talking over a million bucks to PBS and you can't tell me it takes a million bucks to run a book website. I've spent lots of $$ in the past 7 years buying credits so I think I'm done, just not sure I might go the minimum route or not!



Last Edited on: 2/14/15 6:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/15/2015 4:34 AM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2008
Posts: 346
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There are always new books released. On those, older and newer members all have the same chance.

Date Posted: 2/15/2015 7:52 AM ET
Member Since: 8/21/2008
Posts: 725
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I agree with Amy since I mostly read popular fiction.  If publication is announced today, everyone on the site has the same opportunity to be first on the list.  (There are cookbooks and local history books I'd like but doubt I'll ever get through the wishlist system even though I've had some on my list for years.  The type of book influences position probably more than years you've been a member.)