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Topic: Thoughts questions about running specials

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Subject: Thoughts questions about running specials
Date Posted: 6/4/2008 5:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 22
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Please don't anyone take this as a criticism of PBS, I love this place but as I got all the books together and mailed  for the last special I ran, I realized it would've been cheaper to just thow my books in the trash (Ouch!) and buy credits than to send 3 books for 1 credit, plus packing supplies, plus postage. Am I doing something wrong? I'm moving and would LOVE to get rid of all my books but if its cheaper to throw them in the trash than run a 3 for 1 special (and obviously, 4 for 1 is out) then I don't know what to do.

Last Edited on: 6/4/08 5:48 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/4/2008 5:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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Don't take this as overly simplistic, but I find a lot of members don't know that Media Mail goes by weight; shipping more than one book can save you significantly on postage.  You need not purchase packaging materials (other than tape) -- you can use brown paper grocery bags and recycled plastic (grocery or newspaper bags) to wrap in.

That said, some folks don't always feel it is worth their money for swaps and deals.  Rather than throw the books away, however, please consider offering them to Goodwill or another charitable group that can put them to good use. Even Freecycle is better than the landfill. :-)



Date Posted: 6/4/2008 6:18 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2005
Posts: 131
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DITTO to what Elizabeth said!!!   If you decide it's too much to post/mail the books here, donate or give them away somehow, please don't throw them away!   If you're too busy w/ moving preparation to drive someplace to donate them, post them on a  freecycle list in your area, people usually snap up books in a heartbeat!   Or if that's not an option for you --- put them in a box out on the curb with a big sign "free books" & someone will most likely grab them up pretty quickly.   (on a sunny day when they won't get rained on! :)   

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 6:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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Last Edited on: 2/3/10 9:25 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/4/2008 6:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,752
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If you are mailing hardcovers or heavy paperbacks, it may cost more to mail 3.  But if you are mailing 3 average paperbacks, and like the others suggested, using brown paper, plastic, and tape, then it will probably cost you a little under $3 to mail those 3 books.  If I remember correctly, a credit is $3.45, so you still come out ahead.

When you're doing a deal, you can specify "paperbacks only" or "3-1 on paperbacks, 2-1 on hardcovers" or something like that.

Hope that helped!

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 7:00 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,226
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Definitely don't through them in the trash. If it gets to the point that you are moving and cannot get them freecycled or to a thrift store, post on PBS to see if someone lives close to you. Maybe you can find another PBS member that can pick them up and add them to their shelf.

Another thought would be to weigh the books and see exactly how many credits it would take and offer them for that.  Then you'd at least break even.

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 7:07 PM ET
Member Since: 7/20/2007
Posts: 1,046
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Media Mail is awesome. If i am mailing like a thin Children's book i willmail First Class but in general, i am learning Media Mail is awesome.

As for deals, i don't know about that. If you're buying packing supplies you are probably spending more, but you can do a lot with used boxes, printer paper with a layer or two of waxed paper or plastic as your first wrapping.

And this includes more than one book/oversized books. I wrapped two fairly thick paperbacks together in regular printer paper with, i have to say, an ingenious wrapping design, then a layer of waxed paper, then another layer or two of printer paper, and it was great! I mailed a large reference book in waxed paper plus several sheets of printer paper, i just wrapped it at the ends first, then the middle... it took a couple layers but it was better than sending it in a box or an oversized bubble mailer from the PO.

I just did a deal on audiobook cassettes, i mailed out TWENTY-ONE audiobooks (i did a 3 for 1) in a box i had gotten last fall with baby clothes in it from a friend in Australia, packed the excess space with newspaper, and it cost me 5.78 WITH Delivery Confimation.

My advice, find alternative, and creative ways to send mail. And when it gets over 13 ounces, always use Media Mail!

Last Edited on: 6/4/08 7:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/4/2008 7:08 PM ET
Member Since: 12/3/2005
Posts: 3,409
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Personally, I've never done a 3 for 1 simply because I do like to have credits be worth something.  I generally do 2 for 1 on just paperbacks and those offers have been well received and end up being worthwhile especially when people order several and I can simply package in a repurposed box (cereal, granola bars, whatevers available).  I, too, would agree that donating would be a better solution than the trash especially if they are still in good readable condition.

Trading into a UBS might be another good option for you as you don't generally have to use the credit right away, so you can get more books later after the move and when you're ready for something new.  Best of luck! :)

Last Edited on: 6/4/08 7:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/4/2008 7:19 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,730
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I'm almost always doing a 3 for 1 because the kind of books I like to read are light paperbacks.  I can send 3 of them (sometimes 4) for under 1lb so it doesn't cost any more to mail them.  I use plastic cling wrap and brown kraft paper, both bought at the dollar store.  A roll of each goes a long way.  I only print the address portion of the PBS wrapper to save on ink and printer paper.  If I do buy a book these days, it's from Goodwill or a used a bit store so I get them pretty darned cheap.

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 7:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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Also you can shop the book bazaar and use 1 credit to order 3 or 4 books from someone else running a deal. 

Or become a boxer and do book for book trades. 

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 8:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 22
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Thanks for the ideas. Unfortunately, I live in a rural town in a rural state. Nearest freecycle is a ways. I don't think I could bring myself to throw them away. Unfortunately, since we've known we were moving (just not the exact when) I haven't been keeping a lot of things for packing supplies because I didn't want to have a big mess to throw away. Which is why I had to go buy some brown paper, cling wrap, and of course, I was out of tape today too :)

The mailing of them came out ahead (vs purchased credit) but not when taking into effect the packing materials. Since I'm moving, and I'm moving to go to law school, I don't think I'm going to have a lot of time for being a boxer, or perhaps even sending my books. Maybe my mother can keep them.

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 8:30 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,372
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This is why I never run a special that involves only 1 credit.  All my deals involve more than one, and I try to make sure I come out ahead on postage per credit. 

Consider it a lesson learned--and run a 5 for 2 or a 10 for 3 next time, for example. But look at your shelf--the more big heavy books the fewer "freebies" or the more credits that need to be involved.

Best if both sides get a deal--you on postage/credit and them on books/credit.

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 10:57 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2005
Posts: 553
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I'm with Kayote on this one - do your deals for 2 or more credits.  The cash equivalent of the second credit covers quite a few pounds of books at the media mail rate.

Date Posted: 6/5/2008 3:45 AM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2008
Posts: 346
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Well, some people don't mind spending a little extra to be able to send their books to someone, so the fact that they are losing a little bit on each book isn't very critical. :) And if I wasn't broke myself, I wouldn't mind either, hehe. The two dollars here and there sure add up!

Date Posted: 6/5/2008 11:51 AM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 5,034
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Another thing to think about is your own enjoyment.  I do realize that running specials does increase the "cost" of the credit earned due to the extra 34 or 68 cents needed to ship a slightly heavier package.  Sometimes it might even go over the $3.45 that it costs to buy a credit.  However, I have found that on average, my costs stay below 3.45 and are generally closer to $3.

Personally, I have a lot of fun wrapping and shipping the deals... but maybe I am just wierd. 

Date Posted: 6/5/2008 2:41 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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Last Edited on: 2/3/10 9:25 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/8/2008 5:40 PM ET
Member Since: 11/8/2007
Posts: 142
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Yeah I agree a 3 for 1 deal may not be worth it.  I usually run a 2 for 1 deal or a 5 for 2 deal.  Also don't be afraid to shop the book bazaar when you are ready for new books and get some free books for yourself. 

Date Posted: 6/12/2008 7:15 AM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2006
Posts: 8,426
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Last Edited on: 12/14/08 3:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/12/2008 7:40 AM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2007
Posts: 3,129
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Lita, if you're weird then I am, too!  Anyone can see by looking at my stats that I send out many more books than I receive...almost 3 to 1.  I thoroughly enjoy scouting for books that I think are wishlisted or will be requested.  Meanwhile, most of the books I have on my personal booklist can be found through my county library system.  My husband teases me about my "hobby" since it probably costs me money to be involved with PBS, but I love it!

Date Posted: 6/16/2008 9:54 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 352
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I just mailed 5 books today Media Mail and the total only came to $3.28.  I recycled a box and a brown paper grocery bag.  I addressed it by hand.  The only packaging material I had to buy was tape.

Date Posted: 6/16/2008 1:18 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,223
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I just did a 3/1 and I even allowed them to include one hardback. I mailed out 21 packages My average was between $2.58 and $3.00.  And that  included PBS DC. I use grocery bags or manila envelopes along with plastic wrap or plastic grocery bags. I do go through lots of tape! :)  I still find it worth it.

One of the reasons though I find it inexpensive for me is that I volunteer at our FOL, which is more like a used bookstore and open daily, and have another town that does an awesome FOL sale with 50,000 volumes each month. I get books for .25 each. You can't beat that! So I pay very little for the books I read and the books I swap.

Date Posted: 6/16/2008 1:41 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 5,034
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I saw the concern up above about "cheapening" a credit by book deals.  I have found from my account that sure I get more hits when I run a special... but I get at least as many "single" orders from folks using the FIFO system.  I think the percentage of people who actually use the Book Bazaar vs Everyone is pretty small and doesn't really "take away" from the normal system.

Date Posted: 6/16/2008 2:17 PM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 22
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Thanks for all the thoughts! I'll try a 5/2 next time and see if that seems an easier method. Mostly, I made a mistake in running a special when I was busy anyway :) I appreciate all the different ideas and experiences everyone posted.



Subject: another idea for inexpensive wrapping
Date Posted: 6/16/2008 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2007
Posts: 189
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Another good inexpensive wrapping is from wallpaper sample books.  I live in a small town but there are two stores which will give me free sample books.  The paper is sturdy, attractive, and best of all, free!


Date Posted: 6/16/2008 3:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 663
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You can also buy rolls of wallpaper at many thrift stores. I pay $2.00 for a roll that usually wraps 20 to 25 packages, depending on book size.