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Topic: What exactly is postable?!?

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Subject: What exactly is postable?!?
Date Posted: 10/29/2009 4:46 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2009
Posts: 13
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I'm noticing more often on here (granted, I am not on here a whole lot) people have stipulations about the books they are willing to accept.  Today someone requested a book of me with a message that said he/she has allergies and would like books from a non-smoking home only.  While our home is smoke-free, I did get this from another swapper on this site and would have no control over their smoking preference.  I smelled the book and it just smells like... pretty much nothing.  What is my protection from a swapper that makes stipulations such as that if they were to say, "well I was coughing and know that this book came from a smoker's home"?

I also received a book from a fellow swapper that had a liquid spill of some sort that soaked into a big chunk of the pages, reaching down into the print.  I did not complain.  I didn't realize it was something to even complain about!  These are USED books for crying out loud.  It was readable.  But it doesn't meet the requirements to be reposted?!?  I've also received a book with what looked to be chocolate (I pray that that's what it was!) here and there.  Hey, I like to munch when reading a good book, too.  Sticker residue from a price tag?!?  People really complain about that? 

Perhaps there should be a rating scale on the quality of each individual's books or a space where the owner of a requested book can describe any "imperfections" or possible disappointments that they may anticipate other swappers could possibly find.

This is a little annoying and detracting from the exchange process's appeal.  If someone wants a new book, GO BUY IT NEW! 

Date Posted: 10/29/2009 4:51 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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I haven't posted anything recently so I'm not sure of the current wording but liquid spills and stains are two of the main things specifically mentioned when you post a book as being completely unacceptable at PBS.  That's nothing to do with anyone's preference, it's the rules of the site. If you don't care about receiving books like that, that's perfectly fine, but don't expect to be able to send them on to others without receiving complaints.

Date Posted: 10/29/2009 5:03 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,601
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If you want to know what is postable in general--ie, for someone without special requestor conditions--that information is given each and every time you post a book. It says,

I promise to follow the Golden Book Rule: My books have front and back covers, all pages, no liquid damage, no writing or highlighting, are not Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs), and my books are in generally good condition.
And then when you mouse over that "good condition" it says:
  • No damage at all from water or other liquids
  • No stains or mold
  • No torn or missing or loose or chewed pages
  • Having a front and back cover (cover does not mean 'dustjacket')
  • No writing or highlighting on text pages
  • Having an intact binding--not separated inside or outside of book
  • Not missing supplemental materials like CDs or cassettes if they were included with the book originally

There is more, too, but those are the basics.

As far as "no books currently in a smoking home" if yours is a non-smoking home, your book meets the criteria. If it's more stringent, such as "no books that have been exposed to smoke," then I would decline if it's a used book, because you just don't know where it's been. This IS a used book site. Very few people expect perfect books--but PBS does allow them to specify just what they want. If your books don't meet their criteria or you're uncomfortable taking a chance with a Requestor Condition, PBS also gives you the right to turn it down.

I shoud add that, because PBS is based on FIFO (first in, first out) rating people or giving conditions of individual copies of books just wouldn't work here.


Last Edited on: 10/29/09 5:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/29/2009 5:06 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,695
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The Help Center has a real nice list of what is allowed to be swapped here.....for your convenience I've posted below.

These Guidelines are not suggestions.  They are criteria to which all books Posted here MUST comply.

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.  These may not obscure text.
    • BookCrossing books may have stickers or stamps or markings on the outside or inside covers or page edges of the book; this is OKAY. These may not obscure text.
    • 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.
    • Books that require batteries to work do NOT have to have working batteries.
    • "Playaway" books must include working headphones.
    • There is an exception to general condition guidelines for textbooks; see below.
    • There is an exception to general condition guidelines for cookbooks; see below.
    • There is an exception to general condition guidelines for travel guides; 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
  • no highlighting, underlining or writing on text pages (exception for Textbooks/Workbooks and travel guidebooks --see below)

Dust Jacket:

  • The DUST JACKET (this is not the same as the cover of a book) does not have to be included with a book at all, unless the requestor had this in their Requestor Conditions. 
  • So DUST JACKET condition cannot be considered as part of the condition of a book, unless there were Requestor Conditions on the request specifying that the dust jacket be included.
  • If the Dust Jacket was to be included as specified in the Requestor Conditions on the request, the Dust Jacket must meet the same conditions as defined for the cover, below.


  • 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 water damaged (there may be no water damage to any part of the book)
  • 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 square 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 text pages
    • for travel guide books - maps if designed to be detachable may be detached, but must be included.
  • Cover not water damaged (there may be no water damage to any part of the book)
  • No writing or highlighting or underlining 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 or underlining on the text pages is NOT OKAY
      • Exception: if it is a textbook or workbook, these are expected to have highlighting/underlining/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 in a reply PM before the book is sent
        • This is the one of the ONLY three cases in which a PM exchange about a book is required before the book can be sent (the others are for travel guidebooks and cookbooks--see below).
      • Exception: if it is a travel guide (not a picture book but a guide, such as Fodor's or Lonely Planet), some writing on text pages could be expected.  All maps must be present and included with the book - if detachable it is OK if they are detached, but they must not be missing.
        • if you post a travel guide that has writing in it, the condition must be described to the requestor in a Personal Message
        • AND the described condition MUST BE AGREED TO in a reply PM before the book is sent
        • This is the one of the ONLY three cases in which a PM exchange about a book is required before the book can be sent (the others are for textbooks/workbooks and cookbooks--see above and 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 in a reply PM before the book is sent
  • This is the one of the ONLY three cases in which a PM exchange about a book is required before the book can be sent (the others are for travel guidebooks and textbooks/workbooks--see above).

this exception applies to the covers of cookbooks also.

Page edges: remainder marks are OK.  A name written on the page edges is okay (if it does not bleed in and obscure text on the text pages)


  • Audiobooks must be originals--not copies! 
    • Copies are illegal.  Swapping illegal materials here will get you expelled from the club.
    • burned audio downloads are not permitted on the site--these could be legal (being the only copies you made), but since there is no way to verify this, they are not permitted.
  • Audiobooks do NOT have to include the box that enclosed the individual cassettes/CDs
    • The audiobooks should be packaged well if the box is missing, to prevent damage by USPS en route
    • Audio CDs must be shipped in CD cases/DVD cases, to protect them from scratching, if the original box is missing
  • Audiobooks must be playable to be swapped here, without more than two (minor) skips.
  • "Playaway" audio books must include the headphones (batteries do NOT have to be included).

Interactive books

  • These include popup books and children's books that have interactive functions (LEDs, sounds, etc).
  • The functions must be working (popups not torn, sounds/lights functional etc).
  • If these items have replaceable batteries, these do NOT have to be included.

Supplementary/Accompanying Materials:

  • Books that require supplementary Media materials MAY be posted

    • supplementary Media materials include CD(s)/CD-ROMs/DVD(s)/VHS tape(s)
    • if the book originally included supplementary Media materials, the supplementary materials must accompany the book for the book to be postable.
  • Books that require non-Media supplementary materials MAY NOT be posted

    • an example would be a book that requires a decoder or craft materials
    • these items cannot be sent MediaMail
  • Books that originally had accompanying non-Media materials that are not required to read the book (ie, jewelry) MAY be posted.
    • The extra material does not have to be included, and if it is included, the book must not be sent using Media mail rate.
  • Books that require batteries to work do NOT have to include the batteries, but they MUST be in working condition.
  • The member who sends a book that requires batteries must test the book before posting it, and again before sending it.  The batteries do not have to be included when it is shipped (although they can be), but the item must have been tested and working before the item is sent.
Date Posted: 10/29/2009 6:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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Also if someone with a "not-currently in a smoking environment" RC complains about a book you sent: you do not have to refund them a credit. You just state "my home is non-smoking home and there fore met with the RCS".  Obviously if you have a book you bought used that just reeks of smoke-you might want to turn even that RC down.  I've been turning cat RCS down even though I don't have a cat. The previous owner had 5 cats, I had some books stored at a friend who has 3 cats and I got a bunch of books from my stepmother who had 3 cats.  I can't remember which books where where and with them side by side on my shelves there could be cat hair transfer.  Plus I have 2 dogs and I'm always worried that I'll be accused of sending a cat book if they see dog hair-and all my books come with dog hair.

Date Posted: 10/29/2009 9:19 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,987
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others have pasted the exact rules for postability.

A thought about your examples, though .... the things that generally make a book "unpostable" are things that make it gross, or things that make it too damaged to read.

1. Nobody wants sticky stuff on the cover. How do I know when I reeive a book with sticky stuff on it ... that it is sticker residue? Could be anything, for all I know. (Now having said that, I am pretty good at cleaning off sticky stuff, so I probably wouldn't RWAP a sticky cover myself ... but still ... that doesn't mean its not gross.).

2. Nobody wants food stained or food fingerprinted pages. That's just gross. Not to mention, food residue attracts bugs and rodents.

3. Nobody wants books with water damage, or worse, mysterious liquid damage. That is gross, in the case of mystery liquid, or can grow mildew and mold, in the case of water and mystery liquid.

I have more than 2,000 "used" books in my home and none of them have any food in them, or water damaged pages, or sticky stuff on the covers. Some of them are well-used, having been read multiple times. There is a lot of dog-ears, cover folds, cover curls, etc. in my books. They are not perfect. But, they are certainly not gross by any stretch of the imagination. I don't want any gross books. But well used and well loved is OK with me. And, it seems to be OK with most PBS members.

Last Edited on: 10/29/09 9:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/29/2009 9:51 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 13,147
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Ew. Food stains? So glad that's NOT postable. How disgusting.

Date Posted: 10/30/2009 11:55 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2009
Posts: 13
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Ha, ha - thanks for all the replies and rules.  This has been helpful to me as I have a cookbook that I'd recently bought used and the previous owner had handwritten a recipe on the back blank page as well as placed an asterik by some recipes which she/he then used a dot of white out to try to hide.  I thought about posting it but didn't think I could.  Sounds like I can as long as I send a message informing the swapper and receive their reply accepting the condition.

I'm also glad to see yellowing from age is acceptable because I was afraid it was not since other staining isn't. 


Date Posted: 10/30/2009 12:03 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Yuppers, cookbooks and textbooks have their own guidelines due to being designed for different usage.  Be sure to check and comply with the guidelines before posting  :)

Date Posted: 10/31/2009 7:33 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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Also as an aside - there isprovision for tradingandswapping - either for credit or not - books that don't meet the conditions.  You just put them on your public profile, in your post's signature line and/or offer them in the Book Bazaar.  I've managed to trade of several that way.  Barely missed the postability standards -but still got a credit since they were heavily WL'd.  It's just that unpostables cannot be posted into the FIFO system.


Date Posted: 11/1/2009 7:17 PM ET
Member Since: 12/23/2005
Posts: 3,014
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I am on this site because the used books are not allowed to be gross.  I don't want pristine, I just don't want gross.  PBS has standatds that it expects the members to follow.  People who refuse to comply should not chide an angry recipient with the old, "go buy the book new."  Those senders should trade on a site that allows water damaged, chocolate stained, gross books to be offered.  Don't trade your books at PBS is you don't believe the rules are worth following.