Discussion Forums - Questions about PaperBackSwap Questions about PaperBackSwap

Topic: Why must people write in books?

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Why must people write in books?
Date Posted: 9/20/2008 10:51 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2007
Posts: 527
Back To Top

That is the question. I know this book doesn't meet PBS standards... It has highlighting throughout the book, and on one page specifically it has writting on it. This is one of my pet peeves because I can't read books with high-lighting. It bothers my eyes after a very short time. So now I get to choose wether to eat the credit, and throw out the book, eat the credit and send it (freebie) to someone who can read it, or mark it RWAP and go through the trouble of trying to get my credit back.

Here's a pict (hopefully) of the worst page writting wise: http://i474.photobucket.com/albums/rr104/SephiesKris/BooksRecieved.jpg

What would you do?

Last Edited on: 9/20/08 10:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/20/2008 11:00 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2008
Posts: 1,181
Back To Top

That's defintely an unpostable. I would mark it RWAP and then ask the sender to refund your credit. Whether they do, or don't, you can always offer it as a freebie with any order, especially if there is any demand for the book.  But that really stinks and I can't see how a sender could post and send it, unless they never opened it. I recently had to cancel an order I accepted when I went to prepare the book for mailing and found wavy pages. Ended up sending it as a freebie to the requestor along with the other book she ordered.

ETA: Upon looking at a larger view, it looks like it could possibly be a textbook. Is it? If so, some writing and highlighting is permissible, but the sender is supposed to PM you to describe the condition before sending it. I'm not sure what you're supposed to do if someone sends a textbook without contacting you first.  Good luck!

Last Edited on: 9/20/08 11:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/20/2008 11:28 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2007
Posts: 527
Back To Top

No, it's not a textbook. ( http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/details/9780062731708-Structuring+Your+Novel ) It's a non-fiction guide on how to write novels. It might even go so far as to be a "workbook" because it has questions for exercises (but not spaces to write the answer in, like a true workbook.) Or am I wrong. Does this count as a textbook simply because it has exercises?

Date Posted: 9/20/2008 11:35 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
Back To Top

Texbook or not it cannot be sent with highlighting and writing unless you say it's okay.  I'm sorry you got that book, Kris.  I also am really bothered by underlining and highlighting (funny, since I have no problem reading tatty, unpostable books) and if given the chance I will decline books with writing in them.

Not meaning to hijack, but I'd love to see some guidance about what qualifies as a textbook.  I know that some people have a fairly broad definition that includes fiction and nonfiction frequently used as required reading in classes (such as classics), but I tend to think of textbooks more narrowly, as compilations of material published specifically for use in a class setting.  There are arguments for both the broad and narrow definitions, and it would be nice to see what the site had in mind.

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 12:51 AM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
Back To Top
I hate writing in books. My Art history teacher strongly recommended we at least highlight parts in our textbook, if not write in the margins as well. She might be right that it would help us during review, but I just can't bring myself to do it!!! I agree with you Kristen, I would like some firm guidelines about that as well. As a student, I consider any book I have been required to buy for a class a textbook, but that would cover almost anything. Usually its not an issue because I don't write in my books anyway, but I buy used a lot, and often they come to me with writing and highlighting.
Date Posted: 9/21/2008 8:07 AM ET
Member Since: 5/5/2008
Posts: 515
Back To Top

I say mark it RWP. It has writing and highlighting, therefore it's unpostable.

I don't mind books that have been written in; I kind of like getting the insight into the previous reader's thoughts. I never write in books myself though. And it is irritating to have a book that I want to post but can't because the previous owner wrote in it.

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 8:43 AM ET
Member Since: 9/24/2007
Posts: 453
Back To Top

Please mark it RWAP, whether you decide to ask for your credit back or not.  This is the only way that senders learn that doing this is unacceptable.  If it's a one-time screw up then it won't hurt their standing at all, and if it isn't then PBS needs to know! 

If the book has a problem, it needs to be marked as having a problem (otherwise you actually have to fib!)  Whether you want to go through the hassle of requesting a credit return should really be a separate issue for people. 

Sorry you got a bum book!


Date Posted: 9/21/2008 10:50 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
Back To Top

if it is a non fiction book on how to write a novel I would consider it a possible text book.  you would be surprised at what some schools have as textbooks.  However, that doesn't mitigate the fact that they didn't contact you to let you know so you could tell them no you didn't want the book.


I would mark it RWAP and request your credit back.  You can relist it but would need to let people know it has writing in it as it was a possible textbook.  or offer it as a freebie with an order

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 2:50 PM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2007
Posts: 3
Back To Top

Mark in RWP.  I have gotten three books in a row where there has been writing and highlighting in them.  Grr.  Very frustrating.  2 I makred RWP and asked for my credit back.  One I got the credit back within the day, the other I am waiting on.  (Just marked it this morning, so not too anxious yet.)  The third I didn't notice until after marking the book received, as it doesn't have as much writing, so I'm not as worried about that one. 

If you do mark RWP, I recommend that after you have worked it out with the sender, to go in your transaction archive and mark whether or not the issue was resolved.  Anyone can make a mistake, and I think it's important to mark that the sender fixed the problem.  (And perhaps even more important to note if the sender did not fix the problem.)

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
Back To Top


You have an obligation to mark it RWP -- the PBS system depends upon members reporting bad books by marking them RWP so that members making a genuine error have a chance to review the rules, and problem members can get weeded out.  If you want your credit back, you must ask for it explicitly when you notify the sender of the problem -- don't assume they'll know what you want.

I'm sorry you had a negative experience, but hopefully it will be resolved.



Date Posted: 9/21/2008 3:35 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,741
Back To Top

I too would like to see some definition of what constitutes a textbook. I'm sure some people would say it is any book that had been used in a classroom setting, but that can apply to any classic novel. I would agree that a book on how to write a novel might very well have been used in a fiction writing class (I've got several sitting on my own shelves). I would also say that there are several other types of books, besides textbooks and cookbooks, that one could expect to find writing in used copies - for example, computer programming guides, or writer's market guides, etc. I kind of wish the site would remove the no writing/highliting condition and just apply the "must get prior approval from the requester if the book has writing in it" to all transactions. There are some writing guides out there I would be happy to get with someone else's notes in them!

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 5:56 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2007
Posts: 527
Back To Top

Thank you all for your advice. I REALLY appreciate it. I did mark it recieved with a problem, like many of you suggested.  She was really cool about it and did refund my credit for me. And I did mark the transaction resolved. Thanks again everyone.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 9/21/2008 5:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
Back To Top

I am a bit confused as to what precisely consitutes a textbook as well.  The above book does sound like a textbook to me, and I'm not sure why it would be unpostable.  I ran into the same issue with a couple of my own books I had bought for classes, but was not entirely sure they'd be considered textbooks by everyone.  I removed any that were doubtful.

I will never understand how writing or highlighting is helpful in textbooks, though.  I would hear professors encourage people to do this.  Why?  It ruins the book and makes a mess you wouldn't have if you put the motes in a separate notebook.    I have a Riverside Shakespeare text I bought used at college with some handwritten notes.  Pretty lame ones, too.  I have a suspicion whoever put them there didn't do well in Shakespeare class. 

Date Posted: 9/21/2008 8:31 PM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
Posts: 6,069
Back To Top

Bren makes a good point, though not many would agree.  Just make it mandatory to PM if there is writing.  Whether something is a textbook or not is just too arbitrary.  I was really annoyed when I found a self-help type of book I received had highlighting in it.  We all have different issues that need help, right?  But then I realized, the author does lots of workshops for each of her books and sells them at the conferences.  I would then definitely consider this book a textbook of sorts, which makes me not so annoyed at all. 

Last Edited on: 9/21/08 8:32 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/21/2008 9:15 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,367
Back To Top

I hate writing in books. I find it VERY distracting. 

I had an English teacher that handed out red pens and refused to let us leave until we made a mark in our book.  It galled me incredibly.

If I must make a note in a book I use a post-it. 

If profs really want people to learn they should recommend what a different teacher of mine said--have a notebook with you, note the page, write the passage, then make your comment.  You'll remember it much better if you write it and your comment--and no damage to the book!

Angie -
Date Posted: 9/21/2008 10:26 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
Posts: 3,299
Back To Top


Last Edited on: 1/18/09 5:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/22/2008 9:00 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 3,574
Back To Top
I don't mind writing or highlighting in books I'm reading. I actually LIKE highlighting in used textbooks, until it gets stupid - like, everything is Highlighted. I LOVE writing in used cookbooks. I looked at the pic. I would definatly mark it RWAP, it should not have been posted. I don't personally think it counts as a text book for the system, but I get that it may have been being used as one by a previous owner, which might explain the writing and highlighting. However, please remeber that you have an extra problem with highlighting. I looked at the pic of the worst page, which you posted, and, while I would def consider it unpostable, I think many people would not consider it unreadable. I would offer it as a freebie.
Date Posted: 9/22/2008 9:27 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
Back To Top

I also think that travel guides should be allowed with writing....who doesn't write in a travel guide?  I do - such as not there any more, good, bad, etc.  now I don't write a lot but I would still think that notes in a travel guide could be helpful to the next person!

Date Posted: 9/23/2008 2:04 AM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2008
Posts: 541
Back To Top

I think anything that has been used in a class, or even any book where the purpose of the book is to instruct can be fair game as a textbook.

However, the rules say that even if it's a textbook you have to PM the requestor with the condition of the book.  This is a real pain, especially if they say no and you have the only copy of the book, but the other option is to do an unpostable deal.

What I wish isn't so much that they'd define textbook.  I wish there was a box you could mark when you post it if it meets textbook guidelines but not regular guidelines.  Then when it comes up in FIFO, there could be a dialogue box that tells the requestor that this copy may have writing and/or highlighting, do they still want it?  To me, that would solve any confusion on either person's part.  Not only that, but it would make it a lot easier to post textbooks, which would put more books into the system.

Highlighting doesn't bother me.  Writing only bothers me if it crosses over onto the text and makes the text hard to read.  I find it interesting to see what other people deem important or interesting enough to highlight or comment on.

As to the original question...

I used to highlight the hell out of my books.  When I was learning to read, my favorite thing was to underline the sentences as I read them.  I think it made it easier for me to follow.  Then, I progressed to only highlighting chapter titles and dialogue.  The final evolution was I highlighted passages that I found particularly well-written or beautiful.  I did this all through college.

I don't do any of it anymore though.  And I check all my old books before posting them to make sure I don't need to put them in a deal instead.  Just to clarify so you aren't all putting me on your black lists to not order my books. ;)

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 9/23/2008 4:38 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
Back To Top

I think anything that has been used in a class, or even any book where the purpose of the book is to instruct can be fair game as a textbook.

I totally disagree.  Just because I am required to read The Iliad in Ancient Greek History 101 it does not mean it's a text book.  IMO, text books are easy to spot - they generally would not be read for any reason other than for a course or in the field of study.  Don't make it harder on yourself than it already is.

The OP should mark the book RWAP and ask for the credit back.  "No writing or highlighting" is not subjective.


Date Posted: 9/23/2008 5:25 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 23
Back To Top

Interestingly, there is a name for writing in books. It's called "marginalia". Personally, I prefer to mark passages I like (or dislike) with sticky notes and then once I've finished the book, copy them along with my thoughts into a notebook. I've seen before that books with famous people's margin notes can be worth more than just a plain copy, though. It's interesting to me to see all the different ways people think books should or should not be used. When it gets to be a problem is when you're attempting to swap them, I guess.

I just got a book with highlighting and written notes in the margin. I didn't mind in this case, so I just sent her a note saying I didn't mind this time, but that she should really PM to let the requester decide if they want it in that condition or note. If you don't want it like that though, I agree that you should definitely mark it as unacceptable.

Happy reading!

Date Posted: 9/24/2008 1:01 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 3,574
Back To Top
There used to be a used cookbook store in my hometown - yep, that was all they sold, used cookbooks! Well, that was the only books they sold, plus, i think, maybe one shelf of assorted not used community books being sold on behalf of various orginazations. They also had various other stuff - cooking paraphanailla, maybe used, maybe new, sitting around, and they gave cooking classes, but it was basicly an entire store of used cookbooks. One of my favorite stores, it was SO Awesome. (they gave these awesome cooking classes in the back, too.) I used to peruse the books, looking for ones with a lot of margin notes. Is there a way to search on here for used cookbooks that are well written in? (I think not, since they would be unpostable. saddness)
Date Posted: 9/24/2008 5:23 AM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,354
Back To Top

I also lean towards the idea that if it was used in a classroom, it's a textbook.  My reasoning is that if it was used in one classroom, it's likely that someone else will have it assigned to them for a class.  And when I bought "textbooks" at the college bookstore, it included all kinds of shapes, sizes, and bindings.  Some of the larger paperbacks were as expensive as the traditional textbooks, especially in Linguistics and foreign languages, and any struggling student would be happy to get one here used, highlighting or no.  

That said,  I certainly understand the other point of view, that a textbook would be one of those big hardcovers.

However, I think it's okay if we leave the definition of "textbook" to the person who posted the book.  IMHO, it doesn't matter much whether we agree on a definition of "textbook" as long as we abide by the rule of PMing the person first.  There's the added step of having to reply to the PM, but I haven't had that happen very often in the past couple of years, and I never found it inconvenient.