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Topic: Writing A Paper That Deals With Paperback Book Swap

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Subject: Writing A Paper That Deals With Paperback Book Swap
Date Posted: 4/20/2009 9:07 PM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2009
Posts: 30
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Hi, I'm a fairly new PBS member and I'm also a library school student.  For my Information Retrieval class I'm writing a paper that involves website evaluation.  One of the websites I've chosen to evaluate is PBS because I am a member and I like the service.

Part of the evaluaton is user feedback.  So I'd like some opinions about your experience with  things like site navigation, search, the process of posting books.  What do you like about the PBS website? 

If you would like to PM me instead of posting to this board, that's fine.  But I think this might be a valuable board discussion.

If I want to quote you in my paper, I will PM you asking for your permission and what name I should use in the paper.

I want you to know that I'm coming from the perspective that  the PBS website  is great, but my instructor is going to want  specifics. 



Date Posted: 4/20/2009 9:20 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
Posts: 40,554
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Glad to be of service.  As a new member I am delighted with how easy this site is to navigate.  All you have to do to post books is enter a few numbers found on the book.  Instructions are easy to follow and live help and forums can answer all questions.  As someone who is quite leary of entering any personal information on a website, this site is truly legit and I don't hesitate to recommend to my friends.

Subject: Tags on PBS
Date Posted: 4/20/2009 9:45 PM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2009
Posts: 30
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I forgot to ask about one more thing.  Do you use tags on PBS?  Do you find them useful?  What would be an example of a useful tag? 



Date Posted: 4/20/2009 9:54 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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when I use tags it is to note where that book is in a series.  I've added tags like main character, town, etc but where the book is has been the most helpful.  I prefer notes because then it is personal and is easier for me to see than tags.

I really like this site because I can find new authors to read (which is dangerous!) that maybe I wouldn't have heard of before.  I like the fact that I can get rid of books simply for the cost of shipping them.and in return can request those books that sound interesting.

Date Posted: 4/20/2009 10:18 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 12,028
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I find the site incredibly easy to navigate.  Friendly forums, real sense of community.  Very easy to post books and so many options to keep lists.  Items you want to order in the future (Reminder List), items you want to order that aren't available right now (Wish List), To Be Read list (where it's just a couple of clicks to post the book to your bookshelf).  Those are the ones I use.  There's also the Books I've Read list but that requires you to rate each book you've read and I wasn't willing to do that to access that list.

I know there are a ton of features I don't use but the options are there.  Box of Books, Printable Postage, Journal, Reviews, Blog.  I'm sure a bunch more I don't even know about.  It's so easy to customize the site to fit  your needs.  Only use the features you want to use to make it the best experience for you.

I do not use Tags.  I don't quite get the point of them so I'm glad PBS has the option to turn them off so I don't have to see them if I don't want to.  I have them turned off as well as all the annoying blinkies and pictures in signatures.

Date Posted: 4/20/2009 10:48 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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I use tags sparingly.  I tag books when I find there is a version that doesn't come up in the search anywhere.  I also tag when other versions of a WL'd book is available.  That would be a temporary tag most of the time.  I really like when people tag which book is in which order of a series.

Date Posted: 4/20/2009 11:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 3,044
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I think the site is extremely easy to use compared to other book swapping sites like BookMooch. It is much more user friendly. The wish list here guarantees you'll eventually get the book instead of being a free for all. Searching is also super easy because it lists all the books from an author so you might not see the one you were looking for but realize another is available. This is also what I like about the home page and having books from my favorite genres there to see if I might want something I didn't realize I did!

I had never used tags until yesterday. Someone in the Christian fiction forum suggested tags for a particular authors books because they tend to be edgy compared to traditional Christian fiction novels. So I went through and labeled her books as such when a member said it would be super helpful when searching for new authors to try.

I hope I helped! If you need anything more specific you can PM me. Oh, and you're free to quote me. :)

Date Posted: 4/20/2009 11:30 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2008
Posts: 2,800
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I appreciate how user friendly PaperbackSwap is. Directions are clear and easy to find. It is also nice that a person can use only the basic functions of the site, such as posting and requesting books, without using any other features. However, users are offered many other services that many people find useful, such as wish lists, reminder lists, tags, and discussion forums.

Date Posted: 4/20/2009 11:45 PM ET
Member Since: 2/1/2008
Posts: 3,657
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One of the things I like best about this site--other than the books of course--is how accessible the people behind the scenes are.  You can always post feedback via the link at the bottom of each page--and within a short period of time TPTB have given you a response.  So many of the changes that have been made since the site's inception--that have made the site much more user friendly--have been a result of user comments and questions. 

One of the most recent changes I can think of was the change in the configuration of the WL to show when the book was last posted and a rough estimate on when you might expect to get it.  Another change was the handy little "Ignore this member" link that was added to each member's posted messages as a result of the extremely rancorous times that were had on the boards--especially CMT--during the elections in November.

TPTB are always talking about their extremely long to-do list.  The items on that list have been compiled with a huge amount of input from each and every member that uses the site, even those that haven't yet had the opportunity to send formal feedback.

If your professor wants a specific example of the family type atmosphere here and how far PBS members are willing to go to support the site, and keep it financially solvent--point out the Friends of PBS option, as well as the sticky thread at the top of the CMT board that is full of posts from Lester--a dearly departed member whose death created such an outpouring of emotion across all boards on the site, that he was given his own place in memorium.

edited for spelling

Last Edited on: 4/20/09 11:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/21/2009 1:51 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 11,194
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Hi Linda,

I'm a fairly new member and I have a couple of comments.

First, I love PBS. I think that posting, requesting, and mailing books is extremely easy (and for the most part, intuitive). I think it is easy for new members to understand how these processes work.

I think search could be improved. There are many, many times when doing something like searching for an author's name with or without a middle initial will pull up different results. (Or, having a period after the middle initial will give you different results). This is neither easy to use or intuitive. Many times, I have searched for a keyword that brings up no results, when I know perfectly well, it is part of the title of the book that I am searching for. Also, when you first start to use Search, it is not immediately obvious that you are searching only Posted Books. Once you are used to it, it becomes easier to redo your searches until you get some kind of results, but its not intuitive. I seemed to spend a lot of time at first, trying to figure out how to redo searches to find books (that I had seen before on PBS). I still spend more time than I would like, when a perfectly reasonable search doesn't turn up the expected results. ( I work for a software company, so I consider myself pretty computer/website literate, I'm fairly certain that my problems with search are not "me" problems). 

The absolute best thing about PBS is the forums, and the fact that so many people are willing to answer questions (even the same questions over and over), very quickly. It is extremely easy to get help from other PBS members, and the advice or answers that are given are usually very high quality. The value of the forums in building a PBS community cannot be overstated. As I was investigating the website before I joined, one of the things that allowed me to very quickly decide that participating on PBS would be worth the time invested was the fact that the forums were so active and I could see that there were many, many people interested in making PBS work. Without the forums, I would have still checked out the site, but I don't know if I would have been convinced quickly (or at all) to join.

Last Edited on: 4/21/09 1:57 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/21/2009 2:14 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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Sara (sorry to hijack momentarily), the search is based on other databases than PBS's. And it is based on more than one, I believe.  So that might be why it isn't as "friendly" or accurate as it could be.  I'm sure that with time it will improve.  I'm glad you like it here as much as the rest of us.  We're glad to have you!

Now back to the real thread subject at hand! ;D


Date Posted: 4/21/2009 2:15 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,805
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I am not very computer savy but I find this site so easy to use.     Even when there is a change in the site, after a day or so we all seem to figure it out and things start working smoothly again.    I love the forums and the community that has developed here.   The game swappers are almost a whole other subject.   The men and women who run the games are just super and the gamers help each other and get so involved with us all.

Tags?   I used them like crazy at first.   Was doing all the tagging the way they told us to do it.   Then, the PTB changed the way they wanted the tags to be used.    I was not going to change all my tags to notes.    So now - I simply never use the tags.  

Date Posted: 4/21/2009 6:14 AM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 63
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I never swapped until I joined PBS so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I found the site incredibly easy to use, and am even more impressed with my fellow swappers. The condition of the books I’ve received has far exceeded my expectations.

 For me, the best thing is PBS Postage. I wouldn’t have joined if it lacked this feature, because my local PO always has long lines.

As for finding the right books, you’ll probably be happier in the long run if you see PBS primarily as a place to browse and make discoveries. If there’s a particular volume you need to read ASAP you’re better off using Amazon or ABE.

 Minor complaints: I recently found out that you can’t conceal your real name in your public profile, even though you can conceal just about everything else. Bizarre. And quite a few people seem to use their Wish List as a Reminder List. About half of the books that pop up under my “Wish List Holds” tab wind up not being ordered.

I pay no attention to tags.

 When’s your paper due? How close are you to graduating? I'm jealous - sometimes I fantasize about being a librarian.
Date Posted: 4/21/2009 9:08 AM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,607
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I love PBS--have been a member for coming up on four years in August--it's been interesting watching them grow and to make it through all the changes that have gone on over the years. How I use the site has changed too--at first I was like a kid in a candy store and had to buy some credits to keep up with my ordering, even though I posted and sent a whole bunch of books. It wasn't enough! Now, I'm a lot pickier about what I order. My wishlist primarily does my PBS shopping for me, although I do still occasionally order a book that's available in the system now when I need a "next in series" book.

I love the way the whole system is set up, with FIFO being a really fair way to do things.

I think the site is quite easy to navigate.

I have tags blocked so obviously pay no attention to them. I do use the "notes" feature for myself occasionally though.


Date Posted: 4/21/2009 10:19 AM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2008
Posts: 167
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Hi Linda,

I "discovered" PBS thanks to an Oprah magazine blurb and I couldn't be happier.  The site is easy to navigate and the little "? tab" was my new best friend as I learned the basics. As another poster mentioned the search feature is a little unusual and it took me a while to figure out how to make it work for me. I don't use the tags and usually ignore them when searching for books with one exception. I do like the tags that note if the book is part of a series, I hate reading series out of order. I have been very satisfied with the quality of the books I've received so far.

I think my favorite PBS feature is the forums. I've learned a lot just from ghosting this forum and I'm always impressed by how willing people are to patiently answer the same type of questions over and over and over *grin*. The genre forums are down right addictive, wow, so many people who really know their favorite genre and are more than willing to share recommendations, thanks to them I have found and enjoyed some really fantastic books. Because of PBS I am  more adventuresome in my reading because I know if I don't like a book I can just repost it and use the credits to get something else.

Good luck with your paper.

Anissa (WVgrrl) - ,
Date Posted: 4/21/2009 2:04 PM ET
Member Since: 1/16/2009
Posts: 432
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I've been a PBS member since January and so far found more things to like than to dislike:

1. Printable postage from the site. It is next to impossible for me to go to a post office, so I really wouldn't be able to do this otherwise without a huge hassle.
2. A fair FIFO and wish list system. Although it could be improved by identifying where your copy of a title was in the FIFO queue. I like knowing where I am in the wish list, so that I can make decisions about waiting or buying.
3. As someone mentioned above, really great assistance from the people running the site and the tour guide system. I used the live assistance option last week and had a very clear answer back to my question in less than five minutes. Much better than the 48 hour to never response from other web sites' "customer service."
4. If you click on a title it shows your "experience" with the book. By this I mean whether it is already on your wish list, reminder list, transaction archive. That is a great feature to keep me from trying to request or list the same books I already have! (I have too many books in piles and boxes around my house, so it is sometimes hard to keep track.)

1. The search function is really pretty poor. In many instances I have searched for a title and only one choice came up. But if I went to Amazon with the same title there might be three or more versions of that title with different ISBNs. Searching by the ISBNs brings up all of those versions in PBS, usually with wish lists for them. They are clearly in the PBS system, if people have wish listed them, so I don't understand why they don't appear in a title or author search.
2. Books I've Read: I don't want to rank every book to add it to the BIR. I just want it to show up as a note in the search list, so that I can identify it as something I already have (but didn't get through PBS so it wouldn't show up on my transaction archive).
3. Sometimes I have trouble with the search results pages. If it is set to a low number of results-per-page and I try to click to go to the next page, then page 2 shows 80% of the same books that were on page 1. This happens to me both at home and on my two work PCs, so I don't think it is related to my settings or connection. I do not have any problems like this when choosing 100 results per page.

1. Tags. I don't use them and thus can't offer an opinion. Most of my book wants are within a narrow group of authors and/or subjects, so tags aren't really useful for me.

Geri (geejay) -
Date Posted: 4/21/2009 3:29 PM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2008
Posts: 9,094
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I find this site to be incredibly easy to navigate.  I also belong to BookMooch and Bookins and don't care for them at all.  I can find books here as well as suggestions for new authors in the forums.  As others have said the forums are wonderful places to get help if necessary.  So many people will answer the same questions time and again.  I've asked them and answered what I could.

Basically  friendly forums with a real sense of caring and community.  Helpful people too, as evidenced by the RAOK threads and other things that we do for each other.  Comments, prayers and cheers. 

It's easy to post books and love all the options to keep lists.  The reminder list though I don't use it as much now.  The wish list for the books I'm waiting for.  My To Be Read list  which has grown and grown, groan!  I love the TBR because with just a couple of clicks I can post a book to my bookshelf).  I do use the Books I've Read list but that not as much as the wish list and to be read list.

There are quite a few features I don't use like the Box of Books and the Journal.  I do reviews but could do more.  I'm not into the Blog though I have done the Live Chat a couple of times.  I do use the prntable postage - so much easier than going to the post office.  I have used tags but not oftern.

When I first joined I thought it was difficult to search for books.  Now, I've found the Book Browser and Advanced Search.  Sometime I use Amazon in conjunction with Stop You're Killing Me to find exactly what I want on PBS.  As others have said sometimes the spellings can be tricky.  If I go to Amazon I can get an ISBN for the Advanced search feature.  If If use SYKM it's for the exact spelling of the author or title and then I can use the basic search feature.

Good luck with your class.