Book swapping now?
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Another prominent site, Goodreads, has decided to end its bookswapping feature, stating that it wasn't growing enough and took too much time. I would add that Goodreads has turned decisively toward ebooks, and that swapping doesn't really appeal to any of the people who might want to buy that VC-funded company.
The decision has, of course, been controversial, with posters saying things like "Bookswap is the only reason I come to Goodreads!" and "So...what's the point of this website now?" Overall, however, I suspect most users didn't use it.
So, should LibraryThing do it instead?
Arguments in favor:
1. It might attract users.
2. It might make money.
3. They way they did it was good, differing in a useful way from other swap sites.
4. Book swapping makes sense coupled with cataloging your library, not on a separate site you must move the data back and forth with.
5. It goes with LibraryThing's overall decision not to plunge into a paperless book world.(1)
6. Maybe there's some way we can make it play nice with our services and interests in public and academic libraries.
Arguments against (fewer, but powerful!)
1. It takes time and focus, both of which are finite. Bugs, features, whatever are more important.
2. Goodreads couldn't make it work well enough financially, so maybe we can't either.
3. Other swap sites exist, and are good.
Footnote 1. LT's cataloging favors physical books because physical books have interesting data and ebooks are sort-of cataloged automatically. Further, in my opinion the ebook platforms will rule their own social spaces, because tying reading and social together closely is a winner and something they can stop others from doing. This is already happening with Amazon's incipient Kindle social network, and Shelfari. LibraryThing will, I think, prosper by zigging while they zag—being open to ebooks but also very friendly to paper.
As far as I know Goodreads swapping was US only.
As a long-time member of BookMooch (over 4 years) _selfishly_ if your intention with this is not international I would prefer all the time and effort that would be required for a swap option be channelled into better cataloguing improvements on this site - cover view springs immediately to mind.
If, however, you are considering international swapping then it would depend how the swap options are set up: as in under what 'rules' swaps would be done and how postage is paid (by sender or requester) etc, etc before I could give an experienced and considered opinion.
From personal experience, I see book swapping sites as quite difficult to administer; they are open to intense rorting (I know - over a used book) and operating one should not be taken on lightly.
I agree that if it's not going to be international I would consider it to be a useless drain on resources, since I couldn't use it. In fact, I rather doubt that I would use it even if I could. LT sponsored swap meets near home might be interesting, but sending and receiving packages internationally is an expensive hassle.
Tim, did you deliberately post at 2 in the morning to get the international input first?
I would think that the existing swap links go far enough and anything more would become a distraction. Speaking as an international member of bookmooch, I'm using less and less anyway as costs escalate and more members restrict shipping to US only.
If you don't already have a good idea how LT will avoid pitfall point "Against 2", I'd not touch this with a bargepole.
Tim how do you see this being monetized? Through people signing up for new accounts? Or more directly? Unless it's very likely that the program will be self-sufficient in other words can pay for the personnel I'm willing to bet you'll need to hire to run the thing day today, seems like there's no point. As you've noted setting up the program and having to pull the plug at a later date just causes bad blood. After all every month somebody brings up tag watch.
Perhaps you could just look at closer integration or partnership with an existing site. For example, have the Wishlist collection automatically sync with the user's Bookmooch wishlist, and have a collection that syncs with the Bookmooch inventory list? If both sites used and provided OpenID, a user could have a single logon for the two sites, making it very easy for a LibraryThing user to start using BookMooch, and vice versa. That would also give users access to the whole BookMooch member list for available swaps, instead of forming yet another isolated group.
(Ditto on the international scope arguments above, too.)
One of the biggest stregnths of LibraryThing is the fact that it is international. The first consideration when thinking about a swapping site should be to take that into account. PBS may be a stronger swap site (and USA only...) but BookMooch has a very large, dedicated international community.
As a Canadian, I would feel that in order to make this work for the majority of LT users, it would have to be international. And as someone who has spent over 2 years on BM, there are issues with international swapping. Postage costs and points per book just being the top two that come to mind.
I would LOVE another option to swap my books. However, I am not willing to go into another situation where international swappers are not given consideration, and where items such as postage costs are not fully integrated into the working model. When it costs a US moocher $3 to send a book to Canada, and me almost $9 to send it back, and we both get the same amount of points... well you can see where my frustration comes from.
However, saying that, if you find a workable solution that avoids the potential mindfield of international postage costs and encourages international involvement, I will be on board, behind you 100%.
As for the worries about cost, PBS does sell points on their site. Perhaps that could be one way to at least partially fund the program.
I think that talking to the leaders of PBS and BM might be a good start. They can certainly give you a good idea of costs and how to fund them. As well, we have a strong, vocal contingent of both BM'ers and PBS members on this site. I am sure we can all provide insight and ideas.
There are other dedicated swap sites; I don't see why LT has to jump in. I'd rather see you copying GR's successful features than their failed ones.
I wouldn't have posted the way I did if I was very positive on the idea. My main objection is that it is a lot of work to make and more to administer. But it does intrigue me. The elusive thing is to have a swap site that is:
1. integrated and unitary with your catalog,
2. free or very low cost,
3. easy to use, and
4. easy to administer.
International coverage is also a big plus, although it strains number two and four. But I'm not sure these points are achievable. Barring that, I wish the other swap sites would integrate with us better. I really have tried on that score. I'm not sure what else I can do, though I'll probably shoot them all emails again.
I'll remove my "staff L" for this comment and post from the standpoint of a longtime LT user (but not, I will add, one who swaps books).
While I'm all for (more, and better) integration with other swap sites if people want it, I don't think that adding a dedicated feature for it is something LT needs to or should tackle. It seems like a drain on development time that could be better spent on a) making the site's current features better and b) adding new and different features.
Tim, I agree with all three of your "Against" points above (also with points 3, 4, and 5 of the "For" points too, if we're counting). But overall, I think it's the time argument that sways me most: the time that would be spent developing and then administering and maintaining this feature is time that we're not using for other things that need to happen. I don't see how we make it work where GR didn't, and where the other swap sites already have much of the ground covered.
Plus, (and snort), what _Zoe_ said :-)
Jeremy and I are basically in agreement with this, and especially the administration part.
The interesting thing here is that Member Giveaway is very easy to administer. We don't stand behind whether the person will or will not actually send the book, so we don't get emails complaining about it. Early Reviewers, meanwhile, does take time. Some of this is talking to publishers, which isn't relevant here. But much is solving problems, especially users mad as hell that the free book they won turned out to be late, bad, or whatever. 99% goes of smoothly, but that 1% takes hours of staff time.
I wish there could be a low-presure swap things—a things where, frankly, everyone understood that it was a fun service that might or might not pan out in every case. All agitation around whether someone sent a book, deserved points, described the condition right and on and on would be either graciously ignored or resolved through a simple, non-contestable "karma" system. Such a thing would be a great asset to LibraryThing, driving the "community" feel. A complicated system that involved all sorts of disagreements and disputes? No way.
I, for one, would not like integration with, e.g., PBS, without some kind of opt-out or selective privacy features. I use the two sites for two different purposes, which don't always overlap.
I wish there could be a low-pressure swap things—a things where, frankly, everyone understood that it was a fun service that might or might not pan out in every case.
Tim, I'm also on Bookcrossing. Although the main thrust there is releasing books in public places, a lot of members have gotten involved in swapping books with each other in a variety of ways. (The site itself doesn't run this, just provides forums for people to promote the swaps.) And despite the fact that people theoretically know that it "might or might not pan out in every case", I've never seen so much bitching and complaining in my life. I suggest that you not touch this idea with a ten-, or even twenty-, foot pole.
I think it could be accomplished. Every book would be shipped with a chill pill.
Such a thing would be a great asset to LibraryThing, driving the "community" feel.
In the most community-driven LT groups, this happens naturally anyway. I've received three books in the mail from other members of the 75 Book Challenge, with no conditions attached. I received two more books directly when I went to stay at the home of another 75-er. I suspect the Green Dragon is the same. This is community, and I'm not sure you can fake it.
I'd rather see LT provide the basic tools (e.g., touchstone improvements so I no longer hate updating my 75 Book Challenge thread), and then let the communities develop on their own.
As much as I would love an integrated site that does all (catalog + swapping), I don't think that it is the right time for LT to go there. Or ever.
It will add way too much administration time - I am a Bookmooch member and I see enough messes there -- don't really want to see them in LT as well.
And LT needs enough attention as it is to become a better cataloging site -- I love it, I would not move but most of my friends are on GR and won't even look into moving here after seeing the site and how things work.
I can see pros and cons to this issue.
After reading both sides of this issue, I like r.orrison's idea the best (see message #7).
I would (again) suggest a closer integration with BookMooch. Why?
1. Having an LT-sponsored book swap option could bring former GR members to our website (as long as the LT member fee doesn't continue to drive them away).
2. BookMooch is international. The cost of this can work with an "angel" network. Perhaps some LT time can be spent working with John Buckman to prop up that BM feature.
3. I get the feeling that you, Tim, have much respect for John Buckman - although he gets quite a mouthful from some of his BM members, sad to say. :(
4. Running a book swap (which I formerly wanted LT to do very, very much) can be difficult with all the individual complaints that ensue.
5. I have had extremely positive experiences with BookMooch. To date, I've mooched 154 books and mailed 109. It costs me less than $3 for each transaction (BM uses a point system). I only swap within the US, but I have sent books to "angels" who do ship outside the US. I use delivery confirmation and print the postage from home on my computer. It's very EASY!
6. I want very much to have my LT wishlist transfer automatically to BookMooch. BM's catelogue is very unspecific as to editions of books so I'd like to start my wishlist requests here on LT and not have to transfer them manually to BM.
7. BM already has a small integration feature with LT. (i.e. "Add this book to LibraryThing").
8. You might be able to figure out how to do a money-making feature with this integration. Perhaps individuals could buy points? There are probably many ways to do this, but those can be decided later. Maybe integrate points into LT member fees?
9. You can avoid taking time away from the core business of LT by allowing someone else to manage book swapping. I think this was your original argument against LT having its own swap feature.
10. Those who don't want to use the swap benefits of an LT-BM swap can simply opt out. If you made one, I would use it. If not, I'd continue to use BM.
ER, I think my post is long enough. :/
P.S. Why are LT and Bookcrossing not better integrated? I see that GR has an icon next to that of Twitter and FB on BookCrossing. Why is LT's presence not there as well - as we allow BCID numbers to link into Bookcrossing's catalog?
I agree with _Zoe_ when she says that book swapping does not create a community per se. I don't friend people on BookMooch unless they are people I already "know" from either LT or Bookcrossing.
I have tried, and tried, and tried to integrate closer with Bookmooch. Believe me. Convince him. I'm convinced.
As for Bookcrossing, they clearly made a deal to throw their support to Bookcrossing. They mention it in their blog post although BC is clearly not the best swap site—it's not even really a swap site!
I certainly don't mean to suggest swapping creates a community, but it can help it along, for sure. Anything you do that gives people an opportunity to connect is good for communities. That is, unless the connection they make is unpleasant.
Again, I wish there were a way to deal with the complaints issue, and just expand member giveaway with a rudimentary points system.
But I may not understand the motivation. For me, swapping would be a way to connect with people, get rid of books and maybe find something weird. But it wouldn't be something I needed to do. I've heard people talk about how it saves them money. That's not me. Simply, though I'm hardly rolling in the dough, I have enough money for books, at least for books I'll read--it's the TIME that's the problem. This makes it hard for me to appreciate that people really care about whether trades work out, perhaps.
I have tried, and tried, and tried to integrate closer with Bookmooch. Believe me. Convince him. I'm convinced.
If you did create a swap here on LT, I'd support it (...even if I were the only one!). :/
Now I'm going to do a "_Zoe_ism"... :D
Vote: If LT had a book swap feature, would you use it?
Current tally: Yes 25, No 57, Undecided 25
The other problem is that BM is just a lot smaller than PBS. I actually rather like the PBS guys now too. I think they get it. I'll try them again, perhaps.
For me, swapping would be a way to connect with people, get rid of books and maybe find something weird. But it wouldn't be something I needed to do.
Right. So why not focus on Groups/Talk improvements as a way to connect with people? And in particular, improvements that meet existing needs. Groups/Talk are the main focus of community here, so why not build on the foundation you already have?
swapping would be a way to connect with people
Swapping books does *not* connect people to people. There has to be some other connection. Often I don't even know from whom I get a book. On Bookins, the recipient doesn't even learn the screen name of the giver.
Swapping books is simply a fun feature of a book website. On some websites, that is the primary or only feature.
get rid of books
It's cheaper (well, free!) to wild release a book through Bookcrossing or donate books to Operation Paperback or Friends of the Library than it is to pay postage to get rid of them. That's why I stopped using Member Giveaway. There was hardly ever a positive response (i.e. a thank you) and no points in response for my time and expense to mail books to others.
maybe find something weird.
Even thought I've mooched a lot of books, it is not easy to find desirable books to mooch. Too many people give away books I don't want. This is where a wishlist comes in handy. BM sends me an email each time a wishlisted book is available. I don't always succeed in getting them (others are faster to respond), but I do try.
My point here is that a book swap feature is a big deal and a large undertaking. I'm curious to see what other LT members think about this.
I don't use any of the existing book-swap sites, so I don't know if my opinion has much validity here; I wouldn't use this, either, but it's not because it's here rather than elsewhere but because book swapping in general doesn't interest me.
There are, as you know very well, a number of established bookswap sites. I'd expect that most people who are interested in swapping books are already using Bookmooch, or PaperbackSwap, or one of the others; they have points established in those existing communities. I doubt that very many of them would be interested in uprooting themselves to start over again at a new and untried swap-site that's still getting over the initial bumps in the road.
For me, swapping would be a way to connect with people, get rid of books and maybe find something weird.
But it's not the only way to do any of those things, and it doesn't seem like a very good way to do any of them. Connect with people? Member Giveaways sure doesn't seem to do that, even in the now vanishingly-small fraction of giveaways that are reader-to-reader rather than author-to-reader. Get rid of books? Sure, but I can take a whole box down to the Friends of the Library for free, rather than packing each one individually, making a trip to the post office, and sending them off for $3 a piece. Find something weird? I can do that at the used bookstore, and make sure that the book I'm getting doesn't smell like smoke or cat pee, hasn't been scribbled on by a five-year-old, and that I'm actually getting the book that I think I'm getting, rather than getting something unreadable and being told to shut up and stop complaining because it's "free".
I can do that at the used bookstore,
Not everyone has a conveniently located used book store near him. I have a few from which to choose, but I also like waiting for my wishlisted books to pop up into immediate availability at BookMooch. It's just fun.
Not everyone has a conveniently located used book store near him.
That's very true. I wasn't trying to speak for everyone, just for myself.
That's why I stopped using Member Giveaway. There was hardly ever a positive response (i.e. a thank you) and no points in response for my time and expense to mail books to others.
Right. That could change. That's my point—a speculative point, I agree. Maybe MG is a step or two away from something that could satisfy some of the interest here. (If there is interest here.)
Right. That could change.
Are you talking about improving MG by integrating it with a swap? Interesting idea!
As I'm not optimistic about a LT swap feature working for me (being international), I think I'd probably rather see former GR swappers switch over to PBS or BM (which I do use and have been satisfied with) if they find either or both work for them.
But many of the Goodread members seem to have appreciated above all the ability to unclutter by printing hassle-free postage at the expense of the asker rather than their own, which requires partnership with online printed postage providers which is probably simply impossible to currently do in an international manner.
SOMETHING like that. (I feel like I've been saying that for a while now, but I can't get people to respond.)
My feeling is that Member Giveaway might be a few tweaks away from a basic swap system. I mean, we have a system for listing books. (It could be better.) We have a system for granting picks. We have a system for collecting addresses. In ER—which is technically the same system as MG—we have a system for noting that you got the book.
The key element is social. What do you need to make MG interesting as a swap possibility, without making it frustrating to users or miserable to staff?
I agree. The thing that make GR's system notable was the requester-pays part. Maybe it's a good idea or a bad—I'm not sure. But it's definitely not replicable on an international level.
I would imagine the reason that some sites are US-only for book swapping is concerns over postage. With Media Mail, a book package can be sent to any US address for about $4. Sending via Priority Mail or International can be higher, considerably so for the latter. Estimating postage for international packages is always a bit of a challenge. So often I have had their web site calculate a price and then go to the post office to find a considerably higher price. There are customs forms to contend with as well and figuring out which one to use varies according to the country and value and contents. Having to wait in a 20+ minute line just to share a book (as opposed to the opportunity to print up labels at home which I think is possible with Stamps.com or one of the other services for Media Mail since I have received packages that way) is a barrier to participation for many. In short, mailing internationally from the US is a hassle and an expense.
I expect that since LT members who do care to participate in this sort of activity would only do so for some of their collections, there would have to be a collection or tag or some other field to identify what is available for trading, loaned out, etc. Just as important would be whether or not an LT participant would care to ship internationally.
Of course people around the world who are LT members would care to have the opportunity to exchange books in this kind of system. The question is: at what price?
Is this a permanent swap (i.e. a trade) or a loan?
>34 timspalding: Separating author to reader giveaways from reader to reader giveaways would be the first thing.
34: What do you need to make MG interesting as a swap possibility
To be honest, I've never really looked at it. Is there a way to see, for my Wishlist collection, which books are available to me (in the UK) on Member Giveaway? I've had a quick look to see if I could add a column showing member giveaway availability, but didn't see it. If that was there, and I could associate a particular view with the Wishlist category, that would get past the first hurdle of knowing what was available. Either that or some other way to get at the same information - a homepage module "Wishlist books available on Member Giveaway" (there is a module, but most of the books I'm not interested in -- perhaps it could show the intersection of giveaway books and (wishlist OR recommended for me), or maybe emailed notification when a book on my wishlist became available (I would not want that for recommendations). There's no way I'm going to go through my Wishlist one work page at a time to check.
Perhaps the least work would just be to have the homepage module show giveaway books on my wishlist, or that were recommended to me, and take into account availability by my location. That's just pulling together information that LT already has, without any actual changes to the MG itself.
While it would be nice to be able to do all my booky stuff in one place, I don't like the idea of LT creating it's own swap feature. No offense, but that feels like an Amazon or Wal-Mart move to me. I prefer the nice feeling that LT does what it does and BM (and others) do what they do and that they coexist beautifully. In many ways they nurture each other by providing bookish outlets which frequently end up sending business to the other. Rather than create yet ANOTHER swap site to compete with those that are already out there, better integration and support of each other, as others have said, would be my preference. I understand that you can't force BM into a partnership, which is really too bad, but personally I don't think that means LT should try to muscle in on their thing. (Not that that was specifically your intention.)
eta: Also, I prefer BM's payment system over others. When I have extra cash, I send books out. Then, when I'm a bit cash poor, I can use my accumulated points to get books. While I have had trouble lately finding things I WANT to mooch, I'd still rather not have to pay to have books sent to me with a credit/debit card when it's just so much easier for me to pay cash to mail things.
The only experience that I have with book swappish sites is with BookCrossing, which as others have mentioned isn't a true swapping scenario. I seemed to have joined BookCrossing just as it made the jup from low key to high polish. When I first signed up in 2004 I thought it was a cool book version of 'Where's George' with the added bonus of providing books that I no longer want a chance to find a second life. There were a lot of people swapping their own free designs for book labels, plates, marks, etc. for tagging books before they were released. However, it seemed to quickly change into a site focused on selling labels, coffee mugs, 'wings' etc. Until today, I haven't logged into BookCrossing in about 5 or 6 years, so maybe things have changed there. Now when I want to 'release' a book, I make up my own FREE BOOK label, marker, etc. and leave it in a public place unregistered. Laundromats, wiating rooms, bus stations, nursing homes, etc.
After that rant, I think that maybe LibraryThing could achieve some sort of book swapping option by tweaking what they already have with the member Giveaways, message boards, groups, etc. Perhaps a new, optional collection 'available for swap' that could connect to other's 'wish list?' Something with a HUGE swapper beware disclaimer?
In addition to the added technical aspects of it on the LibraryThing end, anytime you add any kind of exchange into teh mix of sicial media, you increase the chances of flame wars. Eventually someone will feel slighted & all hell will break loose.
What do you need to make MG interesting as a swap possibility, without making it frustrating to users or miserable to staff?
1. Create mail zones. You could only request from within your own mail zone so that shipping would not be expensive for the shipper. I like the shipper paying postage as that's what I'm used to. It's easiest to swap one book for another. Period. Valuable books should be sold, not swapped.
2. Define an acceptable book ahead of time, but make it known that LT has no responsibility in getting into arguments between swappers.
3. Have an (optional) library field within each user's library that would aggregate "available" books. For instance, I finished reading Fat Land so I would move that book to the field called "available" and now any other LT member in my "mail zone" could see it was available and request it. Once my book was mailed, I would get credit to request a free book.
4. Have a search field for the "available books", but do show the most recently posted by book cover on the Home page. I'd peruse the Home page to look for books I want or use the search field to find a book by title or author. I think Bookcrossing does this type of feature extremely well, even using wishlisted books.
5. Start this feature as ***simply*** as you can.
6. Here's an idea: Have a group in which we can "hawk" the books we post. That might create community. BookMoochers have a group here on LT called "Pimp Your Inventory". That moves books as well as creates conversations.
7. Think of how you could make money on this. It seems a shame to put so much work into developing this if it you would not make at least a few $$.
Let me think about this some more...
Perhaps a new, optional collection 'available for swap' that could connect to other's 'wish list?'
We already know what we wishlist. However, we no longer know what others wishlist (notice my very sad face!). We also don't know what others have available to give away.
One thing..... I really don't like the search feature on BM--I think it would be far easier to find books using the LT format.
it seemed to quickly change into a site focused on selling labels, coffee mugs, 'wings' etc.
Bookcrossing was then looking very seriously for a way to make money. I'd suggest that you continue to make your own labels but register your Bookcrossing books. In addition, become active with a local Bookcrossing group. Those are terrific!
More fun even are LT real life meet-ups with a Bookcrossing component! :D
...but, back to our topic...
I really don't like the search feature on BM--I think it would be far easier to find books using the LT format.
If LT had a swap feature, I'd probably use LT's and also continue to use BM. I didn't use GR's on principle alone. :)
I'd like to point out that the poll of "would you use this?" has twice as many Nos as Yeses. Meanwhile, there are lots of other requested features that have more in favour than opposed. I'd really like to see LT focusing more on producing the features that people want, instead of struggling against the current and trying to promote features that there just isn't much interest in.
The question though is "How many of the ones answering NO are actually doing any swapping?". Because realistically there are two groups of users:
- Those that use swapping sites anyway
- Those that don't and won't start using them only because LT did it.
It's really moot for me as RPG material seems to never show up on the trading sites but one thought comes to mind.
My understanding is that a portion of LT is owned indirectly by Amazon. Knowing how they sit on their cover rights and their usage, I have to wonder how they would feel about a subsidiary undermining their business. Providing a "free or low cost" method of moving books around would be in conflict of their business.
Granted though that they do allow their covers to be used on the swapping sites.
Just wanted to throw that out there.
47> I voted no on that poll because I wouldn't use a book swap feature but that doesn't mean I don't think the feature is worthwhile. There are a lot of features on LT that I don't use but I think they make the site better and if book swapping will bring in more members then I might be for it depending on how difficult the implementation is.
I voted Undecided - I use BM and I have an account on PBS but haven't used it in years. I've also gotten, and given, a few books directly to LT users through conversations (threads). If there was a way to organize that - the Available collection, a group for swap discussions, and maybe an automatically-private set of comments for addresses and the like - that would be nice. If LT does this, LT itself should stay out of the flow as much as possible - make the tools available, but the transactions are person-to-person. I like BM's points, but the outcry over the recent rearrangement is something I really don't want to see on LT.
Most of what I'm looking for is the odd old books - I can get the recent bestsellers (should I for some reason want them), but, say, Howard Pease books are really hard to find and/or expensive. That's what I'd be looking for in an LT swap. BM has become less interesting recently because most of what they have listed seem to be those recent bestsellers. But I still get a few interesting books every once in a while...and get some of mine taken.
I swap on Bookmooch and PBS. A lot. I probably would not swap here if the focus was so much on being low key and having no moderation. It costs me real money to send books, and there are always people who try to cheat the system.
I don't think it's possible for you to create a good swap site without being willing to back it with customer support and accountability. You have a great community, and maybe most of the current LT members wouldn't abuse it, but you can't control what new members would join and how they would treat the system.
I don't see it generating enough revenue to make it worth the trouble. You can create it and stay hands off, risking having a lot of unhappy users when they get burned by abusers. Or you can put a little effort into it, have a great system, but lose money on it.
I don't use book swapping sites, though I've toyed with the idea. I have given several books away informally (not through Member Giveaway) to people I've met here on LibraryThing -- usually because I knew from conversation that they were interested in that particular book, or that sort of book. A book-swapping feature on LT would not enhance those sorts of experiences, since they came not from the fact that I had a book available, but from the fact that I had a friend who might like a book.
I agree with Zoë on this one. Not only are there tons of features that could be developed instead of this, but I think it has big potential to create ill-will, not just between members, but toward LT. Do you really need that sort of hassle?
My understanding is that a portion of LT is owned indirectly by Amazon. Knowing how they sit on their cover rights and their usage, I have to wonder how they would feel about a subsidiary undermining their business. Providing a "free or low cost" method of moving books around would be in conflict of their business.
FWIW, Abebooks, which is owned by Amazon, does have a minority, together with another company, R. R. Bowker (of "Books in Print"). But they don't run the company in any way. Their terms specify what we can and cannot do with cover images, and I think we could do it without them. If push ever comes to shove we will be fine without them.
have a great system, but lose money on it
In general, LibraryThing does not endeavor to monetize day-to-day transactions. We aren't nickel-and-diming people. We don't have any advertisements for members, paid or unpaid. We charge publishers nothing for Early Reviewers. Rather, we monetize directly, through memberships, which means making the site as interesting as possible. And we sell products to the library market, which is something else.
Your concern that it couldn't be done without lots of customer support is, however, well taken. That's my fear.
I wonder if there's a more natural way to encourage people to share their books? I know that I've had people send me books and I've sent books to people because of discussions on the forums. It's purely informal and there are no points or money attached to it -- it's just one person finishing a book and seeing that someone else either commented about their review or thinking that old so-and-so would probably like it. After all, we're more intimately involved in each other's reading lives than we are with the reading tastes of friends and acquaintances in real life (if, in fact, they read at all).
I suspect this goes on quite a bit, but it's not measured or regulated. Of course, this means no one complains! And by being informal, it creates community without expectations.
Americans have ample access to swap sites (I use both PBS and BookMooch), so if something formal were to be considered, it might be of greatest benefit to those outside of the US.
If there was a way to organize that - the Available collection, a group for swap discussions, and maybe an automatically-private set of comments for addresses and the like - that would be nice. If LT does this, LT itself should stay out of the flow as much as possible - make the tools available, but the transactions are person-to-person.
Tim, I think this would be perfect. Easy for us. No hassle for you.
> I wonder if there's a more natural way to encourage people to share their books?
This is quite easy. All that has to happen is that the wishlist goes back onto the work pages. They were there before. When they were there, I offered and sent books to LTers that I didn"t "know" because I saw a wishlisted book that I had finished reading, and I wanted my book to have a new home (Bookcrossers do this!). More likely in the future, though, is that I'll see the name of someone that I do "know" here at LT and offer my book to that person with the familiar name.
I still donʻt know why the "Should Borrow. . ." (SB) feature in L T
never says that I should borrow from any other member,
but nearly always gives a list of what
they "Should borrow" from me. I knew my collections* were good,
but not THAT good -- not so good that the "Should be borrowed" is in one direction only.
When the feature first started, the SB was in both directions; after a week or two it got into its present status of one direction only.
Any ideas what is causing this?
*For this feature "Wish List" is merged with the
"MY Library" (the books actually owned), and most
of the recommended "borrowings" are from
Wish List items, I suppose because Wish List
is the majority of the total.
This is quite easy. All that has to happen is that the wishlist goes back onto the work pages.
I was just about to say this!
Here's an improvement that has lots of popular support, would facilitate community-based book exchanges, and wouldn't generate animosity or require constant staff intervention. Win?
I would open a bug for that - maybe there is something weird in your library?
msg 1 states:
Arguments against (fewer, but powerful!)
1. It takes time and focus, both of which are finite. Bugs, features, whatever are more important.
THIS is the biggest fear I have about any sort of dedicated LT swap-feature. Bugs already take months to handle, features already get pushed back or only half-implemented, I do *not* want things to get even worse then they already are.
The only way I would ever support a feature that deliberately took away time from cataloguing-features and bug-fixes would be if *all months-long bugs* were fixed first. Which isn't realistic and will never happen, so no, I won't support this.
I'm relieved to see that Tim and Jeremy aren't all "Let's DO THIS!" about this, though. Something smaller, like better/more focused reader-to-reader Member Giveaways, would be much better and wouldn't take Admin's focus off of everything else, I think.
I swap a lot on BM and PBS (as my 'from where' stats show) and there are many little features that LT has that have already been invaluable to my swapping experience. I actively use the swap column, I added the Bookmooch link to the quicklinks box on the work page to keep an eye out for available books, and I, along with many others in the Bookmooch LT group, have made a 'moochable' collection to advertise books that I could be convinced to part with.
What LT has that the book swapping sites don't have (aside from infinitely better data) are the user library connections. I already use the 'you should borrow' feature to raid my sister's library. I could just imagine: "Oh, such-and-such on my interesting libraries list marked a book as tradeable, let me go look at it and see if I want to procure it for my hoard." (Actually... maybe you shouldn't do that because I will probably need to enter a 12-step program... I've managed to refraid from adding RSS feeds of my LT friends inventories to my reader, but if it were integrated...) When I browse a book here on LT and it shows me that 8 people on my friends list/IL list have the book and it in any way seems vaguely interesting it goes straight on my WL, and if I see there in the quicklinks box that there's a moochable copy I mooch it without a second thought. This happened a short while ago, actually. I found a book through an IL on LT, mooched, received and read it all in less than a week.
But I also agree with many of the other posters that I think LT should leave the actual swapping to the sites that have the staff for it. There are such headaches involved, and it really can't survive without full attention. Even with a site like Bookmooch where the users do all of the coordinating on their own, the administration needs to be responsive to problems that arise.
Following #57 and #59:
The coding of this functionality would be pretty much the same as showing "Currently Reading" on Works pages, if I'm not mistaken. Whatever's blocking one is blocking the other. I'd sure be happy to have both.
If you want to monetize it in some manner, you might be able to work with a "buy points" offer.
Also, someone could "earn" an LT membership by sending 10? book packages to at least 10 people. (prevents one person saying they sent 10 books to a friend & that friend claiming that they rec'd the package) Those packages need to be marked rec'd, too. Too many books on BM & PBS are marked sent, but somehow "disappear" in the postal system, sometimes due to the postal gremlins and sometimes because they never got to the post office!!
I belong to BM & PBS and while an LT swap system would be nice, it is full of pitfalls, but it is also full of rewards.
Find a way to make it either make some money for you or to break even. Otherwise, it isn't worth the headaches.
"Your concern that it couldn't be done without lots of customer support is, however, well taken. That's my fear."
If there was enough interest within the LT community, you could probably rustle up some volunteers who could help mediate problems. But you would need to build infrastructure to support that, and it sounds like LT members have other things they would like you to focus on first.
And when push comes to shove, it will be LT again that will need to step up - volunteers or not.
True. Also, while volunteers can help people in easy times, you don't want volunteers refereeing between members. No matter how a difficult matter is solved one side generally believes the other was bad intentioned. "The powers that be" get blamed for a lot around here. If the power was another member, real recriminations could result.
You don't want volunteers handling anything concerning money or points or anything like that. If push comes to shove over an incident and some one files a lawsuit against another member and/or LT, there's legal concern when it's a volunteer instead of an official employee. (That's not how I wanted to word it so i hope you get the idea.)
Perfect example since I was talking about it this morning with a local client. I spend 5-6 weeks every year ringing a bell for the Salvation Army. While I'm doing such, I have 5-6 of my clients pick up the slack for me. During those few weeks, they're on the payroll just in case there's an issue. (Heck, they make more than I do.)
I didn't have time to read all of the above carefully, so I'll just let you know my response.
While I find swapping books an intriguing idea, I don't have the money or time to invest in packaging and shipping books very often. I tend to exchange or simply gift a book to my friends here on LT with whom I have things in common. That I can do, occasionally. I don't want to do it through a program.
I don't use the Member Giveaway here because I don't have the time involved for me to list books or the money to ship them, so that make me uncomfortable requesting them. Also the randomness of the selection process seemed to not include me, as when I tried, there was never success. So it didn't seem worth my time to study the list.
I find it much easier to take my paperback books to my local trade bookstore and receive credit there, donating the rest to our local Friends of the Library.
What #52, rainbowgirl28, said. If I'm paying money to send or receive books, then I'm not going to be all zen and casual when I get ripped off.
Yes, I'd love for librarything to have bookswap if it worked like goodreads bookswap did, i.e., if librarything bookswap had the receiver, not the giver, pay shipping costs and if librarything bookswap offered credit toward free books (no shipping cost) for so many books given.
The reason I don't want to participate in other bookswap sites (and I've tried them) is that they give no incentive to the giver and they charge the giver for shipping costs. They're a loser for givers.
I agree 100.4%. I have several books that could use new homes, but I have yet to do a swap because I'd rather get 50 cents apiece for them from insert chain of used-book dealers here than pay for the privelege of disposing of them.
I think if the LT bookswap charged the receiver, I probably wouldn't participate. I prefer to get credits for shipping books. Maybe I've just been fortunate on PBS, but I always find books I want on there, so it's not like I'm wasting my money sending out books and not getting anything in return.
Agreed. I've gotten almost 50 books through PaperbackSwap since late January. With my taste in reading, which is hardly the blockbuster bestsellers that seemed so readily available when I was on Bookmooch (sometimes it seemed like there was little else), fifty books in under a year is nothing to sneeze at. In that time, I think the closest I've come to a disaster was a sender accidentally switching mailers and sending me a book intended for someone else; this was resolved easily enough since we had no interest in the other person's book and just forwarded them to their intended destination.
75: Definitely agree.
The credits way of book-swapping, the way where the giver pays for shipping and in return gets points to use to get other books, is actually a lot more lenient and helpful, imo.
From what I've seen of the other type of book-swapping sites, if the reciever/asker doesn't have the money at the moment to pay for the shipping costs, that book gets swipped by someone else and the person loses their chance at getting it. For those of us who live paycheck-to-paycheck, that is simply not a system that works for us.
But if I have earned credits by shipping out books to other people when I had the money, and then I'm able to use those credits to grab a book when maybe I'm short on money... That's much easier.
>75 Quaisior:/76/77/78 Doesn't that only work within the US which (I believe) has fairly flat postal rates across nearly all regions? In Europe even what it costs to send country lane pairs such as Austria-UK is not the same each way. I think nearly all non-US would prefer it exactly the opposite way- receiver pays for posting.
>79 C4RO: Non-US would prefer it sender-pays and can get book sent to them in compensation, because that's the only way it can exist at all for them, because of the impossibility to have an online, multi-countries payment system that LT could integrate with, such simply doesn't exist, unlike the local US postage providers Endicia, etc...
Are payment companies like PayPal accessible in countries outside of the US? I know I've used it tons of times to purchase things from international locations, but I have no idea if it's accessible from non-US locations.
I weigh in on the matters of (a) yes, would explore any bookswap option LT creates; but (b) no, would rather LT's bookswap did not follow the giver-pays model of BookMooch or Paperback Swap both because (c) that niche is already nicely filled by BM and PBS, (d) I've been giving away more books than I receive in swaps lately and the ideal dream of an equal and fair book-for-book balance has lost its luster, plus (d.1) I would rather not pay for the privilege of shipping my books out, making Goodreads' bookswap receiver-pays model my model of choice, and (e) ...I have a lot of books on hand I want to get rid of, see (d.1).
(I've been a member longstanding of BM, PBS, and GR.)
Have a system where a member has a banked amount of money set up for postage costs for the book to be sent to them in the book system. (no surface mail option). No money is exchanged for book costs, only for postage costs.
I set up $20 in the postage system. I can transfer money to/from the LT account to paypal (or other $ setup)
I request a book within the US & $3.00 is deducted from my account for postage for that book. (weight confirmed by sender. actual postage might be $2.40 plus DC.) Amount deducted is more than actual postage costs to account for admin costs.
I request a book from Norway & ~$17.00 is deducted for postage & some type of delivery confirmation (& LT admin costs)
Peta in the UK requests a book from me & ~$10.00 is deducted from her account. I weigh the package & it ships to her via first class/priority mail.
- - - - - - -
Problems &/or comments:
The weight on amazon is flawed & often incorrect. Also postal scales are do not always weigh the same between stations or countries. Amount spent on postage would have to be confirmed by the receiver.
There is a postal surcharge for airmail packages coming into the US that are over 1 lb. This surcharge is approximately $10USD. This would greatly increase costs for heavier books coming into the US.
There needs to be a way to confirm condition, perhaps pictures would be required.
From my observations & experience, there is approximately a 5% bad experience rate. Unfortunately, when the experience is yours (sending or receiving) it inflates the importance. It always is important when the bad experience is yours & especially if the book is 'very wanted'.
- - - - -
Any swap system must be zero cost or small profit for LT. So, there must be some small admin cost associated with it. Refunding money for books lost or in bad condition must be factored in & shared among all. And there will be scammers. It is hard to trust people & still prevent scammers from playing the system. You can't have both good trust relationships & no scammers.
It must be low administration & minimal headaches for Tim, et al. It cannot 'cut' into LT administrative & programming time. There would probably have to be one person dedicated to the swap & that would mean approximately $50,000 in salary, taxes & benefits for that person. (no, I'm not exaggerating, that is a reasonable full cost for an employee. I do not know LT's true salary, tax, & benefit costs.) Volunteers are nice & wonderful, but LT would bear the final burden of any problems.
If LibraryThing starts a swap program, these issues, & many more, need to be considered. It depends upon how many more headaches Tim wants to take on.
- - - - - -
FYI: a group can be set up separately where people offer books & the money for postage only transferred via paypal or another money site. Not for profit, but just to 'release' the books. (NOT to sell books)
General question: would those of us who are happy trading books with another system, thank you, or simply not interested in swapping period be able to hide LT's swapping stuff? In other words, while swapping should be easy enough to find for those who want it, will it be easy enough to turn off for those who don't?
I don't think that LT will implement anything at all considering the drawbacks of such systems - despite the last comments looking as if they are doing it for sure :)
82> Your saying that LT takes the money out of the Paypal account and pays for the postage? How does the money get from LT to the sender?
#85: in my imaginary system, LT would "hold" money for the member in some type of LT account & when they request the book, some money would be removed, approximately equivalent to postage, DC & admin costs.
The member would have to move money into an LT type account, not LT move money. If someone didn't have a PP account, then they could send a money order or check or something to LT.
In other words, a system would have to be set up so that international members, members without a credit card or paypal account, or members who prefer to not use online money, would be able to participate.
There are infinite combinations or situations to consider with a swap & making it an international concern. I have my own concerns with a swap similar to this "set up". I also belong to PBS & BM but my books are sent to a post office box to keep my exact location private. (and what is "out there" is inaccurate anyway!)
I truly think that the possibility of LT getting directly into swapping is extremely unlikely. Just look at the challenges that I've set forth.
Personally, I wouldn't want the headaches that would ensue.
LT holding your money makes them liable and makes the whole process really a nightmare (because there will be scammers... and there will be people that do not understand the system and which decide to badmouth LT because of what they think is a scam. So...
86? I still don't understand how under your system that the postage gets paid for. The money is in an LT account so how does it get to the person standing in line at the post office?
electronic postage via paypal, stamps.com or another site.
difficult in non-US countries, but some have postage options.
90> Others have said previously on this thread that that's only available in the US.
Before the discussion drifts any farther away, I'd like to lend my support to r.orrison's idea in #37: a homepage module which tells you which (if any) of your wishlist books are available on member giveaway.
how about book for book trades? On frugalreader I mostly liked the "auctions" in the bb for specific genre. usually folks would offer other similar books, some times gift card, candy, cereal boxtops, etc.......
It is a way to get rid of some books you don't want and be getting something you want in exchange. If it is done in a bb kind of fashion you do get to know the people & minimize bad trades. with a trade auction format you are getting agreement up front from both parties & the people using the auction can have fun with it. LT doesnt have to set-up and enforce a lot of rules and listen to a lot of opinions on what those rules should be (until the end of time). If the bb are organized by genre, you can look at the types of books you are interested in instead of having to wade thru a bunch of stuff you are not interested in.
I do think that PBS covers US only swapping very well, I don't see a point in competing with them there unless you can offer something different (like receiver pays). & about monitizing -- people do complain quite a bit anytime paying for something comes up & I would not be using it if it were not free (except for postage cost), so I think monitizing from the users may be a problem.
I also use BM to get rid of the stuff that is unpostable on PBS, or not being ordered & I like that it allows international. But international is much more expensive and does cause hard feelings for some on BM. I get a lot of no responses or cancellations on BM, which has made me have some bad feelings about it. I would think it would be best for LT to avoid that kind of aura to their site.
94: I'm not sure what you mean by "bb", but book for book trades don't always work, for a lot of people.
The reason I like using "credits", like on BookMooch, is so that I'm free to shop around and find something that I like.
Most "book-for-book" places, that's not possible. If you want a book, but you don't have anything that person wants, you are screwed. If someone wants a book that you have, but they don't have anything you want, they are screwed. Doing trades person-to-person that way is an exercise in frustration, because very rarely can you find someone who wants your book *and* has something you want.
I have a lot of old YA novels to give away, and I'm looking primarily for true crime and adult novels. The people who will want the books I have are not going to be the same people who have the books I want.
I started book swapping by using ReaditSwapit, which is UK only, but I too often ran into the problem that Heather mentions. I switched to Bookmooch and did a lot of swapping there. I liked the points system better as it is much more flexible. However I accumulated a lot of points (over 200) and couldn't find books to spend them on or the books were there but the moochers didn't want to send internationally. That, and the changes to the site in the last year meant that I decided to leave Bookmooch (I donated my points to the various charities that use BM) and have gone back to ReaditSwapit. There is still the same problem of lack of flexibility but there is no way I can end up feeling out of pocket! I also do informal swapping within LT Groups.
I also tried another UK only site - Bookhopper. I didn't last long on that. Its rules for requesting books were complex (I felt) and rigid. If you got no response to your request you lost that opportunity to get a book. The site also had problems and wasn't available for long periods of time.
I like the sound of PBS, from online discussions about it that I've read it sounds as though the rules are fairly straightforward and it is administered strictly. However I can't use it as I'm in UK.
Unless LT can devise a system that will run itself, without problems for the users or can make enough money from it to fund a strictly administered system I think I'd rather they didn't enter the swapping market formally.
Bookins is, I think, US only, but it is receiver-pays. When I request a book it comes through the system, not through the individual person. They get a mailing label with postage already on it, print it, and send it. I don't see their full name or have any contact with them personally. There are points. The selection is medium, but of course it would be better if you all came over! I don't work for them, but I do like the receiver-pays model. I refuse to pay money to get rid of a book I don't want; I can donate it for free. Their customer service is good, but takes lots of person-power.
I've used Bookins as well and think it's great, but only switched to BookMooch because of its cheaper price.
Problem with bookins.com is that their points don't cover shipping cost.
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