However. There's something about PaperBack Swap that irks me, and here it is: requestors' conditions.
These are not all bad. In fact, some conditions seem reasonable to me, such as "prefer books that come from non-smoking homes." Questionable style concerns aside (i.e., if a home is smoking, call the fire department), that condition makes sense to me. Another reasonable condition is requesting that puzzle books (or the like) contain all their pieces. Honestly, most people are reasonable with their requestor conditions.
But my lip starts to curl when I read conditions like this (which I've either received or seen in the past):
- No highlighting or marks whatsoever.
- No creases or shelfwear.
- If this book features fill-in-the-blanks or other activities, no erasures whatsoever. Must be completely clean.
- No names written on inside pages.
- If the book is hardcover, it must have its dustcover. Dustcovers must be clean and free of creases or rips.
- No ex-library books.
And that's merely a sampling. Frankly if used-book requestors are this persnickety about their books, they should go to the bookstore and buy them new.
Why do these conditions rankle? First off, my understanding of PaperBack Swap's raison d'etre is to serve as a place where book lovers can swap books for their personal reading pleasure. Second, all PBS members receive requested books for free. I'll say that again: for free. Requestors don't even pay postage; the senders do.
When requestors impose several strict conditions for books they request, I get suspicious. If one requests a book for one's own personal library, why must one insist on such stringent standards for used books? Here's what goes through my mind: perhaps said requestor plans to re-sell these books or use them for some other sort of gain other than merely the enjoyment of reading?
Even if I'm wrong about my suspicions, it still bothers me that some requestors impose such stiff regulations on free used books. I mean, really.
So twice now, I've clicked the little box that reads something like, "This books does NOT meet requestor's conditions." PBS requires members to give an explanation, which will be shared with the requestor, and I've been happy to do so. In fact, both times this has happened to me, I've explained that, although my book DOES meet the requestor's conditions, I'm withdrawing it from consideration due to these reasons. . . (see above).
I prefer to share my books with those who want to read them for the pure pleasure of reading. To me, that's the convivial spirit of PBS. In essence, members say to each other:
"You haven't read this? Oh, I have, and it's wonderful. Let me mail it to you. When you've finished, you can send it along to someone else. Or keep it, if you love it!"
I've been a PBS member for years, and only twice have I been irked by requestor conditions. So it's not a huge problem at all. Don't let it stop you from joining, if you haven't already. Membership is free and so worth it!
But do me a favor and make sure your conditions, if any, are not ridiculous. Okay?