Tying up loose ends

September 14, 2007

Mc Step 6
Things are looking good rebuilding the BM database, but since I have BM down, I thought I’d “scrub” the data and make sure everything really is ok.

I’ve found a few other problems with the data, that I’d like to tell you about, and that I’d like to beg the time from to fix.

Rebuilding search

I know there have been problems with some search words not returning complete results, and some words, like “university”, returning no results at all. I’m going to rebuild the search index from scratch, which will fix that, but will take another 24h.

I *think* I’m not going to index the “book description” on this pass, because that seems to be what takes the most time, and it’s not really as useful. I ran the book reindex overnight last night, and it had only finished about 10%, so I am going to re-run the re-index without the book description, and hopefully it’ll finish within 24h (I don’t think anyone could handle BM being down for 10 days!).

Missing books

Each book in your inventory, wishlist and save-for-later is supposed to have a back-reference, from the book back to the user who wants it/has it. This is what you see when you look at a book detail page, and the page displays the book as “available:…” from other people, as well as being on other people’s wishlists.

I knew that in some cases the back reference wasn’t there. I’m not sure why: it could be any of a bunch of problems we’ve had over the first year of BookMooch’s life.

I wrote a program to find all the missing back references and fix them, and wow, there are a lot of them!

Until today, if you went to your inventory, and one of your books was missing a back-reference, I didn’t display it in your inventory. It was “there” but no-one would find it to mooch it from you. If you had the only copy of the book, and the back reference was missing, then others would, on the book details page, see the book as “no copies available” The same thing could happen with your wishlist: you wouldn’t get notified when some books became available, because of the missing back-reference.

In practical terms, what this means is that a lot of people are going to find books in their inventory that they added in the past, that “for some odd reason” didn’t show up in their inventory page.

This is great news, like finding a famous author’s unpublished manuscript in the attic.

At a quick glance, it looks like about 10% of the books in BookMooch are missing a back-reference, so when BookMooch comes back up, there should be another 70,000 books available. Be sure to check your wishlist & save-for-later lists, to see if something you want has just appeared.


51 Responses to “Tying up loose ends”

  1. barnes said

    i miss my daily visits, but you take as long as you need. i really appreciate all the time you’re putting into this!

  2. vince connor said

    nothing I say should be contrued as requiring any delay in restoring the system but….

    I noticed that sometimes a listing a book by searching by ISBN returns a misspelled title or the author is missing entirely. Is there a a way for the user to correct this?

    if a mooch is cancelled or rejected, does the book reliably return to the wishlist?

    if you mooch from alternate editions, the book is not automatically dropped from the wishlist or save-for-later.

  3. Lottie said

    Ooooh 70,000 books? So a whole bunch of books on my wishlist may suddenly become available? :S And I might get a whole bunch of requests too?

    Sounds good. I was getting withdrawal, but now I know it’s for a good reason.:)

  4. Helen (Beachcomber) said

    John, I can only imagine how much work this is for you – I’ve not checked BM in a couple of weeks now, and only found out about the problems today.

    I hope it gets sorted and is back better than ever – without too much stress and loss of sleep for you.

    Thanks for all the work you do, and the idea and BM site… it’s fantastic.

  5. Hey John, I wanted to thank you for all of your hard work. This site has been a lifesaver for me since we are in Germany where my husband is an investigator. It’s very hard to find inexpensive books in English where I live. Everyone has been really cool about sending APO even though they have to fill out a customs form. I normally have eccentric taste in books so its exciting to be able to find authors like Ayun Halliday that bookstores in the States always had to order for me. Anyway, know that you are appreciated and your updates are well written and funny. Hopefully you are writing elsewhere also. 🙂

  6. Lesley said

    Sounds as if you’re doing a great job!

  7. Lesley said

    Thanks for your hard work – I think PayPal account infor is a good idea – I will certainly add something for your hard work. And I am beginning some withdrawal symptoms too!!

  8. Irish said

    Thanks for all the updates in the progress of getting bookmooch up and running again. It sounds like a lot of hard work but like many others here I appreciate all your efforts.

    Also, as much BM withdrawal that I am going through right now I’d rather it be down for several days and come back better and brighter then ever then to come back up quickly only to get sick again in the near future.

    Keep you the good work…BM is one of my favorite websites. =)

  9. Christine G said

    Let me add my thanks to the pile! I sure miss Bookmooch when it’s down, but I really appreciate the updates you are providing! You mentioned that the word “university” produces no search results…same for the word “art.” I used to find great books by searching for “art” but one day a few months ago, it stopped producing results. Thanks again for all your efforts…I LOVE Bookmooch! 🙂

  10. I’ve had to do exactly this sort of thing in the past and I know exactly how much work it is.

    I’m crossing my fingers for you John!

    Take your time and good luck!


  11. Amanda said

    Thanks for the hard work you put into this site. It’s been the most amazing resource, and I love being able to share my loved books with others. I think we all understand the need to take time to do this, so please remember to sleep and eat! We’d like you healthy and un-stressed please 🙂

  12. Judy said

    THANK YOU, JOHN!!!! (et al.)

  13. i, too, am suffering some major withdrawal, but i know it’ll be worth it. bookmooch rocks!

  14. Constance said

    I noticed recently that I could not reject a bookmooch that had been pending while I hunted for the book. I had emailed the person that there would be a delay so eventually she canceled it at her end.

  15. Snesgirl said

    Tahnks for putting all the time and effort into this.
    Take all the time you need to ensure greater database integrity 🙂

  16. twp77 said

    Thanks for your efforts John. We all await Bookmooch’s speedy recovery!!!

  17. spring said

    John, please don’t stress out over this. We’re glad you’re fixing BM but life’s short, do what you can but don’t suffer for it. It’s going to get fixed and if we don’t get our BM fix for a few days, oh, well! Love the site and appreciate you and your vision so much.

  18. Emily said

    Thank you so much for all your work – I absolutely LOVE bookmooch and am so grateful that it exists!

  19. mystfromthesea said

    Wow! That info you gave about the back-referencing was really cool! It will be exciting to see the improved system when it’s back up.
    Have a great day!

  20. Christian said

    i’m definitely looking forward to the return of bookmooch. glad it’s coming along well. thanks John!

  21. Sterghe said

    Wow! I hate it that I found out about Bookmooch, set up an account, read the FAQ and everything else I could find, and went into my shed to dig out a box of good books to put up for others to read … just in time to sit down, ready to enter them online, and find the notice the site was down. 😦 But then again, you mean I’m going to come in as a new user just in time to have access to lots of books, and that the books I post in hopes that someone will ask to read them (instead of leaving them doing nothing in my shed!) will be more likely to be found? Awesome!

    Thank you for the hard work you’re doing to create and maintain such a terrific site. I’m so excited to be able to participate in this exchange soon!

  22. Dana Church said

    Thank you so much for the updates. I was worried! You’re putting so much work into this and it is much appreciated. I am still new to BookMooch, but it didn’t take me long to fall in love with it!

  23. kell1976 said

    Thanks for all the hard work you’re doing, John – Looking forward to seeing BM up and running again.

    One quick question – I’m due to send out a package of 3 books to a fellow moocher tomorrow morning – will the mooch request still be there on my profile for me to let them know I’ve sent it when it’s back up and running again?

  24. M. said

    I for one used the description search and found it very interesting, but if it’s slowing BM and keeping it down, to hell with it! Thanks from me to for your dedication in this.

  25. William said

    Yes, John, thanks for doing a great job. Take your time – we’ll just be patient.

    Not sure I understand the back-referencing thing, and if it applies to unique or hand-entered books. The first hundred or so books I hand-entered way back, so they’re not connected to an Amazon database. So I wouldn’t expect any back-connections to wishlists of anybody. BUt I would hope they’d show up in a title search or author search.

    To answer Vince, above, misspelled titles, missing authors, etc. is the horrid Amazon database our books are mostly based on. Sometimes Amazon is unbelievably bad. Only way to correct it is to correct it on Amazon (which takes about two days for approval) then probably withdraw the book and re-enter the book on BookMooch once Amazon has it right. But that’s too much work.

  26. pdumont16 said

    Thanks for all your hard work on this. The site is becoming a really valuable resource for me. 🙂

  27. ragingmedusa80423 said

    No problem with the wait on the update. Take all the time you need. I do have one question.

    Would it be possible for us to seperate the hardcovers and paperbacks automatically when we search for a certain book? Like have tabs for the different versions: All, Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, etc. at the top of the search list for that book we are looking for.

    Hopefully you understand what I mean. Thanks again for all the hard work. 🙂 Good luck

  28. Angel said

    Sounds like you are doing a good job. I look forward to seeing it when you are done.

  29. opus17 said

    We are all patiently waiting for our Bookmooch to be available again. Thanks for all the extra sorting a and fixing! In the meantime, I am just sorting out my bookshelf on Librarything, which still needs work…mmmm.

  30. BrandyBrooke said

    Thanks, John! I’m totally missing my BM, but you take your time…

  31. Heather said

    Thank you for keeping us updated! As everyone has said, take your time…. getting BM up sooner is not worth having a stressed-out John.

  32. alina said

    I have this irky feeling that as soon as bookmooch is back up there will be thousands of people logging in at the same time and many, many angels will lose their wings at once. I hope the system will hold up to our mooch hunger.

  33. Stephanie said

    Hey, could that broken-back-reference be responsible for the mysterious re-add bug, where a book you removed from your inventory appears as moochable, even though it’s no longer in your inventory?

  34. Rachel said

    Thanks so much for all of your hard work. I am a new member to BM, and have been loving it.

    I just figured out that the mailing addresses for the mooch requests are in the request email. So, even though the site is down I am still able to send books that were requested. Thanks for having that feature! 🙂

    Best of luck. Looking forward to a new and shiny database!


  35. Laura said


    Ye Gads Batman!




    (Withdrawal sounds!)

    THANKS for all you do John!

  36. SidneyW said

    Thanks for all your effort! It’s appreciated.

  37. Trevor said

    Thanks for all the hard work and for taking the time out to post updates. As others have said, please don’t stress yourself out too much – take a time-out to have some fun over the weekend.

  38. Colleen said

    Thank you so much for posting these updates! I am a newbie and loved the site so much I thought maybe I had crashed it! LOL Get it up and running when you can… we’ll still all be here.

  39. ANGELA said

    I love BOOKMOOCH. Thanks so much for such a great website.

  40. Charlene said

    I am waiting impatiently for the site to come back up. As a fellow web developer I know how frustrating it is when stuff happens.

    Fortunately I have never had a database get corrupted on me. But my databases are usually pretty small.

    And despite how impatient I am, I agree with a previous commenter who said “Take your time.” I do want things done right!

  41. Amy said

    Thanks, John, for all your work getting BM up and running again! I’m going through major withdrawal and am looking forward to getting my fix 😉 Have a good weekend and leave plenty of time to play.

  42. megan said

    I’m amazed BookMooch exists at all! Thank you for all your efforts, and please be assured that your fans are patient.

  43. Rabidpotatochip said

    Don’t forget to post when things are up and running again. =)

  44. Michelle (AU) said

    John, you can have the YAY! for the day, the YAY! for every day as far as I’m concerned. You must understand book addiction very well to create such a fantastic site. Mooching is SUPER-CALA-FRAJI-LISTIC-EXPEALI-DOCIOUS! As everyone else is saying, take it easy. Don’t ‘do your head in’ just for us.

    Thanks a million SMOOCHES for all your hard work. M

  45. Margaret said

    Thank you for putting so much time into this and, heck, inventing it!
    I love you for this!

  46. Anne said

    Mooch hunger! I like that. Here I am, taking digital pictures of my cats, trying to fill the empty hole left by an absent Bookmooch. I need a husband. Too bad you can’t do a Moochdating service, that would be great! On second thought no, it wouldn’t be such a great idea.

    Bookmooch is so much fun! Last week I brought home a Polish Technical Dictionary, but it turned out that the valuable one was the later edition. Boat anchor, trash can or… Someone mooched it from me right after I listed the book! That was great.

  47. Joanna Collie said

    Hi John,
    this site is unbelieveable, and you are truly the god of all bibliophiles. We are incredibly lucky that BookMooch exists at all, and this downtime just serves to remind us all just how amazing this FREE service is. Take the time you need, and be nice to yourself. We can wait.
    I’m with Michelle. A million smooches from me too.

  48. nikki said

    thank you for all your hard work! i LOVE bookmooch!

  49. Andrea said

    Thanks for all the hard work you are putting into this. I’m just beginning to learn about databases and it looks like really tough work that must be planned out, and reviewed and tested over and over. Good luck and hope it goes smoothly when it’s finished. Take your time though. Stress is never healthy.


  50. Chookietoo said

    Sorry to hear Book Mooch is down but I know you have a great site when it is back up.I miss it!
    Is there any chance you could add an alphabetical search to the country search? I am on dial up ( very slow) and have to go right through all pages each time I return to continue a search.I was up to M last time but have to reload each page to get back there and continue. An alphabetical search option at the top of each page would be a great help?
    Thanks for all your hard work, much appreciated.

  51. Jeni said

    John, your hard work is very much appreciated! BookMooch is a great site, and a great invention. Thank you so much 🙂

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