Mooch ratio calculation change

November 19, 2007

After a very long discussion on the blog I’ve now changed the way the mooch ratio calculation works.

The “mooch ratio” is the number of books you’ve given, vs books received, and currently at BookMooch you have to maintain a 5:1 ratio. The current discussion, not yet settled, is whether to lower the ratio to something like 2:1.

You can see your mooch ratio calculation by logging in, and then clicking on the “mooch ratio” link on the top right of the page, like so:


You can see the ratio for my UK BookMooch account now:


what’s new is that books sent internationally are now listed separately, and you get a bonus on your mooch ratio for them.

Each book sent internationally is counted 3 times: once as a book sent, and then twice more as a bonus.

The idea is that if you send a book internationally, you get 3 points, and you should be allowed to spend those 3 points.

I was looking at a table I made of people who keep their ratios at 3:1 or worse, and very few of them are consistent good BookMooch users, most tend to be people who gave a few books away, then got as much as they could get, and then abandoned BookMooch. I’m sure there are exceptions, but that is the generalization of what I saw.

So… take a look at your own mooch ratio, and see if you would be affected by a policy change at BookMooch, requiring (say) a 2:1 ratio.

I was also thinking of posting a list of all the members with a 3:1 or higher mooch ratio, so that people could take a look at real members and see if they think they’re being fair or not, but I don’t want to start a witch hunt either.

109 Responses to “Mooch ratio calculation change”

  1. Suzi said

    My mooch ratio suddenly looks a lot awesomer thanks to the International bonus. πŸ™‚ Thanks John!

  2. Heather19 said

    I already knew that I wouldn’t be affected by a 2:1 change, but I do like the calculation change, it makes sense and it will work better I think.

    From reading all the posts on the forums about this, I have a feeling that there will be less opposition if the change was to 3:1 instead of to 2:1, but that’s just what I’ve gathered from the posts. I definitely like the idea of lowering the ratio, whichever number it will be lowered to.

  3. Taneli T said

    The change seems to be very good for us who send lots of books to international addresses, so it should encourage international mooching, that’s very good.

    With this international emphasis I think 2:1 ratio is just fine, there’s no need for 3:1 ratio.


  4. Hope said

    Wow! Thanks! My mooch ratio was a whisker under 2:1 before, and is now 0.91:1 now that the effects of international mooching is taken into account. πŸ™‚ Shiny! I think I would have to work quite hard now to get to a 2:1 ratio under the new scheme.

  5. Alanna said

    This makes me SOOOoooooo happy!! I have been sitting on so many points because of int’l mooches and have felt really weird about spending them and making my ratio get more out of whack…

    woo woo! Thanks John! I think this is a most awesome improvement!!! πŸ™‚

  6. Aaron said

    I kind of like the change for international sending, it puts it more in line with the point system. I’d even suggest upping the cost of requesting a book internationally from 2 points to 3. I don’t see how BookMooch as a whole benefits by encouraging people to make international requests.

    Regarding the ratio itself, 2:1 seems more than fair. I don’t know why people think they deserve two books (or more) for every one that they give. I’d be happy to have the ratio lowered to 1.5:1, but maybe that’s just me.

    Whatever the ratio is, it should be the same everyone, whether they’re a book seller with 10,00 books in their inventory or a college student with 5 books. Nobody is better than anyone else, and we should all play by the same rules.

    One thing that’s always been a problem is the 0.1 point for simply adding books to your inventory. It’s just more of a noticeable problem when one user has thousands of books. From what I understand, there are two goals behind the 0.1 point inventory listing bonus: 1) get new members some initial points so that they can start mooching right away, and 2) encourage people to list books in order to build up the global inventory.

    I think that the 0.1 bonus works well for Goal 1, but only for the first 20 or so books (2 points). Two free books should be enough to get people started, and after that, we should give books to get books.

    For the second goal, I think we should differentiate between books that actually expand the inventory and common books that nobody seems to want. I suggest changing the policy so that you get 0.1 point if the book that you add is either new (new ISBN for your country) or in demand (ISBN is on a wishlist). That way if someone adds 10,000 books that nobody wants, they won’t automatically earn 1000 points.

  7. britne said

    In response to Aaron’s comments-
    (I’m not trying to attack you here, just point out my opinion on a couple things!)

    “That way if someone adds 10,000 books that nobody wants, they won’t automatically earn 1000 points.”

    My only problem with suggestions like these are that you’re penalizing someone for listing a book that no one wants /now/. I’ve had some obscure books in my inventory that I was sure no one would ever mooch, but lo and behold, after being here on BM for over a year, people actually do want them! How do you know which books people want, and ones “nobody wants”? New members join all the time, and they may want these books that “nobody” wants right now!

    “Nobody is better than anyone else, and we should all play by the same rules.”

    But then you propose to not let people add a lot of books, or books that “nobody wants”? So what if someone lists 10,000 books, and gets 1000 points? Even the 5:1 ratio in place now is a limit; a 3:1 or 2:1 ratio would be even more strict in making sure that someone didn’t grab a bunch of books and run.

    It’s sad that people try to abuse the BM system, but we already have safeguards in place (abuse button, mooch ratio, etc.) to keep this from getting out of hand. I don’t at all mind a 3:1 or 2:1 limit, but I’d be thrilled to see someone add 10,000 books. More to choose from!

  8. Similar thoughts from me, I was worried about the 2:1 ratio and below – I just don’t get enough mooches, even though I keep a reasonable inventory. Most of my sent mooches would be to abroad, and I’ve no issue mailing to anywhere it’s wanted.

    I’ve always followed the advice to ‘spend your points as often as possible’ in order to help keep the community going, and I’ve been lucky that most of the books I’ve wanted have been available locally, so I’ve ended up getting a lot more bang for my buck.

    The new calculation for the Mooch Ratio is excellent, and makes it fairer for those who regularly send abroad. Keep up the good work!

  9. Emily Thayer said

    I think with the new ratio calculation, you’d have to work pretty hard to get up over 2:1. Very much fairer, thank you John!

  10. Nick said

    I developed a proposal for a new system entirely (no ratios at all, only points) but I seem to have written it about 45 minutes too late, and I at least want people (mostly John) to consider it. Its on the original blog page just after his update. I feel its still relevant because this new ratio update helps, but doesn’t solve the business problem, and we’re all affected by it and in it together.

  11. Debra said

    I absolutely love the change, thanks John! πŸ™‚ I think a 2:1 or 2.5:1 ratio would be fine. I don’t see how anyone could go over that ratio in the current system, unless they are taking advantage of a whole lot of deals, or if they’re only using points from having added books, and not sending much out. Most users shouldn’t have a problem staying under 2:1 or 2.5:1 with the changes.


  12. Leela4 said

    I am opposed to universally reducing the trade ratio even to 3:1, but I would be in favor of making it a tiered system.

    At issue is you’re trying to prevent abuse by a couple of members who request masses of books but only give away a fraction that many.

    –So decide what’s a reasonable sacrifice volume and make a tiered system. Say, 5:1 for members who have traded 2 or fewer books. (I strongly believe you should allow the newest members at least this.) Then maybe something like 4:1 for 3 books, 3:1 for 4 or more books, and if time demonstrates there really is a significant problem, 2:1 for some larger number.

    The trade ratio protects against newcomers who start out with a large inventory of books (this issue really does seem to be the core problem!), and against established members who have accumulated enough 0.1 points that they are able to receive quite a lot more than they give.

    Something that y’all don’t seem to be considering is BookMooch functions much like a closed system. For every book that is given away, *someone* must request it. And that someone needs to both have the points and the room in his ratio to make that request.

    A new member really needs that 5:1 ratio, because it takes months to trade off enough books to get enough points to make enough requests that one feels like it’s worthwhile to continue to stay active with BookMooch. If one is also too closely restrained by a ratio, it easily seems like all give for little return. There is nothing more frustrating than wanting a bunch of books (most of which are only being offered by someone in another country) but worrying you’d better save your points and ratio slots in the probably vain hope that some books you *really* want will become available. That drives down activity on BookMooch, which further reduces the motivation of newcomers to stay. Being able to request four or five books for every one given away motivates the new member to keep participating as she or he slowly manages to build a reputation and enough points to become relaxed about requesting books.

  13. Liz said

    Thanks John so much! My new ratio looks so much better and I think that international stuff figuring in just makes sense. I don’t think a ratio change would hurt anyone under this new ratio equation. Thanks again!

  14. Erin C said

    Hmm I see you are getting lots of positive comments on this change. What happens to someone who has a ton of books listed which they would love to ship out and only gets a few requests? What I mean is take myself for instance have a ton of books I am dying to get rid of yet I barely get requests, my ratio is currently even I believe. Yet if I were to add 10 more books (which will happen soon from my mooches) it would equal a point yet I may not be able to use that point unless I can get someone to mooch from me…..I think a 3 to 2 ratio would be better then either a 1 to 1 or 2 to 1.
    I also why it is a good thing I have come across someone who had tried to mooch from me who had a couple hundred books listed yet never sent any out. Anyway 2 or 3 books for every book sent would be okay.

  15. mystfromthesea said

    I love it!

  16. Leigh said

    Loving how this looks, John. Seriously…thank you!!! My ratio is a lot lower and I feel even more rewarded for all the international sends I’m able to afford now. This will be great.

  17. William said

    Works for me! My ratio went way DOWN because I gave away 92 international mooches. This will certainly encourage more BookMooch Angels. 2:1 is fine, maybe 3:1 for newbies might encourage new people more, but maybe it isn’t necessary. But for me to even reach 2:1 ratio now, I’d have to put 6,400 more books online to get the extra 640 points… and I know I’m not going to be doing that in the near future.

    As for questioning the 1/10 point for listing – it does encourage building inventory and rewards you for listing. My only comment is that perhaps if a title is SO common it would be useless to list any more, then the person shouldn’t get the 1/10 point. If a bookstore lists 75,000 books and they’re mostly obscure titles, fine. But if they list 5,000 copies of Stephen King’s Firestarter, and 5, 000 copies of The Shining, etc. they shouldn’t get 1/10 point each for flooding the system for points. Perhaps the reward of 1/10 point for listing shouldn’t kick in if a book already has 30 or 40 copies listed.

    As for the bookstore, I think it would be great to add new inventory – most likely I’d mooch a hundred or so books right away from them (as soon as I can find the books in the search engine. πŸ˜‰

    Speaking of which, the one thing I miss most at BookMooch is being able to search “Newest” or “Most recent” either generally or within a person’s inventory. (I suppose I could do RSS on individuals.) Practically every other site has a way of pulling up Newest or Most Recent, whether I’m looking at books in bookstores on ABE, looking at photos in Flickr, looking at girls at They all offer a Newest or Most Recent option.

  18. Hope said

    Re: I don’t see how BookMooch as a whole benefits by encouraging people to make international requests.

    Here’s my tuppence about why international activity is beneficial on BookMooch:

    1. Some books are only published in one country. If that country isn’t your own, it is great to (finally) find somewhere you can get those books.
    2. Some works are available in large quantities within the inventories of USA users, but hardly at all in those of European users (and vice versa). Being able to request books from the USA in this instance is great because it finally gets those books in circulation in countries where they are not common. It can even out book distribution geographically. It also helps those listers who go to list a book and worry when theirs is the 36th copy and, oh my gosh, will anyone ever mooch it?
    3. Sometimes a book is really unusual or specialized, and it has no local takers – whether that’s moochers from a private individual, or a bookshop wondering why it bought it and is (desperately) listing it on BookMooch in the hope of making some shelf space and getting a book a customer has asked for…. However that doesn’t mean that no-one wants the book. The international element of BookMooch really opens up the potential readership for that book. The whole point is that that book has a reader *somewhere* and it is case of tracking that reader down. BookMooch is quite a good way to do that because it encompasses far more countries than many second hand book sites, and has a diverse range of readers.
    4. Someone who is relatively point rich can request a book from abroad. When they relist it, it opens the book up to those members in their own country who are relatively point poor, or who don’t want to cough up 2 points a time to mooch. Again, this gets books into circulation where they might not otherwise circulate.
    5. Books circulate much more quickly than if mooches were restricted to one’s own country. I use two other swap sites, which do not allow international swapping, and I use them far less than BookMooch. Most of my activity is international – in giving and in mooching.
    6. Since there is no actual money involved, swapping books internationally can also get round rights zones (all those “not for sale in…” notices on the back of the book).
    7. Books acquire new readers.

  19. Kat (zzzkatzzzz) said

    i love the new way the ratio is figured!mines dropped considerably & now looks great!

    i do however dont like the thought of having the ratio limit lowered. im one who doesnt get many requests for what i have listed. im close to the 2.1 limit right now. ive liked how i have the freedom of asking for more books than i give. its what drew me to BM to begin with. plus ive done some “providing books for extra points” and i should have the right to mooch more books since i paid for those points. i think it only fair that i should be free to use my points. dropping the ratio limit would hinder me from mooching. i dont have the ability to go to garage sales or old bookstores to beef up my inventory. im basically housebound. so, to me, it wouldnt be fair to have the ratio limit lowered.

    about the books that are already listed 30 or 40 times: i have mooched such books when i look thru a persons inventory for other books (in addition to those im mooching). so i feel it should stay the same with the 1/10 point being given for each book listed. you never know when someone is going to mooch a book thats been in your inventory.

    just my 2 cents worth.

  20. junebug said

    Regarding the britne/Aaron discussion [For the second goal, I think we should differentiate between books that actually expand the inventory and common books that nobody seems to want… That way if someone adds 10,000 books that nobody wants, they won’t automatically earn 1000 points.], I agree with Aaron’s point. I would like to see a limit added [15?]to how many copies of a book can be available at one time for mooching. Example: I have a few copies of paperback mysteries, for example Sue Grafton’s “Q is for Quarry.” There are already 45+ copies of this book available to mooch. I could add it for the point, but ethically, it seems like it goes against the spirit of bookmooch and adds a needless entry to the database. We don’t want the site to be bogged down with books no one is interested in mooching. My initial inventory was all hardback, expensive cookbooks. Within one hour, every book in my inventory was claimed. That kind of outcome seems like a better use of bookmooch, requiring less database space, and making the moochers happy and me happy (more bookshelf space).

  21. Jon said

    I have so far sent three books internationally, one to the US and two within Europe. One has been received, and the other two have yet to be acknowledged as received. I notice that I am listed as having sent only 1 book internationally. This, I suppose, can mean one of two things. 1) That I don’t benefit from the extra points until the books are received. or 2) That sending to another country within Europe is counted the same as sending within one’s own country. Does anyone know which it is?

  22. Amanda said

    I would greatly prefer a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 ratio. I am a fairly new book mooch user and while my current ratio is pretty good, 2.3 I believe, it can be very hard to reach this number. I was restricted not long after I joined the site because my ratio went 5 to 1. I wasn’t clear on the rules at the time and fortunately someone mooched some obscure books from me. However, it will take new users some time to get a good ratio. I propose 4:1 for newbies under a certain period of time, say 6 months and then 3:1 after that.

  23. Hope said

    Jon – I don’t know whether 1 or 2 is the right answer, but looking at my ratio page the 3 books I have currently in transit to the USA and New Zealand are not currently included in my count of books given internationally. Perhaps the ratio bonus does only take these into account when they are marked as received, and therefore when the books are moved from my pending page to my sent page? Only time will tell.

  24. Laura said

    So, I would be affected (though, barely now that you changed the international factor)… mostly because I’m still pretty new to it… I have always accepted whenever someone mooches from me and I try to list a bunch of books so people can find books they’d like, I even sent someone a suggestion that they might like my books and I try to mooch from people with high ratios if they are new to give them a shot since I know that sometimes it’s really tough to get people to pick you if you don’t have as much feedback since you’re still new. Anyway… it’s a really tough situation, but, it also limits some of what is so appealing, I mean, I want there to be a big selection of books out there so that I can find the books I want, the more people who list a lot of books, the better it is for me, and it also gives incentive to list a lot of books so that people can mooch multiple books and save on shipping….. anyway, that’s my theory for what it’s worth (I say keep it higher, like 4:1 or 5:1) because I want people to list a lot of books

  25. Jon said

    Thanks, Hope. It would seem that they do need to be marked as received first. I hope this is the case, as sending to other countries in Europe is a lot more expensive than sending within my own country.

  26. Lethe said

    Interesting change, all of a sudden I don’t feel like a deadbeat anymore (before my ratio had been just above 2, and now it is below 1, thanks to the international adjustment for all the books I’ve sent abroad). Also the straightforward clear presentation of the numbers is great, thanks.

    Re: “I was looking at a table I made of people who keep their ratios at 3:1 or worse, and very few of them are consistent good BookMooch users, most tend to be people who gave a few books away, then got as much as they could get, and then abandoned BookMooch.”

    How about doing an excel scatter chart where one axis is ratio, and the other is something like feedback %age (feedback score divided by [number of books sent + agreed to send], range would be +100% to -100% I guess), with members who have been suspended or closed for abuse highlighted in red. Then you can see what the distribution of deadbeat members is and where the ratio values get interesting. You could also use other colors for other kinds of members, e.g. yellow for members who have vacationed themselves, or are recent members, etc. (You could even try a 3d scatter chart where one axis is something along the lines of size of inventory or total number sent, to separate out the businesses from the merely book obsessed. Or use a series of colors besides red to represent inventory size).

    I looked at the bookmooch statistics page and saw one that puzzled me. Under members statistics, the bottom chart on the left is “% who list books to give”, and it started at 39%, peaked at 42%, and is now at 32%. Am I understanding the caption correctly, that only about 1/3 of members have any inventory? And that 2/3 of the members are on vacation, closed, suspended, or simply without inventory? [That does seem to be the correct interpretation given the numbers in the top two charts.]

    Merely book obsessed, and appreciative,

  27. Aaron said

    Thanks for your comments. Maybe I wasn’t clear. I’d still allow the 0.1 point for books that aren’t on any wishlists as long as they’re new (ISBN + country). That way, even if nobody wants them now, you’re still encouraged to grow the system by adding unique material. Maybe the cut off shouldn’t be at 1 book, but if you’re adding the 104th copy of Angels & Demons, I don’t see why the system should give you 0.1 point.

    You say: “But then you propose to not let people add a lot of books, or books that ‘nobody wants’?” Not at all. People should be able to add any books that they want. I just think that they shouldn’t earn 0.1 bonus point for listing books that are already widely available.

    Re: why international trading is good. From reading your post, it looks like plenty of value for trading books internationally comes from the value of the book itself. The trade should happen because someone in one country wants a book that’s in another country. I’m perfectly happy with that. The current version of BookMooch goes beyond that by throwing a bonus point in to subsidize the cost of requesting a book internationally.

    Your points about increasing the book’s circulation are good. I think they are a nice benefit of international trading, but I don’t see them being worth a full point. Another way to look at it is that in the current system people get a free domestic book for every international book that they request. A whole free book seems extreme to me, but that’s just a matter of opinion.

    I’m glad that everyone is being nice and that we can all voice our preferences without it turning into attacks. Thanks. πŸ™‚

  28. Spring said

    Thanks John, that helped my ratio which was inching up to 1.27:1 now it’s .9 or so:1
    I’m relatively new (7 mo) and have mooched and given a lot of books but I still feel panicked when I think of getting below 3:1 ratio. At 3:1, lack of points alone would keep me from getting my ratio too high. It’s just less of a drastic move. This change does encourage me to do more international shipments. What keeps me from international shipments other than Canada is cost. There’s a real learning curve here when you find yourself spending your grocery money on postage. You discover you need to have a maximum shipping budget allowance. Once that’s done for those of us who walk a tight line, all is good. Thanks for everything you do.

  29. Caitie said

    I love it πŸ™‚
    Another thing I’d love to see you address in the future is the way we can’t change lost books to received once they’ve been marked as such – I’ve got 6 books showing up as lost on my account (all from one shipment), but they were later received, and while the feedback shows this, so it’s not a huge deal, they aren’t counted as books given or in ratio. I know lots of other people are in the same situation, so I thought I’d mention it – are you planning to change this at any point so that marking a book as lost isn’t permanent and can be changed along with the feedback for the transaction?

  30. Zillah said

    Hi Aaron: re the whole international thing- another point is, when you live in a country that has a small number of people participating in BookMooch (like I live in New Zealand, and I think we have 40 people on BM currently) international mooches are our lifeblood.

    Almost every time I send a book out, it’s internationally. It’s a choice of course, but there’s not many points to be made locally (and anyway, I love sending books to people in other countries when I can afford it!). Many US BM users ask for a 2 for 1 when mooching, so in effect, if you upped the request cost from 2 to 3 points, that’s potentially 6 points for a request (since you’re often only choosing another book to mooch the initial one, if you know what I mean).

    So what I’m saying, really, is that the current international point system really benefits non-US moochers, who don’t have very many local books to choose from. I especially feel for those BMers that only have a few people (or 1 person!) from their entire country on here. Non US users are already at a disadvantage, I’d hate to see us disadvantaged further by having the cost of our mooches go up.

    Just a thought!

    (and thank you John, for the adjusted ratios!)

  31. Julien said

    I would be in favor of a 3:1 ratio in general. I understand the concern that, for new members, it can be frustrating to not be able to order a lot of books right away. However, I do think it’s important that newer members should have their activities somewhat limited until they prove that they are trustworthy. Bookmooch already allows a new member to mooch 3 books before his/her first book is requested (note well: not confirmed received, but merely requested) with the .1 inventory points, and I feel that that policy is appropriately balanced.

    Without taking the international bonus into account, taking advantage of a 5:1 ratio is essentially saying, “For every 40 books in your inventory, someone has to want 1 of them.” (4 inventory points plus 1 mooch point) Changing to a 3:1 ratio would say instead, “For every 20 books in your inventory, someone has to want 1 of them.” (2 inventory points plus 1 mooch point) In the long run, the latter is better for Bookmooch and does not honestly disadvantage anyone to any significant degree.

    I don’t think any sliding scales are needed anywhere – a 3:1 ratio is balanced for both large and small inventories and old and new members. The best way to get books on Bookmooch is to list books that people want, and the 3:1 ratio will encourage people to do so about twice as frequently as they are now.

  32. Winna said

    That does look great.

    The thing is, I’ve sent 2 books internationally out of the 9 books I have sent, but those 2 books have not been acknowledged by the moochers as received. Therefore my mooch ratio hasn’t improved and I don’t receive the bonus.

    I guess that means the bonus is only valid once the books have been marked as received, am I correct? What if the books are lost in the mail?

  33. mljk said

    I love the idea of changing the mooch ratio to 3:1. That would help weed out some of those who abuse the bookmooch system and keep us honest traders from being scammed so often!

  34. Elizabeth M. said


    Hey guys–
    Esp. Aaron and Britne (good thoughts both of you!).
    I think you should go very carefully about not giving tenths of a point for inventory listings. Right now, I have books on my saved for later that someone has listed, but I don’t want to mooch from them. Why? Either they are international and I really don’t want the book bad enough to spend the extra points (I save internat’l mooches for stuff I Really Want and Can’t Seem to Find easily) or the listers aren’t active. Also, some books I would prefer in hardcover (esp. kid’s books–they wear much better) or paperback (beach books!). I’m also picky enough not to mooch some books if it isn’t the ‘right’ publisher for me(i.e, Penguins). On the other hand, I listed a few Robert Ludlum’s my son gave me thinking they were very popular–well, they are, everyone seems to have listed them! But, sooner or later, someone will want them and I have had people choose my listing over others’ because I ship fairly quickly–or whatever.
    Also, I like fairly to really obscure religious books–none of which are new–as well as much older fiction (okay, I’m much older)–I just mooched some “Little Colonel” books that were printed in the very early 1900’s. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I was ecstatic! But, maybe Aaron, you mean points for books that are “new to the system” as opposed to “new like published within the last 10 years”???
    I can understand Aaron’s point but to tell the truth, I don’t usually investigate the status of the books I list–when I have extras or ones I no longer want, I just list them.
    Maybe 1/2 a .1 of a point for listing a book (same publisher/edition) that has already been listed in your country??). My trouble is, I seem to run into people with books I want that aren’t active any more! (insert sigh here!)

  35. Patricia said

    This is great since most of the books I send out is for international moochers.

    My only concern is: I really hope the data loss is a thing of the past. Because of all the crashes, I’ve lost a total of 7 books given away (3 local, 4 international). If this kind of irreparable data loss will still occur in the future (and my gives aren’t recorded) my mooch ratio will definitely hit whatever ceiling.

    But overall, I think this is a good change. Thanks, John! πŸ™‚

  36. Peggy said

    I have not read the debate, just John B’s blog entry.
    The change works for me. Not sure if It would have when I was a newbie, tho. I remember it taking a long time to get a couple of mooches.
    Peggy T

  37. William said

    Regarding my earlier comment on limiting the giving .10 point for listing only if there aren’t already 40 or 50 of that book already listed so a bookstore won’t put on 1,000 of The Godfather, or Harry Potter books… good point made earlier – people do browse the inventory of a Moochee and may mooch a common book from a new person too.

    So perhaps the way to prevent potential abuse is to not let any member list more than 5 copies of the same book at the same time. It used to be you could only have one copy in your inventory. If you don’t let a member list more than 5 copies of the same book, then that would prevent abuse by megalisters listing to get points. If they have more copies of that book they’ll have to wait until one is mooched to add another fifth copy.

  38. Stephanie said

    I think the change makes a lot of sense.

    At this point, I would strongly support going to a 3:1 ratio, and not be too upset about a 2:1 ratio.

    I think 3:1 would be better because of reasons already stated, flexibility and helping new people.

    I also want to bring up one additional point. I am currently unemployed and I have also been lucky enough to have friends give me charity bookmooch points. These friends are very generous, obviously, and also they are on bookmooch more to get rid of books than to get new books. So because of all of those charity points, my mooch ratio is currently 1.7:1. Now what if there were someone who was chronically unemployed, or disabled or whatever, and had little to no money *all* the time? If this person had friends who were willing to give them charity points every now and then, this would be fantastic and would work great, until that person came up against the mooch ratio. And maybe that person is not a “charity case” all the time — maybe they do ship books out once in a while, but they get more of their points from charity points.

    I guess what I’m saying is there is a grey area between the official charities and a regular bookmooch user.

    So that’s another reason I’d support only going down to 3:1 not 2:1.

    Thanks for continuing always to make bookmooch better, and especially to giving so much thought to changes before putting them in place.

  39. Rena said

    Since most almost all of the books I send out are international I really appreciate this change. Also – and I think this is a very important point to remember – that if you keep your ratio at 2:1 – then that means that the postage per book is half. Meaning that for every book I send out internationally – each book I receive only “costs” me half of my postage costs per book. Remembering to think about it this way will perhaps encourage more international mooching.

    In response to the comments above – having lived in the USA (most of my life), Canada, Ireland, the UK and now Israel – there really are different editions and books only availabe in certain countries – even between the US and Canada – I could never get all the titles I wanted even when I lived in Canada – and vice versa some Canadian authors are not available in the US – and in Israel most of the titles we get here are UK editions.

    Another thing, everyone must really check out the postage options – I have received books that cost $2, $6, $8 and $12 to send out from the US. Why in the world is there such a price discrepancy? Every time I send books out from Israel to the US it costs me the same amount (depending on the weight of the book) If it only cost $2 to send to Israel I think a lot more people would do it, correct?

    Jon – since I’m new to Bookmooch – maybe this already exists – but can we have a place for postage tips or a discussion about shipping rates? It seems like some users have “tricks” or simply know what to ask for at the post office and I think that would help everyone, all around.

  40. Norberto said

    I think these changes can be good. I’ll give my own case as an example though I know that may be coarse.
    Until now I have been fast approaching the 2:1 mooch ratio and it might look to an outsider that I have been putting many books on my inventory just to be able to get other books.
    In fact, because I send most of my books abroad I am able to get three points for those. So for each 2 books I send I am able to mooch 6 from my own country or 2 from abroad.
    So far that influenced negatively my mooch ratio but I feel that the inclusion of the abroad factor will bring with it some justice.

    On another note, a suggestion: we need to think of ways to further improve book sharing across countries. There are many books that I haven’t been able to mooch because of postal rates and that is terribly frustrating.

  41. Jason said

    Great job on adjusting for the international mooches. It will encourage people to send more international which has been a campaign here for a while.

    What I don’t like it is the insistence that because I have a ratio over 2:1 that I’m abusing the system. The only abuse of the system is if you list books you don’t have and don’t send. My ratio is where it is because I’ve provided a service to several moochers that had extra pts and wanted a special and specific book that I took the time to find and buy for them in order to trade it for extra pts. Every mooch that is honored and every point that is spent is all in the correct spirit of Bookmooch in my opinion. Whether that means I’ve mooched more than I’ve sent is only because some people are pt. rich and have decided to leverage those pts into getting the books they really want. What’s abusive about that?

  42. chunnie said

    I must say that I am very impressed with the new ratio thing, my ratio has suddenly dropped from 1/1 to approximately half that. I’m not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but these new ratio stats make me feel more comfortable about mooching more books. With the previous stats I felt guilty if I mooched more books than I had given (even though many of those I gave were destined outside my country). These new stats now makes me feel like I am being actively encouraged to give more books abroad without feeling penalised if I spend the mooch points I have earned by doing so.

    As for “unwanted” books, I don’t think there is such a thing. A lot of so-called “unwanted” books are aimed at a specialised audience, be it because the subject is specialised or the book is out-of-print and unheard of to many bookmoochers. I have a wishlist (and a save-for-later) that is as long as my arm. Nobody else is wishing for some of those books because they are specialised subjects, and as yet nobody has listed those titles on bookmooch, but I’m hoping that somebody out there will take the leap and list that elusive book title even though the owner believes nobody will ever want it. List it anyway, it might be the one I want!

  43. Simon Appleby said

    I approve – as someone who sends a lot of books overseas, this recognises that (and means even 2:1 mooch ratio should be hard to get up to).

    I do think the disparity between points cost for an international mooch and points received is good – for the moocher, 2 points is resonable, for the sender 3 points is a big incentive to send abroad (3 books mooched within their own country). I suspect overseas mooches would decline if they cost the moocher 3 points.

  44. June said

    I’m not sure how the new point system will work for me. I’m willing to send anywhere but don’t get enough people to mooch from me to mooch what I want, mostly from the States. I live in France now and never have enough points to get what I really want. I have to check and see who has English books and then hope some are of interest. Most want two mooched at a time so there go my points. I understand that the postage rates in America have gone up so much that it’s hardly worth them sending especially if they’re on a restricted budget.

  45. Judy said

    I’m relatively new to bookmooch and was lucky to have listed books that were already on wishlists so my mooch ratio started way below 1 and has stayed there.

    I’ve made a point of trying to mooch from people with high ratios, thinking that this would help them. I’ve found that there are folks out there who list a lot of books, but who have NEVER given away even one book. The excuses I’ve received have been interesting. I suppose I should be a little freer with the “abuse” button. I haven’t used it yet.

    I think the a tiered approach would work.

    Give people their 0.1 point, but limit the total number of requests until they’ve actually given away a book – then let the ratio go into effect.

  46. Alex said

    I like the new calculation and I feel that international trading should be encouraged, but this only increases the number of books obtainable per book given if your purpose is to take advantage of that. I really like the idea of the tiered system, but would be content with a standard 2:1 (with maybe a better ratio for new users who have less than 100 book inventory?)

  47. tudorpot said

    The points ratio change is much clearer thanks to your great work. I’m pleased to see that you are rewarding international mooches. My ratio has gone from 1.7:1 to 0.7:1
    As a Canadian- our access to bookswapping is quite limited and Bookmooch is the best site I’ve found.
    Reading earlier that some US moochers are demanding lower mooch costs from international moochers is disappointing- I would suggest that they politely refuse. I was asked once – very nicely and they accepted that I would not be agreeing to deal they proposed.

    I like the suggestion of limiting the number of copies of a book to be listed- 5 copies seems reasonable- once they are mooched more can be added. This will keep variety within the inventory.

  48. Lonewulf71 said

    I believe that it is a good idea to lower the ratio, but I would rather see a 3:1 ratio. I agree with some of the other posts though, obviously someone must request a book from you before you can give it away. I would love to get rid of more books, but someone has to mooch them first.

  49. Hope said

    I’d like to echo and expand on Simon’s contribution.

    Personally I think the international mooch/give points are fair, particularly since the points system is structured around giving and receiving one book at a time. There is no BookMooch obligation to mooch more than one book at a time.

    2 points is not out of reach for a moocher; 3 is more difficult. Summoning up more points for a multi book mooch from overseas is actually quite hard, and takes a decent amount of giving and a lot of restraint on mooching domestically, to actually save up.

    The points structure for international giving and mooching, by its nature, encourages BookMooch users to keep books circulating around the world, and provides a helping hand for this to continue (that bonus point). That bonus point could be used straightaway on a domestic book, or it could be saved up until there are two, and an international book could be requested.

    Rena mentions discussing postage tips, and the problem of knowing what best to ask for at the post office. Postage questions, tips, and incidents crop up regularly on the BookMooch forums (there’s a link from the “About” section of BookMooch, and then a link for the forums on that page).

  50. britne said

    @ Aaron and Elizabeth:

    What about letting people still get .1 points for every book added, but offering a bonus .1 or so for putting a ‘new’ book into the system (by ISBN/country, etc.)?

    This way, inventory keeps flowing by giving people adequate points to mooch with, but by offering an extra bonus to people listing items that are of true value (or, maybe, more so than the 200+th copy of that Stephen King book!)

    There would need to be some kinds of checks on this kind of system, so people wouldn’t be listing a book under one ISBN and describing it differently in the condition notes (argh! huge pet peeve!), and something to deal with hand-entered books. (I post magazines/journal issues occasionally by hand, and I don’t think it’s fair to get a bonus for those! Especially when I give them away 5-for-1!)

    I’m still waiting for the decision on letting the 10,000-item bookstore join. I’m saving some points… like a virtual spending spree! Walking into a bookstore and knowing I can pick out any 5 I want for ‘free’ sounds like too much fun! =)

  51. coolboxuk said

    I agree with Britne – it shouldn’t be about listing “popular books” to make sure they get snapped up quickly and you get a great ratio. Somehow, for me that idea spoils it.
    I read a lot of unusual books and once read, I put them on bookmooch. Some of them have been sitting there for a long time, yes, but I’m sure eventually somebody will want them. Some unusual ones have already gone…
    In turn I like the idea that bookmooch is a place where I can find unusual books – I can find the bestsellers in every charity shop…cheaper than what it costs me to send a book to somebody else, particularly overseas.
    I do not believe in sending books around for the sake of swapping – only the postal services win on that, and I do not approve of it. The nice bit about bookmooch, as opposed to bookcrossing for example, is that we get points that we can keep, and then use them if we find something we like from another person – rather than instant swap having to find something on that particular person’s bookshelf.
    Therefore, if it starts being all about the right ratios and making sure you give so many books away before you dare ask for one, than that’s not right in my eyes. “Having to have” a certain ratio is ridiculous – if you have points you should be able to spend them, no matter where they came from. Otherwise, it’s like telling somebody they cannot spend the money in their pocket unless they have proof they are going to earn more money tomorrow – that’s not how things work…
    And yes, there will be the odd person who’ll put on a lot of books (maybe even books they don’t have!), then use the points up by mooching what they want, and then deleting their account or simply letting it be dormant without answering requests. There are bad apples everywhere – but I’m sure the larger part of this community is serious and honest about it, and are part of it because they want to swap books – the type of books they are interested in and in numbers they can manage…

  52. nox said

    In addition to what Zillah said:
    Anything that helps to encourage international mooching is great. A great number of the US members will only send within country. There are a lot of books I want listed by US members, and I don’t want to be forced to use a bookmooch angel everytime.
    I noticed that most European users either send worldwide or use the choice ‘ask if not in my country’.
    I put myself on sending worldwide because I had to. Within my own country there are only 40 BM users.

    @the discussion about giving 1/10 a point with every listed book:
    I live in a country where the native language is not english. I’ve put some books in my own language in my inventory. With only 40 others dutch speaking members (plus some belgians too) the chances that some other will want that specific dutch book is small. So that makes my books very ‘unwanted’. But I don’t have a lot of english books (although thanks to BM that is changing).When I first started here I really needed my 1/10 points because I was almost forced to mooch internationally. Untill now I only once found a dutch book I wanted to mooch (from a belgian).

    I’ve been trying to keep my ratio at 1:1 (I didn’t want to be too gready). With the new calculating system my ratio looks great.
    I really take this new system as an appriciation for the worldwide senders. I like it. Thanks

  53. Zillah said

    Both myself and my brother have had some BM users outside our country send paypal details and asked for payment for sending mooches internationally, which I find very disturbing. Is this allowable?

  54. blissful2beme said


    That is not allowable.. unless you both agreed to it prior to the mooch. I would forward those emails to the abuse team.


  55. Aaron said

    I think I’d be happy with a difference in bonus points between any book and “new” books. I like the idea of capping the number of books that you can add and get the 0.1 bonus for. I don’t know if the limit should be 30, 50, 100, or 500 books, but some limit would make sense.

    Another way it could work is if after a certain number of adds, the bonus point switched from being at add-time to a mooch-time.

    In other words, new users could get 0.1 points for the first X books so that they can build up some points to mooch with. Then, at some point, you don’t get he point for adding books to your inventory, but instead get a bonus whenever someone mooches a book and you send it.

    This would still encourage people to add books, but really only reward people for adding books that someone else will eventually take. Heck, maybe it would be good to add a bonus for sending a book right away, and then just cap the listing bonus later. Thoughts?

  56. DubaiReader said

    Hi John,
    I’ve checked out my mooch ratio under the new scheme and my second account – operating in UK for people who won’t post abroad is dangerously high at 1.45:1 while my main account – used solely for overseas mooching is 0.43:1 My question, as before is can I join the two for ratio purposes? I do still honour 1 point mooches to UK for books that I’ve left in my inventory since last summer, but I don’t want to add a whole load more because I can’t afford to keep sending them for 1 point.
    As you can see I’m a ‘good’ moocher, but this system will soon make my UK account inviable.

  57. Jason said

    I think there is such a thing as an unwanted book: books with over 100 (or whatever # makes sense) available for mooching. I think it’s not unreasonable to propose that you would not get your 0.1 pt for a book that is already in over 100 inventories. This would also limit abuse as this is the easiest place to hide inventoried books that you don’t actually have but keep racking up pts.

  58. Sibilance said

    I wanted to expand on what Jason said also about how the higher ratios are viewed, and how some might still conclude that with a high ratio, you’re a deadbeat.

    I won many (50) credits in one of the lotteries and have used them to order many books for my family and friends. I’ve also gone out of my way to order multiple books (as many as 4 at a time) from other users to bring down their postage costs – spreading my points around. And because of an impending move I am also giving away several lighter books – someone mooches 1 book but I sent them 4 (3 of them free). I’d hate to be lumped in with those who abuse the system.

    I think that people must be reminded to actually look beyond the ratio and really read the history. If someone rejects 99% of the mooches they get and gets their points by adding books they will never ship (as someone I recently reported is apparently doing), that is very different from someone who is gifted with points or finds that some of their books don’t get mooched so often. The ratio should not be used to assume the worst, it’s really in the feedback and history where you learn who isn’t being a good BM citizen.

  59. Nanci said

    I guess I’m a little confused. It seems to be a bad thing to list too many books and also a bad thing to mooch too many books. Sort of puts a lid on free exchange doesn’t it? I’d like to see the ratio go to 3:1 rather than 2:1. Seems lots fairer. I guess I’ll have to start sending more international to make any progress; the only trouble being I have a limited number of books I am willing to part with, and after a few months here have not had one request internationally. I give 100% of the books that are mooched from me, but I am still over (just slightly) 2:1. Is it the ratio or the point system that needs change?

  60. Christina said

    I’ve read some suggestions of special rules for new users, but it sounded like they may also be a big source of high ratios due to mooching a bunch of books and then leaving bookmooch for good.
    One ratio for everyone is the most fair. 2:1 seems like the best choice since for every 2:1 ratio there is a 1:2 balancing the scales.

    The issue of having a high ratio due to alot of books listed that no one currently wants is part of the balance of the system- if you want to see your inventory turn over, people have to want your books.

  61. Sophie Kennedy said

    Errr, this mathematical stuff really isn’t my forte, but I’ve just checked my new ratio and it’s 1:22.1. Which, I gather from the posts above is a Very Bad Thing and Something To Be Avoided.

    However, I figure I’m a pretty normal BM user: I’m on ‘Ask if not in my country’, I only reject OS mailings on very heavy hardcovers, and I usually mooch from my own country. I don’t go out of my way to list books that no one is likely to want…I simply list all the books I own. So what am I meant to do to improve my ratio? And what am I doing that’s apparently wrong? Should I accumulate points rather than mooching books I’d love, simply because more people from Australia than other countries mooch my books? That doesn’t seem in the spirit of Mooch, somehow.

  62. Mitzy said

    Could extra points be allotted per pound for domestic and international shipping?

    From everything I’ve read so far, it appears that the major concerns of the people here are the shipping costs. Oversize/hardcover books weigh/cost more to ship out than a paperback novel or comic book, yet they both garner the same amount of points.

  63. Rena said

    When you are a constant International moocher and giver (like myself) it’s hard to image a book only costing 1 point!!! You get used to them counting 2 points – and the .1 that you get for every book you list is critical for me! I would be very upset if I didn’t get any points for listing books because it’s a big incentive for me.

    I’m a bookhound – every move we’ve made has cost a fortune (and we’ve moved through 4 countries) because of all the books I own. When I see I only have 1.4 points and a book comes up that I want – I keep digging through my library and asking myself “do I really want to keep this book.” In the beginning it was easy – I put up all the books I didn’t want. But last night I had to make some difficult decisions – and I listed 6 books so that I could get the one I wanted. Well – four of those books I put up were mooched within a few hours.

    I don’t think I abused the system – it’s made me think harder about the books I own vs the books I want to read and I would much rather know that 4 people out there are getting books they want that I already read in exchange for my 1 book. I also try to mooch from people who have received more than they have given, and from the UK and Europe (which is closer to Israel).

    My mooch ratio is 1.5:1, but I think there is nothing wrong with that. If I decided to part with more of my books I could easily change that ratio – I have tons of the books that are heavily wishlisted – and maybe I will make that decision in the future. I don’t think anyone would want to see me penalized in any way (especially now that they know about my treasuretrove….) If you live in the US or UK or Australia or Ireland you can afford to only mooch within your country. I simply can’t do that – so mooching more than I give is the only way to do it that makes financial sense for me. Please try to think about all these issues from a different perspective. Imagine if every book you wanted cost you 2 points and ALL the shipping you did was international…

  64. Missi said

    I love the new ratio system! But I do have a question…what about smooches and charity points. I think its wonderful that you get to spend your points for sending books out internationally, but what about points pertaining to smooches/charity. This doesn’t effect me now, but it might down the road. I just found the BM Barter site and love it! If I start bartering and get charity points for items I am trading…will I be able to spend those charity points or smooches as bonus points? I thought the whole point of the smooches was to award someone that is a great member?

  65. Stephanie said

    What is the BM Barter site? Enquiring minds need to know!

  66. runor said

    The 2 for 1 is super.

    But you should add a purchase option that would be off ratio. Say you charge someone $3.00 and they can mooch a book. This is about what it costs to post a book domestically in the US. You might have to adjust the cost for international orders.
    This would provide income to BookMooch and allow someone without points to get a bargain book. PBS does this with a charge of $3.45 per book, which is perhaps a little high. This purchase option would solve the problem of someone with an inventory but not enough points to get a book they want.
    Just realize the purchase is about the same cost as sending a book by mail, so the person buying the book is really functioning on a one-to-one cost ratio.
    This would make the system more flexible, which is the traditional strength of BookMooch.

  67. Hanneke said

    Love it!

    The change is good for us who send books abroad, it’s great to encourage international mooching.

    My ratio suddenly looks very nice too πŸ™‚

  68. Missi said

    The BM Barter link is actually found through the Wiki site thats setup for Bookmooch. You can navigate there by going to your BM Member Home -> About Bookmooch -> Wiki -> Scroll down to Unofficial Bookmooch resources and you will see Bookmooch Points Barter.
    While its not an official part of BM, it’s a wonderful place to get rid of collectibles, clothes, dvd’s, cd’s and the like in exchange for BM points or visa versa. Even if this site wasn’t in existence…I can still see where problems could arise with smooches and charity points in general. I would rather see the .1 for adding books go away or be capped like previously mentioned, if we could keep charity and smooches as bonus points and still spend them. I think if someone was at their 2:1 ratio and got charity points or smooches for sending an extremely heavy book for ex., it wouldn’t be right for them to not get to spend it.

  69. cassandra said

    I want to add my voice to the concerned with the lowered mooch ratio for many of the reasons stated above:

    -New users slow to get mooch requests
    -Old users, such as myself, who go through fallow periods with limited people mooching my books.
    -Special deals, such as 3 for 1, which often encourage point spending but also move books that might otherwise sit idle for months, would end up destroying ratios quickly.

    I see that this new ratio limit will stagnate the system in more ways than it will protect it. When I have extra points and I mooch from someone who needs them, will grab a other obscure books with interesting title from their inventory along with the 1 book I really want. The new ratio will encourage me to hold not only my point but to wait to mooch only books I really want, verses impulse mooches to help the community.

    I applaud the efforts to limit the abusers of the system, but what is so terrible if someone comes on for a couple months, gives away a few books, spends all their points and gets a few more than they sent, and then leaves either for a short time or for good? As long as they don’t defraud anyone by lying about sending books, I appreciate if they take a few of my books that otherwise would sit there and any books they give into the system which get mooched are adding to the community, aren’t they?

    Also, again while I think it is wonderful to reward the people who can afford to send international mooches regularly with extra bonus in their ratio, I do have to say as a member on a limited income, I initiating it on the back of a much lower ratio makes it feel a bit like punishment for those of us who are financially challenged and can’t do this as often as we would if money weren’t an issue.

    Thanks for all the hard work to make this a better place for everyone and I applaud the intent, and I appreciate you listening to the concerns as well.

  70. MoochAdmin Mark W did some calculations, and found:

    The majority of active members with high ratios fall between 2.0 and 2.5

    with 250 right at 2.0

    about 120 bewtween 2.0-2.5

    only 40 bewteen 2.5-3.0

    and about 130 3.0 and above

    with the majority of those 2.5 and above inactive or showing some
    other problem…

    I’ll add to Mark’s numbers that

    – there are 14,000 active members with ratios better than 2.0, representing 98% of active members).

    – .9% of members have a ratio worse than 3:1

    – 1.1% of members are worse than 2:1

    – 1.7% of members are exactly at 2:1

    I understand that things like “2 for 1 sales” and charitable giving will be effected by a ratio requirement change, but it seems that very few people will really be effected if we changed to the ratio to “no worse than 2.0:1”, because the vast majority of active members are well within the 2:1 rate.

    With the system now in place, if someone’s ratio is poor, now they can really improve it by being willing to send books to other countries.

  71. rachelsmdai said

    I think this is a good concept – but of course do have a couple of related comments/ suggestions/ questions. They all seem to have pros and cons.

    1. I like the emphasis on encouraging international mooching (no pros and cons here for me!;
    2. the concept of “popular” and “unpopular” books is a little negative to me(several responders in this blog posting responded to this as well).
    a) re popular books – like Ludlum for example – being limited: I can see the wisdom in refusing to grant 0.1 points for adding a book that is already listed in dozens of inventories – is there a way to have a sort of “wait list for adding to an inventory so that when a book is mooched then, if your book is next in line, yours gets listed?
    BUT – there are times I want to mooch from a particular person because s/he has mooched from me, or we have made some sort of connection. I’d want to know if that person had an available Ludlum, because I’d want to mooch from them!
    b. “unpopular” books – if these are the books not frequently mooched, then to me, these are the books that BMers should be welcoming the most! These are probably books that special or unusual in some way (I don’t mean rare, specifically) that people don’t get rid of. I have several on my wish list that frankly, I would give double-the-usual-points. I don’t think this is kosher in our current system.
    BUT – I guess folks could load up their inventory with really lousy books – like…hmmmm is there really something I would be willing to NEVER consider mooching/reading. NOPE – I, like most of us here (I imagine) am a book-a-holic!).

    At any rate – the change is fine with me – I’m pretty new (a couple of months) and am eternally grateful for a way to try to reduce some of the books hanging around my that really aren’t needed or wanted by me anymore, but are too precious to me to just throw away or give away in an anonymous pile. It feels good to know a moocher really wants the book.

    I do, however, newbie that I am, still have several operational-type questions that I haven’t been able to answer through wiki etc. Do we have a “newcomers’ club” where some basic questions can be answered? If so, could you point me to that?


  72. Angel said

    I strongly feel that it is against the spirit of bookmooch (at least as I understand it) to begin refusing to offer the .1 point for each book you add, whether or not anyone wants it, and whether or not it is the 220th copy of “angels and demons.” Aren’t we supposed to post as many books as we have available to send, and be willing to send those out? And if that’s the case, why limit the total number of copies of any particular title that can be posted? It feels like being penalized for adding in books to bookmooch. After all, I never noticed the site claiming that it only has unique, interesting or rare books – in fact, as a newbie, I recall reading something on the site that encouraged me to post any books I was willing to send, “even if no one wants them.” Sorry, I can’t recall where I read this, but it was highly encouraging then, and it got me to post a ton of books that apparently were much more popular than I would have anticipated. I would never have thought that anyone would want my old books on African history or African religions or various obscure points on Islam – but after they sat for a bit, they suddenly went like hotcakes. In the same vein, if I want a copy of “angels and demons” (and I have mooched very popular books before), it is helpful to see all the possible options out there, so I could choose the nicest one available. If everyone had suddenly thought, “no one wants another copy of ‘the Shining,'” then all that would have been out there would be the ratty copies from someone’s basement.

    Anyway, either we are encouraged to post all our books, or we aren’t. It’s that simple.

    In our ratios, I also don’t think it’s fair to include books as being “received” when they have not yet been sent to us. I apparently have 17 now that have not been sent to me. Just a thought.

  73. Barb said

    I haven’t looked at ALL the comments so forgive me if I am repeating another suggestion, but I wonder if the mooch ratio is just too confusing. For one thing, I have a .13 ratio, even though I have sent 15 books and have two on the way back to me. BUT I have “7.69 books given for each book received.” To me that is enough to say that I am pulling my weight so to speak. Why not just SAY that and skip the ratio part?

    My other question, is when you say “2:1 ratio” is that .2 or 2? So, I am very low or decent?

  74. jennie said

    I think a ratio closer to 1:1 is neccessary. Bookmooch only works properly with good community members.

  75. G.L. (zenfish) said

    I like the new changes. It looks shiny and nice on my profile but seriously I don’t think ratio is the only way to tell a good bookmoocher. We all go through periods where we are mailing more or receiving more. In fact many of the people I mail to are stockpiling credits because they don’t read that fast or have particular tastes. And what about charities, etc who seldom “give” books?

    As to the points per book listed and for marking book received… this feature is what makes bookmooch stand above the others. It is generous and user friendly. I closed out my accounts at other bookswaps (in part because it was difficult to keep the inventory updated) in favor of bookmooch. I recommend it to everyone I know because of the inventory-ing points. I think it is good to reward moochers for offering their books to US when they could send them anywhere.

    We all get caught by a scammer now and then… its happened to me several times because my hunger for rare books is stronger than my common sense. But each time “the system” has caught them and points come bouncing back to me. Other swap systems require a painful he said/she said as if the credits were solid gold… in those that allow/encourage you to pay cash for the credits maybe they are.

    Thanks for a great site.

  76. Randall K said

    I think the lower 2:1 ratio would help reduce cheating, but determined scammers will always find a way. One problem that I see with huge piles of “inventory points” is that they can be laundered by anonymous smooch or charity to new accounts to defeat the trade “ratio.”

    This idea occurred to me when I received a mooch request from a new user with an inventory of only 3 books and wondered how they could possibly mooch something. (It turns out they have been able to mooch 2 books by committing to send one and spending an anonymous smooch. I’m hopeful this newbie was just given a little help to get them off to a good BookMooch start.)

  77. I do like the ratio calculation change a lot; it definitely seems more accurate for international-senders. And I also appreciate the breakdown you just listed. Over 98% of active users coming in at 2.5:1 or less is a strong argument for adjusting to 3:1, if not 2.5:1.

    Thanks as always for the hard work!

    Off now to enjoy some leftover turkey, in ‘thanksgiving’ for everyone overseas and in the US who’s sent a leftover book to me since I joined… Best wishes to everyone. πŸ™‚

  78. Taz said

    Have not read all this, but…

    Those of us who have TRADED credits with others – who needed credits/points at other sites – what are we to do with those credits/points, should we go over the ratio, here?

    I’ve sent out many more books than is shown in my stats. Sometimes only a book or 2 in a package, other times 10 or more when going to a charity.

    I really don’t agree with being restricted to a 2:1. A large part of my books are hardbacks and they DO cost more to send than a skinny paperback.

    The numbers have been crunched and from what I’ve read, it appears there aren’t that many who are falling into this “red” zone. If that is the case, why change the system and impose a restriction?

    As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve had far more problems with people with a very small group of books, rather than those with many.

    If a restriction needs to be made, it would be far more fair to impose a probationary period for new users – those who come in, list and request books, then send few or none out.

  79. Judy said

    I would love to know how many copies of a particular book are already being offered. I know that might be a programming nightmare, but if it isn’t, it would help me decide whether to keep a copy of that book and offer it on Bookmooch or donate it to a local charity that might not have 400 copies of the book.

    I joined Bookmooch to get books I might not otherwise be able to find — but also to keep my house from being so cluttered by actually sharing books that someone else might want. I’ve had things in inventory that someone requested more than a year after I offered them, so I’m willing to keep books no one wants YET. I’m not so willing to hang onto books that 399 other people are already offering.

  80. Danielle said

    I don’t often read the blog or forum, but I found this discussion interesting. When I joined BM I indicated I’d only send within my own country to be more economical. After reading all this, I changed my profile to indicate I’d send worldwide. I hadn’t really thought about all the benefits until reading these comments.

    As for some of the other discussion included here — one of the things I like most about BM is how simple it is. I think making it more complex would drive people away from participating and would likely create a lot more inactive users.

  81. Theresa said

    Interesting thread, but I really don’t understand why it matters if someone lists a bunch of books, mooches with those points, and those disappears. I still got rid of books I didn’t want, and got the points for them, right? As long as they don’t lie about sending out books, they’re still participating in the economy of it all.

  82. baffiebabe said

    To those who favour restricting the 1/10 point for books listed, consider this…

    I put the books I’m prepared to give away on the site. I am completely unconcerned about whether or not there are already a zillion copies, and if I don’t get that 1/10 of a point, I have no incentive to add books. I’m not going to sit around and rifle through the database before adding my books. Someone will either mooch them or they won’t. If they don’t, then ‘oh, well’. My heart will not be broken.

    One thing people aren’t taking into account is that even though there might be a lot of copies of a book, not everyone is willing to trade to other countries, and not everyone wants to wait ages for international books to arrive, so will be only looking locally.

    I do most of my book trading on RISI, where I swap one for another, but this site gives scope to get rid of books as well… I have a couple of thousand on my shelves, I’m sure, and here I don’t get one back to replace one I’ve just sent off, which is a positive thing for me.

    When my books sit around for too long (a year or more) without anyone wanting them on either site, they get cleared and taken down to the PDSA. I’ve just taken quite a haul to them, so my book list here shrank considerably. I’m in the process of listing the next batch now, and again, I’m not overly concerned whether there are already 1000 of whatever I list.

    As for lowering the ratio… again, you’re decreasing the incentive for people to list books in the first place. As one person pointed out, if the ratio is lowered they’re being penalised because no one wants their books. I agree with that. At the end of this listing binge, I’ll have 50+ books listed, but how many of those anyone will want is unknown. If I can’t mooch books, why bother?

    One of the disadvantages of the point system is that whilst you may be able to build up a lot of points for sending books out, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be any listed at any given time that you yourself want to mooch. If that happens, then you have a lot of points, a much-diminished library and nothing to show for it.

    I only come on here to mooch from someone if something on my wishlist shows up. In between times, if I want a book, I look for it on RISI and do a straight swap with someone. I am, however, quite happy to send books out to anyone who requests them from me locally, and the bonus from the international books doesn’t really encourage me to send them more often. I’m still poor, and it still costs a lot more to send them internationally. I’d rather have fewer points and send the books locally, frankly. There’s far less chance of things going awry if I’m sending to the UK than if I start posting to other countries, even though I *am* willing to consider it.

    I think you’re making the system far too restrictive and complicated. I don’t think the ratio should change at all, and if it does then you’re going to lose people. We joined under one system and you’re talking about forcing us to change horses midstream AND like it.

    If there are people who take advantage, that’s inevitable no matter what system you’re using. Some people are going to find a way to abuse the system no matter how it works, and there’s little anyone can do about it. I wouldn’t even *know* if someone who mooched from me was abusing the system. They ask, I say ‘yes’. I get the points, they get the book, everyone is happy. If I see something I want, I spend the points, the other person says yes, they get the points, I get the book, everyone is happy.

    Why are people stressing over things that don’t, ultimately, hurt them at all? Why fix something that isn’t broken? There are enough honest people here that the system will carry on working just as it’s always done. Can’t we just keep it simple, the way it already is instead of tiering and restricting and twisting it until it’s so complex that no one wants to bother?


  83. KJPurscell said

    One ambiguity persists: “maintain.” On first reading, this looks like I need to achieve a 5:1 or 2:1 ratio. Wow! I’d have to mooch a whole lot more books to get to that level. Gradually I got it straightened out, but I still jump everytime I see the ratio explained. Maybe “stay below” a 2:1 ratio might be more apt. Or perhaps you could make this into some kind of sliding scale between “Greedy–give some books away, dude! (2:1)” and “Way too generous–are you trying for sainthood? (0.0001:1).”

    At any rate (pun intended), the change probably won’t affect me much. Just keep it simple.

  84. Fred said

    I guess I’m just dense, but I don’t have a clue what the ratio calculation means.

    To me it looks like John’s is a little over 2:1 which means 2:1 is the rule he should get the boot.

    Me? My books given: 19 vs books received: 14 looks really bad. Like maybe 7:1 ? I guess I should be outta here by any calculation. I do want to say before I go, that I have listed all the unread books I have and have given away more than I received. I don’t understand why I should be ostracized, but so be it.

  85. stephanie said

    my ratio is higher than 2:1. i am an active moocher, but no one seems to request my books. so a 2:1 ratio is bit harder for me, but something like a 3:1 sounds good.

  86. Doug A said

    Your ratio would be .7:1, not 7:1. The number on the left of the colon is the number of books received divided by the number given. (John’s in the example is .21:1, not 2.1:1.) To have a 2:1 ratio, you have to have received twice as many books as you’ve given.

  87. Bree said

    I didn’t read all the comments, BUT…I wanted to post my opinion on this anyhow, lol! Up until now, my ratio was 2 received, 0 sent. I just finally had one mooched off of me, so I think my ratio is 2:1. But now I’ve got points I can use to get more books. I’m in Canada, and when I only had 2 points, I decided to get 2 books from within Canada instead of 1 international…but finding them from my wishlist was HARD, lol. Now, I’ve got a few more points – I can get one from the US and one from Canada…but if the ratio was lowered to 2:1 I wouldn’t be able to do that…I’d have to wait until someone else came and grabbed a book from me. It’s not because I don’t want to send out books, believe me…and my books are all in perfect condition, only read once…but a lot of them are available plentifully on here, since most are Mass Market, or I’ve collected over a few years, so they’re no longer as popular as they once were.

    So, in general, I wouldn’t like to see it lowered to 2:1, because if we can’t get rid of some of the books we have, we’re forced to stop, even though we might want to continue. If that makes sense?

    Anyway, just my thought, from someone who hasn’t been here that long, and WANTS to play along, lol!

  88. Barb said

    Extra points for international mooching is really nice. I have found that it isn’t too much more to send it internationally than it is locally so I have just changed to “yes, I will send worldwide” from “ask me first”

    Also: I have sent about 15 books and received 3 but my ratio is about .18:1. I loked around and the way to get a ratio over 2.0:1 involves a LOT of sending and probably just a lot of activity.

    There are (as Will Rogers said) Lies, Damn lies, and statistics. I think the whole “ratio” thnig is leading to misunderstanding. Why not make it that you want us to send at least 2 books for every book received (no matter how many points we get) and just KISS (Keep it simple, stupid).

  89. Doug A said

    It’s not complicated now. Look at the example at the top: Your ratio is your number of books mooched divided by the number of books given (plus a bonus for giving internationally). The idea is to mooch no more than two books for each one given (not send at least 2 books for each book received, which would require a ratio of .5:1). A lower number is better; the goal is to get a number below 2, not above it.

  90. Bree said

    So, are some of you seeing the international bonus? Because I’ve now sent 1 internationally (from Canada to the US) and am pending 1 more (going out on Friday, again from Canada to the US). I got the 3 points for each of the international mooches, but it’s not giving me the bonus in the mooch ratio?

  91. Barb said

    THANK YOU Doug! NOW I understand! I am proud of my LOW mooch ratio, I will strive to KEEP it low!

  92. Dalila said

    I think a 2:1 ratio is more than fair, I don’t think the change would cause most people to give less books.

  93. Marianne said

    I don’t think the mooch ratio should have anything at all to do with whether or not you can mooch a book. If you have earned points, you should be able to spend them. If you think people are listing lots of books they don’t have just to get points and rip people off, why not limit the number of points one gets for listing books? I think the incentive for the first 10-20 books is great, but why get 1/10th of a point after that? The 1/10th point for acknowledging receiving a book could be eliminated as well.

  94. spectator99 said

    Hm. Well, I just joined today but, um. I recently filled a suitcase with books from my storage unit in London and hauled it over to the library – it included things like a boxed set of Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy, DeLillo’s Underworld, audiobook of the full text of Hardy’s Return of the Native read by Alan Rickman (about 10 cassettes), an extra copy of Nabokov’s Speak, Memory. The library (or rather, Idea Store) was not wildly keen; I was told they didn’t accept donations any more – but then the woman took pity, had a look at the books and said, Well, she was sure she could give them to Bethnal Green Library and she might even catalogue a few here . . . Good news.

    Um. Believe me, I would have been only too thrilled to have the lot mooched off BM (i.e. by people who actively wanted the books), except, um, to achieve this I would have had to pay, at a guess, upwards of $400 in postage and packing materials to give them away.

    There may be a few books I need, but I’m not really looking to replace ANY of these potential shelf-occupiers. They’re all in storage, remember – right now I’m just trying to work out how to find space on my shelves for some of the stored books I already own. I would dearly love to take LSJ’s Greek-English Lexicon and my Oxford Latin Dictionary out of storage again – they have a much higher priority on my wishlist than anything I might mooch off BM. So rewards in points (i.e. the chance to ADD to the collection with someone else paying postage) don’t really have much of an impact.

    I can’t help feeling that tinkering with the points system doesn’t address the element that encourages free riders and discourages altruism.
    Other things being equal, you would have a system with two kinds of outliers: people who mooch lots of books without sending any out, and people like me who would happily send out a couple of thousand books and don’t want more than one or two, MAXIMUM, back. Unsurprisingly, though, the number of people who will spend a few thousand dollars to give away books they could otherwise give away at no cost is negligible. (The suitcase I hauled to the Idea Store was simply what I was physically able to move; there are boxes and boxes remaining to be gone through, there’s a whole OTHER storage unit in Leeds, argh.)

    If receivers simply paid for postage there would be no need for extra points for international orders, there would be a straightforward control on the sort of person who mooches large numbers of books without sending any out, and there would be a very strong appeal to, for instance, older people who are disposing of a library before moving into smaller accommodation. One might then use the points system to promote green exchanges – for instance, a whopping 5 points to people who BM locally. From an environmental point of view, it would be much better if a book made the rounds of 10 BMers without packaging, without consumption of fossil fuels . . .

    Helen DeWitt

  95. Sterghe said

    I’m a fairly new Bookmooch user, but I like the idea of this change. I only posted a few books at first so that I could definitely afford the postage to respond immediately to any requests. I also decided not to spend the points awarded just for posting books, so that if anything ever happened, I could take them down without causing anyone any hardship. That meant that after two of my posted books were mooched, I got to request two free books–woo-hoo! This is a incredible deal, and I can’t understand why there would be a need for anything much more than a 1:1 ratio, to be honest, with a possible bit of wiggle-room for heavy users who may be swapping dozens and dozens of books. In fact, I was excited just now to see that I got free tenths of points just for leaving feedback! I realize that if that accumulates to a whole point then I could mooch with it without problem, but even so, who would ever need to end up at 5:1??

    Just do what you need to do to keep this an awesome, fair, stable site, John. I’m thrilled to be able to make an even, book-for-book swap, and quite happy with my 1:1 ratio. Middle-grade chapter books my kid outgrew just turned into novels I and my partner both want to read, and we’re all very happy!

  96. Brenda said

    I have two book mooch accounts. One for Japan, where I live and one for the States, where I am from and visit once or twice a year. When I visit I like to mooch books from the States and take advantage of the 1 point cost, but I can’t often send out books from my US account as I am only there a few weeks a year, so my mooch ratio on that account is poor, whereas my Japan ration is very good. I donate points to my US account from my Japan account. If the ration was changed I would not be able to keep the US account going. I hope it doesn’t change.

  97. kirsty said

    It’s not entirely on topic but having read through some of this thread and seen people getting confused over the x:1 mooch ratio I think it might be more transparent to use the percentage version, 21% in the example above, and to recommend this stays below 200% (or 300% or whatever), just because it’s easier to think in integers than decimal places.

  98. Thea said

    I had no idea that there even was an ideal or recommended or required (however you wish to put it) ratio — I guess this is something I overlooked in my eagerness to participate. That might be better noted — at the very least in the screen that pops up when you click “Mooch ratio.”

    I second Kirsty’s suggestion this that might be better explained as a percent, and would add that either way it’d be helpful if it were clearly stated as to which side of that ideal percent one should be. When I first read your original entry, John, I thought that it meant my ratio sucked (it’s currently 0.75:1). I misunderstood and thought that you were asking us to give away 5 books to every 1 we receive since I couldn’t quite believe that you would be advocating getting 5 books for every 1 that we give. I see now that the goal is staying under that proportion (naturally!), but that wasn’t clear at first.

    I certainly think that a revised ratio of 2 books received to every 1 given is very fair, especially when you’ve adjusted the calculation to take into consideration the higher postage required for sending abroad.

    This discussion reminds me — I really need to add books back into our inventory (I share an account with my partner, and our inventory was inadvertently wiped by a bug in the vacation program. I think the bug was probably fixed long ago but I just haven’t taken the time to reload our inventory).

    Thanks so much, again, for providing this wonderful service and creating a great community. I tell people about it all the time — it does no less than reinforce my joy of being part of humanity.

  99. Megan said

    I can understand the logic behind this change, and if I’d been on the site for a few months and had more of my books mooched, I’d probably be good, but right now I’ve only gotten two books sent and I’m nervous to spend most of my points in case the ratio does change and something comes up on my wishlist that I won’t be able to get. I think a 3:1 ratio would be nice as a new member- then I could spend an extra point or two without worry. I agree that a 5:1 ratio does seem like a bit much, but maybe a 3:1 ratio would allow a bit of leeway for new members without letting anyone get out of control. I also only found out about the mooch ratio from checking this, so maybe more of an intro for new members would help. The ratio isn’t complicated, but it would be easier to understand maybe if your example were in whole numbers rather than a decimal (like if you showed how one person could have a 5:1 mooch ratio and another could have a 1:1 mooch ratio).

  100. Thea said

    I think the single easiest way to clarify what the desired ratio is not to say that you should “maintain a 3:1” ratio but that you should “maintain no higher than a 3:1 ratio and aim for a 1:1 ratio.”


  101. Vinny said

    I also believe it should help encourage international mooches.

  102. Michael Zinck said


    I fully support international mailing. I have mailed a few overseas and in one case have made a new friend in Romania. He has explained to me the difficulty of obtaining English language sci-fi books.
    As long as someone enjoys to read sci-fi, where they live doesn’t matter to me. Though surface mail can take awhile from Canada.


  103. Marilla J. Whitney said

    Since it’s been about 40 years since I took any math, I was confused by the change. I don’t think we have ever been above 1.something to 1. And we should have been at 5:1????? Especially when you describe this as a ratio of given to received. Then you castigate me for not being a “real” moocher??? All those trips to the post office argue against that thought.
    I’ve finally decided that you mean a maximum of 2 books received for one given, not a minimum or 2 books given for one received.
    Maybe I’ll be better off in the future not to read the news!!

  104. Steve Grzybowski said

    While the intent behind maintaining a better ratio is noble, what about people who were given a deal on several books from one source. I received 13 books from one person for only one point. I feel that situations like this should be allowed, because it helps people make more space, and helps those of us with smaller inventories get more books. How should a situation be dealt with? Right now I have a 2.33:1 ratio, and I just spent all my 9 points, which means I am going to have a higher than 3 to one ratio. Only one of my books was requested recently, so I am having a lot of trouble maintaining a decent ratio.

  105. Johanna Armentrout said

    I’m new to Book Mooch and have only sent out 4 books. The total postage for the 4 books was over $20 and this was because three of the books I sent were of a over sized, textbook quality hardback. The 2 I received were reg. sized, one being a soft cover,so the expense ratio was definitely on the side of the people I sent to. I have to work on bettering my ratio, now that I understand how it works. Thanks for the opportunity to Mooch!

  106. David said

    I understand the concept of giving a “credit” for books sent internationally in the ratio, but I do not understand how you can give that credit without also taking a debit for books that the user mooched internationally.

    Example 1: Suppose I mooched 100 books domestically and sent another 100 books internationally. By the current mooch formula my mooch ratio would be 50%. That’s fine with me. It’s saying roughly that I’ve received half as much on used books and shipping costs than I have spent.

    Example 2: Suppose I mooched 100 books internationally and sent another 100 books internationally. The current mooch ratio would still be 50%, but what is that telling you? I’d say I’d received exactly as much as I’d spent so the ratio should be 100% instead. This would be calculated as follows: (100 books + 100 international debits) / (100 books + 100 international credits) = 200/200 = 100%.

    Without taking into account international mooches in the numerator I think the current mooch ratio is meaningless.

  107. David said

    Sorry, one more thought on this:

    The main purpose of this ratio seems to be to limit folks from mooching too much compared to what they sent….But that causes a problem because the ratio needs to allow new members who have only sent out a couple books to mooch a bunch, and yet old-timers should not be able to mooch hundreds of books more than they’ve sent.

    A ratio is not well-suited to deal with both of these situations simultaneously. Instead I would recommend a simple count.

    For example, the rule could be that you cannot mooch more than 5 (or 50, you decide) books than you have sent. You could make adjustments for international mooches if you wish.

    Under the current system I, who have sent out 100 books, could mooch over 300 books. That’s crazy! It seems totally unfair. (Of course I don’t have enough points to do that, but I do have lots of unused points that could allow me to mooch way more than I’ve sent.)

    Now, one could argue that folks with books could reject my mooch requests if my ratio seemed out of hand, but that doesn’t seem right to force them to police this. For one thing, they’d be giving up a potential “sale”….and yet their share of the harm I was doing to the community is very slight.

    Thanks for listening.

  108. […] counts as 3 books in your ratio. This idea was vigorously discussion in November 2007, and the consensus was that a stricter enforced ratio would cut back on the few-but-annoying abuses which sometimes […]

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