June 11, 2008

A new feature was added today to BookMooch, which allows you to reserve a book for your friends, or for a specific member. The reservation can be set to automatically expire.

The motivation for adding this “reservation” feature was the following scenarios:

1) Libraries: many of the people I’ve spoken to at Libraries have indicated a preference for giving other libraries first-choice at the books they’re giving away. This has been a “must have” for many of the libraries I’ve spoken to.

2) Friends: lots of people want to offer an in-demand book to a friend. That friend may be a real-world friend, or one you made in BookMooch. I’m often having dinner with a (real world) friend, and the conversation turns to books we’ve recently read. For example, my friend Victor had just visited Canada and picked up the not-yet-released-in-the-USA new book by Salman Rushdie. He wanted me to get it next. In this case, he just listed it and I mooched it before anyone else, but a reservation system would have been nice.

3) Privacy: I’ve encountered many people who don’t want to use BookMooch because they don’t want to give their postal address out to strangers. These people can initially choose to trade books with people they know, and slowly build out their trust-relationship with others on BookMooch.

4) International requests: when you ask someone from another country, if they’re willing to send you a book, it’s a common sight to have the book mooched by someone else while that email request gets answered. I’ll say more about this scenario in the next blog posting.

5) International exceptions: if you set yourself to “I will only send books to my own country” you can make individual exceptions to this by reserving a book for someone. They’ll be able to mooch it, no matter what country they live in.

6) Already occurs: people already reserve books for each other on BookMooch, by putting a condition note on the book like “please don’t mooch this, it’s for my friend XYZ”

Reserve: when adding a book

When you add a book to your inventory, there is a new “reserve” button. This is what the page looks like:


Also note that I’ve reorganized this page, because previously all the buttons appeared on the bottom, and this was visually very confusing. Now, things you want to do to the book you just added are to the right, and the two most common next steps (undo/add-another) are on the bottom.

Reserve: from the book details page

A “reserve” button appears on the book details page, when the book is in your inventory:


Reserve book for…

After you click the “reserve” button, you can choose who to reserve the book for:


You can reserve the book for your friends. This is the first time the friends feature has been used at BookMooch, but when I created the friends feature two years ago, this was specifically one of the uses I had in mind. I know that some people would prefer to separate the “friends who I want to reserve books for” from “people I am friendly with”, and perhaps have two kinds of friends, but I thought it’d be better to keep the friends feature simple, even if it meant friends could mean slightly different things in different contexts.

You can also reserve a book for a specific member, or several members. You type in their usernames, or their email address, or their display names. For example, I have two accounts (one for when I’m in California, one for when I’m in London) so if you type “John Buckman” in as who to reserve the book for, you get this page:


FYI, this is also how the “give points to a member” feature works on the charity page.

One techie note: if you enter several names in, and one of them is ambiguous (such as if their name applies to several members) then BookMooch will tell you that person is not a member, and refuse the reservation. If you enter just that one name in for the reservation, then BookMooch acts as you’d expect, and lets you click on the list of which member you actually meant. The reason for this, is that if several names are ok, but several are not, it would be a complicated user interface to let you fix some of those members, but retain the others, and this is probably an infrequent case anyway.

BM Admin Mark W thinks that the label for this field, being the plural (“reserve it for these members”) may confuse people, who may (erroneously) believe that they can’t reserve the book for just one person. I’d like to hear if other people agree with that. Alternatives could be “reserve it for:” (simple, but perhaps too short) or the clumsy-but-clear: “reserve it for this member (or these members)”

How long?

By default, a reservation lasts 7 days. Until that time expires, nobody can mooch this book from you, unless the book was reserved for them. The BookMooch software enforces this. After the reservation expires, anyone can mooch it. The reservation expiration date is shown when someone tries to mooch a book.


You can simply change the reservation from 1 day, to forever:


There is bound to be some controversy about books reserved forever, and I acknowledge that. However, there may be some reasonable uses for that, such as some books that Libraries only want to trade with other Libraries. I’ll be watching how the reservation system is used, and listening to what the BM community has to say about it.

Recommend the book

Once you’ve reserved the book, you have the option of sending an email recommending it. Click on “recommend” and the To: field is filled out with who-ever you reserved the book for, including recommending it to all your friends.


While some people may irritate their BookMooch friends by recommending books too often, note that only confirmed friends will receive these emails. In other words, someone has to invite you as a friend, and you have to accept their invitation, before you get these emails. And, it’s very easy to “delete” a friend relationship, especially if that person is sending you way too many book recommendations.

Changing your mind

The reservation you made appears on the book details page. You can cancel the reservation or replace it with a different one:


Mooching from friends

When a book is reserved for someone else, and you try to mooch it, the book is displayed, but a “Reserved for:” field is displayed, as well as “Reserved until”


note that the word “friends” is linked, so you can click on it, see who this person’s friends are, and ask to add this person as a friend.


If they approve you as a friend, you’ll be able to mooch from them:


If a book is available from multiple people, if any of the copies are reserved for you, it will be displayed as the first choice.

Overcoming Xenophobia

Many people set the BookMooch Profile to “I only send books to my country”.

Until now, there hasn’t been a way to make exceptions. Maybe you are willing to send books to your friends in other countries?

If you reserve a book for someone, they can mooch it, even if your profile says “I only send books to my country” and that person lives in another country.

If you reserve a book for someone, they can mooch it, no matter where they live.

In the graphic above, if you look carefully you’ll see that my own profile in the UK is set to “I only send books to my country”, yet the person who is mooching from me (though I hid their address) is in the USA.

Wishlist notifications

One area that could be improved is the interaction between emailed wishlist notifications and the reservation system.

Currently, reservations have no effect on wishlist notifications. That means you might get a wishlist notification for a book that you can’t mooch right away, because it’s reserved.

I decided on this course of action for a few reasons:

1) it was easy. All the other choices were really damned complicated. I spent 1/2 a day trying to program another approach before giving up on it.

2) it isn’t clear what the right thing to do is. Should no notifications be sent out on reserved books? Or just to those who are on the wishlist notification list, but who the books are reserved for? What should happen when the reservation expires? Should notifications start from scratch at that point?

So for now, no change to how wishlist notifications work, but if it becomes a common source of complaints, I’ll revisit this.

For programmers

The “userbook” API function now lets you set a reservation on a book (and reservation expiration date) when you add the book to your inventory. Also, mooches of reserved books will be declined, unless they’re reserved for you or the reservation has expired.

The “userid” API call will display any reservation that user has placed on their book.


Note that reservations, like condition notes, are stored in our database with the member record, not with the asin (book), since they’re not a permanent attribute of the book, and only apply to one user’s copy, and so reservations (like condition notes) should vanish when the book is mooched. The “expires” date field, like all other dates in the API, is expressed in standard “epochal time” (seconds since 1970).

Phew, that was a long blog entry.

I’ll be blogging separately (after lunch) about a new system for “ask me, I might be willing to send my book to your country”, which also uses the reservation system.

102 Responses to “Reservations”

  1. Gareth said

    Excellent. Very well thought out. Covered a lot of issues that have been raised as well as adding new functionality that looks like it will be very useful.

  2. Sophie said

    Thanks for this great and well thought-out feature – and enjoy your lunch 🙂

  3. Dovile said

    Really well thought-out feature. Personally, I won’t be reserving, because all my boks are available for everyone, and I’m not angeling books, but I rather will be on the receiing end of it, because I do need angels quite often, so it’s ging to be interesing.

    I wonder if this means the end of Angel Book Listings, because now angels will simply add the book and reserve for whom ever they angeled it.

  4. Zillah said

    Fantastic!!! You’re super!

  5. Kirk said

    Great idea – thanks!

  6. Bookbear said

    John Buckman wrote:
    Alternatives could be “reserve it for:” (simple, but perhaps too short) or the clumsy-but-clear: “reserve it for this member (or these members)”

    How about “Reserve for the following member(s):”

  7. msaggie said

    Thanks, John for introducing this feature. I reserve books for friends and send overseas regularly to certain members (although I am not officially a BookMooch angel). Many’s the time people don’t read the condition notes which say “Book reserved for XYZ” and mooch anyway, and I have had to reject the request. This feature will definitely avoid disappointment. Thanks for improing BookMooch all the time!

  8. VeraMarie said

    This is great. I’ve been culling my shelves and wanted to give my friends first crack at my new inventory. This will be easier than my first solution – sending a list to them one at a time to avoid any double requests. I can add the new books, reserved for my friends, then send a recommendation on just one of the books letting them know about the lot.
    I did have to do it twice before I realized I had to add condition notes before reserving the book. Is there any way to add a button for condition in the reserve page?

  9. Sun said

    I recently had a mooch from someone who wanted the book sent as a present to a friend (who had it on their wishlist). What a great idea! And it was especially so because even though the moocher was from overseas, I only sent the book interstate.

    Now what I’m getting at is whether there’s a way to use the reserve system as a “gift” system as well, rather than giving points through smooches.

  10. VeraMarie wrote:
    I did have to do it twice before I realized I had to add condition notes before reserving the book. Is there any way to add a button for condition in the reserve page?

    That’s a good suggestion, I’m going to do that right now. After you save your reservation, you’ll have the option of going to the book, or writing condition notes/a review/etc…

    I think the same thing needs to happen when you write condition notes too (be able to reserve the book).

    I also just realized the book details page should show the reservation expiration date, I’ll add that now too.

  11. Sandra said

    John, that’s a great feature. Thank you!

  12. Amanda said

    Thanks for a really comprehensive and well-thought out feature. This is just great.

  13. Brendan said

    Great feature, with excellent options and details. Keep up the fantastic work.

  14. Michelle (mitcho) said

    Brilliant idea and a great improvement! One thing I didn’t really understand though, in order to reserve a book do you have to be listed as a friend or can anyone ask for a reservation?
    For example someone may be lacking the points for a particular book and may ask the owner to reserve the book for him/her until points are acquired. Does the system work like this?
    Thanks again.
    I love bookmooch 🙂

  15. Lois said


  16. […] book is automatically reserved for 7 days for you, so that someone else can’t mooch the book while you are waiting for a […]

  17. Update:

    several people emailed me to say they much preferred the label “or reserve it for the following member(s):” on the reservation page, so I’ve made that change.

  18. janie said

    OUT STANDING!!!! just checked out an inventory book and the changes you made are perfect. It will make the ‘BOOKMOOCH Experience’ so much more enjoyable now! I love how the buttons are now arranged, since I spend my life in that state of, always to tired, I am forever making mistakes and clicking the wrong buttons, this is great. Thanks for the hard work 😉

  19. Mary Ellen said

    John — you rock for how much work you put into this system. I tell everyone about bookmooch!

  20. Lethe said

    Wonderfully thought out solutions, with lots of potential applications.

    I’m curious now to see your next blog posting, how you are going to handle the need for a book requester to put some sort of hold on an “ask first” book, pending the book owner’s decision to reserve for them or not.

    Thanks for all the great work!

  21. Erin C said

    This is great John!
    I always feel awkward about saving books for my friends, this will make me guilt free 🙂
    I love Bookmooch!

  22. Heather19 said

    Very interesting. I probably won’t use this often, but I’m definitely glad this change was made!

    However, I do have a feeling there will be some complaining about wishlist hits. I, for one, would be VERY annoyed if I got a hit on a long-wishlisted book, only to see that I can’t mooch it because it’s reserved. Logically, if it’s reserved for someone, then it’s not available, so why should I get the hit? I don’t think wishlist hits should go out on reserved books (until after the reservation has expired), it just doesn’t make sense.

  23. Milan said

    This is great indeed!
    However I do have a question. Namely I wanted to mooch book from “as me before mooching” so I asked and after email has been sent on the same page was notification that the book is reserved next 7 days for me (since some people don’t check email on everyday basis). Reservation is not visible so I guess it will become visible when someone else (from the same country as book owner) try to mooch it (and prevent that), right?

    And once again, can you PLEASE edit country list and separate Serbia and Montenegro since they are two independent countries? (after all you have added Kosovo with its unclear status)
    Thank you!

  24. Milan said

    Sorry I’ve found an answer in your other blog post so ignore first part of my previous post. Sorry.
    However please don’t ignore second part of the comment!

  25. Hope said

    This is really neat! Thanks so much! It will be nice to use the “proper” bibliographical listings for offering up Angel books for the Person In Need (rather than having to use the special listings) and to be able to reserve books for the PIN properly. Fabulous!

  26. This should help a lot.

    We will see how it works and complain or cheer as needed.

    Thank you for all your hard work, John. I appreciate when you explain why you are doing what you do. I am not a programmer, though I was married to one for a while.

    When people explain why they do what they do in programming something it removes the “magic wand” in my imagination.

    Bookmooch is becoming my very favorite hobby.

    Now I just have to READ all these books.



  27. Jillian said

    I’m also on the end of finally seeing “mooch” on a long awaited book and being incredibly disappointed because it’s for someone else. I’d honestly rather do the first in first out system. I hate to be the dissenting opinion here.

  28. Joanna Collie said

    Fantastic, John. A great improvement, I’m sure.
    And just as cool as the new system is seeing you make changes in response to the things we offer as comments on this blog!
    Makes me want to go out and buy more books …
    hang on, I always want to do that.

  29. Milan wrote:
    And once again, can you PLEASE edit country list and separate Serbia and Montenegro since they are two independent countries? (after all you have added Kosovo with its unclear status)

    Done! I left “Serbia and Montenegro” as a country, but added “Serbia” and “Montenegro” as new, separate countries. I left “Serbia and Montenegro” because I can’t update your member record automatically, since I don’t know which country you are in.

    So… go ahead and update your own country in your member profile.

  30. Nymeth said

    “International requests: when you ask someone from another country, if they’re willing to send you a book, it’s a common sight to have the book mooched by someone else while that email request gets answered. I’ll say more about this scenario in the next blog posting.”

    Yes, this happened to me countless times! Thank you SO much for doing something about it 🙂

  31. Jeri said

    I have to agree with Jillian above: I too would rather be on a first-in, first-out system. I don’t mind being able to offer a book to a specific friend first if it is on their wishlist, however I don’t like the free-for-all where a book that several people have been waiting for is equally offered to all whether they have waited months or only days for it.

  32. dar said

    I think this is a great idea, but it somehow seems a little unfair to the entire community of bookmooch. There should be no favortism here which seems to almost be the case. The entire community should have the option to run after a wishlisted book, but now people can be selective about who they let mooch that book or any book period. I think it seems just a little bit unfair..but we all have our own opinions. I bet this is a great option for some people. And still a very neat idea!

  33. KathyS said

    Many have mentioned the frustration that will ensue upon getting wishlist availability notifications for books that are not available b/c they are reserved.

    I’d like to add that I am frustrated by the great frequency with which I get wishlist availability notifications and it turns out that the person listing the book will not send to my country.

  34. Ana said

    Something that ties in to both this and the ask-me feature:

    It has happened to me several times that I’ve held off on mooching a book because I wanted to ask about its condition (when it wasn’t in the notes) and someone else mooched the book before the giver replied to my question.
    I personally feel this is unfair, because I was there first. I just happen to be pickier about what kinds of copies I want to mooch.
    I think either providing condition notes should be made mandatory, or some provision could be made using the reserve feature.

  35. hannah said

    I guess this is a good option to have – I just hope not too many people use it. Otherwise, Bookmooch will just turn into friends sending their friends books. What about the people who don’t have many friends or who are just starting out on Bookmooch?

  36. I love this idea, especially since I have a BookMooch friend in another country that I frequently exchange angeled books with. I also tend to keep copies of friends’ wishlists with me when I browse thrift shops, so this would help make it easier for me to make sure books I buy for their wishlists will go to them.

    Of course, I don’t think I’ll be using this feature *much* — the vast majority of my inventory will be open to anybody, just like before. I’m not too concerned about this feature getting over-used, since it’s only officializing something that’s been happening on BookMooch for ages, anyway — if it wasn’t being overused to make this cliqueish before, I doubt it’s going to be now. This just helps make everything much more easy and convenient for those times when it’s appropriate to use it. 🙂

    I *do* wish that the wishlist notifications could be held off till a book was no longer reserved, but hey, if that’s too difficult to implement, that’s okay. This is awesome enough on its own.

    And, by the way, might I add that this is perfect timing? I just got a stack of books I angeled for that international friend, and will be needing to list them for her in the next week or so. AND I just got two books for another BookMooch friend from a different bookswapping site (since I have an account there and she doesn’t) that I’ll need to list in another day or two. Now I don’t have to mess with angel listings for either of them. 😀

    Anyway, bravo, John Buckman! Thank you so much! This is a FABULOUS change! I’m so PSYCHED! 😀

  37. Theresa said

    I’m a little concerned about future availability of books to the entire community. I love Bookmooch and have used it with great results for a while. However I don’t really have the time to cultivate BookMooch friendships to the extent that I would feel comfortable asking or receiving first dibs at their books. I’m afraid the most frequent moochees will have an automatic mooch base leaving the rest of us at the mercy of those first time book moochers who don’t have established connections. I’ve already found myself a bit stalled with my wishlist and fear this might permanently stall it. I guess I’m feeling a bit like the uncool kid in high school who doesn’t have anyone to sit with at lunch 🙂

  38. Marina Bonomi said

    Great option, IMO.
    Most of my inventory is open to everybody and will always remain so, but I love to ‘angel’ books, or want to give first choice on a newly entered volume to a charity and it’s nice that one doesn’t need special listings anymore for that.

    Only improvement I’d really like (if possible) is that the reservation ‘holds’ the wish-list e-mail so that people that have that specific book wishlisted don’t get notified if the book is reserved…

    Thank you so much for ll your hard work!

  39. Margriet said

    Maybe it is a stupid question, but why would libraries only want to send books to other libraries? I am asking this, because I have already sent two books to a library and mooched one from that same library and I think that went perfect. Perhaps there is a very good reason for libraries to choose this, I am just wondering why.

    Sometimes I am disappointed because one of my wishlisted books finally becomes available and then it is from somebody who only sends within their country. Personally I don’t mind sending everywhere, but that is of course everybody’s good right to choose this option.

    Will I now have this experience more often, because also libraries are now able to “reserve” books for other libraries, or people for their friends? Just a question, I adore bookmooch and find it all just wonderful how it works. But sometimes if you understand why things are done this way, it is easier to accept.

  40. Marina Bonomi said

    that should have read’or sometimes want to give first choice (…) to a charity’. Sorry!

  41. Linafe Omandam said

    is there a problem with this new feature coz i reserve a book yesterday but when i sign in today it isn’t reserved to me anymore. thank god that it’s still available so i just reserved it again.

  42. Mary said

    I’ll start off saying that I love Book Mooch and appreciate all the time John puts into it. However, I don’t like this new feature. It shows favoritism.
    I also don’t like when I go to mooch a book that it says the owner won’t send to another country, or, just as bad, the person hasn’t been on Book Mooch for 466 days. There should be a period of inactivity, say 6 months, then the person should be kicked off or put on probation.

  43. Greg said

    I think that if a book is reserved for only specific people, then it should not even show up for people who can’t mooch it. It’s going to be a big pain in the keister to check my wishlist and see multiple books on it, none of which I can mooch. Once the expiration date for a reservation passes, THEN it should show up for everyone else. Otherwise it’s going to disappoint a lot of people who have to sit there and see the book they want just floating, not getting mooched. Not to mention that people who put it on reserve are going to get emails from moochers who desperately want the book.

    I like the idea of a reservation feature, just think it needs further tweaking.

  44. Greg said

    Or conversely, as a follow up to my comment above, you can have an “ignore this copy” button or option in each individual user’s options. So I could go into my user options and select “ignore all reserved copies.”

    This would have further ranging applications aside from ignoring reserved copies. For instance, on my wishlist is “The Aleph” by Borges, but showing up as an alternate edition is the spanish version “El Aleph.” So also in user options could be “ignore copies in languages other than X” if you only want to see books in your native language or “ignore copies from countries other than X” if you’re the type that will never spend more than one mooch point on a book.

    What do you think, John?

  45. Lee Potts said

    I strongly agree that a reserved book should not show up in search results as being available. In the last ten minutes I thought that I was going to be able to mooch a hard-to-get-book for my daughter’s summer reading and was disappointed to find it was un-moochable. I really love BookMooch and this was the first negative user experience I’ve had with it. I would have been seriously annoyed if I first ran into this new feature through an email notification of an available book that wasn’t really available.

  46. Bookbear said

    I have a suggestion:

    You can currently Reserve books for your Friends or for specific members. How about an additional category – Reserve for International Mooching.

    I’ve seen many complaints in the forum from people in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia that all the Wishlisted books posted in America are already mooched before they wake up in the morning.

    With this option those of us who want to could Reserve books for people on the other side of the world – giving them ‘first shot’ so to speak.

    You could even limit it to a 1 day only option.

    I realize that International includes Canada, Mexico, and the entirety of South America – but still, it would please a lot of members who live in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.

  47. ravoone said

    I’m not so sure about this, either. It does sound like it will be harder to mooch a book now if you are not a “friend”. I guess we will just have to wait and see how it works out….

  48. foggylady99 said

    Dear John..
    ( sorry, couldn’t resist)
    Mixed feelings…..
    I like the idea when I wanted to send a specific book to someone who needed it for her job…I felt good that my professional books were carrying on, so to speak…
    I often feel frustrated when a book I have been wanting is not available to ME for various reasons,but it is available to others.
    Major attraction of Bookmooch has been the community feeling…now it feels…oh, gee.. I dunnoo..
    Sounds as if the common feeling amongst the
    “nays ” to the idea is we want equal chance at books…fair is fair and all that…
    and the “yays” have good reasons for reserving books for certain people.
    I do know when I first joined the site pointed out to refuse a mooch was not a good thing, which re-enforced the sense of equality.

  49. Sue said

    I agree with hannah. I’m realative new to bookmooch and really don’t know how to get “friends” so will this leave me out?

  50. Hope said

    I tried this new system with an Angel request. Instead of listing it on the special Angel listings, I used the ordinary book listing and reserved it for the Person in Need, and set the reservation time for a bit longer than usual, just to give them a bit more time to get to their emails. It worked a treat! This feature might finally make a dent in those related/recommended books where “Angel book 2” pops up! Thanks so much!

    I think personally I will only be using this reservation system for Angel requests, but that’s just me as I enjoy the randomness and spontaneity of BookMooch.

  51. Nick said

    I understand it might be complicated, but now this is getting very confusing! I’m able to see books and receive wishlist notifications for books that aren’t available! This makes things pretty frustrating when the only copies of a book that is ‘available’ is reserved – meaning its not really available.

    I appreciate all the work that has been put into this site and the large community, but unless this feature gets fixed it may render bookmooch un-usable.

  52. SamLowry said

    “5) International exceptions: if you set yourself to “I will only send books to my own country” you can make individual exceptions to this by reserving a book for someone. They’ll be able to mooch it, no matter what country they live in.”

    The refinement I would find useful with international exceptions is not to except it for friends abroad, but book by book in inventory — I’m glad to send paperbacks abroad, less so for big heavy books. It would be good to have an “All or none” international option, and then to make exceptions per book in inventory. Thanks!

  53. Pam Wagner said

    I agree with what foggylady99 said. I have already been frustrated with books not being available to me. I don’t like people having everyone else’s eyes out watching for a book when I only have mine. I am logged on every day, usually for several hours, and as soon as two came up on my wishlist as available, they said sorry reserved for someone else!
    Get rid of it please!

  54. Ingrid said

    I love the constant tweaking of BookMooch as you come up with new ideas.

    I’m not crazy about the new reserving option but of course will see if my fears about it come true. The beauty of BM has been the free and open exchange of books. By reserving books for only certain people it necessarily changes the essence of BM; it prevents the free and open exchange which is what people who are members have joined for. I agree with the earlier emailers on why it’s a bad idea and will not repeat their statements.

    Having said that, I love BM so much that I plan to do the following: if a book I really want keeps coming up as available but reserved, I will link to Amazon and just buy the darn thing. Isn’t that how the site gets it’s support anyway? I think we all need to remember even BM may not ALWAYS be able to provide us all the books we want everytime. Love ya John!

  55. M said

    Thanks for adding this really useful feature. Just one quick question. Is an automatic email sent to the person the book was reserved for to notify him/her that a book was indeed recently reserved for him/her to mooch?

  56. Tricia said

    Maybe you can make it so that if a book is reserved it doesn’t show up on wish lists or send out email notices that it is available. It is very disappointing to find a book on our wish list available and then find it is reserved for someone else.


  57. Cheryl said

    I have to agree with foggylady99 too. I think it is extremely disappointing to finally see that wishlisted book you’ve been waiting for…and then try to mooch and see that it’s reserved. Plus, I have noticed in the past month or so that there seems to have been more and more instances of reserving of books. There have been many times where I have tried to mooch a book only to be told it was reserved for someone else. I think that takes away from the openess that drew me to this site to begin with.

  58. Kim said

    Well, it sounds like a great idea, but I have been a bit frustrated by it. I had 5 seperate books from my wishlist show up as available. Of course, as soon as I tried to mooch, every single one of them showed up as reserved for someone else. One of the books actually showed 2 available copies, and of course, both, were reserved for someone else. I understand wanting to give friends first crack, but it can be very disheartening for those of use not in the “elite’ reserved for class. Personally, if I am adding a book I want a fmily m ember to mooch, I let them know before I add it to my inventory, and then they tell me when they’ll be online to mooch it. That way, they can mooch it immediately, and no one lese goes through the frustration of being notified that a much desired book is available, only to have it turn out that ‘psych!” not really.
    Sorry to be so negative, but it really has been an aggravating couple of days.

  59. Beth said

    This feature is going to make listing an angeled book a lot easier and thank you for that — it’s much appreciated! But sorry, don’t like the “friends only” reservation ability. You had proposed that in an earlier blog post and I commented on it then, so I’m not going to say anything further on it other than to say I still don’t like it. Besides, getting a message that you can’t mooch because you’re not someone’s friend is a little off-putting. Kind of sounds like the high-school clique, don’t you think?

    And I do wish there was a way to avoid having reserved books show up on a wishlist whether they’re reserved for friends in general or someone in particular. It’s such a thrill to get a wishlist hit, and such a downer then to learn you can’t mooch because it’s reserved. You could also save people from themselves and the strange things they’ll do in their desire to get a wishlisted book. Case in point: tonight I got 3 wishlist hits for a series of books I’ve been wanting very much for a while. Didn’t have enough points to mooch them. So I went through the house like Godzilla thru Tokyo, looking for any books I could part with to list and build up my points balance. Collected a whole stack of books and magazines and entered them, complete with cover topics for all the magazines and condition notes for all the books. Took a while to add them, particularly since magazines need to be hand-entered. Luckily it dawned on me to check whether the book was reserved after listing the first 10 (enough to get 1 point). Sure enough, the book was reserved. Checked the other 2 also, and they were reserved. See? Not having it show up on my wishlist could have saved me a lot of time, not to mention keeping me from looking like a total madwoman to the rest of my family . I was just glad I hadn’t taken the time to enter all 30 before checking on the status (and that my family decided against taking out commitment papers for someone who was wildly listing books at 2 AM). Yes, I *eventually* was going to list these anyway, just not in a mad scramble to try and score a wishlist book. But maybe my extreme example illustrates why it would be nice if reserved books don’t show up on everyone else’s wishlist.

    I understand that if it’s a programming nightmare to keep reserved books from popping up on others’ wishlists, maybe we’ll just have to live with it the way it is. But perhaps there’s a way to have it show up on the book’s page? If a book shows up on a wishlist, it’s usually the only copy available. If the reserved status could show on the book’s page along with the other info (author, title, owner, etc.), then at least one could see it’s not available before trying to mooch it. Just a thought.

    Thanks for adding this reserved feature though, and for fixing the ask first problem. You do such a great job at making this a wonderful site in general.

  60. Coqui said

    I like the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), the fair way is first come, first served. The reserve feature is going to create a lot of negative feelings. One of the best things about Bookmooch was the openess, now here comes favoritism.

  61. Kay said

    I love the way this new reservation system gives us more opportunities to foster a sense of community. Yesterday a book I really wanted popped up as available, but when I went to mooch it, I saw that it was reserved for someone else. I emailed the moochee asking if I could have the book if the other person didn’t want it. They did, of course, but we exchanged a few pleasant emails of book suggestions and are now official “friends”. This isn’t a case of exclusive clubs keeping all the good books for themselves, but of like-minded individuals exchanging books. Whenever I have a particularly positive experience, I add that person as a friend. This isn’t high school, people (and thank goodness for that!)

  62. yourbitterpill said

    Wow! Excellent! I can now search for books (and get wishlist hits) that aren’t available to me because I’m not someone’s internet “friend”.

    Hurray favoritism!

    Sorry John, I appreciate the work you do and this site, but this idea runs contrary to the basic tenets of Bookmooch. If this feature stays around, I have a feeling I’ll no longer be using Bookmooch in the future.

  63. juan jose said

    exelente…ahora todos estaremos unidos

  64. Greg said

    I offered suggestions above and was originally writing further thoughts to make another post, but already decided that I dislike the idea overall enough that the suggestions are really just irrelevant. I don’t agree that it makes the place feel more communal. Rather, it feels LESS so. It feels like instead of one big Bookmooch, there are hundreds of little Bookmooch.coms now. Very very discouraging.

    Not to mention the fact that since you can see the time that a reservation is up, you’re going to have a bunch of people hovering around their computers waiting like they’re on ebay. Since I doubt this new “feature” will ever be removed entirely, I at very least stand by my earlier suggestion to make it an option to hide reserved books from showing up on your wishlist if they’re not reserved for you.

  65. Gene said

    I am also very frustrated with this feature. Now, all of the books I have on my wishlist are reserved and unavailable even though they show up as available until I try to mooch. I have been so very happy with this site and use it all the time but…. It appears to me that it is now turning into a snobbish site for the “in” people leaving many of your best cheerleaders in the shadows. Sorry, I know you put lots of time into this feature and implementing it.

  66. Yaffa said

    I love the new reservations system. One request as others have noted above: if a book is reserved for someone else, I don’t want a wishlist notification or even to see it on my wishlist as available because it is not available to me.

    Thanks for all the hard work.

  67. Emma said

    Even though I’m still new to BookMooch, I appreciate how you’re always coming up with new ideas to make it better for everyone. It’s great 🙂

    On a slightly unrelated note concerning the wishlist notification system (I got reminded about it after reading all those comments), I was wondering if it would be at all possible to tweak it so that you will only receive notifications if the person with the book is willing to send to your country? It gets so frustrating receiving emails that say books are available, only when I go to mooch them, they can’t be sent to my country (it happens a lot, since I live in Australia, and a large majority of bookmoochers are in the USA and unwilling to send overseas – which is fair enough.) Or is there already some way to change this that I just haven’t noticed yet?

  68. Jaymee said

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think the idea of posting a book is to make it available for the first person who finds it. If there is a reserve-for-someone option then it defeats the purpose of having a free-for-all site. And don’t we make friends by offering our books to people we don’t know? Sorry if this sounds mean or negative, but I’d just like a more open exchange site. What’s the point of listing a book if you’re just giving it to someone specific? Just hand/mail it to him or her. It’s kinda disappointing to see a book and find out it’s already meant for someone else.

  69. Maya said

    I understand that people gets angry with the reserved books. I was, too. Until I started to use it myself. Sometimes, you just don’t have the choice. If everybody who likes the same books as you do does it, you jump in and try to exchange. Also, it costs me almost 11$ to send 1 Mass Market book IN MY OWN COUNTRY. So by reserving books for someone, I’m sure I’ll save on the shipping cost since I’ll send more than 1 book at the time. Because at 11$ per shipment, sorry but I would keep my money to buy new books and sell my used one to book store. And I don’t reserve all my books.

    I don’t think that the system will result in more reserved books. That is just because before most of the reserved books were hand-enter with Reserved For.. as a title or Special Book, or something like that. That only makes us more aware of that.

    That would be nice to have a link saying ADD AND RESERVE because now you have to go through your inventory and frantically search for the book you just entered before someone mooch it.

  70. Lisa said

    I think the idea of posting a book is to make it available for the first person who finds it(unless it is reserved. I think you should be able to give your friends first shot at a book). If you are new to BookMooch it discourges you from putting in the time until you are first on the list. I also belong to PaperBackSwap and it is so dishearting to add a book to your wish list and see that there are 150+ waiting on it too. One of the biggest reasons I have used Mooch is because the rules aren’t as rigid(imagine only allowing 200 books on you wishlists, why I can fill that up with only a dozen new authors). I love BookMooch and tell everyone about it.

  71. Amy said

    If a book is only available for a certain person or people, I don’t want to know about it. It’s frustrating that a book I want is sitting there and I can’t get my hands on it!

  72. serendipity9000 said

    I love bookmooch! Thanks for all your hard work. Just a few ideas I wanted to share below:

    I want to add my voice to the group frustrated by copies of books (and related editions) showing up on my wishlist that aren’t really moochable.

    Perhaps an easier approach from a programming standpoint is to add more info about the book on the wishlist page. For example – the ‘Available related editions’ list could include a note about any country shipping restrictions and any reservation info (perhaps ‘reserved through 7/20/2008’ next to it?).

    If nothing else I think that on the book’s listing page that the ‘Available’ list should indicate the copies that are reserved.. or perhaps just split it into two lists (so it is easy for the person for whom it is reserved to mooch it) – one for general available copies and one for reserved copies.

    Finally, an idea about the wishlist emails. Could you include a note in the emails saying ‘This book is currently reserved for XYZ through 7/20/2008. If you are not XYZ please consider checking if this book is moochable after that date.’?? This means you don’t need special logic for if the messages get sent out – but you still defuse the frustration of rushing to the site to mooch a book you can’t mooch.

  73. Brian said

    At 9:02 this morning I see that I have an e-mail message from last nite at 11:16pm about a book on my wish list. And again I get “No copies available (someone else got the last one)” when clicking the mooch link.

    It seems to me there is more to gained by implementing a fair queue-based auto-mooch than spending more time on features that reduce the availability of books by letting people reserve them just for certain people.

  74. Regina said

    I don’t like the reservation system. It’s very disheartening to see an “available” wishlisted item only to find out that it’s held for someone else when I try to mooch it. To me, it’s not “available”. So why make it look that way on my wishlist? Isn’t this a first-come, first-serve swap site? If members want to reserve books for friends, that’s fine, but I don’t want to know about it–or see it on my lists–it’s too frustrating.

  75. Erin said


    I have just used the “Reserve” feature and I love it!

    I have 3 comments in favor of this new feature:

    1) I have, until this point, done my own little “reserve” kind of system, by arranging in advance with the person I wish to offer book to a particular time I will list the book, so they can mooch it immediately. The new official “Reserve” system has made this much easier, but will not increase the number of books I offer this way. So from my end, it has not increased favoritism or made BookMooch more click-ish.

    2) For books I have offered that have long Wishlists, I have chosen to offer my books first to charities and to BookMooch members that have given away a lot more books than they have mooched. These have always been strangers to me, not people I know or have marked as “Friends”. I do not see anything unfair about this.

    3) I am confused by the comments regarding “it is so dissapointing to get an email about a book on my wishlist only to find there are no copies available” in relation to the “Reserve” issue. I have always been dissapointed with the arrival of these emails, way before the “Reserve” system started. If there were more than a couple of people wanting it, I never found it to be available simly because I am not able to check my email continuously throughout the day. It is usually many hours/days after the email has been sent, and the book is long since gone. Part of me has thought that has been unfair too- just because I have to work, and I work in a place that I cannot have my personal business up on my computer all day, I am rarely in the right place/right time.

    BUT this is a great, free, voluntary website with many plusses and only a few minuses- I try not to complain too much since it is such a wonderful place. I am very grateful for it.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your hard work!

  76. Stephanie (smoorefu on bookmooch) said

    > I have always been dissapointed
    > with the arrival of these emails,
    > way before the “Reserve” system
    > started.

    Well as I understand it, you and others who have this frustration should have been having a lot less of it since the new(ish) system of book notifications. Now the notification only goes to *one* person at a time, and only after some number of hours (I *think* it is either 4 or 6 hours?) does the notification go to the next person. And the first person is chosen randomly, so it is fair to all. Personally, I like this much more than having a queue of some kind. A queue system would be completely frustrating to someone who had just joined Bookmooch, whereas this method seems to me to be fair to newbies and oldies alike.

  77. Sarah said

    This new reservation system makes me sad. One of the best parts of BookMooch is the excitement of being the first to find and mooch a much sought after book. Now our hopes are dashed when we see that these popular books are being reserved for someone else while we are teased on our wishlists that these books are “available”. It seems to me that “friends” by the nature of their friendship could arrange book swaps by private email and not subject the rest of us to their arrangements.

  78. Jennifer said

    I appreciate the work you have put into this, but I am sorry that this feature was added.

    I have a mooch ratio of .8:1 right now and a feedback rating of +266 (though I’ve only sent out 265 books — wonder how that happened). Seems like this makes me a member in good standing and someone worth trading with. But I don’t have friends who use this site, nor do I use this site to develop relationships with other folks. It is rare enough that I am able to snag a book on my very long wish list, now it is going to be even more difficult.

  79. amberlianne said

    I thought this was an awesome idea when you first put it out.

    Since then, every single book on my wishlist that has become available isn’t actually available, it’s reserved.

    It’s hard enough to get wishlisted books… this is kind of heartbreaking.

    I’d like to see it disappear entirely, but, knowing that that probably will not happen, can we at least remove reserved books from the listings?

    Ugh… and add my two cents to everyone wanting to stop seeing books from people who haven’t logged in for like 286 days or don’t send to their country on the wishlist. I never know if, maybe, the unavailable one was finally removed and the “1 copy” is new, and I always click, and I’m always sad. I’d really rather see inactive accounts pruned from the listings before most of the new features that have been added lately, and I think most people would agree.

  80. christine said

    I also thought this was cool but since it started ive had 9 wl books come up some ive been waiting a while for and i cant mooch any! Its dissapointing seein it posted and them u cant mooch it! not fair lol

  81. Paula said

    At first, I thought it was an interesting idea, but I too have run up against “unavailable available” books. Doesn’t seem fair. If you want a specific person to get a book-fine-but the two parties need to agree to that and work out the details privately. Books posted openly should be available openly.

  82. Marina said

    Just one word for those that run against ‘reserved’ wish-list hits.

    Sometimes those books were really reserved from the start (angel mooches, for instance), but my guess is that a fair number of the books appearing as ‘reserved’ belong to ‘ask-first’ members, and are reserved up to seven days for an international moocher who asked, until the owner gives an answer about the request.

  83. Greg said

    Marina – you make a good point re: ‘ask first’ members, but if they really were reserved for international moochers who asked, then wouldn’t they have shown up on our wishlists openly for a period before being switched to ‘reserved?’ I don’t think any of the reserved ones I’ve encountered were truly for such cases as they’ve all reached expiration and been snagged by someone else.

  84. Marina said

    >wouldn’t they have shown up on our wishlists >openly for a period before being switched to ‘reserved?’

    Possibly yes, but it depends on how long the gap was between the moment the book was listed and the request. Also I’ve heard not a few people say that they used to ignore ‘ask if not to my country’ availability for all the frustration involved but they have started to ask under the new system, so it would appear that there are *more* members mooching from ‘ask first’ accounts now (I know I’m one).

    That said, just like ‘normal’ wishlist notices are (were?) delayed to allow one the time to doublecheck and add conditions notes, I’d love if hitting the ‘reserve’ button *froze* the notices…

  85. Pam said

    I just tried to mooch a book and was given a message “sorry, you are not listed as one of my friends” How grade school is that? If I run up against this too many more times, I will take my books off an go to another book trading website.

  86. Kel said

    I hate the reserve feature. I’ve been a member of BookMooch since March ’07 and I’ve never run across so many ‘reseverved’ books as I have since the feature has been implemented. I hate it. I hate getting wishlist notices and being unable to mooch. I rarely get a wishlist notice despite having a large wishlist. In the last 2 weeks I’ve gotten about 6 email notices of a wishlist book of mine being available. NOPE, it’s not available after all. Big excitement, BIGGER let down. 5 of the 6 books were reserved, 2 by the same book owner. I think that this is going to become the ‘new’ thing to do, reserve your books until someone you know wants them. I hate it.

  87. Christine Gardner said

    Well, what I feared when I first read of the reserve system has now happened…my blissful morning mooch sessions have been marred by reserved books. I have loved browsing Bookmooch to find new books, but it’s a real kill-joy to try to mooch a book and be rejected because it’s reserved. Why is it necessary for the book owner to control who receives the book? Isn’t the point to release the books you have and receive new books? This is a singularly rotten concept, at an otherwise brilliant website.

  88. Maridele said

    I’m glad that I am not the only one who thinks that this is a singularly bad idea. No books have become available lately on my wishlist except those that are reserved. Why are we waiting an entire week for someone to make up their minds about a book? Either they want it or they don’t. Either they have the points or they don’t. Meantime, give the rest of us a chance. Take it away! Please!

  89. Mary said


    I am rather upset about this new “reserve” idea. I have had books on my wishlist for many months and I found out they were finally available! I go to mooch them, hoping I am the first one to get there and lo and behold, they are RESERVED!! Aargh!!

    I knew it would be like this. It seems like an unfair advantage for the people the books are reserved for. I, for one, will not reserve any books…no matter who asks me. I want them to go to whomever wants them and I won’t play “favorites”.

  90. April said

    I really hate the way the reserve thing is being handled. I’ve had half a dozen wishlist books come up reserved. It wouldn’t be so bad if there was a way to tell they were reserved, other than hitting that ‘mooch’ button. Maybe it could be put next to the name of the giver when you click on the book. Or better yet, it could show up next to the (1 copy) on my wishlist. Or best of all, the system could e-mail *only* the person(s) the book is intended for and not show up as available to the rest of us.

    Bless you to those who are still listing their books on a first come, first serve basis. I will continue to do so as well.

    April (who has “missed out” on the same very much wanted book twice because it was reserved)

  91. Maggie said

    I don’t mind this new feature, but I just wish if the books I have on my wishlist are being reserved for someone else, I wouldn’t see them as available. I think it should only show as available to the person it’s being reserved for. I’m sure that’s a fair bit of programming. Perhaps a compromise would to show it as available, but note it as “1 copy, reserved” so we know that it’s truly available.

  92. Nolly said

    The wishlist notifications for reserved books are definitely annoying. If it’s too complicated not to send them, maybe some text in the message, indicating the book is reserved and for how long?

  93. Sherri said

    I initially had concerns about the reservation system, but figured I would give it a change. Well, after a couple of weeks of working with it, I have to say that it has reduced my enthusiasm about Bookmooch. Not only do I know receive wishlist notifications regarding books I have no chance of even obtaining, I also am no longer exciting even receiving those notifications. I used to be excited when I received a notice, now I know that if its a “popular” book I have no chance of even obtaining even if I’m sitting at my computer when I get the notice. Although you never knew if you would be able to get the book, there was always a measure of hope attached to the wishlist notice. Now, I am almost always correct knowing that when I click the button to mooch that it will be gone. I hate to say it, but I think my time may be limited.

  94. esther said

    “So for now, no change to how wishlist notifications work, but if it becomes a common source of complaints, I’ll revisit this.”

    If I look at the comments above, I think it’s time to do something about it. It would be a big improvement if it was immediately visible that a book was reserved, both in the notification emails (one line with the reservation status: this book is currently reserved for X / this book is currently not reserved) and in the wishlists (different color?). To me, that also looks possible: the information is available, it should just show earlier. But then, I’m no programmer.

    I do still think this reservation system is a big improvement, the books just shouldn’t look as if they were freely available when they are already reserved.

  95. amberlianne said

    It keeps getting worse and worse.

    One guy had 8 books from his inventory reserved for the same person. Someone from his own country — not an Angel mooch — and books I’ve been looking for for YEARS.

    Okay, so that was one.

    There’s another book on my wishlist… two copies are available. And they are both reserved. TO THE SAME PERSON. Why do we need to reserve two copies of the same book for one person?

    I concur. I’m not really having fun any more.

    John, can you at least let us know if you’ll be working on this issue?

  96. christina said

    Regarding the reservation system, in addition to stopping wishlist notification for reserved books, it would be nice not to be recommended “reserved book whichever” or “angel mooch book whatever”.

    I also have seen the same person get multiple copies of a wanted book, and wish the system were more egalitarian.

  97. Sandy said

    I love BookMooch, but I’m not loving this new reservation system. I really hate getting notifications that a book from my wishlist is available, only to find out that it’s reserved for someone else.

    If someone wanted to mooch a book to a friend, couldn’t they simply e-mail the person, and then have them smooch a point to them if they want it? If they are really friends, this should work pretty well…

    I vote for removing this feature.

    Thanks for all you do to make this a better site and fun for all of us – and for listening to our opinions.

  98. Liz said

    I don’t mind the reservation feature, I figure those are books that wouldn’t otherwise be on BookMooch so I don’t feel that it’s wrong that they’re reserved. On the other hand, why on earth am I getting a wishlist notification email for a book that is reserved for someone else?!??

  99. Kahti said

    Personally, I don’t like the reservation feature. Since it has started, it never fails that the books I have been most eager to request are reserved. I receive notification that my book is available and then pop over to my account only to find out it is reserved. I think books posted should be books available to anyone (with the exception of international shipping). Those of us who spend a great deal of time on bookmooch and snap up books are the ones making it such a popular site — the early bird gets the books, I say!

  100. Ed said

    I think that by reserving books only for your friends is a bad idea. I may just quit bookmooch because of this feature. How is this any different than saying I will only send a book to someone who shares my values and belief system or who has the same color skin as me? Maybe I am going too far with this, but if you are only sending books to your friends then why do it on Bookmooch? You could just as easily email your real friends to share your books, why dangle the titles to everyone then say “No I only share with my real friends.”

    I have been very generous, sending books to people around the world at my own expense, well over $100 in cost to me, I do not get that many in return.

  101. […] 3, 2009 About a year ago, I added the “reservations” feature to […]

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