Preliminary Survey Numbers

November 6, 2008

Last week, I put a survey link on the BookMooch member menu. I’ve taken it off BookMooch now, since it ran for a week.

My thanks go out to professor Karl Fast for making this happen, and to his students, who are doing all the work. This information is really helpful to me in understanding what people do and don’t like about BookMooch, and where I should focus in the future.

Here are some preliminary numbers:

– More than 3100 people completed surveys
– More than 1550 people volunteered for followup research (obviously we can only talk with a fraction of these people)
– We got completed surveys from more than 50 countries, including Egypt, Finland, New Zealand, Jamaica, Iran, Malaysia, Peru, Sweden, and South Africa.
– The 3 open-ended comment questions at the end of the survey generated more than 185 printed pages of feedback.

Some interesting figures:
– 35% say they read 6 books or more books per month and a further 42% say they read 3-5 books per month
– 37% say they acquire 6 or more books per month and a further 34% say they acquire 3-5 books per month
– 61% say they often acquire books from BookMooch
– 49% say they often swap their books on BookMooch when they are finished with them
– Over 90% say they rarely or almost never have bad book trading experiences
– 75% say they use BookMooch because it feels good when they give books to other people
– 87% say they will keep using BookMooch even when they have given away most of their bookshelf
– 38% login to BookMooch every day, and an additional 41% login several times per week
– 74% do not use other book trading web sites

Karl the professor, wrote me this, explaining the process he’s going through on his overall usability study of BookMooch:

The survey has continued to move along nicely. We have over 2800 responses so far. The 3 open-ended comment questions at the end have generated more than 150 pages, most of it positive. Over 1400 people have volunteered to help us with additional research.

The team is moving ahead with the next phase. There are 2 main elements to this.

First, we will be interviewing 6-8 people (via skype) who have expressed interest in discussing books on BookMooch (the “talk about books” segment). The team is working on the interview schedule. We will be scheduling these interviews shortly.

Second, we will be conducting a diary study with people who cycle through a lot of books (the “out the with old, in with the new” segment). The diary study will involve a short survey (5-10 minutes) that is sent to these people twice a week for 3 weeks. It asks questions about sending books, receiving books, adding books to give away, and searching for books to acquire. It’s the same survey each time, so you get information about their usage over time. We have identified about 20 possible candidates for this from the survey. The diary study is being refined at present.

We will be starting both of these in the next week. We aim to have them finished before Thanksgiving. We will also be doing a more detailed exploration of the survey.

The class ends in early December. We will present our findings to Johnthen. Not sure about the exact date and how we will do this. But we will definitely be writing a report with our findings and recommendations. We may also try to schedule a group skype call with John so you can talk with the team.

So far, this seems to be a roaring success. The survey has given us terrific data. BookMooch users seem to thrilled to provide structured feedback to help the site grow. And my students have been learning a lot. They’re having fun and enjoy the opportunity to work on a real project.

Here is a very, very small sampling of the 185 printed-pages of feedback:

The people are so friendly! Plus there’s nothing like the buzz of
getting a book in the mail. it’s just lovely!

Nice to feel that your books travel around the world!

I love the combination of LibraryThing and bookmooch. LT gives me
ideas for new books to read and BM sends them to me! It’s become a
lovely part of my life. My husband laughs at the parcels arriving and
my 4 year old asks me “did you mooch that book Mum?”

Being able to complete series of books (a couple with over 25 books)
for which I only have parts purchased from thrift stores. Used book
stores just don’t have the selection and many of them are out of
print. The net cost per book is extermely low.

discovering new books, and being able to get them, even when i am low on cash.

It’s a great way of making sure that your old, unwanted, books go to a
home that wants them

It keeps snail mail alive.

The concept of sharing books you love with people who will love them too

Looking forward to checking the mail. Getting books I wouldn’t usually
read Completing sets from good authors It’s all good fun!

37 Responses to “Preliminary Survey Numbers”

  1. Thanks for the update, John! I’m glad the survey is such a success. I’m sure many of us who completed the survey would love to read the final report too.

  2. fillytilly said

    It’s great to be asked for feedback. I know one of the questions was seeking suggestions to improve Book Mooch (as if that is possible. LOL) I’d love to hear if any of those suggestions are going to be taken. [I know, I know, there’s always something to program.] Thanks John for this terrific website. BooMoo is my FAV!!

  3. Victoria (vfavey) said

    So glad to see a means to provide feedback for continuous quality improvement (a key to all quality minded organizations as defined in the Malcom Baldridge National Quality Program Award criteria). Bookmooch is wonderful..thanks so much for making this available across the world!

  4. Sophie said

    Yes, a very well-written survey – detailed, but not overlong! Looking forward to the final results ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Sonia said

    It is nice to see such a collection of data relevant to research! Let’s see what comes out of this, maybe a Science/Nature article! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Unfortunately, I tried to fill in the survey, but my network is dodgy at best at the mo’. I will keep using BookMooch for as long as I can, for the simple reason that I get books I want AND need for my studies, and I give out books that were previously collected on a temporary interest. My countryside does not have access to an academic library, so it is the only site that grants me access to further reading material and necessary books. Long live BookMooch, and long may it help poor students like me! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I agree, long live BookMooch!

    The survey was great! Well written, detailed enough that it was satisfying to take it, and yet no longer than it needed to be for all of that detail. I particularly liked the free response section — I think my responses in those places took up about two pages by themselves, because I can be longwinded sometimes! (Laugh.) I used to annoy my high school and college teachers by answering “short answer” questions with short essays, written in miniscule handwriting to fit them in the space provided. I just don’t like to stop while I still have ideas!

    John, I have so much respect and admiration for what you have done — and continue to do — for us with BookMooch. You’ve created something wonderful for us all to share, and continue to refine it as best you can to help us love it more. Wow.

    I’m thrilled that they got so many responses, and that the responses seem to be helpful! Long live BookMooch, indeed! It’s a truly magnificent community.

  7. This survey project, done within Professor Fast’s class, is an example of “service-learning.” Books on service-learning are also available through Bookmooch!

  8. Elizabeth Cooley said

    An excellent survey. I do wish there were a cost effective way to answer international requests. Is there some mailing technique that I’m ignorant of? As a retired person it’s difficult to pay $6.00 – $8.00 to mail one book.

    Thanks for your efforts. I love Bookmooch,com.

  9. irisin said

    I just remembered something I didn’t put into the survey: would it be possible to check the book one has reserved for people? Esp. in the case of long-term reservations one might forget about them, so they are “dead” books in ones inventory if the person they had been reserved for (long term!) doesn’t mooch – or also forgets and can’t find them *g*

  10. irisin said

    *sigh* *points above* it’s meant to read “to check ALL the BOOKS one has reserved”, of course.

  11. Sheena2 said

    I’ve had the opportunity to read and share so many good books this past year after joining Bookmooch, and also to make many new friends along the way!
    Thank you for BookMooch, John!


  12. Juliana JJA Berlin said

    I was glad to take part in the survey. Anything to help Bookmooch! best, Juliana

  13. June Whitehead said

    I think it’s a real shame that the American mail system has put paid to sharing a lot of books with people ‘over there’. I’m sure the cost is too much for many to send overseas, especially students and elderly people on a pension. At the moment here in France there is still a ‘book rate’ or ‘tarif livre’which is very cheap all over the world, except France! But for how long no one knows! Not that the personnel will tell you about unless you ask. I was glad to take part in the survey and look forward to hearing all the results.
    Keep up the excellent work John and crew.


  14. Christoph said

    Well, I love giving away all my books. But I have yet to get one myself. All the books i have on my wishlist are gone the minute they show up. I hope one day to get a book…

  15. Jill Solari said

    I love Bookmooch and I tell all of my friends about Bookmooch…I really hope that it continues for a LONG time :)!! Thanks very much….my new favorite website.

    Jill in California

    PS I’d love to be of any help in your future studies.

  16. Leslie said

    The only thing that I’d like to see improved is a better forum. I don’t participate because it is impossible for me to get on, I don’t want to receive emails and it just doesn’t seem to be set up in a good way IMHO.

    Other than that I love Bookmooch and I said that in my survey! I love to ship internationally, that is just neat to me.

  17. Carolyn said

    I missed taking the survey, but am so glad you got such a good response from all over the world. So many of the comments you posted above were the same wonderful things I would have said.

  18. Rachel said

    Sorry this is off topic, but is anyone else having the problem for the last several days where the author name isn’t fitting in the security box? If I am not familiar with the author, it is very challenging to make a mooch when all the letters in the name are not showing up. The font size is suddenly too large to fit in the little box.

  19. Leslie Radwan said

    In reviewing the comments, I concur.
    We have book rate for domestic shipment in USA, but not for international – it limits my ability to send books overseas, since shipping costs are higher than the value of the books.
    I get almost all my books on bookmooch – over 200 in two years!
    I look up new suggestions on, then request the books here.

  20. NHQuiltmaker said

    I was happy to see the survey – I know the research will benefit the students and the results will benefit John and the bookmooch users. So that means me!

    John, not sure if you’re seeing what I’ve noticed – big slowdown in available books. By that I mean the books on my wishlist usually produce 4 to 5 (or more) as being available a month. I think I’ve gotten…2 or so in more than a month. I noticed someone previously mentioned that he hasn’t received any yet. Maybe the slowdown is common this time of year?

    I like to go to local big chain book store and shop for new reads. Then I jot ’em down and look on bookmooch! I’ve also used the most wanted list to make a shopping list for the local library book sale or the sale table of that big chain store. The most available list is great because it can generate an immediate mooch and I’ve found treasures in there that I wouldn’t necessarily have read otherwise.

    Thanks for the continuous improvements that make such a difference, John and team!

  21. Jean Zimmerman said

    Here’s something I forgot to put into my survey response that others may find amusing: One of my reasons for being attracted to BookMooch initially was to use all the stamps I’ve purchased over the years that have been gathering dust. I didn’t want to throw them away, but until BookMooch I couldn’t figure out how to make use of them. Now they’re almost gone, and I’m hooked! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Jackie N said

    I love BookMooch. I’ve been a member for almost a year now. Although I have loved books since I learned to read, I’m reading more than I ever have in my life. It relaxes me. Thanks John, for conducting the survey and for giving BookMooch to us!

  23. avaland said

    The survey results are very interesting! Looking forward to more. Bummed that I seemed to have missed the survey. How were we notified about this?

    I find it easier to part with books if I know they are going to someone who really wants them:-)

  24. Macie said

    the survey was great and I try to tell every one that loves to read about this great way of getting books. My free time is now all about reading books I’ve mooched. On a recent trip to my daughters I introduced her to this wonderful website, of course in doing this I lost the books she was giving to me.

  25. Rhonda (duh) said

    Very interesting info. I remembered one suggestion that I had after I submitted my survey also… how about when you are marking more than one book as SENT to the same person, any way to mark all books as sent? I sent 6 books to one person and the marking sent process was very slow, my system or my internet? don’t know. It’s just a thought, and of course more programming for you. Just wanted to say I LOVE Bookmooch, so keep up the great work!!!

  26. Eva Marie said

    I was also happy to participate in the survey and though it was a great one. I’ve brought many people to BM already and will continue to do so! It’s by far the best book swapping site out there!!

  27. Sandra aka bubobubo said

    2 things I forgot mention in the survey: 1st. I would like a new forum. 2nd. I would like to see a “Newest books” feature, separated by languages (if possible). Most of the books I mooch are not on my wishlist. Some days ago I browsed all German books (more than 5,000) to see if there are any new ones I’m interested in. I know I could use the advanced search, but you have to put in a word to search for. But I have no clue if this would be too much work.

    btw, Bookmooch ROCKS!

  28. Megan said

    I mentioned it in the survey, but my number one request is that people who add something to their wishlist first get priority (an order of request list)! How disheartening it was to find two wishlist books in my e-mail and see them both gone when I checked the site!

  29. lorenmarie said

    Yay for usability! Thanks for working to make the site usable and for supporting students in this field.

  30. C. Michelle said

    As Rachel said before, I’m having a problem where the name of the author isn’t fitting in the box, and I can’t see it. When I try to enter it, I get it wrong, and can’t refresh it or anything.


  31. wortwut said

    After always saying to my boyfriend ‘I love BookMooch, bt I wish it could …’, I was thrilled to participate in the survey.
    BookMooch has really changed the way I read and the way I manage (aquire, purge) the books in my life. I’d also like to second Sandra aka bubobubo’s request:
    “I would like to see a โ€œNewest booksโ€ feature, separated by languages (if possible).”
    I wish such a function existed on books in my area (Australia). Also I think Megan’s suggestion of a first priority wishlist feature would be nice as well, to reward the people who have been here the longest.
    I love BM and love books arriving in the post. Thanks again!

  32. Clea said

    I second the idea about the “newest books.” Sometimes I exhaust a subject looking through it for books, and then I could come back the next day or week and see what has been posted since I last looked.

    I would also love a drop down menu or a way to progress to the next page, whether it’s in my own book listings or while browsing a subject, so it would be easy to jump, for example, from page 3 to page 20 instead of clicking and clicking. I hope I made sense.

    I really love this site, and have placed the business cards all over town and everywhere I visit!

  33. Judy said

    I agree with Rhonda (above) we should be able to check off both multiple “send” and “received” at one time. After I’ve raved about the first book, I end up writing “see above comment” in the response form for the second book. Otherwise thanks for a great service!

  34. Linda said

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Bookmooch! I participated in the survey and I’m glad to hear so many others did also.

    A couple of suggestions since we’re all looking into ways to make BookMooch even better:

    1. Can you add a feature that allows me to sort my wishlist by author and/or by title?
    2. Many times there is a long wait list to mooch a popular or newer book. Can we do some advertising so that more people will join BookMooch and, therefore, (hopefully) there will be more books available? Think of what it would mean if we got an endorsement from Oprah or some other big name.

    Thanks for asking us for feedback.

  35. Alicia said

    I’m curious to know about the info that was gathered in the interview and diary parts of the process. Is there more info?

  36. […] months ago, there was a BookMooch survey that lots of you responded to. The class that was doing the survey has sent me a lot of interesting […]

  37. […] 3, 2009 The results of the 2008/2009 survey from Karl Fast’s university class are now […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: