Fewer wishlist emails

June 5, 2009

Based on the results of a recent survey conducted on this blog, I decided to change the email notifications you get when a book on your wishlist appears on BookMooch. Specifically, I decided to try to only send you an email if the book really is moochable by you.

86% of survey respondents found it annoying to be notified via email that a book was available, when it actually was reserved for someone else. Because the percentage was so high, I decided not to make it an option to receive wishlist notifications of reserved books, but rather to change how it works for everyone. I know, an option would make “everyone happy” but I try really hard to keep BookMooch simple, to not have tons of options and features (aka “feature creep”). Also, each option adds to the amount of programming I have to do, and have to maintain bug-free with each improvement to the site.

As of now, you shouldn’t receive an email about a book on your wishlist, if that book has already been reserved.

However, email is not an instant mechanism, so it’s still possible that the book is available at the time the email is sent, and that by the time you read the email (maybe a day later) someone has reserved the book. There’s nothing I can do about about that. Nonetheless, you should receive fewer of these sorts of emails, because previously even if the book was already reserved, you’d receive an email about it being available, and I think that was probably the most common case, and the cause of most frustration.

I also fixed…

Over the years, I’ve also received complaints from people receiving an email about a book on their wishlist, but when they go to mooch it they get the “sorry, nobody will send to your country” message. People thought BookMooch was sending them emails about books in other countries they couldn’t mooch and were annoyed.

Actually, that wasn’t the case: BM won’t email you about a newly added book when the owner won’t send to your country.

To see that this is case, you can check the “your wishlisted book is available” email, find the owner listed in the email, and you’ll see that the owner listed in the email *is* someone willing to send to your country. However, by the time you go to mooch the book, that copy is gone (someone else mooched it), and all that is left are copies in other countries where none of those book owners will send to you. Hence the confusion and frustration.

At any rate, that’s fixed as well now.

From now on, BM will only send a wishlist email to you if–at the time the email is sent–there is a copy that you can mooch.

  • BM won’t send you an email if the only copy you could mooch has been reserved for someone else,
  • BM won’t send you an email if the only remaining copies are in countries you can’t mooch from.
  • It’s not foolproof: the book might get reserved or mooched *after* BM sends the email to you, but that’s just the nature of email. Still, I think this is an improvement.

Coming soon: a much clearer “Book details page” which shows you exactly which book owners have reserved a book or won’t send to you.

44 Responses to “Fewer wishlist emails”

  1. Maggie said

    Great work! Thanks for fixing this. However, I personally find it more annoying to see that book on my wish list is available (as evidenced by “one copy available” when I view my wishlist) only to find that it is from another country, or, much more often, reserved for others. I would prefer to not know that it is available to anybody. Selfish, yes. And I’m sure it’s darn near impossible, but just a thought. Thanks again! 🙂

    • I agree with Maggie, I have a book haunting me now on my wishlist that’s got that lovely mooch button next to it but when I click it, there’s a “sorry” message there. It’s such a tease.

      • That’s is a “moi aussi”…at times my wishlist is littered with books that no one will send to me. Since my list isn’t exactly best sellers some of these will stay on there for weeks or months, sitting in another country languishing away

        But thanks for all you do to make this better and better.

    • Leanne said

      I agree with this too. It is very frustrating, and on my “save for later” list too: I look and 30 of my listed books are marked available, I cannot remember if they have always been marked thus, or if not, which ones are “available” but “not available to me”, and spend a lot of time checking each one repeatedly in case the one copy IS not the same nonavailable copy, or that “bad” one has been mooched and it is a new copy that I CAN mooch. Very very time consuming. It would be SO great if the programming that puts in our country blocks “availability” appearing of books not moochable to us.

      And thanks for the hard work re the wishlist emails. I appreciate getting fewer emails but more pertinent ones… esp in that few secs when your heartbeat rises upon seeing a new longhoped for wish book “available”, before it is dashed upon the shoals… ;D

  2. Stephanie said

    Have you ever thought about doing the wishlist where there is an order to the wishlist and it’s reserved for you for a small period of time, if it’s your turn, and then it goes on to the next person if you don’t respond? The majority of my wishlist available items seem to become available in the middle of the night and by the time I see the email in the morning they’re gone. I can’t monitor Bookmooch 24/7. Just an idea…thanks!

    • lorenmarie said

      I like the wishlist the way it is. Just my 0.02.

      • Tara said

        I like the wishlist just the way it is too LorenMarie. I personally love the reserve system and would definitely not like there to be a “first person on the wishlist gets the book.” I don’t monitor Mooch 24/7 either but part of the fun is the hunt of the book ;).

    • KathyS said

      I like it the way it is… a priority system is fraught with problems of elitism.

      • Jen said

        With gmail (and I’m guessing other email sites) you can set it to send a text message to alert you of particular emails. So I have mine set to send me a text when I get a wishlist email. I think I get a lot of books that I otherwise wouldn’t becuase I know when to check.

    • That already happens in the current system. When an email goes out for a wishlisted book, it only goes out to one person, and that person has 4 hours (I think? or it may be 8) to mooch it before the system picks another random person who has it on their wishlist and sends an email to them in turn.

      • Eva Marie said

        I *think* that the email goes out to more than one person, possibly four? I’m not positive about that though. I do think I heard somewhere that it is four hours before any more emails are sent.

    • renee said

      I totally agree with Stephanie. Even though I don’t work, I still can’t monitor BM 24/7. If somehow you can put some kind order on wishlist books maybe the books that are on my list wont sit there for months until I finally get lucky.

  3. Stacey said

    I agree with Maggie I would prefer not to see if the book is available if the owner wont send to me – would save me a lot of time when I’m in the mood for mooching!

    • renee said

      I would still like to see if the book is available even though the owner will not send to my country. I use an angel in that case. It may take a little longer to get the book but if its something I really want I’ll wait patiently.

  4. Stacey said

    PS You’re doing a great job John!!

  5. BethyB said

    Well, I for one will be glad to get fewer emails, but please leave the wishlist alone – it makes it possible to watch a reserved book to see when it becomes available, and to get an angel for an international book, if you want one. Thanks for the fix, John!

  6. Eva Marie said

    I think these were great changes John- it is so annoying to get excited about a book and then find it’s reserved for someone else. This will definitely cut that down drastically.

  7. notinparis said

    ‘BM won’t send you an email if the only remaining copies are in countries you can’t mooch from.’

    The other changes are great but I have an issue with this. What about the BM angel network? I’ve used them in the past to get my wishlisted books that are in other countries and I’m sure other people have too.

    • infiniteletters said

      I agree, the lack of email notifications on “my country only” requests could kill the Angel network.

  8. sugarandgrits said

    Great job, John!

    Please, please, please don’t add “order” (small window to mooch) to the Wishlist!! I just recently tried Paperback Swap (hated it, btw) and they do this, thus the hating it part. I’m like 145 out of 150 for one of the books on my Wishlist, many others are almost as bad! Seriously?!?!?! That’s ridiculous! I’ll not be using that site.

    Thanks for listening! 🙂

    • jeannie said

      Hi Sugarandgrits!
      just because it says you are 145 out of 150 for a wishlisted book on pbs doesn’t mean it will take you forever to get that book..some of those people might decide they don’t really want the book that bad when they are notified, they might have already gotten it somewhere else and forgotten to take it off their wishlish or they might not have the credits to get it. So I always take that with a grain of salt and wish it anyway. and I wish books on both sites by the way. that way I have double the chance of getting the book.

      • Eva Marie said

        I’m #8 for a book that’s wishlisted over 700 times on PBS and I only wishlisted it a few weeks ago. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked yesterday. Like jeannie above said, that really doesn’t say anything if you go by that.

  9. Lia said

    Thanks for the changes, John!

    Is anyone NOT getting any email notifications? I haven’t received one in months but there have been several books on my wishlist that are moochable. I have email notifications turned on and the website is not blocked on my email. I have to go to my wishlist page several times a day to see if any books have been added.

  10. Tara said

    Thanks for all of the hard work John!

  11. morpha said

    Thanks so much for these changes John! This will remove what has become a frequently frustrating experience for me.

  12. Abigail Johnson said

    I started on PBS and discovered BM through LibraryThing. I’ve been an avid swapper and moocher now for years and have refered friends to both sites. But I do prefer PBS for a number of resons:

    1. The wish list. On PBS, I get to see how close I am to getting a book by seeing how many people are ‘in line’ ahead of me, and even an estimated time until I can get a copy. On BM, I almost never wishlist emails, and when I do, the book is almost always gone before I get there. Bottom line, I get more wish list books from PBS than BM.

    2. The search features. On PBS I can search by book format, and genre. I like to search for for fantasy audiobooks on CD, and even save that search. On BM it is difficult to get acurate results unless you are searching for a specific book title. Bottom line: on PBS, I find new books that I might not have heard about. On BM, I have to search for a specific book only.

    3. Author info. On PBS, I can click on an author name and get a list of all their books and instantly see which titles are available. On BM, when I click on an author, I get a slightly too busy list of not just the author I clicked, but other authors with the same/similar name. Bottom line: On PBS, its easy to instantly see more books by my favorite authors. On BM, no so much.

    4. Newsletters. On PBS I get regular newsletters letting me know about new features etc. On BM the blog is good, but I don’t always remember to check it. Bottom line: I always know about new PBS features.

    5. Inventory. There are more books on PBS than BM.

    I get more books that I want on PBS than on BM. I find books easier on PBS. And find out about books I might not have discovered on my own on PBS. I still use BM, but I get more books on PBS.

    • Linden said

      As much as I like the idea of Paperback Swap, I’ve heard some horror stories about people having their accounts suddenly closed without notice (with outstanding credits).

      I guess what really puts me off is how much more “homey” Bookmooch seems. PBS is sort of big and scary, and reminds me of… I don’t know, Wal-Mart.

  13. I am so glad to hear about these changes… I am disappointed almost daily by these emails. (I get so excited about being able to mooch books… then… nope. sadness ensues.)

    Thanks for all of the hard work– I love this place!

  14. Andrew said

    Good change! It’s much better to not send emails for unavailable books. I understand the reason for not creating an option, given the low demand for that function it makes sense not to add to the site (and programming) complexity. Thanks!

  15. Great change! Thanks for all your work, John!

  16. Thank you, John! I appreciate your work and the changes you have made.

    Many commenters above don’t want to see a mooch button on their wishlist for books they can’t mooch. I understand their frustration, but how else would we be alerted about the book? How would we know to look for an angel to get that book for us?

    My vote would be to leave the mooch button on the wishlist. If you do away with it, then you should provide some other way for us to be alerted to books whose owners won’t send to our country.

    Thanks again for BookMooch!

  17. Eva Marie said

    I think this is a great change! It must be hard to try to make so many different people happy but it’s really nice to know out views and suggestions are being heard!

  18. tudorpot said

    I’m sad to see this change. Life is tough, so sometimes a book is mooched before you? Why can’t adults take a little disappointment? Makes me think of three year old children having a temper tantrum.
    I have started just checking my wishlist as the emails seem to have stopped for several months. I only noticed it when I went to edit my wishlist and saw many books with copies available. I hope at least this aspect stays the way it is.

    I liked it the way it was before, that way I could use an angel. Also, several times a book has been reserved, but the other moocher did not mooch the book reserved for them. I was able to mooch it.
    The only thing I would like to have fixed is to make it possible to search via format. Audio books on CD are something I use, however the only two I have been able to mooch I found by chance. Searches come up with all sort of computer manuals.

    Thanks for all your hard work John.

  19. Carol Mitchell said

    Hey, John
    Thanks. I won’t repeat some of my comments because they’ve already been made by so many, but I have one I hope very much is unique. The word frustration itself is interesting, because I am so frustrated right now in dealing with any type of frustration-major or minor. At first it was embarrasing-throwing a tantrum in front of your friends. Now that it’s happened several times, it’s scary because there are so many possible causes. I’ve had and apparently recovered from a combination of brain aneurysm/stroke (a near death experience that normally would in fact, according to the neurologist, usually cause death.)I’m also 60 years old, and most of my peers are showing the beginnings of age-related problems. There is a strain of mental illness in my immediate family-mother,sister,daughter. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and both her sons died young, so we don’t know if they had it (Yes, I know about the tests, both the PET scan that can show early Alzheimer’s and the DNA test that can show your risk level. The existence is somewhat reassuring, but also frustrating.) Not to mention my high blood pressure. So please, John, don’t think of frustration as a minor matter. I can’t any more, and neither should you.
    Thanks for your time and attention. I promise that I would never write anything like this under normal circumstances, but between that experience and being reminded of stereotypes “normal people” have of the handicapped and people in nursing homes both in one week, this is actually a practical way of dealing with those unpleasant symptoms(aka tantrums or behaving like a child) and reminding people not to harbor stereotypes.
    Carol Mitchell

  20. Kevin O said

    I love these changes! I was starting to personalize that a person ” would not send me” a book,… what did I ever do them?; should I send a ‘sorry’ note or flowers? Your changes should reduce this affect and save me some money on the floral! Nice job.

    So, here is my ad…. Send some money to the mooch you all…. let’s help keep this site going… lol

  21. Joshua Persons said

    How about this: I’m getting wishlist emails for books which are no longer on my wishlist. If you want specifics, my account is jpers36 and the book is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

  22. Wadebear said

    John Buchman wrote:
    “However, email is not an instant mechanism, so it’s still possible that the book is available at the time the email is sent, and that by the time you read the email (maybe a day later) someone has reserved the book. There’s nothing I can do about about that.”


    You could set up a system where everyone who has been notified that the book is available gets a followup email saying that the book is no longer available…

    Complicated, but do-able.

  23. greywarrier(sue an aussie ) said

    tys john for trying to address a no win problem. that you are willing to try to address this is a very big pluss and should show everyone that you always are looking for ways to make mooch more user friendly…. bottom line here- this is a free site- it has several issues that cannot be solved but you and your staff try to make them fairer were possible. an example being…you canot help postage costs form different countrys and this is 1 major reason of moochers for not sending overseas.etc.but tys from me for giving us a chance to expand or knowledge, and enjoyment of books sue.

  24. smadar said

    I’m from Israel, and I’d like to get e-mails about books I can’t mooch because the owner won’t send abroad, because then I can ask an angel to help!

  25. Rachel said

    I wonder why I just got a wishlist notification for a book that is reserved. I have been watching it and know it has been unavailable to me for a couple weeks, due to the reservation.

  26. Kelly.L said

    Sometimes maybe you try too hard, John. If a wishlist book -ever- was there for me to mooch, I’d rather hear about it. Just knowing that it filters through the system now and then is good news, and if someone else got there first… hooray for them! We aren’t 3rd graders, who must call dibs on titles in order to avoid some members’ case of sour grapes. Members who use the system more frequently will get their wishlist books more frequently, but no guarantees – and that’s fair enough. There are many, many great books to read while waiting.

  27. Nancylou said

    Thanks, John, for the fix. The only thing better would be if a book was not at all ‘available’ if it was on hold for an angel or whatever….

  28. Caron Garliepp said

    Thanks for all you do, John! I continue to recommend this site to everyone I know and to anyone I meet that shows an interest in reading.

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