BookObsessed Owed Books Database
We realize some people may feel the implementation of such tracking is overly restrictive, especially since this site has always been such an open and unstructured place to play. However, we really do feel it'll serve the greater good on numerous fronts.
Many of you have been using and appreciating Shaunie's Swap Site and the swap data she collects there each month. Well, think of this database as the natural evolution of that data. In addition to just a static table, you can sort and filter the lists by what you owe or what others owe you, search by a book's title or author to see if you offered it to anyone else in another swap, and you can even edit the records in which you're either the Sender or Recipient to mark them mailed or received. (You'll need to register for your own Zoho ID to edit records.)
A final goal, as mentioned in the site guidelines, is to prevent anyone from falling so far behind that they begin to feel overwhelmed. Hopefully keeping track of the swap data will help each member to keep it all in perspective. We all know how easy it is to get carried away here!
At first glance, think of each tab as a different view into the data. The Owed Books tab contains only books that are still outstanding, but not yet mailed. The Mailed Books tab contains those books currently in transit or with an m-bag organizer. From here, we can easily spot thing that get lost in the mail and add them to our Pay It Forward thread. The Received Books tab shows only books that have arrived at their destination, while the All Books History tab will show all the books that have been entered into the system, except private transactions, no matter what the Status. You might want to use this tab when Searching as it'll bring up any book without regard for it's Status.
The overall process is as follows: At the end of each swap, the data detailing who sends what to whom is consolidated by the swap host and then imported by one of the mods. All the books for a given swap are grouped together on the Owed Books tab, sorted in reverse chronological order. Each entry in the list will show the Sender and Recipient of that book and if entered, will link to it's BookCrossing journal page. The Record Summary button (next to Edit) shows additional detail for this transaction including links to both Sender and Recipient's BookCrossing profile page, any additional detail entered in the Notes field, as well as the last user to modify the record.
When a book has been mailed, it's status should be changed from Owed to Mailed, a date will be entered, and the book will automatically move over to the Mailed Books tab. A similar process happens when a book is marked Received, a date is recorded and the book is moved over to the Received Books tab. (It's possible for a book to go right from Owed to Received, in which case it's not necessary to enter the Mailed Date in addition to the Received Date.)
Filters, Searching and Sorting work the same on all tabs, with the obvious exception that you'll only get books still outstanding on the Owed tab, those still in transit on the Mailed tab, etc. So if, for example, you wanted to Search for how many Neil Gaiman books have been swapped recently, no matter what their current status, you'd want to do that from the All Books tab.
The Filter list, at the top left of each view table, allows you to see a subset of the data based on distinct criteria: by Sender or by Recipient (and now 6 month overdue filter as well). If you've registered for your own Zoho ID, you can also EDIT any records for which you're either the Sender or the Recipient so using the Filters dropdown list is an easy way to get to these records. In addition to marking a book as Mailed or Received, you can edit any of the other data such as it's URL, or even change the book itself if you've sent a different one in its place.
And now, with the latest enhancement allowing all members to enter their personal swaps and trades too (details here), the BookObsessed Owed Books database really is a useful tool to track all your owed books in a single place.
The Finer Points
What do we need from you to make this run smoothly?
For starters, we'd like to ask all swappers to include a link to their book's BookCrossing journal page in their reveal post. Particularly for those members who aren't going to be updating their own data in the database, these links will need to be checked by the moderators from time to time to determine a book's status, when it's been mailed, received, etc. So please keep those journal entries and status indicators current for books that you've used in swaps.
If you're unable to register your book(s) before the swap starts, we encourage you to do so at your earliest convenience so you can add the BookCrossing link to your reveal post and the URL can be uploaded along with all the others at the end of the swap. If the swap has ended and the data already uploaded for that swap, you can also enter the information yourself if you've registered for your own Zoho ID (or PM it to one of the mods if you haven't).
If you are so inclined and have been doing so already, you may continue to post status updates in either the Mailed Books or What books did you buy or receive today? threads in Book Talk. One of the mods may pick up on information given there for members they know aren't using the database, and that way it'll get marked more quickly instead of waiting for the next random sweep of URL clicking. (No guarantees though as some stuff might be missed from time to time.) You can also PM your updates to one of the mods. Of course, any deletions would have to go through a mod anyway, but usually you should just be editing books to reflect something else sent in its place instead of deleting them outright. And as always, the quickest way to ensure your info is most current is by registering for your own Zoho ID and keeping it up-to-date yourself. It's easy peasy.
For the Swap Hosts, we ask that when your swap is finished, you summarize and post the final results in the following format for easiest import into the database:**
There's also an optional Notes field you can use for any data which doesn't fit into any of the other fields. If you wish to use Notes for any of the transactions in your swap, simply add the Notes to the end of the line, separated from the previous data by a comma.wrote:Swap Name, Swap Date <--- replace these with the name and official start date of your swap
Book Title, Book Author, Sender, Recipient, BookCrossing URL <--- leave this line (or change order to match data order if necessary)
Horrorween, Al Sarrantonio, Gothamgal, wss4, http://bookcrossing.com/journal/5201002 <--- example only, remove and replace with your own data, one line per book
Here is an actual example, taken from last year's Halloween Swap, which is using the optional Notes field. I will explain each item in more detail below.
For the Sender and Recipient fields, please use the exact usernames that members are using here at BookObsessed, i.e. fantasy221 instead of fantasy, as that's how they're entered in the database. Exact capitalization isn't important but you must include any digits after the username in order for the names to import correctly.wrote:Halloween Swap, 10/30/07
Book Title, Book Author, Sender, Recipient, BookCrossing URL, Notes
Horrorween, Al Sarrantonio, Gothamgal, wss4, http://bookcrossing.com/journal/5201002
The Book of Skulls, Robert Silverberg, Luckaye, SciFisstrs, , Book not yet registered. Will be sent directly to Sci via 3rd party seller.
Monster Mission, Eva Ibbotson, catsalive, PepperVL, http://bookcrossing.com/journal/3944749
Glass Houses, Rachel Caine, CheriePie, Gothamgal, http://bookcrossing.com/journal/4528925
Autumn Castle, Kim Wilkins, PepperVL, Luckaye, http://bookcrossing.com/journal/4217835
Hallow's Eve, Al Sarrantonio, Wss4, Terra57, http://bookcrossing.com/journal/4129651
Sex and the Psychic Witch, Annette Blair, Terra57, blackadder75, http://bookcrossing.com/journal/5454426
Blood Red, Heather Graham, blackadder75, CheriePie, http://bookcrossing.com/journal/5201651
The Book Author and BookCrossing URL fields are optional though we hope you'll fill in both for as many of the books as possible. (Since you must visit the reveal thread to get the URLs, it's just as easy to grab the Author at the same time.***)
I used the Notes field in the example above to indicate that for luckaye's book, Book of Skulls, she doesn't have a registered copy on her shelf and will instead send the book directly to Sci via a 3rd party seller. You could also use Notes in instances where you have a 2fer and want to list the individual book titles or a 2nd URL. If you don't have any kind of special circumstances like this, you don't need to use the Notes field at all. As I said above, it's a completely optional field and you can choose not to use it at all if you don't need it. Notes can just as easily be entered into the database later as well.
If you need to leave a particular field blank, like I did for the BookCrossing URL field of Book of Skulls, and it's not the last item on the line, then leave a blank for it your Final Results table too. (Notice how there's an extra comma and a blank space following SciFisstrs name on the Book of Skulls line above.) Otherwise things might end up in the wrong field.
Finally, the above line order is not set in stone. If you prefer, you can shuffle it around if you find it easier to summarize your data differently. For example, some of you are used to thinking of things this way:
CheriePie receives Blood Red by Heather Graham from blackadder75
~ which would translate to: ~
CheriePie, Blood Red, Heather Graham, blackadder75, http://bookcrossing.com/journal/5201651
~ and you'd rearrange the top line with the field label names to be in this order: ~
Recipient, Book Title, Book Author, Sender, BookCrossing URL
So long as the order you list the fields on the top line matches the order the data is presented on each successive line, it's all good.
How do I get my own Zoho ID so I can edit my own data?
You can register for your own Zoho ID from the Zoho Main Portal, go directly to the Create a Zoho Account page, or by clicking the Sign In link in the top right hand corner of the page while you're viewing the BookObsessed Owed Books database.
If possible, you want your Zoho ID to match either your BookObsessed username or your BookCrossing username since the Books Owed database already knows these two ways of identifying you. However, if that isn't possible and you need to use a different name, you must let one of the Moderators know the username you chose so it can be added to the Alias field in your account. Once that is done, your Zoho username will be associated with you as well.
*In addition to owedbooks.bookobsessed.com, booksowed.bookobsessed.com will also work. I found myself constantly getting the 2 mixed up so I made sure either address would get you there.
**If you're collecting and summarizing the data outside of the forum, you may want to use tabs instead of commas, especially since info copied and pasted from a spreadsheet such as Excel or Google Docs automatically separates each column by tabs when it's copied and pasted. The import process can handle tabs just as easily as commas so feel free to substitute if it's easier for you. (Unfortunately, semicolons are NOT recognized.)
***Besides, we felt that including the author allowed for a more user-friendly database where, for example, people could search for how much a particular author of interest is being swapped; or use it to help locate the name of a particular book they'd been interested in from a recent swap but couldn't quite remember the title.