ok, we’ve come to the end of January and that’s the end of the first We Swap Books competition. I hope to get a newsletter out next week, winners will be announced in the newsletter.

I’ll send the winners an email in the next few days.

A new feature added to the site is you can now add your own book reviews. I’ll mention more in the newsletter but you can find more details here

Don’t forget you can follow the site updates on twitter at http://twitter.com/weswapbooks

Edgar would be 200

January 19, 2009

It’s the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe’s birth and the New York Times have a good article/slideshow on Edgar and his works at

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/01/16/books/eapoe-SLIDE-SHOW-01-17-2009_index.html

Just a reminder as well that I now have a twitter account, so if you’re on twitter you can keep up to date on site updates and basic dribblings from my brain at http://twitter.com/weswapbooks

Also hope to have an announcement soon on book reviews, watch this space.

So, last night I went to the Edinburgh Internet Marketing Meetup and I heard Mike Coulter speak about Social Media and the way it’s been going and the possible road ahead. Now I’m not one for reviewing so I’m not going to list everything Mike said, but if he’s doing a talk near you and you have the opportunity to go along, then go. He had a lot of interesting insights, good ideas, cautionary tales and other assorted internet related adventures to share with the group. If you’re involved in the web in a professional sense in any way, I would recommend listening to one of Mike’s talks.

One thing he convinced me of is that my site (www.weswapbooks.com) is, in old diplomatic terms, a closed border country. I’ve been thinking since the talk that people are only going to visit the site to swap books, no other reasons. I was hoping to turn the site into a book community. Obviously that people would swap books there, but discuss books and participate in a community sense. It hasn’t happened and I just though “well maybe that’s not what people want”. But after last nights talk I think it is. I think somewhere for people to meet, talk about authors, review books and swap books is maybe what people want and I think maybe the site needs to be more interactive, more social.

So, planned improvements include

  • Members will be able to upload their own book reviews into the book reviews section
  • They’ll also be able to leave comments on other reviews, leave feedback and discuss the reviews as well as rate reviews
  • Only this week I’ve just started using twitter and I am going to use it, not only as a personal account but, also as an announcement service for weswapbooks
  • I’m not 100% what the tools are, but I’m going to look at the Amazon Developers Network and perhaps utilise some of their tools in the site

And I’m going to keep the old grey matter ticking over on what new and exciting tools we can use in an attempt to, going back to the old diplomatic terms, open the borders of our country.

And this is where you come in…if you have any ideas/suggestions on how to improve the site and/or make it more sociable, I’d love to hear. Post them as a comment to this post, please. Thanks.

By the way on a side note it was great to meet everyone at the event last night. Good people, good ideas, good beer, good chat, I will hopefully be along to the next one.

twittering

January 7, 2009

Thought it was about time I not only had a twitter account but that We Swap Books had one as well, so

http://twitter.com/weswapbooks

Follow for site updates and other inane stuff from my head.

Competition

January 1, 2009

CompetitionAnnouncing our first competition at We Swap Books, running throughout January 2009.

To find out more,  click here

1st prize is £25 in book tokens. Kind of excited about this and hoping for a good turnout, this being our first competition. Also in the next few weeks I hope to send only the 2nd issue of our newsletter.

DESIGN

As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve changed the design and layout of the site. We’ve removed the 4 tabs from the top of the screen “WESWAP”, “HOWSWAP” etc. and replaced them with an easier to use drop down menu. We’ve also replaced the menu on the left with more of an interactive menu allowing you to get access to the Fiction and History section pages faster. We hope these changes make the site a more enjoyable experience.

The site is also more cross browser friendly now. Layout problems that existed in FireFox should have been fixed, we’re still ironing out some of the issues but we think we’ve got the majority of them.

HELP

You may also notice on some pages now, we have a small question mark in a speech bubble. Clicking this image wherever it appears will open a help popup that will explain the page. These have been added around the site along with a new and improved help section, available from the top menu. We added these to help explain some of the issues some of you were encountering on the site.

AWARDS

Some of our swappers have proven themselves to be great members. They add interesting books and send your book to you promptly. Using the site myself I know that there are some swappers I can depend on to get their book to me quickly. So how do we award these swappers…awards.

The swappers who go above and beyond will now be rewarded by assigning them awards. We have awards starting at white award (to signify more than 5 completed swaps with positive feedback) all the way up to gold award. We’ll be assigning these to some of our members in the next few days, I’ll drop an email to let you know if you’ve been awarded an award.

If you don’t get an award this time round please be assured this does not mean we view you as a bad swapper, bad swappers we ban. So if you don’t get an award please don’t be down hearted, we still value you as a swapper.

FORUM

A small change we’ve made to the forum is email notification. Now if you post a reply or start a discussion in the forum you can receive an email whenever any replies to your thread. We’ve also fixed some small bugs and layout issues with the font.

We would encourage all of our swappers to go the forum and introduce yourself, also have a look in the Book Wanted forum…you never know, you might have the book someone is looking for.

ADVERTS

We hope these don’t detract from your enjoyment of the site. Thing is that the site does have expenses (promotion and hosting costs), so to counterbalance these expenses we have had to incorporate more adverts in the site. Again, we don’t think these will get in the away of your enjoyment of the site.

FEEDBACK

We’ve tried to make it more noticeable in your member section when you have to leave feedback for other swappers. The % score beneath other swappers names is a percentage of how much of their feedback left was positive feedback. If you don’t leave feedback for other swappers then we are left with a score that is not a true representation of that persons worth to the forum. So please, if you haven’t left feedback for a book you have received please do it now. Thanks.

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We hope you enjoy all the changes we’ve made to the site. In January we’ll be sending out a newsletter and we’ll be announcing detail of our first competition. That’s right, our first competition so keep your eyes peeled for that.

In the meantime if you’d like to leave any feedback or ask a question on the site changes, then please leave feedback and questions either here on the blog or here on the forum and I will answer them as quickly as I can.

So this is Christmas

December 11, 2008

Being a patron of Royal Mail, and I know most of you other swappers are as well, thenI thought I would post the usual Christmas update from Royal Mail.

For more Christmas info from Royal Mail, click here

By the way quick update on the new site. I plan to start moving the new site over to the live server this weekend. I realise I’ve been pushing the new features but I think you’ll notice the new design more than the new features. Some of the new features include swappers awards, a January Competition, a tidied up member and help section and next year I plan to add email alerts and being our USA site.

Browsing through the Scotsman website when I found their recommends section and in it, some book related lists so I thought I’d post some links to the ones I found the most enjoyable.

Best Scottish Author : A bit disappointed not to see Rankin on here but then I’ve never read Burns, maybe if I had I would understand. RLS the best author from Scotland and I would say certainly in the top 10 of worlds best…but then being Scottish I’m biased.

Best Scottish Children’s Author

Best Football Book : Glad I found this list, “A season with Verona” just jumped to the top of my “have to read” list.

Best Book Scottish Location : Don’t really get this one but enjoyed it all the same.

Best 2nd hand bookshops in Scotland

Sorry for anyone outside Scotland who wanted more than Scottish book lists but then I think you can understand why The Scotsman would concentrate on those in particular.

As you probably guessed the changes I had in mind for the site for the 1st of November weren’t ready for then. I’m almost finished all the changes (the main one being a site restructure and redesign) and I hope to have everything up and running for January.

I would also like to give a tip to people who run their own websites. During this last month I have been building the new site and it has taken time. Lots of content, functionality and design bits to be readjusted and tested. So as a result I haven’t been promoting the existing site as much. In fact not at all. Don’t ever let yourself fall into this trap. Your site always, ALWAYS, needs promoted. I’ve learned my lesson.

I will hopefully post a screenshot of the new design and a list of features, hopefully before the end of November, so keep your eyes peeled.

Royal Mail Warning

October 17, 2008

A lot of us use Royal Mail to post books to one another, so I thought it might be prudent to post a warning message here about a couple of things when dealing with Royal Mail

1. Make sure you have copied the other persons address correctly. Double check if you have to. We’ve had a couple of rare occasions where books are returned to sender because the address wasn’t recognised. It’s unclear why this occured but I’m putting my money on incorrect addresses, so please double check before going to the post office.

2. This has been confirmed by Royal Mail and the Trading Standards Office are making people aware of the following scam:

A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 09066 611 911 (a premium rate number). DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize .

If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £15 for the phone call.

If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 02072 396 655 or ICSTIS (the premium rate service regulator) at www.icstis.org.uk

 

On a side note the new design looks great, might post a preview here next week.